How Cruel is My Wardrobe? (OOTD #1)

 

Hello my lovelies!

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to start a little series called:

How Cruel is My Wardrobe?

It is nothing groundbreaking, just a little twist on the classic Outfit of the Day saga. What I aim to do is to assess the sources of my clothes, and how I can aim to improve and streamline my patterns of fashion-buying. I should say off the cuff (ha) that I am by no means a person who is immensely dedicated to style. I generally wear dresses, because they are very easy to just throw on, with my usual backpack (I own two and that’s about it in the bag department), and some kind of leggings and plimsolls combination. What I aim for is comfort, and I certainly don’t feel compelled to keep up with trends. I do however, enjoy buying clothes every now and then, as it feels like some serious me-time, and I enjoy finding pretty patterns. A six year old could probably put ensembles together with more class and regard for the weather conditions, nevertheless it does make me happy. So let’s start with today’s offering. All I can offer is a wiggly mirror and dubious light, but you get the idea.

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Dress: (From a charity shop) – Branded as “Anmol”. I can’t say I’ve heard of this brand before, or find much information on it, but I am happy with sourcing it from a charity shop, especially for such a good price.

Sandals: (Azalea – from eBay) – Ebay is a tricky one. Gigantically profiteering corporation…but if you navigate your way through the multitude of shops, you can find yourself a second-hand bargain whilst supporting someone who needs a bit of extra cash. Azalea appear to be a US company with no information regarding ethical standards whatsoever on their website. I’m not condemning them, this is just what I’ve found.

Belt: (Peacocks – from another dress) – Owned by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, Peacocks is rather famed for its low prices and constant changing of fashion seasons. However the website actually offers quite a bit of information on its ethical standards and code of conduct. Peacocks’ Ethical Trading

“We work with suppliers all over the world. Some of these countries do not have the legal and cultural framework which mean there are ethical issues which we cannot stop overnight. That won’t stop us trying though. We go beyond a simple customer/supplier relationship investing in training and partnerships with local suppliers. We also take a hands-on approach to making sure that our provision of work and livelihoods make a positive contribution to the social and financial development of the communities with which we trade.”

Having previously been named and shamed for sweatshop-usage, it’s encouraging that there is at least easily accessible information on the matter on their website. Far from innocent, there is at least some progress in the provision of workers’ rights here.

ALTERNATIVE FOR SANDALS: Laidback London – Sandals

“Made the old fashioned way, by hand using traditional techniques while working with natural imperfections to create unique and individual products.

Creating timeless pieces that are made to last and wear better with age.

Each piece is made by hand in Africa and provides sustainable incomes for the workers while preserving their skills and artistry.”

I hope this wasn’t too dull, it’s just a little project that I want to use to encourage research into what we wear. Until the next blog!

Rosie

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Charity Shop Haul!

Hello my lovelies,

I recently watched a documentary called The True Cost – it’s on Netflix, please go watch it – and ever since I have felt that post-harrowing-documentary-compulsion to get up off my privileged butt and try to help the situation, instead of contributing to it. Like most of us I was already aware of the problem, but never really took the time to assess how I can change it. Right now, I am trying.

The situation is this. Fast fashion has become a poisonous force in this world. From the horrific treatment and low pay for garment workers in developing countries, to the pollution of their rivers and soil; the increased price of genetically modified cotton leading to suicides amongst Indian farmers who cannot afford the new costs; the severe health problems that result from increased use of pesticides. To pin this injustice into one singular, tragic event, the documentary focused on the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in April 2013. Garment workers were ordered to show up to work after cracks were discovered in the foundations of the eight-story building. That morning, the entire building collapsed on itself, and 1,129 people were killed, with another 2500 injured escaping. I’m sure you’ve all heard of these events, and the truths that emerged thereafter. That the Plaza was built on a filled-in pond which compromised its structural integrity, especially with the vibrations from heavy machinery and generators within. An additional three floors were built for commercial use beyond the original permit. Poor construction materials were used. All of which surround the lives of underpaid garment workers. Where is the social responsibility here? My work uniform may well have been manufactured by one of these people, who deserve a liveable minimum wage and decent working conditions as much as any of us do.

