Archive for the 'Family' Category

Summer Weddings

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

I am still travelling.  I’ve been away from home since the start of June and I won’t be home for a while yet.  Today, I’m singing at my cousin’s wedding.  I’m a little nervous about that.  At the start of the trip I attended my niece’s wedding, and my trip will end with a friend’s wedding.  Weddings are wonderfully happy occasions, and once the singing is over I’m sure I’ll have a great time today.

Marty and me at our niece's wedding.

Marty and me at our niece’s wedding.

Travelling to Europe

Monday, January 21st, 2013

I was going to start this post by saying that travelling is no fun.  But that’s not true.  There are lots of aspects of travel that are fun, but getting to the place where the the fun starts can be grim.  At the minute I am in Narita airport.  My flight to London has been delayed for a couple of hours, but at least I get to wait in comfort.  I am feeling a little stressed as I could easily miss my connection to Belfast in London.  And even if I arrive on time to make the connection I could still end up spending the night in Heathrow as British Airways are cancelling flights because of the weather.

Getting to the airport this morning was stressful.  When we arrived at the train platform we had no hope of boarding the train.  It’s hard to explain just how full trains become in Japan.  I have been in other countries where people have complained about the train but you could easily get on and still move your arms and feet when inside.  This train was so full that people’s faces and bodies were smashed up against the doors and windows.  When the train stopped and more people attempted to get in they did this by walking on backwards and pushing as hard as they could.  When that failed they started to run at the passengers who were spilling out of the train to see if that helped to push them further in.  The train was late leaving the platform because people got stuck in the doors.

I could not have gotten into the train on a normal day but trying to do so with a couple of suitcases was a horrific concept.  We ended up buying a ticket for the first class car and waited on another train.  We did not get seats but we were able to at least get on to the train and stand in the corridor beside the doors.  Then we had to get off the train.  The platform at Nippori Station is old and narrow.  It’s really hard to get off a train with the people waiting to get on.  And incredibly difficult in rush hour to walk down the platform to the exits.  To get to the Skyliner we had to walk past the exit that most people want to use and there were hundreds of people pushing and shoving all attempting to not fall off the platform on their way to the stairs.  And I do mean stairs and not an escalator.  I carried my case up the stairs hoping that I wouldn’t get pushed over by the crowd.

After that things got easier.  My train ticket didn’t work but that was fixed by asking for help and did not involve being worried that someone would knock me off the platform.  At the airport there was no queue at all.  I assume that some of the passengers decided to come late because of the delays.  I did managed to get confused again, but that’s because of my understanding of Japanese.  I didn’t understand what was being said to me at the automated immigration gate. Being a foreigner I can sign-up for this service but my passport can’t be read correctly and I have to go through the line that is staffed.  It’s not exactly automated but it’s still quicker and I use it because it means you can ask for no stamp in your passport.  My last passport was filled up in 5 years and I would like this one to last a bit longer.  I asked for no stamp and the person behind the desk just said “sorry, you have stamp”.  It took me much too long to work out that she had made a mistake and stamped my passport before asking if I wanted this or not.  We both did a lot of apologising and I rushed on to the lounge so that I could sit and wait and try to think of something other than travel.  As you can see I failed.


Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Yesterday Marty got a day older and I got to spend the day reassuring him that life is really only beginning…

Marty after Dinner

Marty after Dinner

He didn’t want me to make his birthday into a big event so we went away together for a few days and finished our trip with a great meal at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in Tokyo.

After Dinner Relaxation

After Dinner Relaxation


Language Fun

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

I was in Holland recently visiting my family.  My Dad has been making his garden pretty and he was very keen to show me his new plants.

“You have to take a picture of me and my wonder bum”, he said.

Well, like the mature adult I am, all I could do was giggle at the thought of a wonder bum.

“A wonder bum?”

“No”, he said, “a wonder bum!”

I don’t know a lot of Dutch, but since I was hearing “bum” I did wonder if the word for tree was going to be something similar to the German word “baum”.  It turns out that the plant, in Dutch, is called “Wonderboom“, and “boom” is the word for tree. But please, don’t ask me to pronounce “boom”.

Dad and the Wonderboom

Dad and the Wonderboom



Acushla Mine

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

My sister was chatting to me about my grandmother just the other night.  I live far away from my family and I haven’t found a good way to keep in touch with people who don’t use computers.  I can easily chat to my sisters on Facebook, or my dad on Skype, but my grandmother doesn’t use a computer.  Using a phone also hasn’t worked as conversations usually consist of repeated phrases like, “Is that you Karen…”, “What are you saying…”.  We say words, but we aren’t communicating.

My sister Christine and I spent hours walking with my grandmother when we were children.  We also used to sing silly songs about rainbows, dragons, and puffymelons.  It was only when my mum sang similar songs to my baby sister that I discovered that “puffymelons” are not the gnome-like little men my childhood self imagined should work at a train station but were really a mispronunciation of “pufferbellies”.

Not all the songs were childish as my grandmother also taught me to sing “Acushla Mine”.  I used to think that was a place in Ireland but I now know it’s term of endearment so I recorded it for my grandmother.

Acushla Mine


Connor Jake Anderson

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

My great-nephew was born in the early hours of this morning.  He was five weeks early, and weighs 5 pounds 5 ounces.  He’s doing well and my niece is doing well.  But it’s going to take me a while to get used to being called “Great Aunty K”.  Of course it will be a while before he can say anything, but we’ve already begun to use these new titles.  How could I resist calling my sister Christine “granny”?


Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Marty and I finally got round to celebrating our 15th Wedding Anniversary.  We went to a beautiful Italian restaurant in the Tokyo Bay area. We decided on the 7 course menu as it gave us the option of trying lots of small dishes.  I particularly liked the “deep fried raviolo pasta stuffed with Tomino cheese, served with red onion jam” and the “Gragnano Paccheri pasta tossed with lobster ragout and cannellini beans”.

We had a great evening and after 15 years of marriage don’t get overly concerned if everything doesn’t go exactly to plan.  It wouldn’t be Marty if he didn’t do something crazy and end up getting a train in the wrong direction while I stand around waiting for him at the correct train station wondering if I’d messed up.  The fact that the restaurant was in a tower on the 47th floor overlooking Tokyo Bay unnerved me just a bit, but then both it and I survived the last earthquake.

I’m hoping for many more anniversary celebrations.

Birthday Girl

Friday, April 1st, 2011

My baby sister is 17 today.  Don’t want to think about how old that makes me.  Happy Birthday Sausage!

Sausage & Mum

Sausage & Mum

Wedding Anniversary

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

We celebrated our 14th Wedding Anniversary last week.

Flowery Gift

Flowery Gift

Sweet Sixteen

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

My little sister is sixteen today.  Happy birthday Sarah!

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl