Archive for the 'Life' Category

March Already

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

I’m not sure how February managed to pass so quickly.  It seems to have disappeared in a haze of Japanese language learning.  I can’t wait for the end of term on the 21st March, but I’m really not looking forward to the exams and speech contest. I have not signed up for the next course as the dates don’t suit so I’m going to have to find a different school to study at for a while.  I’m also looking for something that isn’t as intense as I don’t really want to spend so many hours a week studying Japanese.

Friday’s classes were really tiring as they started with the weekly tests and then an hour and half of speaking Japanese.  We speak a lot in class but this was different as five strangers were brought in to chat with us.  It wasn’t as terrible as I was expecting but I didn’t really enjoy it.  The conversation was about the work practice of after hours drinking in Japanese companies.  It was interesting to hear about some of the cultural reasons behind this but I did find it hard trying to explain the cultural differences in Northern Ireland.

This week we are being taught how to be polite when people accuse us of things that we didn’t do.  I’m not really having a problem with this as I don’t know very much impolite Japanese and since these conversations are happening in a classroom I am not likely to speak polite Japanese with a bad tone.



Tired Today

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

December may be my favourite month, but in recent years it has not been a good month health wise.  The change in seasons causes problems for my thyroid disease and I still struggle with pace.  I know that I need to slow down but I resent it.  It’s strange how lying on the sofa reading a novel seems like such a luxury until it’s all you have the energy to do.  I did manage to do a few things today but I’m finding it hard to concentrate.  I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Christmas Songs

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

It’s December and I finally get to play Christmas carols and songs.  Not that anyone stops me playing them sooner, but it’s part of my traditional build-up to Christmas to start now.  December is still my favourite month though living in Japan has changed how we celebrate Christmas. Marty will have to work on Christmas day but I will cook a turkey dinner on the Saturday after Christmas and we are going to stay with friends on Christmas Eve.

I’m going to spend part of the evening writing cards while trying not to drive Marty too mad as I sing along to carols.

Tokyo, in December

Tokyo, in December


Back in Tokyo

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

I was useless at blogging while I was in Europe.  I had so many people that I wanted to catch up with that I didn’t have much time to spend on my computer.  I’ve been home for a week but I still haven’t managed to get into a routine, which was not helped by spending all of Tuesday at the clinic having a comprehensive health check.  It was an odd experience.  I had more tests carried out in one day that I’ve had done in the past five years.  Some of them were horribly invasive and others much stranger than I was expecting.  No-one warned me that during a barium x-ray I would end up on a table hanging on by my hands so that I wouldn’t fall on my head!  The table kept tilting me into odd positions and it wasn’t easy holding on with an arm that had been subjected to multiple blood tests earlier in the afternoon.  I also wasn’t expecting the ultra-sound to be painful but it seems that to find my kidneys and liver you have to push really hard.  It will be interesting to see the test results though I’ll have to wait for a about a month for those.

I’m hoping that things get back to whatever normal is in the next week but I suppose with the holidays coming up it’s not that likely.

Amazon Email

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

I got an email from Amazon this morning that was supposed to contain their deals of the week.  But all is said was “DUMMY”.  Not sure that will encourage me to buy anything.

Past Week

Monday, June 24th, 2013

I always have great plans to blog when I get home from travelling, but I find it hard to think of things to write about.  When I tell people outside Japan where I live they often ask what it is like to live somewhere so exotic.  While there is no doubt that I find lots of things about Japan strange and interesting my day to day life is not that different from the life I lived in Northern Ireland.  I cook, clean, study, and spend most of my time doing things that are anything but exotic.

The past week has been a quiet one.  I didn’t feel overly well at the weekend so we stayed at home.  I did make it to the cinema during the week to see The Great Gatsby, but I couldn’t think of anyone to go with.  So, for the first time, I went to the cinema alone.  There seems to be some sort of stigma about doing this and I’m not really sure why.  After all, it’s not like you talk to your friends during a movie.  The only odd thing that happened was realising that there is a 3D version of this movie.  What is the fascination with 3D movies?  I don’t like them.  They cause strain on my eyes and I don’t need things to jump out of the screen at me.  Thankfully I got to see the 2D version.

In other exciting household news I found a new recipe for using up spare egg whites.  The coconut and chocolate macaroons were very good and I will certainly make them again.  They were also very easy to make gluten-free by substituting the small amount of flour used in the recipe with rice flour.

On the study front I completely failed at reviewing my Japanese but I did sign up for Heroku and wrote my first node.js program.

Summer is Coming

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Every day it gets a little hotter.  I have all my doors open but there is no breeze and it’s becoming unbearably sticky inside the apartment. The city is dull, grey, and waiting on rain.  Summer would be so much nicer if the sky was blue, but it’s going to be overcast for months.

I was given an early birthday present from one of my Japanese friends.  At first I wasn’t sure what it was and I thought it was a set of chopstick holders.  But it’s an ornament to display somewhere.  She bought it so that I could look at it and feel cooler during the hot days of summer.  The penguins certainly make me smile.


Cool Penguins

Cool Penguins

Back in Japan

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

I am back home after a trip to Belfast.  I am incredibly tired as the journey seemed to take forever.  I had hoped to sleep on the flight from London but it wasn’t comfortable and I gave up on that idea after about an hour.  It’s good to be home but after being cold for weeks Tokyo feels uncomfortably hot.  As well as tired I appear to be grumpy!  One of the many joys of travel that isn’t listed in the travel guides.

I did enjoy my time in Belfast and my short trip to Dingle.

Ireland, looking like the movies say it should

Ireland, looking like the movies say it should


Family Wedding

Family Wedding

End of Term

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

I’ve finished my intensive Japanese course, passed all my exams, and I’m now getting ready to go on holiday.  I have quite a few things that I will be working on this week, but I’ll be away for two weeks around my wedding anniversary and I won’t really have a reliable internet connection then.

Today was a beautiful day for walking so we walked for hours braving the busy temples and shrines to see the cherry blossoms.  I’m hoping to get time to go and take some more pictures in the upcoming week with my camera and not just my iPhone.

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms in a Park near the Sumida River

Spring Equinox Day Breakfast

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Breakfast on a holiday should be more exciting than my usual yoghurt and fruit and I wanted to come up with a something to tempt Marty out of bed.  In the past I would have gone out and bought fresh croissants, but I can no longer eat these or anything that they sell in our local bakery.  It’s not easy to make a traditional Northern Irish breakfast here but I decided that I could at least make potato farls.

When I was last back in Northern Ireland I was disappointed that I couldn’t buy gluten-free potato farls.  I thought it would be very easy to do as these are mostly made of potato, with salt, butter, and some flour to bind it together.  Well, at least that’s what they used to be.  Some commercial potato farls are now made with only about 20% potato.   I can’t see any reason why the flour needs to have gluten in it and this morning I made them using Dove Farm’s gluten-free mix of plain flour.  The texture is different than the commercial ones, as mine are mostly made of potato, but they were yummy.

Homemade Potato Farls

Homemade Potato Farls