I won’t delve too far into this on this particular post, as I could go on and on with little progress. This post is a celebration of one of the (tiny) steps we can all take to support our world, and its inhabitants: Charity shops. Now, no fashion producer can be considered entirely ethical, but here is an option readily available to us all, in which we can offer the triple support of contributing to the funding of that particular charity, recycling items of clothing that may have ended up in landfill, AND you are actively saying to the fast fashion industry that you are a strong independent person who don’t need no poisonous garment regime in her life. Well, to a certain extent.

In posting this I am certainly not saying that I am innocent of supporting the fast fashion trade – the other day for instance, I bought a couple of bras from Primark, neither of which offered sufficient support in the end but that’s another story. What I am trying to say is that I am becoming more conscious of how I consume things (consume is such an odd word, there are definite om-nom-nom connotations). Instead of selecting the cheapest item possible, I am starting to think about the work that has gone into this particular item, and what I would be supporting if I purchased it. On a scale of flagrant nonchalance towards fairly traded products and boycotting sales altogether, I want to work towards the more ethical side. I’ve made a list of Fair Trade companies which I keep in my bullet journal, and although I consider a lot of their items quite expensive (well, I would compared to Primark’s prices), they do often have clearances, and their basics are very good investments to supplement the clothes you already own. I’m thinking about starting a series called “How Cruel is My Wardrobe” (inspired by a video by Justkissmyfrog) –  in which I pick my outfit for the day as normal, and then look at the background of the companies behind it, and possible alternative sources. I don’t know, I’m still toying with this idea. But for now, before I head out, here is a fashion haul from a mixture of charity shops that I have gathered over recent months.

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LET’S JUST ADDRESS MY BLATANT LACK OF IRONING WITH A SWIFT “OOPS!”

  1. Turquoise Sun Dress (£5.50) – Forgive me, I cannot remember the name of the charity shop, but it was in Knaresborough – I think it was Cancer Research? The dress itself is lovely, 1950s-style with lovely cut-out detail at the neck. It is a little roomy around the waist but I’ve just added a belt and hey presto, it fits.
  2. Gold Holographic Doc Martens (£25.00) – My sister bought these for me after she spotted them in a charity shop in Leeds. Brand spanking new, and absolutely gorgeous. They go with nothing I have, and yet in an odd way they seem to go with everything!
  3. Navy Polkadot Dress (£3.00) – I found this in Shelter (a homelessness charity). It is a size 16 which is two sizes above my usual, but again, once I’ve belted it up it fits a treat. It’s also some insurance in case I gain some weight!
  4. Yellow Floral Camisole (£1.50) – Again, this was from Shelter. Originally from New Look, it’s such a glorious summery top and I love it.
  5. Red Checked Camisole (50p) – This was from a delightful rack full of 50p tops in Marie Curie. I’ve been wearing it with a black maxi skirt and sandals and feeling very floaty indeed.

So there we have it! My first charity shop haul. It did involve a little snooping around, but it’s worth it to support such a good cause. I realise how preachy this sounds, but if I can encourage you even on the smallest level to reconsider some of your clothing purchases and opt for a more ethical source, then I consider this a solid effort. It does require patience but you can find gorgeous clothing in charity shops, and the prices are always undeniably awesome. And when you wear it, you can think that this item has had a previous life, but so what? Not everything I wear has to be made just for me. The second you take it home and wash it, and it bears the scent of your fabric conditioner, it’s yours. The option is there for you to try.

The Guardian – Ethical Living

Rosie

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Plan With Me! Bullet Journal (June)

 

Hello my lovelies!

Here is a rather belated update on my bullet journal spreads for the month of June and the month of May… I am ashamed for my tardiness. By far the tardiest in the class!

APPLAUSE

Wow I didn’t even have a speech prepared, but um.. I would just like to thank my immense lack of timeliness in all situations, my distance-learning course that has ridden me into the ground recently, and last but not least, the wonderful creators behind American Gods, and The Handmaid’s Tale, for making these amazing shows. Without which, I might never be tardy.

