Wednesday 30 April 2014

My new (old) table

It is supposed to be reminiscent of
those French grain sacks.

There's plenty of paint left.

What next?

Monday 28 April 2014

My new toy

Having wrestled for many years with an electric lawnmower
which required very careful cable management 
and needed an unwieldy extension cord
in order to reach the end of the garden,
I was searching around for a cordless replacement.

Petrol mowers are smelly and noisy
and the new lithium battery cordless mowers
had conflicting claims as to their battery life 
and the length of time needed for re-charging.
They also cost a lot.
I nearly said an arm and a leg but this would have been
in very poor taste as my husband nearly lost a toe to our old one
and I had many an uneasy moment
as I fished around trying to unclog it when the grass stopped 
collecting in the box.

So it was, that I started looking for an old-fashioned
push along mower.

And here it is.
To be sure, the instruction leaflet for assembly
was very poorly, and minutely illustrated
and the adjustments for blade and roller adjustment
are of the fiddly old fashioned spanner, nut and bolt kind,
but once I'd got it set up
it fairly flew round the garden, slicing,rather than mashing the grass
and making a lovely whirring sound, redolent of childhood summers,
listening to my father pushing ours around the garden, 
well into his seventies.
It was lighter and therefore easier to push than our old one,
and because I don't have to keep stopping to unsnag
or rearrange the cable, much quicker to give a cut.
It even produced some faint stripes.
Best of all, it cost just under £50.
A snip.

Friday 25 April 2014

Never lost in translation

And finally, a big arigato gozaimashita to the reason we were there,
our very excellent son, guide, cab hailer and interpreter extraordinaire.

Thursday 24 April 2014


Nishiki market.

Ramen in a curtained cubicle.
Just as well. We hadn't quite got the technique perfected on day one.
Slurping is allowed!

The first of many kaiseki -
a traditional multi course dinner and sometimes breakfast.
Beautifully presented in numerous bowls and dishes.

Japanese Buddhist cuisine inside the grounds of
Tenryu-ji temple.

A bowl of sesame seeds to grind while waiting for
our meal at Katsukura restaurant.

Tea and dessert with moss garden.

Views to eat by.

My 60th birthday breakfast.

And 60th birthday dinner at Tempura Endo Yasaka.
We sat at the counter and watched as a single chef began
to batter and fry morsels of prawn, mountain vegetables and seafood, 
passing them to our plates with tongs and instructions about accompaniments.
At first there were just four of us in the room, 
but as more people gathered, sixteen in all, 
he continued to cook and serve in the correct order to each of us.
It was a complicated orchestration of food, but he never faltered.
Eventually he had help with serving the food at the far end of the counter.

A wonderful end to two fantastic weeks
of new sights, tastes and experiences.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Peaceful places

The bamboo forest.

Tea house at Okochi Sanso garden.

The blinds in our room at Arashiyama.

The garden where an early morning stretch class took place.
I watched and copied from the window.

The entrance to our machiya in Kyoto.

The Zen garden at Ryoanji.
It is important not to wear holey socks in Japan.
You never know when you might need to take your shoes off.

A sculpture in the Open Air Museum at Hakone. 

A flower strewn water channel.

The Buddha at Kodaji temple

Shinjuku Park Tokyo.


Kenninji, the oldest Zen temple.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Thursday 17 April 2014

Japan was

sometimes off-putting.

Did I mention the tick?

The Japanese lethal virus laden tick.
Biting me. 3 a.m.

I didn't know it could be lethal at 3 a.m 
but I did know it wasn't welcome on my futon.
So with very little time to spare before catching the bullet train,

we paid a visit to the International Medical centre
with the tick in a little plastic box.

'Don't worry,' they said, patting my arm kindly.

'Incubation period up to two weeks,' said Dr Google.
'Early symptoms like the common cold.'
'Incurable,' said Dr Google.

Guess who had a common cold for five days.

Guess who I believed about the likely prognosis.

I'm fine.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Japan was

sometimes unfathomable.

Little rocks with aprons and one with a crocheted hat.