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LIFESTYLE: A Cosy Night In with Simply Be


Hey everyone,

Sorry for the radio silence here lately. 

I don't want to currently discuss too much, but I've been in fairly poor health since the summer. 
However I'm definitely on the mend now. 

(Although I was in Krakow a few weeks ago, fell over on the cobbles and sprained my knee so on top of that I'm now hobbling and limping about.)

Simply Be reached out and offered to treat me to a pamper night in which really is my cuppa cocoa. 

Oh and welcome to the Pink Palace! 
Yes it looks like a Barbie bedroom. That's the goal!


I was so impressed by the quality of these jammies for only £10! 
I like my pyjamas baggy, so ordered the size up - these are the 20/22.
As I expected, they're pretty huge on me, but very comfortable - I reckon they'd easily fit someone several sizes above!

As well as two cute sets of pyjamas, it wouldn't be a pamper nights without some smellies, and it's the perfect time of year for gorgeous gift sets, non?


I was delighted to receive a basket of Simple goodies, who have been my favourite skincare brand since I was a teenager. (Which is now longer ago than I remember...)
I have dry/sensitive skin and I've never had a problem with any of their products. My favourites are the toner, which I apply every night after moisturising with a cotton pad.

I then apply a light layer of the eye balm, which feels light and fresh - perfect after a full day of sitting staring at a computer screen. 

I was also sent the Pamper Hamper from Bomb Cosmetics, as is it really a pamper night without looooong bath, with plinky-plonky new age music wailing from your phone? 

I say not. 

I mean come on, the tiny little bath creamer is called Harajuku Girl.
How perfect?!

Oh yes, I do GIFs now. Welcome to 2002!


Every single Christmas Eve, Italian Catholic Mother buys me a pair of snuggly pyjamas like this - so they really got me in the Christmas mood. Again I went for the 20/22 but they fit more true to size. 

And after all the pampering is done, what's my favourite thing to do on a cosy night in?


Of course - eat all the snacks and play video games!
I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a Nintendo Switch, with the excuse that it's a 'get well soon' present to myself because I can. 

What are your favourite things to do on a chill night? Holler a girl. 
Being lazy and doing hardly anything is my favourite thing.


Muchos love
Carla


DISCLOSURE: Pyjamas and beauty products provided for feature, however I have not received any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are - as always - my own!


THE JAPAN DIARIES: Kawaii Monster Cafe


Hey everyone,

After our crazy night at the Robot Restaurant (post soon!) with my friend Hiro-chama I had my bets on him booking us a table at the Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku when we met again the following year.

Lo and behold, he came up trumps!


The brainchild of Harajuku legend Sebastian Masuda - best known for being the founder of the iconic Harajuku brand 6% DokiDoki and the art director behind my queen Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.



It's without a doubt, the craziest restaurant I've ever visited.

Not to everyone's taste of course, but if you're like me and can appreciate the creepy, cute plastic-y world of kawaii then you're in for a treat.

Hiro also brought his friends Marcel and Eddie along, who were adorable.
(Marcel has kindly allowed me to use his photos since I got distracted and pretty much forgot!)

Upon entrance, there is a huge wiggly red carpet which the host explained (and Hiro translated) is the tongue of the monster and we are entering the belly.

Mmmmm...digestion!

Me and Eddie looking surprisingly chill for two people about to get swallowed whole.
Note the fuzzy red monster's tongue carpet!


I had stalked seen several of the hosts online, and they are dressed in stereotypical Decora-influenced Harajuku get-up.
But we hit the jackpot and got a 'Harajuku boy' (aka 'Monster Dolly') who was utterly adorable.

"You can take pictures, but please no touch!"


There are several areas in the restaurant to sit, all with a different theme.

We selected an area covered with plastic almost-kinda-sexual red lips and milk bottles hanging from the ceiling because why not?


Cutie pies!

The menu itself was crazy, an ipad set in a big plastic cake. There is an option for Japanese and English.

It's incredibly easy enough to understand, but the very cute waiter still took us through everything.


    

And of course the food is absolutely mental.
Everything is brightly coloured and looks like something Rainbow Brite would have for lunch.

Hiro went for the rainbow pasta in a creamy sauce, but he advised it was less of a pasta and more like ramen with cream cheese.

Me and Eddie went for the egg sushi which was pretty standard, not the best or worse I've had in Japan - however the brightly coloured smears of wasabi mayonnaise were actually pretty delicious.


What really stands out are the desserts which don't even look real.
We chose a huge ice cream parfait to share - and even for four greedy people, it was more than enough!

Packed with ice cream and cake which was delicious but the real surprise was the rainbow frosting - each colour had a different flavour, and reminded us of the lickable wallpaper from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

  


You are supposed to stay in your allocated area and there are rumours online of being thwacked with another charge if you go on a wander, but it was fairly empty when we went and nobody batted an eyelid.

Huge bulbous plant booths - serving Alice In Wonderland/Jumaji realness.


