31 Oct 2011

Halloween

It's Halloween night! And also it's the first Halloween for me:) Secretly, I was looking forward to it like a kid. Children in costumes visit neighbours to ask for candy, saying "Trick or Treat!". On Saturday morning, a boy decorated his house busily with Halloween ornaments. So, we were a little bit excited and bought Jelly Babies and Eclairs for Halloween, otherwise we needed to hide in the house.

Sometimes I could hear fireworks and kids' voices this evening. ...but... seems like it's no different from any other day. This house is on a long street, kids must select houses to visit. Oh dear... nobody visited... that was a shame... We bought a lot of candy, but... well... it will be food for a big mouse... not for kids... 

i-ADNES DICTIONARY
*What's a big mouse? : The people who appear in a kitchin to snitch food after having a meal. Basically it's big, and has a habit to eat while walking around in the kitchen, sometimes leave crumbs on the floor. Rarely small mouse appears to snitch chocolates. 
Big mouse's food...

30 Oct 2011

Daylight Saving Time

It's the first time to change the clocks for me, due to the end of daylight saving time. There was a notice on BBC news but it was less well publicised than I expected - or maybe just because I didn't watch news very much... Some clocks, computers and cell phones are changed automatically. But I believe there are people who forget to change it in this world...

Immediately, I got the time wrong this morning, because I didn't change my watch. Perhaps people who live in the countries introducing daylight saving time were used to it already...!?

I made a goof this morning. We was supposed to buy "a SOAP" but the one I picked was "a hand soap". I was completely convinced it was the body soap, and he was convinced that I wanted to buy the hand soap.  Oh dear... Let's express what's a kind of soap you want clearly from the next time. Anyway, purple lavender-scented soap is nice and matches the image of bathroom.


29 Oct 2011

Maldon

We went to Maldon by bus this morning. Maldon is a lovely town on the east coast in Essex, and settlements in the town go back to Saxon times. The name of Maldon came from a cross on a hill, meaning "Hill with a cross or crucifix". The town lies on the Blackwater estuary, and became an important port since early times. In fact, it became one of the earliest towns to be recorded in the county of Essex as a whole. And also it was subject to Viking raids until the Battle of Maldon in the 990s. Today the town is known as the home of Maldon Sea Salt.


High Street in Maldon


Maldon is a naturally beautiful area. There are parks along the River Blackwater, which are rich in wildlife and birdlife.




The Blackwater was almost dried up when we were there, and it was very muddy...



There is the statue of Byrhtnoth beside the river Blackwater. He died as the leader of  the Anglo-Saxon forces in the Battle of Maldon against the Vikings in 991.



After walking around the river side, we went to the pub; The Queen's Head beside the river, and we had one of the traditional pub meals, deep fried scampi for lunch. Yummy, it was nice.


Careful Attention

I found an interesting cigarette butts stand near a bus stop. There is a hole only for gum!! Wow, it's very polite!!!

28 Oct 2011

Childhood

Is school off now? I see young people and kids in the daytime. How was your childhood?

I was a lazy child. One winter, I needed to draw a fire prevention poster with a nice phrase as a homework, but I couldn't think of any good ideas. I asked my mom to help as she was lying on a couch. She suggested some ideas but every time I said no. Time passed, after she suggested another idea, and I finally said yes, that's it! The phrase was 'Keep watching the stove when you cook'. I drew the stove easily at night and submitted it next day. Somehow I could win a prize in the competition! The poster was posted proudly on the kitchen wall for a while. My sister always says I have social graces...

Skins

I enjoy watching the British teen drama "Skins". It's story about teenagers in Bristol, which is themed on dysfunctional families, mental illness, sexuality, substance abuse and death. Sometimes they are too crazy, sometimes serious. Hey, hey, hey, it's very different from Japanese, but it's fun. It's focusing on each character in each episode. Now there are six series, but series 6 will transmit early next year on E4. I can't wait to see it :)

Medieval England

I've read "The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England" by Ian Mortimer. It's a serious book but if you are interested in Medieval England, it's quite interesting. The story brings you back to the fourteenth century. Conversational voices can be heard, and stinking can be smelled when you read it. This book makes me realise that Medieval society was young, because their lifespan was shorter than modern times, half of all adults died before they reached fifty.

