30 Nov 2012

Christmas Cards


It's the end of November. Time fly fast really! It became cold at a stretch here. When we went to a pub last weekend, inside the pub was decorated with Christmas ornaments. When I went to the town last night, illumination along a street has already started. Oh, since when? I didn't know when it started, but streets and towns are enveloped in a Christmas mood. Did you prepare Christmas presents? Did you finish writing Christmas cards? I've started writing Christmas cards. I bought some lovely cards. So, friends, you will receive one of them soon:)
 

26 Nov 2012

Table Display

It's fun to go shopping and discover beautiful Christmas ornaments during this season. There are so many choices, aren't there? I decided on a colour for decoration this year; it's SILVER. I filled a glass bowl with traditional decorations in silver and wooden rattan balls, and added see-through silver ribbon and fake ornament of frosted pines and Christmas holly last. Each ornament was not expensive, but looks gorgeous!

Colour Addition

Some of carnations my mother-in-law gave me were broken. So I put them in an egg cup, thus adding colour to a dinning table. 
 

24 Nov 2012

Little Braxted

My parents-in-law visited us and we went to a pub in Little Braxted to have a lunch together. It's a lovely village, one mile east of Witham. And it was nice to see them after so long. I talk on the phone with my mother-in-law regularly, but I think the last time we saw them was this summer when we visited them.

It was like an early Christmas day, because they brought us a new TV, flowers, Christmas card and presents. Yes, he had a TV but he hasn't transited from analog to digital because he was in NY for a while. We have watched TV programmes on computer but I can't watch it when he use it. Well..., we can't watch it until aerial will be changed, but it was a nice present! One of the biggest highlights for me was that they left a photo album of my husband's childhood! It's our treasure.


Present

I got a lovely Japanese lacquered tableware as a wedding present from my friend! These are designed in Japanese traditional plum blossoms motifs. After moving to England, I thought that I should have brought more Japanese stuff, because having few chances to get these things here. We haven't had guests yet, but it's very useful for treating someone in our house, seasonal occasion or as the table decorations. I liked them very much. Thank you!! 
 
 

Shepherd's Pie

I cooked Shepherd's pie (also known as a Cottage pie) the other day; a British traditional meat pie with a mashed potato top. I'd never tasted this before until I cooked, but I tried to cook from a recipe.
My husband praised me a great deal and it's one of his favourites. Do you want to know my secret? Yes, I just used Colman's Shepherd's Pie mix. Actually, I like Colman's series. It's not difficult to cook.

Bad Manner

The other day, I saw a man who was walking oddly. He scraped his shoe sole on the ground and sometimes stopped walking. I realised soon that he got doggy poopy on his shoe... Oh, dear... One thing I've come to notice in the neighborhood lately is bad behaviour of the dog owners, of course not everyone, but bad manners are too much to tolerate. They should clean up after their dogs! In the evening, it's already dark here, so we need to pay attention to footpath!!

22 Nov 2012

Swedish Eggwhite Facial Soap

I am sorry, this is not a topic of English facial soap, but Swedish. I sometimes use Swedish facial soap; Eggwhite Facial Soap. I found this soap at a drugstore in Japan many years ago. Not only a lovely package, but also reasonable price and good quality are attractive I think. Just you smooth a good lather of the soap over your face for a mask and rinse off your face gently after ten minutes, and then you can have silky-smooth skin.

The company; Victoria Scandinavian Soap has many years of experience in the skill of making soap, and has been the purveyor to his Majesty the King since 1924. I'd never visited their website, but I found they have more lovely packages for a Christmas!
Victoria Scandinavian Soap AB



Gateau Chocolat

I baked a cake; Cateau Chocolat after so long!!

19 Nov 2012

Opticians

I went to Boots Opticians today to have an eye test and contact lens check-up. I've used contact lenses for over 20 years, of which disposable contact lenses for about 10 years maybe? I can't live without contact lenses because of really bad eye sight. But of course, I have glasses as well, but it's not enough for walking outside or shopping, it's just for living at home. When I was in Japan, I'd worn contact lenses for many hours due to busy work, but now are limited to as short as possible. It's good for my eyes.

The eye test took about an hour without waiting. Basically it was the same as a Japanese one, but I think it was very kind, polite and good service. They have Contact Lens Reward Scheme and you can receive home delivery service of contact lenses every 3 months.

18 Nov 2012

When Things Are Not Going Well

Sometimes you have the day when nothing goes right, don't you? Even if you understand you are ok in your head, it still often happens that feel at your lowest. These days happen. Ho-hum... Let's give yourself a hug and reward yourself for effort.




17 Nov 2012

National Insurance Number

When you start work or set up as self-employed in the UK, you must have a National Insurance Number. I had a interview about it today at a Job Centre in Chelmsford. I checked the location of Job Centre and went to there. Last time I made an appointment, I made sure the date of my appointment twice because according to the website, Job Centre is closed on Saturday and Sunday. A man said it is opened on Saturday, but it was closed today. My husband was with me, and he was upset more than me. Actually there was another Job Centre a bit far from town centre. I never imagined that there are two Job Centres in the same town. We got on a taxi and could arrive five minutes earlier than our appointment as if nothing had happened.

