Monday, August 28, 2017

A New Home


Welcome to a new and furnished digital home for my unusual thoughts and self-deprecating jokes! I've been thinking about it for a while – unifying my Instagram coolness of actually owning delicately (despite being an early adopter for it why am I not an influencer yet? Psh) and what has become a fun and creative space for me the last couple of years, not including meeting some cool peeps on here. Hello regular friends!

You probably didn't know but: when I started sinonym, it was a play on words (it always was) which translated to sin on him, as some sort of metaphysical revenge of my heartbreak (of love, of life etc.) through words. Those were dark years, my friends. Maybe I'll talk about it one day, maybe I won't, who knows?

I setlled on .xyz because everything else was taken and this was the cheapest. You guys know the drill.

But equally important, and I accept flattery in the comments, is that we have also physically moved houses - hence a new home... Digitally and physically. Ha ha ha. No real photos of where I am because it ain't pretty, boxes of stuff (I swear I am not a hoarder...) are everywhere and not enough storage space. On the flip side, we have a pretty awesome communal rooftoop with the city view, a 24 hour McDonalds down the road (you never know) and some nice roads for leisurely weekend cycling. 

I have to of course say thank you for all the thoughtful comments and experiences you shared in my last post about finding the right balance in life. It's made me feel like I'm not alone fighting off exhaustion when I'm screaming inside at 10pm when my work laptop refuses to do its job. This bank holiday weekend is a real treat, I've already gone to John Lewis for ~boring house stuff~ and an hour-long bike ride in our neighbourhood and found a gem of a café!

I thought this would also be an opportune moment to show off my new favourite striped top (y'all know I love me my stripes) - it's embroidered with my name and it was definitely whispering 'take me home' so I did. I picked this up from a charming lil' store called Maison Labiche in Le Marais - an epitome of the effortless Frencherie (yes I said 'Frencherie') style, with many timeless and quirky pieces. You can also customise your own embroidery on the website, and they have some very tempting gingham and flowy tops....

Other noteworthy things this weekend:  
  • This morning I had a decaf coffee from our Nespresso machine and it was great because I don't usually drink coffee as it gives me heart palpitations but I can now enjoy dat coffee taste without feeling like I'm going into overdrive
  • Getting new Harry Potter themed (!) PJs. Soft and cute, it's wonderful. 
  • Warm breakfasts and not needing to rush out of the door soon afterwards. 
  • Writing my FinTech newsletter - my completely non-fashion and travel related life, if you're curious + love my humour you can sign up here (please?)

PS, despite the trenchcoat, this isn't part of the Jack Wills trench coat styling series that's going around ;-) I jest, I actually really like JW but my coat is an oldie (but a goodie!) from Zara - which I've had to sewn up a few times because the seams didn't have great stitching. But hey, it still works right? I threw on my fave Subdued jeans and called it a day.

Striped top - Maison Labiche / Jeans - Subdued / Coat - Zara (similar)

How was your weekend? Hope you guys like the new header + the name! And enjoy your stay! *hands over a metaphorical hotel key* (am I weird?) 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Finding The In-Between in Life

I'll be honest, I haven't seen real sunlight in about two weeks now. These recent long work days means I basically get in before the sun gets all sunshiney, and totter out sleepily of the building then rinse and repeat for five days.

Taking a break from the regular programming of my Japan posts, I'm going to keep it real and say that finding an in-between and a right balance is something I am struggling with at the moment. I'm tired and frustrated, and feeling like I can't change anything... basically a mini existential crisis, shall we say.


Finding a balance is something we talk about so much these days – a need to recalibrate, having equal measures of work and pleasure, and yet, it's increasingly hard to achieve this seemingly easy idea. For me anyway. Endless to-do lists, more chores to do, a totally senseless overconsumption of information and Life in General stops us from the necessary pauses of life, making it hard to find clarity and calm.

I wish I had the magic solution to these troubles, but I don't. What I can say is this: I'm thankful for the 20 minutes bus ride into work where I can plug into my newest podcast (current play: The Art of Charm) and concentrate on something else other than chores and work emails, at least. I used to spend my evenings watercolouring and learning a new language from my app, but it's proving to be hard these days when I don't even have time to eat dinner at home.

Maybe it's as simple as taking a 5 minute break just to have a chat, or watch a funny YouTube video. We're often too busy to afford even our own time, so we end up spiralling into a maze of anxiety and panic. Or maybe just me?

When we shot these photos last Sunday, strolling down Bermondsey Street on the way to BBQ ribs (!), it was nice, being able to walk around and think of nothing for a while.