According to this book, men were in their prime in their twenties, mature in their thirties and growing old in their forties. As for women, they were in prime at seventeen, mature at twenty-five and growing old by their mid-thirties! That means that people had to take on responsibility at a young age, and such  a situation must had made people more precocious. Medieval women must had been strong, because they had produced five or more children by mid-twenties (some of those would have died), and many of them were widows as a result of wars. Gosh... I must had been a protected species or a dead women in medieval times.

27 Oct 2011

Prayers

Thailand's floods, Turkey earthquake... My heart aches. They helped Japan when we were in the hardest time. Lots of love.

Are you a shopaholic?

Why do women tend to like shopping?

Last time, at a supermarket, I saw an old man who was following his wife. He was a visibly henpecked husband :) He picked up crisps and tried to put it in a basket, but he was flatly rejected and put it back. It was hilarious.

I had some shopping to do today. I'm not a shopaholic. Especially after the earthquake, I've felt possessions made little sense, because many people lost their possessions by tsunami, which they had created and bought over years and years. But it is true that I can achieve gratification after shopping. Recently I've had a serious problem that I can't make up my mind whether I should buy this or that, blue or red, maybe because I became a conscientious consumer...

26 Oct 2011

Guy Fawkes Night

Many Japanese associate the name of fireworks with summer festivals or the end of summer, and fireworks gradually disappear from shops at the end of August. But I hear and see more and more fireworks around here. Furthermore, a fireworks shop in containers has temporarily opened in a car-park next to a pub. I asked my bf about it, he answered "Because Guy Fawkes Night is coming". I said "I didn't know that." instantaneously, but now I remember he explained it maybe last year. I just couldn't create a image of it.

Guy Fawkes Night (Guy Fawkes Day and Bonfire Night) is one of the biggest occasions for fireworks in the UK, held each year on 5th November, and commemorates the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and an attempt to kill King James I. The man named Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot was arrested. Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night... it's something exciting, don't you think?

October has come, and the weather has suddenly become cooler, the days have rapidly became shorter. In the morning, it's still dark at seven o'clock. Sunday 30 October, you need to change your clocks and watches backwards by one hour. I have an uncanny sense about it, because Japanese don't have daylight savings time. About only two months are now left in this year... I feel time has flown so quickly more than usual, because of the events of earthquake & tsunami, and change of my life.

When I was in Scotland, new housemates came. They were Italian boys and had a morning class at the same English school. On their first school day morning, I heard the doors of their rooms opening and them going out. I was still in the bed and I had thought it was too early to go. Having a dinner together in that evening, they explained that they went to the school one hour earlier, and were in a park to kill time due to the school being closed, because both forgot to change their watches. It was not due to daylight savings time but because of time difference between the UK and Italy. Ridiculous! Neither noticed it until they got school!! --- Oops, I got off the subject...

25 Oct 2011

The thing I'm concerned about

There is a small post box on a wall. It's none of my business, but I wonder if a postman forget to pick up mails...


24 Oct 2011

University of Essex

We went to Colchester and walked from the town centre to the University of Essex. Passing by rows of stores and houses, there are always nice new discoveries, such as old church and school.



It was a nice walk, it took about an hour on foot to get the university. The University's motto is "Thought the harder, heart the keener", which is came from the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Battle of Maldon". The university has a wide range of subjects as the same as other universities, including the fields of human rights, law and government. Remarkable buildings are the black student residence towers. Each building has a name like "William Morris" and "Tawney",  which came from English famous literary figures. My following picture present nothing particularly special, but these buildings are distinct, because there aren't high buildings around here, you can see these from the train window, as if images of Darth Vader...





The Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall is a modern design building, which opened in 2006. It is said the Prince Charles linkened this building to "a dustbin".


Visiting a university is interesting. There are many students from around the world, they speak accented English, live their youth, enjoy and study. The atomosphere makes me want to be back in my 20's again. If I studied here, I might have a different life and view...

22 Oct 2011

Beano & Dandy

"The Beano" and "The Dandy" are famous British comics, both were published in 1937 by D.C. Thomson & Co.Ltd. Seems like they are quite popular, because the name of Beano appeared in the book of Adrian Mole as well. I'm going to read them. If you read them, you will probably understand British jokes???
Beano; http://www.beano.com/

Trick or Treat

Halloween is coming. I see some crazy goods for costume parties, pumpkins and sweets in shops here. I saw a woman bought plastic axes the other day. When I was young, we didn't have Halloween culture in Japan. The celebration event came from Western countries, and now you can see some goods and sweets at shops as a selling strategy. I know Halloween but I have no idea what Halloween is like exactly.

I got comic magazines with free gifts today, they were an auful bloody tooth and a black spider I hate. Are they useful for Haloween maybe???

21 Oct 2011

Tissues

It's a lovely day. I walked on the River Walk. Since yesterday, the tree was broken short off. What happened to it?

before

after
Anyway, I went to a supermarket to buy tissues today, because of runny nose. Some European people use a handkerchief to blow their nose. Japanese perhaps think it's a dirty way because we don't have a such idea and think the purpose of a handkerchief is for wiping their hands or face. Because of this fact, now, a small hand-towel is much more popular than a handkerchief because it soaks up water like a sponge. In fact, handkerchief is Western culture and it began to seep into Japan after Meiji period.

From the point of view of a handkerchief, it's strong material and much softer, it's economical and better for the environment. On the other hand, tissues are convenient and much more sanitary. Honestly, I don't care if people blow their nose using handkerchief or tissue, just I want to use tissues.

At the supermarket, Kleenex box tissues were on sale maybe because of flu season? They are nice tissues with a touch of menthol!

If you walk around city centres in Japan, you can see girls who have a part-time job handing out advertising pocket tissue. Of course, it's free. I've done it before, when I was 20's. Nobody cared about advertising, just want to get a pocket tissue, especially pollen season and flu season. But quality of tissue is not so good, so be careful not to blow too much - handing-out tissues make your nose red. You can buy "Hana-celeb" or "Uruoi-tissue", they are very soft and expensive, and also present a elegant and luxury image. I found similar soft tissues in the UK, but I think Japanese are excessive users of tissues, never run out of it, as if they are addicted to it!!

20 Oct 2011

Ritratto di Venezia

The Special exhibition, "Ritratto di Venezia-Mille Anni di storia (A Portrait of Venice - A Story of a Thousand Years)" is held at Edo Tokyo Museum from 23rd September to 11th December. I'm interested in this exhibition, but I'm not sure I'm going to see it. Also it will be held in Sendai from 17th March to 13 May, 2012.

You can see and feel beauty and history of the Republic of Venice which is built on a lagoon, through the arts and exhibited objects.

I went to Venice several years ago. It was a really nice place with beautiful scenery, especially floating on the gondolas around sunset. Around Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) is always crowded with people. I visited Palazzo Ducale (The Doge's Palace) and Ponte dei Sorpiri (the Bridge of Sighs).The local guide explained us about them in fluent Japanese, her Japanese was also impressive because she had never been to Japan. We didn't have enough time to relax, so I want to go there again and explore maze-like alleys and enjoy eating pasta with wine.

The official music for the exhibition; Nobuyuki Tsujii; http://www.nobupiano1988.com/english/index.html

Take care of yourself

It's a beautiful day with cold air. I am tempted to go out to watch beautiful weather.


I probably caught a cold... I have a sore throat. So I am relaxing at home today. Actually my bf picked up a cold from his business partner at the end of last week, and also we waited for a train on the cold Tuesday morning. That's why I cought a cold, I guess...