(June is evidently laden with self-propaganda due to tomorrow being election day but did you expect anything less? Now for May, as seen below. I have definitely adopted a scruffier layout as of late but I find it frustrating to spend an inordinate amount of time delicately adorning my journal with extras, when the information is what matters to me more. I wish I could watercolour my life, but I simply don’t have the talent or patience. But there are always alternatives – with thanks to my new sticky notes. My sticky sticky notes.)

Until the next blog!

Rosie

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Brutality

Manchester has been numbed by last night’s horrific events. We will never understand why. The lives of innocent young people have been deliberately extinguished with these vile inhuman actions, and what has the perpetrator gained from it? Absolutely nothing. Simply that pain and mourning ripples through the country once more – what kind of cause is this? Sheer hatred for your fellow people. The statement does not need to be reiterated, as it has been so often in recent years. It needs to be reconsidered, in the desperation of current humanity. Please.

Review: I Love Dick (2017)

Hello my lovelies!

I come to you today with an abrupt review. More of an outpouring of thoughts post-Dick.

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I have just finished watching the first season of I Love Dick, an Amazon show adapted from the novel of the same name by author Chris Kraus. It follows the eponymous Chris (Kathryn Hahn, a blessing of an actress) through her rapid descent into psychosexual obsession. The object of this is the disarming theorist and purveyor of cowboy mystique, Dick. No surname required. (Although he is played by Kevin Bacon. Excellent surname.)

So what’s enjoyable about the show? For me it is the discomfort it creates. Who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of discomfort every now and then? It’s reminiscent of American Beauty, a disturbing medley of crossing the line of ‘acceptable’ lust and into the darker unknown. A taste of forbidden fruit. Or Bacon. Or Dick.

One of most interesting scenes was later on in the series as Chris narrates her sexual history and follows it from bedroom to bedroom as a spectre of observation in the background. This includes the dips and peaks of her sexual relationship with her husband Sylvere, who is very much aware of her obsession with Dick and plays a pivotal role in its development. What we find ourselves watching is Sylvere’s relationship and career crash down around him and culminating in quite a disturbing choice as Chris melts in Dick’s presence and only ever receives a sneer of pretension in return. Dick tells her he doesn’t find her interesting, or attractive. What can only come of it is ache and frustration, as there can be no satisfying conclusion to the story. Disappointment is inevitable. Heartache is already on the cards.

Still, I couldn’t help but feel that the images we’re presented with – such as Dick ‘erotically’ shaving a lamb, or a rather graphic altercation in the final episode – were oddly transfixing. Yes, we have witnessed these explorations of female sexuality many a-time, but the ‘loser’ quality and the sheer passion in Kathryn Hahn’s performance is something that pushes this discussion to the next base.

The supporting cast were also very good, particularly Devon and Tobey – dedicated in their pursuit of art and lust and all that pushes the boundaries of what is expected of us. They were stories that I wish were developed further, but in a short series of half-hour episodes, the balance that was struck between supporting cast and main cast was slightly off, in my opinion. The rhythm did not feel right, but in the avant-garde style of pausing at awkward moments in pivotal scenes, what were we to expect. Linearity?

All in all, I would highly recommend this show. The world needs more of this – exploring the unpretty, the awkward and the translation of sexual fantasy to reality.

And now, I’m just going to let you enjoy saying “I Love Dick”. Savour it!

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Rosie

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TMI of the Month! (Mooncup Review)

WARNING: Graphic vagina-based content. I would only read this if you’re interested in getting a Mooncup. Or are curious and not averse to period chatter.

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On a daily basis I struggle to communicate everyday normalities to people. In a combative effort to force myself into sharing information, once a month(ish) I bring forth what I call my TMI of the Month. It branches into oversharing, but is always based on the things I believe should be talked about more often, in theory. So this month’s offering is a hearty review of a well-known brand of menstrual cup: the Mooncup.

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SHALL WE BEGIN?