Everything was fine except I forgot the dates of my previous marriage, divorce, ex-husband's birthday and also our wedding as well!!! My husband seemed he was a bit speechless when I said the different date of our wedding, but I was in a bit panic due to unexpected questions about my ex. I'm sorry... He said I can get the number within a few weeks.

I also bought Christmas cards at a bookstore. There was a long queue in front of the shop. Seemed like they were waiting for autograph-signing session of Rod Stewart. A shop assistant said there are already over 200 people in the morning hours. I wonder how it was?

After that we went to a pub to have a lunch. But there was a big football match Arsenal vs. Tottenham. Fans of Tottenham were sitting next us, and fans of Arsenal were opposite side. They were quite excited and it was fun to see the match on a big screen in the pub. We saw only first half of the game and came back home because I have a job this evening. But I wanted to see the whole game.

15 Nov 2012

Christmas Decorations

Christmas season is coming:) I'm excited. Did you start to prepare for Christmas? I've browsed magazines many times and created some decorations, but I haven't got any good idea to decorate them yet. We don't have Christmas tree as the following pictures (from the magazine 'House Beautiful') and won't buy it this year, but somehow I want to decorate our lovely rooms. Should I go to shops and get some decorations?



12 Nov 2012

A New Job

I started to work at a local restaurant. To tell the truth, I'd never ever worked at restaurants nor at cafes. I had experiences with some unique part-time jobs in Japan and had worked in a office as office administrator for a long time. For that reason, I am not sure if I am cut out for a job like this, but it's a new and nice experience for me. Good things are that people working there are very kind and restaurant has a friendly atmosphere. I was in a bit of a panic and made plenty of mistakes on the first day, even though it wasn't busy very much. I struggled just to keep up with everyone and learn how to do the job, but I could enjoy.

I think young people who work in the UK on a Youth Exchange Scheme visa are very brave. I didn't have the guts to work like them when I was young. Working abroad is not easy, but a worthwhile job. I rediscover my feelings as the same as I received my first paycheck. Keep a beginner's mind in everything:)

11 Nov 2012

Sunshine

It's a beautiful autum day after so long. We walked River walk and it makes me feel good.
 



9 Nov 2012

Praise Myself for My Effort

It has been 6 months since I moved to the UK. It's a new record for me. I'd never stayed abroad longer than 4 months. I came this country several times in the past, but one thing I've never experienced is 'winter' here. New life is not so difficult for me due to I spent in his house last year as a trial. But honestly I couldn't understand at first what people said except him. They speak very quickly and some people have local accent. That made me being a bit terrified to have conversation. Still I'm struggling with English, but I feel it's getting better than last year, although there are differences between individuals that how long it takes. I think I stood at the difference starting line with some other Japanese people who got married to British like me, because most people have an experience studying or working in the English speaking countries more than one year before marriage, but I haven't. I've studied English in Edinburgh for three months, but it was almost 10 years ago! During the years, I had carried on my normal life in Japan, away from English. After an absence of about 10 years, it was hard to get used to English. I am not teen nor 20's anymore!

I know a Japanese woman who speak English like a native English speaker, but she said she had never been to other countries (at that time). She has just studied it in only English-speaking environment. Regarding to languages, I think experience, environment and practising are all. Taking the first step is always hard, but a sense of achievement makes you have a confidence. I've enjoyed having feeling up and down due to my English and having a conversation with local people. I've done well, hanve't I?


Pendulum Clock

This is a Japanese comedian, Tekken's animation. It's a really nice.
 
 

7 Nov 2012

Haircut

I had avoided visiting a hairdressing shop in the UK. There was a reason. I have trusted my Japanese hairdresser's skill for more than 20 years. When I got a haircut by him at the first time, it was a devastating event for me. He touched my hair and understood qualities of my stubborn, wavy and curly hair in an instant. Since then, he had met my wayward request and successfully satisfied me. I had thought how can I live without his skill? But it is beyond the limit of my patience and also my husband recommended me to have a haircut because it was too long and easy to get tangled.

Then I went to a hairdressing shop today. Some Japanese who live in the UK prefer Japanese hairdressing shop in London, but as a result, it doesn't matter for me, because of this winding hair. It was good actually. Originally my hair was naturally wavy but it became more strong after I got stressed about my old job. It was amazing that stress affected my hair! It's far from beautiful Asian hair, but it's my natural wavy and curly hair.

5 Nov 2012

Job Centre

When I crossed a bridge, the river Brain was rising after the heavy rain yesterday. I went to a Job Centre to ask about National Insurance number today. According to the HM Revenue & Customs,  British people will be sent a National Insurance number automatically just before your 16th birthday. But if you don't have the number, and start work or set up as self-employed in the UK, you must apply for it. The officer in the Job Centre opened a file and transferred a telephone number to a note. He gave me the note and said just follow an instruction. So after I came back home, I made the call. It was an auto-answered inquiry service number... After I followed the information and press a button, it gave me another telephone number very very kindly... Why didn't he give me this number?

