Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rainy days and Sundays

Rain, rain and more rain as seen from our balcony this afternoon.

It is officially rainy season and it has rained non stop all day, it is raining so hard that I am beginning to think that there can't be anymore rain left up there! Nevertheless, it's Sunday and rainy Sunday afternoons are perfect for endless cups of tea, baking and watching TV. While watching the Discovery Channel and dreaming of sunnier climes I dreamt up the idea for Pina Colada muffins (pineapple and coconut doesn't sound anywhere near as exciting). As soon as they were baked and cool enough to eat my friend Julie came round for tea. Julie comes around for tea every Sunday afternoon and faithfully acts as guinea pig for my latest muffin creation, other experiments have included pumpkin and chocolate chip, banana and walnut and mango and raisin. However, I have to say that the Pina Colada muffins were slightly disappointing (I really had high hopes for them!) and pumpkin and chocolate chip remains the firm favourite.

The rain has also given us the perfect excuse to stay in and recover from the rest of the weekend's exertions. We attended two leaving parties, one last night and one on Friday night. The party on Friday night was held at a local french restaurant, the food was excellent and the mojitos and bubbly were flowly very freely. In fact, everyone was having so much fun that the police arrived to tell us to keep the noise down! There were lots of very sore heads on Saturday morning and last night's party was a bit more subdued as most people were still getting over Friday night.

Tonight we are going out for dinner and then watching the football at the pub, I hope there are no penalties as I don't think I will be able to stay awake until 2 in the morning! However, watching England in a penalty shoot out is always a fun experience!

Here is a random photo to keep you entertained until next time.

Geta sandal maker in Hiroshima

NB. Those are some serious built up shoes in the middle of that picture.

Monday, June 12, 2006


At 5:01 this morning, Therese and I were woken by our first big earthquake in Japan. Therese was awake straight away, and once we realised what was going on we made a quick dash for the dining room table, and dived underneath just as the last few tremors shook the building. Naturally, we were straight on the internet to find out how strong it was - the quake.

As you can see from the link the epicentre was about 160km (100miles) away, and was recorded as 6.3 on the Richter scale, which is officially classed as 'Strong'. Amazingly nothing fell over or got broken in the flat, but the pictures were a bit wonky and the elevator had stopped working. According to the local news, 5 people were injured, although none seriously.

It's sort of hard to describe what it feels like - a bit like when you are on a train or tube and it goes over a bad part of track, and suddenly shakes from side to side, and it lasts much longer than you imagine. Having experienced one, I'll be quite happy to not have to experience another - I prefer the ground to stay still at all times!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Anyone for Pimm's?

The hot weather has finally arrived, it was thirty degrees yesterday, really hot and humid - so where did I spend the afternoon?
In one really hot and humid kitchen for about 3 hours making food!

We invited our friends around for a Pimm's and cocktail party to celebrate the start of the World Cup and get everyone warmed up for the England game. Ok, it wasn't going to rival Posh and Becks' "Full Length and Fabulous", for a start I will never be as thin as Posh but then again I bet she can't bake a brownie like I can. The food was really tasty, we had curried turkey salad, chicken, pumpkin and couscous with a sweet chilli dressing, pasta salad, bruschetta with pesto, garlic and tomatoes, fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic, chocolate and walnut covered strawberries and finally, some yummy brownies. Martin was a whiz at the bar, mixing up banana daiquiris, mojitos, campari cocktails and about four jugs of Pimm's! After all food and alcohol was consumed we merrily headed into town to watch the football. There is a little excitement about the World Cup but the hype is just not quite the same as being at home. Poor Martin sat up late on Friday night to watch the opening game only to realise that the Japanese coverage was a programme of two men watching the game on their TV. You didn't even get to see their screen and you couldn't understand the commentary as it was all in Japanese - not quite Match of the Day!

We've had a busy week, Martin has been working hard, I've been planning our trip to Thailand in October, plus starting up a book group in Hiroshima and I will also be teaching some English classes from next week on. I'm a little nervous about it as one of the students has only a really basic grasp of English but I guess it will force me to improve my Japanese, I'm sure they'll be plenty of fun and games along the way...

Well there are lots and lots of glasses, dishes and plates to be washed up so I better make a start and then we are going to the gym to soak in the outdoor jacuzzi - just what I need after all that hard work yesterday.

all gone...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Toukasan, turtles and cute kids

We are just recovering from a wonderful weekend enjoying the Toukasan Festival or Yukata Festival in Hiroshima. Yukata are a kind of colourful, cotton kimono and the festival signals the start of yukata wearing season in Hiroshima.There was a really good atmosphere around town and thousands of people out on the streets. Hundreds of street stalls with games and snack foods lined Chuo Dori Avenue, including goldfish scooping, balloon fishing, grilled cuttlefish, squid, octopus, okonomiyaki on a stick, yakatori and many more. The festival site was packed with children in yukata and young couples indulging in kakigori, or flavored shaved ice -tasty stuff ! I couldn't resist taking some pictures of the kids in their yukata, they looked so cute and their parents were so chuffed when you asked to take their picture.

Bit of a difference between Louis Vuitton and these little stalls! Little bikes like the one that guy is riding are really popular here as they fold up and don't take up so much space but they do look a little funny when you see a grown man on one!

Isn't he just adorable?

Girls enjoying flavoured ice in their yukatas.

I don't know why these kids had giant plastic bottles strapped to their backs, I suppose you could collect a lot of spare change in those things.

Street vendor selling yummy sweet cakes. It's always a bit of a lottery buying these things as you never know what lurks inside. You could hit the jackpot and get a cream filled one or be really unlucky and get one with soy bean paste.

People in Japan love to make a V sign when they have their picture taken and as you can see they start early, this little sweetie can't have been more than three.

The weather has really started to heat up this week but it hasn't stopped me getting out and about on the green bullet (Martin said it's the slowest moving bullet he's ever seen). Anyway, cycling in this heat is actually pretty good because you manage to catch a bit of a breeze. On Friday I popped down to Shukeien Garden for the afternoon and the turtles were loving it out in the hot sun.

He actually fell off that stone just after I took the picture!

Must go and get the house shaped up, love until next week,xxx

Ps. Happy Birthday Dympna!