Quite a long time ago I purchased one of these odd little wonders from Boots, for I think £21.99 or thereabouts. I’d noticed a poster for one on the back of a toilet door, and the idea quite appealed to me. In a terrifying and medically invasive sort of way. The whole process just sounded so much healthier for my body, and significantly less wasteful than a disposable period kit. Unboxing revealed a larger-than-anticipated silicone cup, and I immediately questioned how this would ever sit comfortably inside my body. Post-sanitisation I attempted to pop it in, using the ‘push-down’ fold. Remarkably (for my level of general dexterity), it felt absolutely fine. Getting it to pop open, I found very difficult. Removal was a tad more unnerving, as unfortunately, as you’re pulling it out all the bloody thing wants to do is pop open, which created quite a sharp pain at the point of exit. I was perturbed, and thought surely tampons/pads are just the easier option. I tried it a few more times on and off, but I never really felt 100% confident with this new-fangled system.

[MANY YEARS LATER]

This weekend just passed, I decided to give it another whirl. My Mooncup and I were going to have to bond, like a full-on Ed Sheeran drunken weekend of intimacy bond. I am so sick of tampons, and the grating feeling of somehow having to shove this dry cylindrical clump of cotton into yourself upon changing. So with a tampon and pad-less weekend in store, I boiled the cup once more and gave it a solid go. The results? I am 99% sure that I am now converted.

FRIDAY (Little Elvis Day One) – Okay so the popping open thing. What I was waiting for was a quite satisfyingly timed POP once I had delicately placed the cup in its appropriate nesting area (which is quite low in the vagina, much lower than a tampon). What I got was silence, and as I felt around the base of the cup I realised that one side was still dipped inwards. Balls. I tried to wiggle it around a bit with my finger and thumb, twisting the night away in my bathroom, but it wasn’t having it.  This went on for a while, and soreness dictated my next move as I was feeling the effects of a five finger death punch. With a weakened sigh I decided to leave it in for half an hour and then try again. Whilst doing some stretches I felt what can only be described as a THUNK in my vagina. What the fuck. Initially forgetting that the cup was present, it suddenly dawned on me that this was the magical pop I had been waiting for, and I hurriedly checked to confirm this. Hurrah! All subsequent insertions have therefore been sealed with deadly vagina magic, using my muscles to kind of ‘clench’ it in place, if that makes sense. It may sound bizarre but you do what you gotta do, I’ve taken to touching my toes once I’ve popped it back in and this seems to help a lot. Signed, sealed, delivered. Let’s begin my Mooncup adventures. Some time later, as I’m walking around the house I keep feeling a little pinch. It’s pretty irritating. Back for another bathroom consultation (oh the horrors you have witnessed, bathroom walls) I discover the source of the problem – the stem is poking me. I had read about this, and learned that you are encouraged to cut the stem to fit your body. Not wanting to dispose of my lifeline before I’ve mastered the process, I cut off two rings, and found that fitted much better. Still in reachable distance, and no poking to speak of. No feeling whatsoever, really. It’s so strange, you look at it and think that it will be cumbersome and stocky, which surely can’t be pleasant in such a small area. Little confession, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “Jeez you would not expect a whole cup to be in there.” Like it’s a Sports Direct mug.

SATURDAY (Little Elvis Day Two) – I had to be up early for work, and last night I bravely made the decision to overnight this business, and we slept together for the first time. Not a stranger to researching horror stories, I had unfortunately read many an account of menstrual cups going for a little wander into town as you sleep and becoming nigh-on impossible to remove in the morning. Obviously it can’t go missing entirely, but apparently they have a tendency to wriggle up a little further than you’re used to comfortably reaching. Safe to say I was quite anxious, and all any medical professional tells you when they’re reaching inside you is to not be anxious, as that will not help. Thankfully, when I reached up expecting a vast cavern of nothingness (well, not vast), I felt the reassuring stem in its usual place, and tugged it out. I find the best way to do this is to use the stem to get a good grip on the base of the cup, squeeze it, then sort of walk it out, a little bit at a time. I still get the slight pain as it comes out entirely but I’m getting used to it now, it’s much milder than I’d originally gauged. There is also, a bit of a squelch upon breaking the seal, which I am not a huge fan of, but I’m sure we’ve all had these moments and chosen to nervously laugh it off. What overshadows this moment is the downright fascination of your period itself. I think it’s kind of wonderful that you can actively measure how much blood you lose while you’re menstruating. It can’t be just me? I had to resist the urge to hold the cup up and offer a toast to the human body. Cheers!

