10th June 2002

July 9th, 2013 by Lisa

This is from my diary from when we first relocated to Japan – pre-blog. Other entries can be found here.
Went to Kobe for the World Cup on Friday: what a fantastic trip! We had to leave here at 7am but go onto our shinkansen in loads of time for the 3 1/2-hour journey. When we got there we got a taxi to our hotel, which was a very nice high-rise right by the waterfront. Think there were some FIFA officials or something staying there. Didn’t hang about – put on our football tops (Celtic for C, Sweden for me) and headed to the stadium. Suddenly the streets were full of green and yellow (and Japanese blue) and C started to count Celtic tops. His enthusiasm petered out fairly quickly and he stopped when he reached 7 or 8. Quick sushi lunch from the 7-11 then we joined the throng and went in.
People-watched for a bit – small children playing, laughed at the fans, then the Sweden team came out to have a look at the pitch so we had a debate about whether the chap with no hair was Larsson or not. No matter, because when they changed and came back out he was definitely there – C went down to the front to take some pictures and got a wave!
The match was pretty exciting, even for me – an American girl next to Cameron had to have him explain the offside rule, which I think he secretly enjoyed. There were some Swedes and one very keen English boy behind us, and an Irish man with his Japanese girlfriend next to me – they seemed to be supporting Nigeria. I was hoping for a tie (but was happy to see Sweden win as it made everybody else happy).
At half time, a man in a Celtic top came over to say hello – we bumped into him in a pub that evening and karaoke’d until 4am, but that comes later. After the match, we hung about in the stadium chatting (mostly to people in Celtic tops – one Japanese lad wanted to know why there were so many). Lots of Glaswegians – some with Larsson masks, some in kilts. We had our picture taken loads of time – I kept my mouth shut as I didn’t want to disappoint anybody by not being Swedish.
We did eventually leave and walked about 100 miles around the subway station before being allowed into it. Back to the hotel for a quick shower then out to the nearest Irish bar to watch the England match. Bumped into aforementioned Celtic top-wearer (Eddie) and his mates (Kevin, Allan) – not too keen to support England but they did manage to say they were happy when we won. Not convinced they meant it!
Bar was full to the brim with people standing on the bar to see…and only one barman, poor chap. Some Japanese girls had come especially to scream and swoon when David Beckham came on screen. There were a couple of other English people there but mostly Japanese, who could be persuaded to cheer for either side – or any other side. Important not to offend. (Kevin told us about when they’d been on a train on their way to Ireland-Germany, there were two Japanese boys on the train in Germany shirts. At the next stop, the train filled up with Irish fans shouting and singing – apparently the boys looked at one another then got Ireland shirts from their bags, put them on, and joined in the singing! ha ha.)
Once the match was over and the bar had emptied, we went to “Mickey’s bar” and did karaoke until 4 or so. Cameron made friends with – we think – a prostitute; one woman tried to sing Britney Spears; I howled my way through Puff the Magic Dragon…then a woman arrived who could actually sing, so we called it a night.
Next morning passed us by completely but we eventually made it back to the station to leave our bags then went and looked at Kobe. A nice city though we were perhaps a bit knackered to completely appreciate it. Saw a shrine, chinatown (bought a new bag and some chopstick rests), a huge shopping centre then the old area where Westerners first lived, before riding up and down the mountain on a cable car and coming home. Only to discover that the house had been broken into, but I don’t want to write about that.

Garden, July-December

February 9th, 2012 by Lisa

We moved into this house in July, to find the professionally landscaped garden looking very lovely. This is the children exploring it (photo snapseeded for nostalgia purposes) on the very first day:
childhood summer
In principle we have done nothing this first year but are waiting to find out what is there. With which in mind I have kept a bit of a photographic record: slideshow below. In reality of course there were things to be pruned back, apple trees to be installed (why wait a year when we will definitely need some?), a bloody awful yellow scrubby shrubby thing that I hoiked out in a temper and replaced with a buddleia, some new roses to fit in…we removed the top of the swing seat as it acted like a sail and took the whole thing across the garden at every gust of wind, and fenced the pond within 2 days of moving in. The raised beds were pretty with marigolds, poppies and (nasty pink) lavatera, but that hasn’t stopped me clearing one to make room for some veg. The broad beans are 4″ tall already.

Cameron’s super-delicious improvised chocolate panettone pudding

January 23rd, 2012 by Lisa

Some years ago, Cameron had a corporate thing in the kitchen of a famous restaurant (in Hamburg so not famous to me, but apparently it is. Here.) He was i/c pudding and made a lovely and very complicated bread-and-butter-esque thing with panettone and spiced clementines and wow it is fab and he makes it every year when I buy him panettone for Christmas.

Fast-forward to this weekend: friends for dinner, being very January and uninspired about the whole thing, then saw this whacking great panettone tin in the kitchen and decided Cameron was on pudding duty.  Only trouble being we had no white chocolate, no clementines or orange juice, and not very much butter. So (and bear in mind that Cameron really doesn’t cook) he improvised, as follows, and it was a huge success and you should all make it too. Next time you have panettone lying about.

260g panettone
150g dark chocolate
200g mix of butter and stork
100g caster sugar
4 eggs
6 egg yolks (blimey no wonder I have no eggs left this week)
100g flour

Cut the panettone into small squares and melt the chocolate. Mix the butter (stork) in your mixer “to a foamy mass” adding the sugar a little at a time, then beat in the eggs, yolks, and melted chocolate. Add the flour then the panettone. The original folded this last in gently but C went for beating all kinds of hell out of it, so I think you can mix it as much as you like: large cubes or pulverized crumbs.