For a lunch, I had Batchelors' Cup a Soup. It's nothing new, very familiar cup soup such as knorr and pokka in Japan, but why isn't there corn soup in the UK? I can't find it nor corn cream tin. I miss corn soup.


He bought LEMSIP at Boots on his way back home yesterday. It's a lemon flavoured hot drink, effective for headache, fever, sore throat, body aches & pains, chesty cough and blocked or runny nose. Pour powder into a mug and fill with hot water. Seems like common medicine in the UK.


Everyone, take care of yourself...

19 Oct 2011

Chocolate Orange

We bought Terry's Orange Chocolate at a supermarket. I like this volcanic popping candy. You can have a snapping sensation in your mouth like small firecrackers :)

Train Delays

We went to Colchester yesterday morning to see our solicitors. We wanted to reach the company a bit earlier than we needed to, but the trains between Essex and London Liverpool Street were messed up, because of overhead line damage. There were lots of people on the platform from end to end in the rush hour. Fortunately, Colchester is the opposite direction to London, trains were delayed but congestion was much better than the opposite way.

Sometimes engineering works are held during the weekend, and we used a taxi and sometimes a shuttle bus when we went to Chelmsford. But what's overhead line damage? My bf said it might be cable thefts, but if any event, it was annoying. It was hard to wait for a train in a cold air for me. Some people wore coat, boots or held a hot coffee. Most people didn't complain about it, but seemed like they were definitely disaffected and annoyed with delays.

18 Oct 2011

Legoland

According to Reuters, a new theme park Legoland Florida was opened on 15 October 2011. It is the fifth theme park, and the second one in the USA, following Legoland Billund (Dembark), Legoland Windsor (UK), Legoland Deutschland (Germany), Legoland California (USA).

When I was young, I liked Lego bricks rather than barbie dolls. They are colourful bricks and very creative toys. I always wanted a big Lego box as a Christmas present, but my parents give me a small box, because it was a bit expensive. I wonder if my creative ability was developed by playing with Lego, but I still like to create something. I think Lego designer or builder is the dream job in this world for me :)

Japanese like Disney Resort. The Tokyo Disney Resort is always busy from young to old, because it's a dream world, and one which makes you feel good as a way to escape from reality and daily stress. I have been there several times (I think less than the Japanese average) and I make a new discovery every time. Honestly I don't want to visit Legoland, but if I was young, perhaps I'd be interested to go there...

Welcome Panda

Sendai City has respectfully asked China for the loan of a panda, to encourage affected children in Tohoku region. Everything is really yet to start, and they need to take up detailed and concrete discussions. Sendai City Mayor and the Chinese Embassy take a positive approach, but seems like it's difficult to make a loan for affected Sendai, because they need huge reconstruction money.

There is Yagiyama Zoological Park in Sendai, which is located on Yagiyama Hill, near the site of Sendai Castle. In 2015, the new subway Tozai-line will be open, and it is expected to increase accessibility to the zoo and the site of the castle. It's a compact but really nice zoo. The day may come that you can see a panda in Sendai.

15 Oct 2011

Demonstrations Against Capitalism

The Occupy Wall Street movement seems like spreading out to worldwide. Not only NY but also London, Tokyo and other big cities. My bf is watching it today. In London, police are implementing increased security measures. Let's see...

Toilet Roll Holder

I had wondered why toilet roll holder is in the craziest position on the wall ever! It's too far back. I hadn't mentioned it to my bf, but finally I complained about it, because I was fed up with it. He said it's an embarrassing topic for British people, but why they are OK about other blue jokes?? He talked about it to his colleague, and we found it was not only our problem. Is it a common problem? Hey, how many British women do you have the same problem? Please rise your hands! OK, I try to avoid describing the situation in detail here to keep his face straight, if he feels embarrassed, but I needed to change the toilet roll holder's position.