There is also a huge merry-go-round shaped like a cake with lashings of whipped cream, fruit and creatures - it would have been nice to be able to sit and pose for a photo, but unfortunately it's a no-go.

Apparently the Kawaii Monster girls (and boy, I guess) put on a show on the merry-go-round, but most likely due to the restaurant being almost empty when we went this sadly didn't happen.

  

Our waitress asked where we were all from and was delighted we were all from different countries (I'm from the UK, Hiro from Japan, Marcel from Brazil and Eddie from Vietnam) and she presented us with colourful chopsticks to take home for free, decorated with our country's flags which was a lovely touch!

There is also a merchandise section, but nothing particularly caught my eye.
The usual though: pens, mugs, badges etc.



I think the price was quite reasonable for the experience - there is a Y500 (£3.50) cover charge per person, but you then receive a 'Fall In Stomach Monster Card' which means if you return your group gets in for free.

Mains are approximately Y1500 (£10.00) each and desserts between Y750 (£5.50) and Y2800 (£20.00) if you get something to share like we did.

It certainly doesn't break the bank - especially for Tokyo!

Note that some evenings, the place has more of an adult vibe - including hosting fetish nights.
So if that's not your bag baby, best to check the website before planning your visit!

Overall the food is fair for what it is - the mains are not incredibly tasty, but the desserts are to die for.
The overall experience? Unmissable!


Muchos love
Carla


DISCLAIMER: Most photos (aka the good ones!) by Marcel Ferragi.

TRAVEL: Birthday In Barcelona


Hey everyone,

So I spent my birthday in Barcelona.
My birthday in 2016.
I am the queen of procrastination.

It was sunny in Newcastle.
In Barcelona it was not.


However as birthday 2017 has just passed, I'd still like to share my trip as it really was wonderful and I completely fell in love with Barcelona.

It was my first time visiting the city - and indeed, Spain!
I know, I know right?
Pretty unheard of for a Brit, especially one who works in travel.

Usually when me and Claire go on our jaunts, one of us has visited before and can pretty much steer the other around.
But it was completely new for both of us, and it was so much fun adventuring.

I thought I'd share some of my favourite pictures and top tips for first timers.


DO: Stay on Las Ramblas.
It's the tourist central of Barcelona, but also means you're so close to everything. We managed to make it through our entire stay without having to use the metro!

We stayed at Hotel Arc La Rambla and can recommend it without hesitation if you are looking for budget, clean and central accommodation.

 
Overcast - wah!
But nevertheless still beautiful!

 
If you don't eat gelato at least once a day on holiday whatever the weather then what are you even doing with your life..? 


DO: Walk everywhere you can!

Even getting from A to B is beautiful and I loved getting lost in all the little side streets.
We stumbled across an adorable courtyard with orange trees which we would have otherwise missed!

  


DO: Do the hop-on-hop-off bus tour if it's your first time.
Touristy yes, but hey - you're a tourist!

It saves fannying on with metros and buses and will take you to everywhere you need to see for your first visit. You'll most likely get discounts on other places.

  
Go on the open top bus they said. It'll be sunny they said.


DO: Skip breakfast one day and eat your way around La Boqueria market.

Everything looked absolutely delicious - fresh fruit, smoothies, macarons, marzipan, empanadas and other pasties, falafel with salad, chorizo and other yummy, fatty meats and pretty much every form of seafood going.

  

  

Claire got a feta and spinach empanada (when, I pointed out, is the Spanish equivalent of a Gregg's pasty because she is common) and a fruit pot. 

I had a watermelon and strawberry smoothie and some meat on a stick for €1. 
Perfect for a pre-beer snack!



DO: Frequently stop for (lots of) drinks and people watch.

This is always one of my favourite things about travelling, and Barcelona was no exception.

We saw a group performing a castell - a Catalan tradition involving essentially building a human tower, a German stag party dressed as Minions, to a poor bloke who'd obviously overdone it on the plane and fell asleep head first into his steak.
Everybody clapped when he woke up, including the waiting staff.

Another night we we got chatting to a young guy who sat with us all evening and showed us card tricks!

  

DO: Splash out on an evening of flamenco.
This was one of the most special nights of our trip and we went as a pre-birthday treat.

The one we went to was Tablao Flamenco Cordobes on Ramblas, and I can't recommend it enough.
A bit pricey at €80 per head, but that includes a delicious buffet meal and drinks before the show, as well as a glass of Cava while you watch.

However, DO NOT overdo it on the free bar as Claire ended up getting overemotional and crying.



DO: Keep an eye on your belongings...but really just exercise common sense.

Las Ramblas has a bit of a reputation for pickpockets. Perhaps it was because we visited in May before the peak tourist season began, but we never had any hassle at all.

In all honesty, I've felt more unsafe in Paris, and someone once attempted to snatch my friend's bag at London Kings Cross so there you go.