Anyway, on the phone, I was asked some questions and was told I need to have an interview. He gave me the date and time of interview and said I need to bring a passport, visa and a proof of address. The date is more than a week ahead. Most things don't go ahead smoothly here...

4 Nov 2012

Fireworks Display

We went to see the fireworks display. On our way to the site, some people passed by, and we realised something was wrong. The town centre was too quiet and there were few people. We were heading to the same place as last year, but in fact, were going in the opposite direction. The site was changed this year. We changed the direction and walked in the direction of the music sound.


When we arrived at the site, it was still too early for fireworks and there were not so many people yet. We walked around on the field and had a burger. There were some stands, and they were outnumbered more than last year.




Our hands and feet were gradually getting cold. The bonfire was lit, but we could only see it a bit farther out from it because a fence was provided. Consequently we couldn't get warm from the bonfire like last year. The site was good because it was huge and there weren't  trees to hinder our vision, but we preferred last year. Because we could enjoy a feeling of unity and friendliness. 

Also the firework started about 10 minutes late. We wanted to see it as soon as possible because we couldn't feel our feet at that time! Although the fireworks were really beautiful. It was as if we were celebrating because of successful visa, and I could forget my cold hand and feet for a while. Also we could see many fireworks around, north, south, east and west. It was really nice and beautiful. I like fireworks display of Guy Fawkes Day. It's an announce arrival of winter in the UK. I wish we could see this next year. We went back home via a different route because it was a shorter route.

2 Nov 2012

Spouse Visa

The reason we went to Birmingham and Solihull was to go to the public enquiry office of UKBA to submit my visa application in person. We were a bit nervous, because every process was new for us. Unlike the bad images of UKBA, the staff there were very kind and friendly, and made us relax. In our case, everything went on smoothly. Of course, we checked application and documents dozens of times. And also we prepared many documents as much as we could. As a result, we didn't show every document we prepared.

My case was renewing from fiancee visa to spouse visa. I think the most important evidence were three, based on an assumption that I am in the UK legally; my English language ability, that my husband meets the financial requirement and our marriage certificate. After that, the officer checked the payment details at a different counter, and then my biometrics were taken in an another room.

According to the UKBA, your biometric card will be delivered by courier within 7 to 10 working days of them issuing your decision letter. I received it in 2 days. I am happy about that, because last time after I submited fiancee visa application to UK visa application centre in Tokyo, I waited and waited for about 2 months with bated breath! It was busy period due to concur with a dedline of Youth Mobility Scheme. I am really happy as my status is upgraded immediately. There are some things which are put on hold, but from now I can do everything.

We did well and could enjoy travelling as well. During two years, I must take and pass other English test and the Life in the UK Test. I feel another pressure though...

1 Nov 2012

Solihull

We visited Solihull, a town in the West Midlands located of southeast of Birmingham. The name comes 'soily hill', because its parish church, St. Alphege was on a soily (muddy) hill. It's a lovely town. You can enjoy shopping as well.

Solihull High Street
The Manor House


St. Alphege



Birmingham

We went to Birmingham. It's a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England and the second most populous city in the UK. During the medieval period, Birmingham was a medium-sized market town and developed as industrial city due to the Industrial Revolution. The name of Birmingham comes from the Old English 'Beormingaham', meaning the homestead of Beorma's family or followers. It's the name of an Anglian tribal group who established that area as their primary settlement in pre-Roman times.

It was my second visit to Birmingham, but I didn't have enough time to walk around the city each time. Birmingham is now a famous of architectural achievements. Mixture of old buildings and new modernistic and unusual design buildings is one of characteristic view in the Europe. But the view from the train window, the city doesn't have a good image for me, just that of graffiti. But as a train move towards suburban, winding canal close in and out the rail track. It's really nice.

The Rotunda
St. Martin's Church
Bullring Shopping Centre


Selfridges Building

Hooray!

How was Halloween last night? I am one of the adults who are excited about Halloween events. I describe myself a grown-up kid. If I had literary talent, I am sure I was like Lewis Carroll or Beatrix Potter. Halloween events didn't exist in Japan when I was young, so I didn't know exactly what really do. My nieces said they played game in an English class and ate sweets. They asked her mother to open a door and gave her sweets if they said trick or treat. They said they wants to visit someones' house to have sweets. Poor things. The event hasn't sunk into the Japanese. I don't join in a masquerade, but I look forward to see children wearing Halloween costumes.

Last year, I was here, and disappointed because nobody visited us saying 'trick or treat' even though we were preparing sweets for children behind closed door. This year, we bought sweets and turned on a porch light.

-Knock, Knock.

We heard a knocking on the door. I quickly opened the door with excitement! There! Lovely children in costumes said 'trick or treat', so I gave them some sweets. It was my first Halloween experience in the UK:)

At first, not me but a boy seemed a bit surprised. Well... I wasn't in costume nor special makeup though... maybe because the person opened the door was an Asian woman:)

As we expected, many sweets are left over. But no problem, they will be feed for the big mouse (husband) and small mouse (me). More than children, 2 mice jump at a chance to have sweets. We might buy kids' sweets for ourselves using the excuse of Halloween event... Anyway it was nice experience!