Archive for June, 2008

Thursday April 18th 2002

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

This is from my diary from when we first relocated to Japan – pre-blog. Other entries can be found here.

It’s chilly inside today (because it isn’t sunny) but warm outside so I am having my lunch (cream cheese and banana sandwiches: who said I wouldn’t be able to get bread or cheese?!) on the patio, which is very pleasant. I can hear the crows (you can always hear the crows) and the odd passer-by, but very quiet and peaceful. I’ve spent the morning working but have nearly exhausted what they sent (I work so much quicker here. Less chat?) so will I think have a walk to Shibuya when I’ve finished eating. Back to Tokyu Hands for B-list essentials. I bought all the A-list on Tuesday but thought my hands would drop off carrying it all home- had to battle through Shinjuku too, which was not much fun. Got a local train back because I thought it might be quieter – I was right, at least I got a seat.

Didn’t do much of anything yesterday – a few hours’ work, read a bit, pottered down to the shops. Tried to buy hooks for the shower curtains without knowing the words for “hook”, “shower” or “curtain”, which was very amusing for the shopkeeper. He didn’t have any.

Email home Saturday 13th April 2002

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

We move into our house on Monday! It will be nice to be in our own house (though no swimming pool and we’ll have to make the bed ourselves) – the hotel is very good but after 2 weeks we are a bit bnored.

We’ve had another busy week. Or I have, anyway: Cameon’s just been going to work! I’ve been working as well but have also been back to look at the house to make sure we definitely wanted it (was that only monday?), to a yoga class, which was much more strenuous than the classes I am used to, and out for a revolving sushi lunch with Gail, whose husband also works for Shell. (The sushi itself doesn’t revolve.) I’ve chosen a whole house-full of furniture so goodness knows what that will look like when it arrives, a jumble sale I expect. We’ve registered as aliens (!) and opened a bank account. I got very cross in teh bank when they asked Cameron if I wanted a cash card thengave it to him saying “this is for her”. Talk about a second-class citizen (and then when we went back to finalizse the furniture they were all over him and asked if it was ok that I had chosen it). Gah!

Yesterday, I went with Gail to look at the western supermarket (I dont’ think there is anything you can’t get, I checked for all the essentials. Peanut butter, ice cream, cheese, teabags) then met Cameron at his work in the evening for some welcome drinks. Phew! Today we went to Asakusa, where there is a big tempe and “kitchenware alley” – hundreds of shops selling everything you could possibly want to runa restaurant, including the plastic food they put outside! Then we went up the tokyo tower – ad Eiffel tower lookalike but a few metres taller just because they could! It was hazy so we couldn’t see all that far (we didn’t see Fuji) but it was s till a good view.

PS I’ve attached a picture of Cameron at work in his pyjama-like uniform.

Four more sleeps

Monday, June 9th, 2008

And really quite excited about our holiday. Not entirely sure why (except it is a long time since I had one) and hoping very hard that this weather holds. While the rest of you have had stair-rods along with Bill-n-Kate, Cheshire has had high summer. Like we used to have when we were children: day after day of unrelenting sunshine (presumably because I have invested in a rainwater butt). Cameron, in a really dramatically underhand bid to avoid doing any packing at all, has swanned off to Houston for the week. Maggie is being super-whingy-whiney (I alternate between blaming two grandparental visits in quick succession – she often gets a bit strange afterwards – and daddy being away. Or is she a bit poorly, who knows. Or the heat. Or just four.) Tamsin is interminably teething, and we are still overrun with critters of all description.

Slugs, check. Spiders, check. Mice – now in the kitchen cupboards so b*ll*cks to being humane, I’ve been out for proper traps this morning. Blackbird flying round the morning room battering against the windows, check. Next-door’s dog coming and depositing, um, deposits on our lawn. Check. Until I put a note through her door* yesterday and now she has blocked the hole in the fence (hooray). Unfortunately while blocking it she investigated what he was barking at and found a rat in the hedge (did you say you had a compost bin because perhaps that is attracting them). Have purchased larger traps to go with the small mousey ones: intend to spend the rest of the week before we go away disposing of rodent corpses. Unceremoniously.

Today I bought new nappies. Not terribly momentous, I agree, but the old ones had been in near-constant use for 4 years and were looking a little sad. (How much money I have saved. Smug, moi?!) The tipping point came when I realised T was either holding them up with her hands or giving up and taking them off altogether – the elastic had finally given up the ghost and, now we have sunshine glorious sunshine and she is no longer in a pop-up vest, they were feeling the effects of gravity. Rainbow bots, purchased all those long years ago, are no longer in production (mine are no longer beautiful icecream colours like those in the picture but a kind of nondescript grey), so I went along to see Lizzie, my local nappy dealer. I knew one of her neighbours so we started with a bit of a gossip (Chester is like that) then I came away with two discounted discontinued end-of-line bamboozles (slim-fitting, very absorbant, take forever to dry, she says). Apparently I am alone in my love of a coloured nappy as the lovely bright yellow and purple are no longer to be manufactured (all these people who want boring white nappies have not fully considered staining, I suspect). Four fluffles (bulky but fast-drying and oh my goodness as soft as a cloud: I’d like to cuddle one if that wasn’t a bit weird. White. Nippa fastening rather than velcro, which will take a bit of getting used to), also discontinued for reasons unknown as they are enormously popular. Four state-of-the-art flexitots (mid-bulkiness; fit like a disposable ie slim round the waist baggy underneath, which is a bit peculiar but ok). They have velour inners! I’d wear one myself (if, you know, I wasn’t toilet trained. Which I am.) Some people become nappy junkies and like to try every sort; others (like me) find ones they like then just stick with them and stop looking – so no more nappy chat, maybe ever.

