Monday, 17 August 2015

The return of the prodigal son...

 
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After two long (for me, at least) years the prodigal son has returned home, and whilst we haven't quite killed the fatted calf, we are very pleased to see him! 





Rhiannon and her fiancé Stuart are also excited to have him home as he has a very important role to play at their wedding, with 'play' being the operative word!


Taken before Tom went to Japan...


He has left behind some amazing people and places, but has brought back wonderful memories. A lot of these memories involve the fantastic children he has taught, ranging in ages from 5-14. He won't miss a few aspects of Japanese life, but his experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. He came back armed with boxes of gifts, letters and good wishes. He was very nearly undone when some of his students and their parents turned up at Kagoshima airport to say a final goodbye, which proved to be very emotional, especially when they gathered round to sing the school song to him just before he went through security. I think a tear or two was shed, but I would be more worried if he hadn't immersed himself into his Japanese life to the extent that leaving was such a wrench.



Just a few of the mementos ...




At the minute the jury is out on whether he would rather be here or back in Japan - he is suffering from culture shock, perhaps a bigger one than when he first arrived in Japan!

This photograph taken by Matt, an American teacher who is Tom's replacement, is symbolic. Whilst he isn't exactly riding away into the sunset, he is making a significant change of direction.



Tom won't be with us for long, as in October he begins his studies at Oxford for a MSc in Comparative International Education (your guess is as good as mine!), which will open up a whole new set of experiences ...

Thursday, 6 August 2015

August 6th 1945 at 8.15…

I make no apology for reposting a post from April when we visited Hiroshima. Today we remember the bomb which devastated Hiroshima seventy years ago, but for the victims, survivors and their families they re-live this day, every day. Sadly, in wars attrocities are committed by all sides and certainly millions of people suffered extreme cruelty at the hands of the Japanese army. However, this was a most terrible price for the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to pay, and I can’t help but wonder whether things could have been done differently to achieve the surrender of Japan, which was being negotiated.

Our day started with a trip into the city, mostly rebuilt after 1945, where the Sakura (cherry blossom) was beginning to come into full bloom.

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We began with the castle, which was devastated in the nuclear bombing. One tower was rebuilt in the 1950’s.

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Words cannot adequately describe the feeling of visiting the A-Bomb Dome, Peace Park and Museum, so I’ll let a few of our photographs speak for us. The testimony of the survivors was very moving.

The dome is in the process of being surveyed…

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Part of a beautiful cylindrical mosaic inside the memorial. Each tile of the mosaic represents a person who died in the aftermath of the bombing.

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A young girl who developed leukaemia following the bombing believed the story that if you  were to fold a thousand paper cranes your wish would come true. As she struggled with her illness she folded over fifteen hundred. Sadly her wish didn’t come true and they were given out at her funeral. They have now become a symbol of peace and every person entering the Memorial is given a tiny paper crane.

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It didn’t seem right to take any photographs inside the museum. The reconstuctions reminded me of Oradour sur Glane.

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From the BBC

From CNN...

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Done or DONE…

It was the Paulmy brocante today, in beautiful surroundings around the plan d’eau.

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We managed to pick up some glasses (25!) for Rhiannon’s wedding…

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Another set of portes couverts…

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and these hideous dishes…

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Now this is where I was done! Not done in the sense of sealing the deal, but DONE. Usually I get the deal I am happy with for the object I really would like to have or I walk away. Today none of these things happened! I paid an over the odds 10 Euros for dishes I don’t even like very much, half of which are chipped and touched up with gold paint. DONE!!!

If you subscribe to the ‘some you win, some you lose’ idea then last weeks enormous brocante at Le Celle Guenand was a triumph.

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I picked up this fine Kaiser china tea set for 20 Euros – which only serves to underline today’s mistake.

Oh well, c’est la vie…

P.S. Would anyone like to buy some gorgeous, much sought after, rare dishes for the bargain price of 12 Euros???

Friday, 24 July 2015

J-Days* reflections (2)…

* Japan Days

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State of the art conveniences…

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We were amazed at the standard of toilets throughout Japan. There seemed to be nothing that these toilets aren’t able to do -

  • some play music,
  • some have heated seats,
  • some double as a bidet,
  • some blow warm air,
  • some make a variety of sounds to mask bodily noises,
  • some have fragrances to mask bodily smells,
  • some have seats which provide a massage,
  • some have disinfectant soaked tissues to wipe seats,
  • some have paper covers for seats,
  • some have fragranced toilet paper,
  • some cubicles have seats to hold infants
  • and most have all of these functions!
  • service areas are nicely decorated’',
  • and ALL were scrupulously clean!

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I’m not only talking about toilets in expensive places, but most toilets, even public conveniences.

I think the British and the French have a way to go…

** Sorry about the quality but they were taken quickly and that there isn’t a photograph of the whole toilet. They are on my hard drive in the UK!!**

Sunday, 28 June 2015

No fog on the Tyne...

 Posted via the iPad so layout will be strange, until I can log on with my laptop.

The Angel of the North...





We are in Newcastle upon Tyne for a couple of days while Tim does some teacher training at the Royal Grammar School. It is the first time I've ever visited the city, although about 20 years ago we did a trip to Northallerton where Tim had an interview. We spent time looking around the area at houses we might call home, but in the end the job went to a local candidate and we didn't have to make the decision to uproot and move north. On a rainy day we visited the Metro Centre in Gateshead, but that was as close as we got to the Tyne!

The Millennium bridge with the Sage Theatre, Gateshead in the background.



Our hotel is in Jesmond which is a very nice part of the city and close to the school. However, the apartment blocks along the banks of the Tyne are certainly a very trendy place to live and the cafe culture apparent on a sunny afternoon.


The architecture, both Georgian and more contemporary, is impressive. There is even a statue of Earl Grey, the same Earl Grey of my favourite tea fame. I'll have to check that out later as the Blogger app for the iPad is a bit flaky and if I do a Google search in the middle of writing the post when I come back to finish the post some letters mysteriously disappear from the keyboard...NO, I haven't been drinking...well only one glass of wine!



The Baltic Centre contemporary art gallery was amazing, and the ledges around the building a home for hundreds of breeding pairs of kittiwakes. The shop was amazing. Unfortunately Tim was with me, but I might return tomorrow when I hit the shops...alone!



We had intended to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant at our hotel, but were tempted by Jamie Oliver's restaurant in the city centre. We had a delicious burger and pizza served by a very friendly young waitress who took the time to talk to us.




I believe that these pieces of stonework from some of the buildings demolished to build the Eldon Square shopping centre.






We are now back in Staffordshire having driven over 1000 miles in three days. Tim is training some new teachers at the University, and I have walked and lunched on Cannock Chase with friends in true lady of leisure style!