Today, we went to "Debenhams" and "BHS" to buy a toilet roll holder, but they didn't have a nice one which doesn't need drilling. I was beginning to have a bad feeling about this, just like when we tried to buy the light bulb last time. I thought it would be the second time searching around one thing. Also he said we could order it on Internet and got it next week. Next week? I need to wait to get it again? See, I knew it. But we found the solution quickly at "Lakeland", and bought a toilet roll stand. He has a proud look. He knows the secret of keeping me happy is find the solution :) Thank you, my problem-solver :)

14 Oct 2011

Ipswich-2. Old Buildings

One of my fun things to do in Ipswich was seeing old buildings. Ipswich is a town of mixture of old and new. You can see modern buildings, such as Willis Building, which designed by Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1975, which looked like a black glassed curving building. But in my opinion, the shop itself lacks originality, and looks the same as other cities. Unfortunately I couldn't find any attractive shops even in old buildings. I could feel more their effort to renovate and develop some areas such as the dock and town centre, but it's a shame I couldn't feel their originality even though they have high-quality materials. As I felt and thought, the Ipswich Society think that they should put more effort into encouraging independent shops to open in the town centre rather than attracting more chain stores.

Timber-frame buildings










Atfield family, Sun Inn

Ipswich-1.

I had a day trip to Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk. The name of town means "Harbour or trading centre of a man named Gip", and the name was pronounced Yip, because this initial wasn't a modern g but a yogh.

After leaving Ipswich Station, you cross the Orwell River and follow Princes Street to get the town centre. It takes about 15 minutes. This time I popped in the Ipswich Tourist Information Centre, which is situated in the medieval building of St Stephen's Church in the town centre. A staff recommended some places to visit as a day plan, and also told me lovely streets to walk. I didn't have any plan, so I visited places she suggested and had a nice day in Ipswich.

At first, I visited the beautiful Tudor brick Christchurch Mansion, only five minutes walk from the information centre. It's really nice place to visit, you can explore each room inside the Mansion, and feel the past, 16th-19th century. I liked the room of Victorian toys and also the servants' area. It's worth seeing and admission is free. I had a lunch there and walked around Christchurch Park.





There are art galleries and a museum on High Street. I only visited the museum, but it was wonderful. At first, a huge life sized stuffed mammoths catch your eyes in the first room. The room is filled with examples of the variety of animals, birds and fossils, as well as Ipswich history and historical items.

There are many churches in the town and also you can enjoy looking at old buildings. Ipswich is a mixture of new and old. For example, Ancient House has the decorative plasterwork and carvings added in the 17th century, now it's the kitchenware shop Lakeland. You can walk through lovely paths and see Town Hall and some other old timbered houses.

Ancient House

Town Hall
I also visited Ipswich Waterfront, with new marinas, restaurants, bars and so on. Also the restaurant on a ship looked nice. I think this area was renovated using old buildings, but there are still messy ruined buildings and they were not attractive. But the view of marinas was nice.








13 Oct 2011

Autumn

It's a cloudy day, seems like it's starting to rain. It's getting hard to get up every morning, because of the dark. I wonder how people can get up in the dark. I have no idea what is going to happen in winter...

I enjoyed this autumn day. It's a real autumn view with fallen leaves. It was nearly empty on the path, perhaps because of the weather. But I could see a rabbit, three squirrels, some black birds and a rat. There is the superstition that having a black cat cross your path is considered by an omen of bad luck, but what about a rat? Today a rat crossed my path like crazy from the grasses! I don't believe a black cat superstition thing, but obviously a rat seems like bring more bad luck...



There is a pond, usually people feed bread on ducks, or are sitting on a bench, or are talking with friends and children are playing around the pond, but today, just me.




Can you see the squirrel on the tree trunk? It was eating the acorn, and sometimes stopped eating and gazed down at me. It said "Who are you, stranger?"


There weren't any children nor families in the park today. Only a man from the council checked the playground equipment. It's important work, isn't it? While people work, I wander around. How can I afford it?