Put in dish; bake at 180 for, well, I gave it half an hour and it was a bit too runny still in the middle, but you don’t want it to set firm and dry.  Scoff.

Circular needle case*

December 21st, 2011 by Lisa

I bought the fabric for this case way back at the beginning of the year, after various people had signed up for a facebook thingummy in which I said I would make them things. (The rest of you: I have not forgotten, it just takes me a while. You will be more surprised when something finally arrives, right?). Karen, who presented me with a scarf and hat embarrassingly quickly, knits on circs all the time and I happen to know she stores them in a shoebox. I wanted to do something with my new sewing machine.
I found this pattern. And then everything ground to a halt, partly for moving house reasons but mostly because I could not figure out the measurements in the pattern and as a new sewer was insufficiently confident to just do it. I tried very hard to contact the author but she either didn’t get my messages, has a policy of not replying, or just found my questions too stupid. Come November I decided to get a grip, enough was enough, and I am quite arithmetically competent enough to work the measurements out for myself. So I did, and it actually didn’t take long at all. Though if anybody who knows about sewing can explain the very good sewerly reason why one would cut a 10″ strip in order to make a 6″ pocket (cut 10″, make a 1″ hem, *trim it to 7″*, make a 1″ hem on the other side – it’s the trimming step I missed out) then I’d be delighted to hear it. I can only wonder if it is to compensate for wonky measuring and/or cutting, so you cut it to be parallel to the hem once you have made it…but if that is the case, surely 9″ would be sufficient?

*that is, a case for circular needles not a case that is itself round.


December 20th, 2011 by Lisa

New garden

November 19th, 2011 by Lisa

Them in the know suggest that the sensible thing, when you acquire a new garden, is to leave it be for a year and see what is there. To which I add the caveat unless you want to plant stuff (and of course one has to weed and prune and chop stuff back). Well, we have been here since the beginning of July: I have dutifully noted what is there* and not messed with it too much**, but unless the scrubby bit of bed by the back fence is a secret winter wonderland, as yet unrevealed, I feel quite safe ploughing it all up to put in apples. We know we need apples and if we leave it a year, that’s another whole year before we can start picking them.

So I started with this…

…and have cleared half of it. No signs of gorgeous wintery things to come: I unearthed a (very) few bulbs that I have put back to bed for the spring, although the baby did trample them a bit first. Mostly I have pulled out bucket after bucket of marigold seedlings, and one particularly vicious thorny rose. (Given its odd location and lack of congruity with the rest of the garden, I was little nervous it might be marking the last resting place of a beloved family pet. But nothing there, luckily, apart from a small brown toad.)

Tomorrow, fingers crossed, I am going to tackle the other half then I think we can fit in about 10 trees, as cordons! My dad put some supporting wires up when he was here last weekend so I just need to attach bamboo supports, source some trees, and bob’s your uncle.

* I have taken loads of photos, which one day I might get around to sharing.
** Apart from ripping out a particularly civic yellow-flowered shrubby thing that was situated in vile conjunction with scrubby red roses; the roses remain – for now – but the nasty yellow thing has been replaced with a lovely buddleia.

My new and amazing sauce for icecream

November 18th, 2011 by Lisa

You need the lovely Montezuma‘s dark chocolate with orange and geranium; about 1/4 – 1/3 of a bar per person. Break it up a bit and put it in a nice little bowl. Add a dollop of butter (bigger than a knob; not quite a slice), some double cream and some agave syrup and whack it in the microwave for 45 seconds or so. Mix it around with a fork and pour onto vanilla icecream.

(If you really must, you can keep it in the fridge and re-microwave it the next day.)


Jenny’s animals

October 6th, 2011 by Lisa

Mao – cat

oosh-oosh – dog

bish – fish

nnnn – cow

nn-nn – monkey

rah – giraffe

gok-gok – horse

gak-gak – duck/bird

18 months

June 20th, 2011 by Lisa

…and such an urchin, with permanently bruised shins and grazed knees. She has about 3 or 4 words, mostly gibberish to anybody but me  (gagaga – with quack hand gesture = any bird. Hee hee hee = horse. Maa! – me or Maggie or Tamsin or comeherenow. tatata = drink now please. Dad-n = daddy or Tamsin. roro = …your boat. ba ba ba = round and round (as in what the wheels on your bus do), fff = fish*), but who’s comparing (with Maggie’s over-60 and Tamsin’s well, a few): she can make herself Very Well Known indeed.

* interesting – to me at least – how similar the list is to Tamsin’s list at the  same age.

:: right now ::

June 12th, 2011 by Lisa

(a la Earthenwitch). Right now I am:

cuddling a sad and bruised youngest daughter and wondering where all the blood came from (update: she’s fine, just got a huge fat lip. Teeth all intact.)

Packing. And fretting. We appear to have extremely nervous buyers who have now sent three surveyors round (and the third, this morning, warned me that a fourth might be forthcoming). Fortunately I have surveyor-charming skills and have made them all tell me what they find (I’m not supposed to tell you but). Seriously: they are buying a 110-year-old house, it is going to have, ahem, quirks. Features. Oddly, their solicitor does not seem to know they are doing all this. On which note…

waiting for our solicitor to call me back. Nothing so far has led me to believe the poor woman knows how to operate a telephone.

reading umpteen magazines (crafty homey ones, mostly) while resolving to kick the expensive, pointless magazine habit.

trying to get a reading group off the ground: who’d have thought it would be so difficult to get more than two people together in the same place, with books, at the same time.

making (a mess, ha ha) – lazy-days skirts. Flowers for M and hungry-caterpillar circles for T.

editing some nonsense about dogs

using up the contents of fridge/freezer/cupboard with weird and unpredictable results.