Taking these photos were much easier than normal too, and I didn't have to keep asking for them to be retaken and I could enjoy my lunch and the post-stroll afterwards. Thinking about it, I think a large part of tuning out for me is the enjoyment of dressing up, styling outfits and feeling good about it - playing around with colours, textures and fabrics. The thrill that comes with seeing the complete outfit put together, from head-to-end, is a small victory in the mindless iterations of everyday life.

We shot these photos as part of the Boohoo Summer Day into Night challenge - using this vibrant floral frilly skirt* as the highlight, my daytime choice was a sweet scalloped top* (actually a bodysuit) which makes a fun silhouette to match with any bottoms! I threw on a soft duster jacket* for the occasional breeze and it was up to me to sashay down the streets... We saw 42nd Street the weekend before and I can't get over the dances, such mad love (side note: y'all should watch it it's amazing)!

My PM pick was a sensible one: a long-sleeved blouse* which was still floaty and breathable for the suitably erratic midsummer evenings. It has the softest material ever and I love it! Paired with my ever-trusty Clarks mules (I love Clarks so much, guys), it was like I was almost a cool blogger. I try, you know?


The process of creating these outfits was filled with excitement: choosing the skirt, matching it with the right shoes – and brought me to me think of how I should be the same finding pockets of time to achieve that glorious 'in-between' which I allegedly found burdensome; these moments of creative joy, as simple of picking an outfit for work, choosing pearl earrings over studs, doing the crossword. I suppose in the end, it's about finding joy in the everyday things, and appreciating the magic of these small wonders. 

Just as how I enjoyed wearing and picking these outfits, I'm now semi-convinced that there can be happiness is doing the dishes (I hope?) or taking a shower that's longer than usual. Hug more, listen more, breathe... more. 

I know I don't get too personal on here (part laziness, part real struggle) but this year was one where I worked on decisions that I mentioned at the beginning of the year. Learning to shift perspectives has made me aware of so much more, and learning to be kind is a continuing lesson that is teaching me compassion and understanding in many new ways. I know this is all very vague, but I have a feeling that the in-between is vague and unpredictable, like so many things in life.

(Brief comical pause to break the almost-awkward flow: look at my upside-down bag and me tryna act all cool LOL who am I kidding.)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend - it's an extremely busy one for me so wish me luck! Share with me your in-between moments and what you do when life is getting too much?

*Outfit kindly gifted by Boohoo

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Midsummer Hair

The bamboo groves of Arashiyama has many a times come up on my auto-rotate Chromecast screensaver and friends' travel photos on Facebook – a sea of perennial green lit up throughout the year, you could feel peaceful just looking at the pictures... So while we were in Kyoto, I knew that I wanted to do a short half-day trip to the grove.

Only half an hour train ride away from central Kyoto station, we hopped on the JR Sagano Line towards the western outskirts of Kyoto for 240 yen (~£1.80!). Many people rent bikes for about 1000 yen just outside the station to ride around the town but it was warm and crowded, so we skipped that and decided to walk the 10 minutes from Arashiyama station to the bamboo groves.

It was pretty early in the day but man it was crowded. I know a lot of the advice was to wake up and get there as early as 6am but I don't think I'm very good at waking up early when traveling (I blame jetlag, ha) so while we usually end up getting out slightly earlier than usual it'd still be pretty crowded. The groves are open 24 hours, so you could technically come any time of the day...

Like I said in my sneak peek of Japan, Japanese summers are truly unforgiving and that day was no different. Although we sped through the sunny streets as quick as we could, it wasn't long before I was completely soaked in sweat. No one tells you about the unglamorous side of traveling, do they? (But that's a topic of another day)

This didn't stop a lot of people from donning yukatas (the summer equivalent of a kimono!) and embracing summer like a real boss.

The thick green stalks are tall and billowy giants which still manage to illuminate a shady path - and a well-deserved rest from the sun! I love how the path snakes into a curve, opening up to even more forestry as you turn round the initial bend. The bamboos are used for manufacturing many household products and I was still getting over how amazing it was being whisked away to a preserved piece of nature for less than a Pret sandwich (no kidding).

It takes about about 20 minutes to stroll leisurely down the path, and it's dotted with minor attractions like the Okochi Sanso villa (belonging to a famous late actor) and shrines...

Despite the path filled to the brim, it was a relaxing walk (minus my need to pee hahahah oops), it's not everyday you can ride half an hour to come into a middle of a bamboo forest! In fact, it takes me half an hour at least to leave the concrete jungle in Londontown... I wish we were as close to nature as this. That's what made our trip so amazing, you could find yourself deep in the heart of greenery within an hour from the bustling city. Pockets of vast greens like these make me so happy! Definitely a contrast when you're trying your best not to get lung cancer walking down London streets.