On my way to a supermarket, I met the local character taking a different dog. He sometimes takes care of his friends' or neighbours' dogs. It's funny, I meet him very often, that means my action pattern is similar to him, though I don't go to the pub...

12 Oct 2011

Mischief

Did you ever played ringing-doorbell-and-running-away when you were a child? Me? Yes, I did. With this stupid type of thing, generation, nationality and national boundaries cease to exist :) The other day, we saw some kids were playing it. It was exciting, wasn't it? We did it in a group. Someone pressed the doorbell, and we ran away all together. Sometimes we left boy's thing in front of the door, or trapped him in the gate to make it difficulty to escape. We laughed when he failed to escape or when we could hear a stubborn old man shouting. Thinking about it now, how ridiculous it was! We made the thunder of footsteps and clatter of school bags, it was obviously a  foolish action. Sometimes there was an angry phone call to the school.

11 Oct 2011

Thai Restaurant

Last Sunday evening, we went to a local Thai Restaurant to have dinner. Normally town centres in the UK are nearly empty on Sunday evening, because most shops close except restaurants. The Thai restaurant's atmosphere was really good, as well as food and the friendly hospitality.

I ordered coconut ice-cream as a dessert. Oh, what a happy moment... There's always room for dessert for women :) It was ice-cream in a parfait glass, but in Japan, it would probably called "triple ice-creams", or in my dictionary, it is called "sweet temptation". Oh, well... I need to do exercise or walk on the River Walk...


8 Oct 2011

Manningtree and Mysterious Mistley

We went to the smallest town in England, Manningtree (at just over 19ha), and also Mistley (eventually) this morning. We've passed Manningtree Station a few times when we travelled to Norwich and Ely, and have thought that it looks like a nice town. The origin of the name Manningtree has been some theories, such as the simple 'many trees' to a place belonging to someone called Mann or Manni, The origin of name Mistley is likely coming from the Saxon word for the herb basil "mircel" combined with "ley" meaning pasture. But going back 1,000 years, both town came under the same name of "Sciddinchou" in the Domesday Book, there are various spellings of this old name though... It means "hill of the shed dwellers".

Manningtree town is a bit far from the station. It's small town but very compact and attractive. We were trying to have a breakfast, but unfortunately pubs and cafes were closed around 9:30 on High Street. We saw a market was held, so people might be there... We could see the River Stour which passes Harwich and debouches into the North Sea. You can get a ferry from Harwich to Holland.

the River Stour


We walked along the River Stour, we saw many swans, even on the road! They tried crossing the road, and didn't care about cars!! It's famous view here. But from far, we thought they were statues or something at first :)


Anyway, we hadn't walked so long, but already passed the smallest town Manningtree and were in next town named Mistley. We could see Mistley Towers, which are the remains of a church built in 1776, unusual in having towers.

Mistley Towers
 
Mistley Church

We had a breakfast at a cafe on the other side of the Mistley Church. I thought it's unremarkable cafe at first, but it seemed like a quite popular. It was interesting to watch people popping in continuously :) Seats were almost full!


After having a big breakfast, my bf was talking on the phone with his business partner outside the cafe. There were some birds like following pictures. He said "... anyway, I am watching a turkey now." What a crazy conversation! I've never saw a man who was talking about business on a phone as well as watching a turkey! His business partner must be stunned and couldn't believe his situation. He said loudly "... it's true I'm watching a turkey now!" It was quite funny. But that was true, Mr.T, this is the proof :)



We didn't go back to Manningtree, because Mistley Station was close from there rather than going back. Mistley seems like a town for distribution because there was a quay on the river. We could see some distribution-centre warehouses and a few cargo ships on the river.

The station was like a ghost station, no staff, no ticketing facilities, no people, just us. So we got "Permit To Travel" from a machine. This mean we need to exchange a proper ticket at the first opportunity station. What a mysterious station it is.. Am I the only one that I can see the word "Mistley" as "Mystery"? So I decided to call this town Mysterious Mistley :)


(Mysterious) Mistley Station