Anyway, so once I had given it a good clean, it was time to go back in for a bit of a test: A 7 hour shift at work. One of the most appealing prospects of the Mooncup is that you can leave it in for these longer stints, which is so much longer than a tampon (more like 3-4 hours). As it sits so low and is simply held in place by your muscles, there’s nothing pushing bacteria up against the cervix. It’s much more organic, and doesn’t absorb any of your natural fluids. No Toxic Shock Syndrome up in this house, let me tell you. I prepared myself accordingly, for a potential change, and potential shifting. I wore a thin reusable liner as a backup just in case of any issues, and I did have the tiniest bit of leakage, like a couple of miniscule spots. So perhaps that’s something I need to work on, but it didn’t bother me at all. With regards to emptying the cup, I was faced with what is definitely one of the downsides: public toilets. The only sink I would feel comfortable washing my cup in is my own, and as such I’d taken it upon myself to bring a little ‘kit’ with me – a small bottle of water, to rinse the cup ever so slightly from where I sit, and some natural handwash to give my hands a more thorough clean and scrub afterwards. It was a bit fiddly, but the change was pretty unnecessary for me, as the cup was nowhere near full. Tampon habits just keep creeping back in. I had worn it overnight and yielded a small capacity too, so the changing frequency I find has lessened dramatically. Medical-graded silicone is thankfully a material that does not harbour bacteria, so it is perfectly fine to let it work its magic for longer than tampons or pads. Marvellous! And to those who may consider the public changing gross, admittedly it is a tad awkward, but the procedure is no more invasive than using a non-applicator tampon. You also collect five hippy points for every correct removal/insertion.

SUNDAY (Little Elvis Day Three) – Getting used to this now, almost arrogantly so. I was also a tad hungover, the kind where you are still drunkenly dizzy so my manual skills were also compromised. The temptation is to move around quite a bit to put it to the ultimate test. I don’t go swimming so I can’t offer advice on how one would fare underwater, but I did do a fair bit of stretching and pilates. Expecting issues when I bent over or squatted to pick something up, but thankfully everything stayed in place. I say everything like its a full orchestra, but I have to keep reminding myself of the simplicity of the situation. I bleed, the cup collects it all, and I flush it down the toilet. It’s not being soaked up by cotton, or sitting outside of your body on a pad for hours, its just blood being collected inside your body. How can I not approve? One of the odd feelings I did not expect was slight disappointment upon removal, when the cup is generally 1/8th full.

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On reflection I think it’s because you feel like you lose so much more, the pain and ibuprofen-induced weakness seems to exacerbate the pitiful amount I actually lose each month. But as I say, with little markers on the side of the cup it is remarkably interesting to measure how much blood you lose in a whole period. I’m aware of how graphic I’m being, but if there are any gentlemen here under the impression that we bleed a blue Kool-Aid substance as is depicted on sanitary pad adverts, then I am sorry to say we do not, but wouldn’t that be canny.

MONDAY (Little Elvis Day Four) – It seems this has been the shortest period of all time, as I’m down to drops at the moment, so it is time to retire my Mooncup until its next appearance. All you do to complete the process is boil it for approximately 6 minutes (in a designated pan!) – then leave it to dry, and store it in the cute little cotton bag it comes with. It might be time to reassess the contents of my period drawer, as there are all sorts of tampon paraphernalia in there that I will probably rarely use. I do want to keep some in case a) I want something super quick and I’m not in the most sanitary environment, such as a festival, or b) if a person with a vagina is visiting my house and is in need. But overall, I hope to commit to the cup for each subsequent period. They last for years and years, so no further sanitary-wear purchases are necessary. In summary: How nice!