And the locals really do watch out for you - at one point Claire forgot herself, leaving her iPhone out on the table (it's suggested you keep it in your bag) and the maitre d of the restaurant we were in gently nudged it towards her and indicated to put it away.

I find a sturdy cross bag works well and when you're walking around, casually keep a hand on it.
But you really don't need to go OTT with a fanny pack or safety belts as that'll just make you stand out as a tourist. Blending in is key!


DO: Wander down to the port.
It's absolutely beautiful. When we went there were two flea markets on as well as lots of street entertainment.

  



DO: Go down to the beach.
Well, I mean I'm sure it's lovely. But when we went it was raining. Bloody Barcelona.


DO: Prebook for the Sagrida Familia.
This can easily be done online in a few minutes. We smugly walked past a massive queue at lunchtime and went straight in.

  


And finally...

DO NOT: Order oysters when Claire is hungover.
The poor lass chundered everywhere.

  




I'm already planning on returning in March 2018 with my lovely pal Chris - I can't wait!


Muchos love
Carla 


THE JAPAN DIARIES: Capcom Bar


Hey everyone,

Tokyo has a bit of a reputation for out-there dining.

From a restaurant where you are attacked by ninjas, an Alice In Wonderland cafe, a Catholic cafe, animal cafes (not just cats - now also dogs, rabbits, owls and reptiles...), maid cafes, a Moomin cafe where solo diners receive a plushie to keep them company, Sebastian Masuda's Kawaii Monster Cafe (I actually visited here in 2015 - stay tuned!) the list goes on and on.

But being quite the Ace Attorney fangirl, I could resist seeking out the Capcom Bar in Shinjuku, where I'd heard offered edibles and drinkables dedicated to everyone's favourite spiky haired rookie lawyer.

I'm not going to lie, it took a bit of wandering around to find it - eventually I found it on a side street wedged between a pachinko bar and a particularly seedy looking hostess club.


It appears the ground floor is another restaurant entirely, and the Capcom bar takes up the second floor. 

I was the first person waiting and I didn't have a reservation so I asked a staff member if I was in the right place. He confirmed I was, and gave me a menu to browse and pre-choose options. 

This was all in Japanese, and mine is practically non-existent I signaled to the guy I would be ordering upstairs and he gave me a thumbs up.

A few other guests started queuing, a mix of tourists and locals. 
Then the door swung open and he were invited inside. 

Even though the bar was nowhere near full capacity as I was a solo diner I was shown to the bar seating which was a little uncomfortable but rules is rules is rules.



Inside is very cool and black and shiny.
The three huge screens you can see are hooked up to machines where you can play the latest Capcom releases.

And thankfully this ignorant gaijin was given a full colour menu with English. 

Unfortunately, as of 2017 the Ace Attorney section has been scaled down somewhat to make room for several other game series. 
However this is what was available when I visited in 2015:
      
 

Apollo's bracelet themed onion rings and a potato croquet gavel.
Cocktails based on prosecutors Franziska Von Karma and Klavier Gavin.
Also a black coffee for Godot, naturally. ("It's bitter today, too... Just like my destiny.")

 

I ordered the Klavier Gavin cocktail - he is a musician so check out the ice guitar!
The cherry red liqueur is the same colour as his jacket.

Along with this I had Miles Edgeworth's High Tea. 
This tickled me as Edgeworth is often localised by fans (alas not canon) as British.  

It's a freaking Blue Badger in powdered sugar!!

Delicious pastries and sweet treats - including this adorable 8-Bit Edgey cookie which was almost too cute to eat!

Noticing I was alone, the smiling waitress came over, explaining "friends for you" and put these next beside me:

D'awww. My lads.

Although I had my 3DS with me, I was also offered a Japanese 3DS with the then-unreleased Ace Attorney HD Trilogy loaded. 

The service really is second to none in Japan, and all these little touches were really sweet. 

 

The came the skits.

I speak barely any Japanese, but by then the Klavier Gavin cocktail had kicked in and I found the whole thing rather shambolic and therefore hilarious.

Suddenly the barman produced a gavel, and whacked it hard on the counter so hard I nearly fell off my stool.
The Ace Attorney soundtrack started blasting and there was a very random court scene involving a girl's "stolen" onion rings. 

Only in Japan.

"HOLD IT!"
"TAKE THAT!"

Just before he started shouting "IGARI!" and he caught me eye and added "Also...OBJECTION!"


There was also an opportunity at the end of the meal to buy exclusive merchandise. 

A lot of what I'd had my eye on was sold out, but I did buy a Blue Badger mug. There was also a daily raffle when I was there to win some pin badges. 

I can't see anything about this on the website, but I'm assuming the still sell merch. 

Overall, I had a wonderful experience.
A lot of love has gone into the place, and the cheerful staff seem to be having a ball too. 

Of course if you're not so much into Ace Attorney, many other Capcom series are featured including: Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Biohazard, Devil May Cry and Rockman!



If you're a total nerd like me - it's definitely worth a visit!


Muchos love,
Carla.