*A very polite note, and it is all quite amicable. We like our neighbours. Apart from her horribly yappy dogs that bark all the sodding time when she is at work (but have very cute puppies). And the other side has a horrible barky dog that scares even me never mind Maggie (Tamsin doesn’t bat an eyelid) and whose “deposits” remain on the nice new patio for an unseemly length of time, making hanging out my washing really unpleasantly smelly.

Hit and run

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Conscious that we have about 10 days to go before we go to sunny Scotland for a fortnight, I’ve been engaging in some rapid-fire allotmenteering, dashing down for the hour or so between children-in-bed and too-dark-to-dig. I got my maincrop potatoes in on Saturday – that’s fine, the pack said to plant between March and May so 8.30 pm on the 31st May is well within that window. Percy Thrower would have something to say about my planting method (dig trench in the middle of the weeds, pulling out the worst of the roots. Scatter spud fertilizer; use bulb planter to put potatoes in. Earth up with weed roots) and they are definitely closer together than they should be, as I didn’t have the strength to dig a second trench, but at least they are in and no longer regarding me reproachfully from the windowsill. Last night I flung in some borlotti beans: dug a big hole, filled it with lawn cuttings, back-filled with soil and weeds, put up a wigwam and put the bean plants in. You could almost hear them breathe a sigh of relief as they moved from 1-inch-diameter pots into the ground. They are thigh-high already, poor things. Next year I will sow them later.

Interestingly (to me, anyway) the purple french beans are happy wee things, growing up their poles and the new seeds I sowed have all germinated into nice little plants. The yellow ones, which are supposed to be going up alternate poles to make a lovely stripy wigwam, are pathetic. One has disappeared altogether (I’d blame slugs but my chief suspect is Mike-next-door’s overenthusiastic weedkilling on the path between us). The seeds have either not germinated at all or have come up to be eaten.

My raised bed, however, is a joy and a triumph. I must photograph it before I eat too much of its contents. (The photograph up there, by the way, is not a bouquet but some purple flowering bok choi, which was lovely in last night’s thai-curry-cum-stirfry. Unlike the aspragus which was just wrong.)

Tuesday 16th April 2002

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

This is from my diary from when we first relocated to Japan – pre-blog. Other entries can be found here.

We’re in! We have (most of) the furniture and – most importantly – we have clean clothes! Once a man has come this afternoon to fix the oven door, I am off to Tokyu Hands for essentials – bins, shower curtains, fax paper etc etc. I had a bit of a trauma earlier today when, after buying a huge amount of stuff from the western supermarket (nissin) I found that they only deliver to ohyamacho on weekends. So I had to get a taxi – much migi*, migi, find the koen**. erm what if we start at the eki*** I know where it is from there… – but I managed! And I was running a bit late for yoga this morning so I just jumped on the first train that came, only it was an express and didn’t stop until it came to shinjuku and then when I tried to transfer to the yamanote line it wouldn’t take my ticket and the chap sent me back to the fare adjustment machine only that didn’t take my money so I went back to the barrier and tried my JR pass only that didn’t work either! So I was just beginning to think I would never get out when a nice man in a smart cap explained that I had to put both my JR pass and the subway pass through together. I could have been there weeks before I worked that out. So I eventually arrived, yoga was extremely hard, went for coffee with Gail and her friend who I think was called Carolyn and another friend called Tina who lives quite near here and has cats so I will have to make friends with her. Then a quick rotating lunch and off to the supermarket which I think is where I started.

Cameron was off yesterday – we were collected at the hotel to come to the house then our air freight arrived almost immediately, closely followed by the furniture. It seems that the new stuff I have chosen won’t be ready for a few weeks, which isn’t a problem but I wish they had explained it when I was choosing. Maromi took us down to the local shops and explained what was what in the supermarket, then left and that was it! On our own. So we bought some essentials, cam back for lunch, and spent the afternoon unpacking – in the evening we wandered down towards the station and found a little bar where we had delicious salads and grilled meat. The korean-style lamb (cut so thin it resembles bacon) was fantastic.

On Sunday we went to Yokohama with Eiji and Yuko, which was very nice. It was a lovely sunny day and Chinatown is amazing – hundreds and hundreds of little restaurants packed full of people, and lovely smells everywhere. Had a gorgeous lunch, apart from the raw jellyfish, which I was not very keen on, and took a boat back to the station, then home in time for a final sauna and swim in the hotel.

And on Saturday, we went to Asakusa to look at the temple (we realised once we had arrived that we’d been there last time**** – no problem, it was a nice day and good to see) and kitchenware alley, followed by a trip up the tokyo tower.

****We had a holiday in Japan a year or so before moving out there to live