The glow is real and the sweat doesn't stop! Thankfully I chose my outfit well - a floaty see-through tulle top, my fave bralette from Victoria's Secret, and some easy breezy shorts.

Outfit: Top - H&M (old) / Shorts - Zara (old) / Bralette - Victoria's Secret (highly recommend and sooo comfy, especially in preventing dat gross underboob sweat!) 

Before coming to Japan, I had the chance to dye my hair again with the wonderful Naturigin. I've sung high praises endlessly before so I'll keep this one short - I wanted a refreshed and fun look for summer and opted for Natural Medium Blonde* this time, and it was a beautiful contrast against the painfully beautiful green hues of the forest. Brown hair ftw or what?!

If you're interested, I have reviewed them in detail before (here and here) if you want to learn more about them: in short, their ingredients are naturally derived, free of chemical nasties and cruelty free :-) psss, and they're under £10! The dye doesn't strip my hair out and is one of the easiest box dye to use in the market. Naturigin has 19 Natural Hair Colours so if you're thinking of switching up to something warm for autumn, look no further. Thank you Natalie for always being so accommodating!

At the end of the winding path, there's a small gift shop and snack bar and of course I jumped at the chance at a simple fare of green tea kakigori. An icy treat in the sweltering heat was a real treat. Next to it you could also hop on the Saga Scenic Railway which oversees the beautiful nearby Hozu river, and was also very popular when we were there. 

Arashiyama actually has much more to offer than its resplendent bamboo groves, and in spring and autumn where colours come to life, the nearby Togetsukyo Bridge (translated: Moon Crossing Bridge - how cute is the name?!) and Iwatayama Monkey Park with hundreds of free-roaming monkeys are popular attractions too! We skipped on both because of the weather but I imagine the bridge to be absolutely stunning in the changing season... 

While the bamboo groves were one of the more touristy thing we did, I really did enjoy it. It was fun t get away from the city and the shops and enjoy the quietness of the town. It also helped that it was easy to get to! The forest are signposted all the way from the station so it's definitely foreigner-proof, hahaha.

Hope you guys enjoyed the first Japan post (of many, I hope), we've been back two weeks and I'm already regretting leaving the summer season behind. Nothing is worse than having cold feet going to bed at night *cough* rainy London *cough*.  Have you been to the forest or Arashiyama?

*I've been generously gifted my hair colour by Naturigin, but y'all know I love them fer real. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Sneak Peek of Japan

After what seemed like an endless week of jetlag and late nights (not due to jetlag), I've only had time to sit down today (read: Sunday evening) to sort through some of my Japan holiday snaps. It's been a fantastic time away, even though it was 99% sticky and humid and I was sweating buckets.

I wanted to share a small piece of the charm of Japan before I start going through the bulk of my photos for more in-depth stories about the places and cities we've visited, all of which had its own quirks and funny tales.

Being away has been part-stressful (navigation in a foreign country is always hard) but mostly enjoyable and for two weeks, I didn't have to check work emails (also because I forgot my work phone) or post Instagram photos because being in a completely different time zone is awesome, and just spend time wandering around and looking at new things, eating great food!

Late night Izakaya meal of intestines - definitely not everyone's cup of tea but I grew up in Asia where beef and pork noodles were made yummier with these, haha!

After seeing the fiery Tokyo skyline, we were so hungry and made it to what I now consider to be the best tonkatsu restaurant ever... If you were following me on Instagram, you would've known that I was pretty much obsessed and bent over backwards to have two bowls of daikon miso soup till my tummy literally hurt.

My fave summer dress made it to the trip - the cutouts were a lifesaver because it was warm and ventilation was much appreciated. Guys, Asian summers are not to be messed around with. Japan definitely beat our Korea summer trip last year in terms of the heat scale.... whew.  My skin was loving it though, it 100% does better in humidity than back in grey, dry, and dull London :(

Endless markets selling all sorts - I picked up a couple bags of bonito flakes (mm), pickled plums, mochi (!) and knick knacks in our frequent trips to the local markets.

Of course, who could forget soft serve ice cream! As you know, being lactose intolerant meant I was disqualified from majority of the ice creams, except for soy bean ice cream (!!) which was bomb-diggity and way easier to find than any western countries.

I can't wait to share more photos from the trip, I think you'll love them as much as I will enjoy reliving it once more. Follow along on Instagram if you aren't already (I love having mini chats there) to see all the Japan photos so far and the new ones to come. Have a nice week ahead, friends and tell me how you've been - feels like ages!
delicately © . Design by FCD.