Shoryu Ramen Manchester

Yesterday my husband and I were invited to the opening of Shoryu Ramen, a new and exciting Japanesse restaurant in Manchester. Shoryu Ramen. This is their first restaurant outside London and they have plans to open even more.

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Shoryu Ramen was launched in November 2012 in London and was recommended in the Michelin Guide for the last 3 years. They specialize in Hakata tonkotsu ramen, from the southern Japan. Hakata tonkotsu ramen is a style of ramen made with a rich soup and thin noodles. The Executive Chef Kanji Furukawa is from Japan and he creates authentic tonkotsu, that is rarely seen outside Japan.

I had a look on the menu and I want to try the matcha cheesecake. Beside food, they have sake. The restaurant in Soho has on offer the largest selection of sake, shochu and umeshu in the UK, including royal warrant Gekkeikan.

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These are the wooden cups we were served sake in.

At the opening party we had the chance to see the sake ceremony. After a lovely speech, we were told what to say when the barrel is opened after the countdown.

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I was so delighted that I knew the numbers in Japanese, that I didn’t pay attention to the last word. I said a wow-ish sort of word, it was really funny.

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Hi Gear Kinder WP Walking Boots

Update: The sole of one of the boots had a split in it. So I had them for 4-5 months.

I bought this pair of Hi Gear Kinder WP Walking Boots two months ago from GO Outdoors. As I avoid leather, finding some walking boots that are long lasting and good value for money is not as easy as it seems. I have off road trainers, but they aren’t that comfortable on pavement as they are in the woods. Also, I really needed an waterproof boot as in the mornings the grass is wet and, in our walks with Festus I walk on the grass.

Hi Gear Kinder WP Walking Boots

When I bought the walking boots, they were on a even better offer. At the moment the boots are £30. The first thing I liked about them was how they looked and the purple accents. I tried them on and the boots seemed comfortable enough. We all know that this can be slightly different when you get to wear the footwear. I was happy with them, as a boot it gives me extra support in the ankles and they are lightweight. The Hi Gear boots are comfortable to wear. It’s the first time I buy something from them, but I would gladly buy other footwear made by them.

On the last two camping trips, the one in Scotland and one in London, our walks involved woods and the “waterproofness” of the boots was tested. I was very pleased with them, as my feet were dry and warm.

Hi Gear Kinder WP Walking Boots review

Now I’m considering getting another pair, just to make sure I have suitable boots for a long time. Going out with the dog every morning and every evening in winter means I need a good pair of boots.

Do you wear walking boots? Which brand is your favourite?

Why I love UK

Today marks 5 years since I first set foot on British soil and now I can’t imagine ever wanting to live anywhere else. Last year I’ve made a funny list of 15 things I learned as an expat in UK, the year before I wrote about how I’ve changed a little and three years ago I talked about feeling at home. Something I’ve noticed that, through the years, I’ve started talking more and more about me as a Brit. Does it matter that I’m not born here? I don’t know and I don’t think it matters. For me, how I feel matters more.

I love my life here and this year I was keen on talking about why. I always struggle with this posts because I don’t want to leave the impression that life in Romania is bad in any way. It’s not. Most Romanians love their lives there. I just prefer to live here, it’s more suitable for my style, to my approach to living and my beliefs. It gets too serious, so lets switch to my:

10 reasons Why I love UK

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1. The weather! I might have mentioned this before (100s of times). I can wear my shoes most of the time. I love that. The same applies to clothes. I’m used to a wider range of temperatures, so the Liverpudlian weather is pretty much a Spring/Autumn type of weather all the time.
It doesn’t rain.

2. FOOD. Chips, I love chips and not those thin French fries, pies, roast carrots, houmous with all sorts of additions like roasted peppers or mint and asparagus, Brussels sprouts, risotto, curries, cheddar, soups, lemon meringue pie, sticky toffee pudding, banoffee pie, scones, mince pies, Eton mess, salted caramel, Christmas puddings and Victoria sponge. Not all are British per say, but I discovered them here.
Another thing I love about food is that I can get so many different ingredients that I never used before, some British, some oriental: Rhubarb, chard, winter melon, parwal, plaintain, purple yam, black beans.