I would definitely recommend this product. As you saw in my adventures, there is a bonding process. I never thought I would take to it after my first go, but I persevered and now I actually feel a fondness for this new system. Initially yes, it’s quite expensive, but it is an investment. Also a cheeky way of evading the tampon tax. For my last couple of menstruating days, when there’s just a minimal amount of blood, I will probably use my trusty washable liners, or perhaps invest in the Thinx underwear. But I think the cup will be my main port of call. A couple of people have spoken to me about it after I mentioned it on a previous blog, claiming it was weird and disgusting. I understand that it’s different, and an odd idea to get used to, but I don’t really see how tampons or pads are any less intimate? You’re gonna see some blood any which way you go about it. Yes, you do have to get a little more acquainted with your vagina, but anyone who has one or has been in the vicinity of one, should be at least a bit familiar with it? If you’re not I encourage you to go out for a drink together, they are pretty cool things. With regards to cleaning, I imagine its something I will get used to and find mundane a few periods along the line. So if you’ve made it through this lengthy review, I urge you to give it a go. There are all sorts of brands, some softer cups, some in various adorable colours, some with rounded stems for minimal pokage. All you need is one, and that one will be your little mascot as your womb does its thing. How to naturally counteract the feeling of dragon claws churning up your insides however, is something I’m still working on.

 

Until the next TMI of the Month!

Rosie

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It’s been a while…

Hello my lovelies.

More time has passed since my last blog post than I would have liked, especially as the WordPress format has now changed. Nonetheless I return to you, post in hand – with a cheeky lack of structure! Today’s effort is in ‘Favourites’ style, just a few tidbits that have satiated my interest in the thusly-Month of May.

  1. Tattoo research.

 

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Crucially, I do not have a tattoo, but I absolutely ADORE researching the multiverse of thoughtful art that can be practically sewn into skin. I’m itching to get my first one, and I have a few ideas in mind. None of which seem remotely as delicate and glorious as my research specifies, but I think I need to stop applying nervous pressure to a situation that is at its centre, light-hearted. I love a thing, I am going to express my love for a thing in this manner of permanence. It’s the daunting concept of commitment that I often let push me away from things that I want to do, but I feel at the moment that I may just go for it. I lean towards 1920s art-deco borders and silent film nods, as well as the odd literary quote or nod. Stay tuned!

2. Sukin Skincare

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Every morn and eve, I have assumed the practice of religiously taking care of my skin. By religiously I don’t mean flagellating with a miniature cat o’ nine tails. Aside from moisturising and SPF-ing the dickens out of my parched legs, arms and chest, I have discovered a range of facial skincare that actually caters to my self-appointed needs. Sukin, an Australian brand, is fundamentally: as natural as possible, non-irritating to my extremely sensitive skin, plentiful with moisture, without a strong fragrance, widely stocked in places like Boots, cruelty-free, reasonably priced, with a decent environmental stance. I am definitely a fan, and this mini routine begins and ends my day with a sense of self-care. It’s generally a combination of this, and Superfacialist products.

3. Samurai Gourmet

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This show has become my favourite way to spend 20 minutes while I’m waiting for lunch to cook. Based on manga, it is perhaps the cutest thing that has ever existed, and you’ll find the mini-series on Netflix. A 60 year-old retired man (who is frickin ADORABLE I tell you) feels as though he has lost his routine and purpose in life, and begins adventures of discovering delicious local cuisine. Plagued by anxiety and introverted fretting, his spirit guide manifests in the form of a masterless Samurai who shows him how to take control of these situations and enjoy his life. It’s simple, and immensely cute, and it has a wonderful perspective on ageing – you are never beyond the point of discovering new pleasures, and re-living old ones. The sheer look of concentrated joy on Takeshi’s face as he sips on an ice-cold beer is just an absolute treat. Savouring every aspect of taste and environment, he develops such a strong emotional connection to food that helps him to overcome his social anxiety. Isn’t that bloody marvellous? It also helps you to develop a basis of simple Japanese café-lingo, and let’s face it, ordering food is pretty damn important. And the food in this show is just, absolutely incredible, and borderline erotic. Oishii!

 

Thanks for sticking with me on this rambly venture. Until next time!

Rosie

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