3. Having fun. There are so many amazing things we can do here, like driving an F1 simulator, going to a 200 year old pub or a castle, a beautiful tearoom or an old mill.

4. The landscape is beautiful. I’m one of those persons who finds boring a landscape with a blue sea and a white beach. At the same time I can admire for hours a windy coast with a dark looking water and rocks. I also love the green hills with sheep or cows dotted here and there. The hills are still green in winter. The canals are beautiful all year round and it’s very relaxing to walk along them.

5. The literature and the music. I read Byron as a teenager (I was geeky, I know). I also read Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters. I will also read modern novelists like Mary Balogh or Sophie Kinsella. My favourite song is Imagine. To mention a few: Elton John, Queen, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Amy Winehouse, Adele.

6. Beautiful cities and villages. I love Liverpool, London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, York, Conwy, Powis and so many others.

7. Tea. I didn’t use to drink tea, now I tell my husband we should get a new flavour of tea. From flowering tea to the traditional Earl Grey, I love tea. I can’t imagine how I lived so many years without cream tea.

8. Helpful neighbours. They will pull your bin in the garden if you are not at home. They will take a huge parcel if you are not in. It’s fab.

9. Bird feeding. I fed geese in The Netherlands for the first time, many years ago, and I loved it. The birds are quite keen on getting food and they will take it from our hands, that’s so cute. It’s one of my favourite pass times.

10. Outlander and Game of Thrones. I don’t need to cross the border to see the filming locations. It’s true it’s quite a hassle to get to Northen Irland as the ferry takes a lot and it’s the only way we can get there with the car. But, that being said, I hope we’ll go there in the next couple of years.

Christmas tree: artificial or real?

With Christmas fast approaching, I had a look online for pros and cons about the Christmas trees. I decided to write about my views on this matter. As a child I had real Christmas trees and my mother switched to an artificial one as I got older.

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My husband and I, when we moved together many years ago we bought our first artificial tree. That was before our wedding and we kept the tree until we moved to UK. When I was going through the things we had (a lot of things, as we had a full 2 bed flat filled with furniture and white goods and all sort of small and big things), I asked my mother if she wants the tree. The tree was ok, not amazing, as we didn’t have a lot of money for this, as we finished Uni and had not-so-well-paid jobs. My mother was happy to take it because, while she has lovely Christmas decorations for home, she needed one to decorate an office that is used only a few hours each week. So, the tree we got 11 years ago is still used every year and it looks fine.

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This is how the tree looked like the last time we used it. Festus was 1.

We also had one year a real tree, as a second tree, with roots that I wanted to plant outside. It died before I got the chance to plant it. It was very upsetting.

After moving to UK, in the first year we’ve decided to get a small real tree with roots from a supermarket. It died. As it was the second time it happened, I was so upset and I’ve decided against getting one with roots, unless I’m well prepared to look after it.

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In 2012, the following year, we got our current Christmas tree, an artificial one. It looks great and it doesn’t shed a lot. By the looks of it, we might use it for another 10 years without any issues. In addition to that, this year we’ve got a couple of garlands to decorate the staircase. Last year we had tinsel and I think it will look better with garlands.

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The thing I was wondering is how eco-friendly the artificial trees are. The discussion is not as clear as one might think. It’s true that, eventually, after years of using the tree, it will end up in a landfill somewhere. But, as the same time, the number of real trees I would have bought during the years would have a similar effect, maybe even worse. The real trees, unless they are bought from a local farm, are transported and that adds up to the carbon footprint they create.
Another thing to take into consideration when it comes to real trees, is how they are farmed, soil erosion can be an issue. Other things that will affect the environment are pesticides and fertilizers, used especially in climates that aren’t great for this kind of trees.
What you do with the tree after Christmas can have an impact too. I store my tree in the loft, but a real tree can be shredded and used as natural fertilizer. If it’s not recycled, it’s worse than keeping it in the loft.

After carefully considering all the pros and cons. I’m very happy with the artificial tree that we have. When eventually it will not be suitable, I think I will get a real tree from a local farm that has recycling service after Christmas. I’m not sure if I’m prepared to go through all the hassle of having a real tree, with a lot of shedding and that we can’t have it from early December, as we like.
If you have an artificial tree that you want to change, think of ways how to use it: donate it to a local charity or use bits of it for the following Christmas for decor. Small twigs can be added as decor on Christmas gifts or wreaths can be made from the branches.

Do you prefer a real tree or an artificial one? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tate Modern

I saw that Tate Modern is opened till late on Fridays & Saturdays, so we’ve decided to visit it at night. Not only that it makes it a little bit special to see, but it can be included in a busy day and it also means that going to Tate by car is easier, with cheaper parking and without the congestion charge. Tate is free, but there are fees for special exhibitions. We had only 2-3 hours to visit the museum, so there wasn’t enough time to see any of the special exhibitions this time. As usual, I’m going to show a few of my favourite exhibits.

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This one was my favourite. It’s made of couscous and it’s the ancient city of Ghardaia, Algeria. The model was made by Kader Attia, a French artist with Algerian parents, in 1970. I think the idea is intriguing.

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I like spiders, but that wasn’t the only thing that drawn me to this sculpture. I thought it looked soothing. Louise Bourgeois is a French artist that worked in the USA. This spider was made in 1995 and it’s one of a few spider sculptures she made. The spider is an associations with her mother, who was spending her days stitching and weaving for her family business, repairing antique tapestries. She said “The spider is a repairer. If you bash into the web of a spider, she doesn’t get mad. She weaves and she repairs it.”

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Linlithgow Palace

With Linlithgow Palace I will finish the posts about what we’ve visited in Scotland. We’ve picked Linlithgow Palace because it was one of the filming locations of Outlander. It’s a beautiful place to visit even if you are not a fan of the show. Linlithgow is also the place where Mary Queen of Scots was born and there is a statue of her near the entrance in the palace. Near the palace is a 15th-century parish church of St Michael and it can be visited too. We could only have a look, as it was closing.

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Linlithgow Palace is only 15 miles from Edinburgh and it has been a royal residence in the 15th and 16th century. Sadly, it burned down during the Jacobite rebellion and not because of the battles, but because a fire was left unattended, in 1745.

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The 1920s

At the Fashion and Textile Museum in London there is a special exhibition about the 1920s fashion. I wanted to visit the museum. The concept of the museum is quite different as there isn’t a permanent exhibition, but only temporary ones. From 23 September until 15 January next year is the 1920s JAZZ AGE Fashion & Photographs. It was very interesting to see the exhibition. I’ve read Coco Chanel’s biography a few months ago and I was excited to see the dresses on display.

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Men from different backgrounds were made friends during the WWI and that changed the social status completely. More women worked for the first time. In Europe there were 38 million casualties in WWI, every family was affected by this. The end of WWI in 1918 marked the beginning of a new era. US, UK and France had a period of economic prosperity. The way women dressed changed as a result of their involvement in everyday life and tasks, while the men were at war. That asked for a freedom of movement that lead to a freedom in clothing. In US more people were living in the cities than in the countryside for the first time. Women were starting to get involved in sports and that had an impact on fashion too.

Something that I didn’t know before seeing the exhibition was how much the dresses changed during those years. The waistline was changing, the dress length was dropping from calf to ankles to go back up just below the knee in 1925.

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Small changes happened even before the WWI. For example, by 1915 showing the ankle wasn’t considered scandalous like 50 years before that. The exaggerated corset from the 19th century were replaced with a more natural shape. Surprisingly, in the 1920s, some women would still use corsets, but not to emphasize their waist like before, but to make them look more boyish without curves.

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