Saturday, 31 December 2011

Gosh, what a 12 months!

Phew, made it. My last blog for 2011.

The year of The Rabbit was not the best for the planet with earthquakes, tsunami’s, floods and famine causing human suffering in many places. Let's hope the Year of the Dragon is better.

Wars continued, others started, there were civil uprisings, dictators overthrown, ‘power to the people’ resonated in several countries with more looking on with interest.

For us, a mixed 12 months that saw us in Yokohama, Osaka, Hong Kong, Sydney back to Yokohama then Winchester, UK.

Following in  the footsteps of several American and European friends who include a Year in Review letter with Xmas cards, here’s our year in review.

January 2011
As MissM’s birthday is in the middle of the long summer school vacation in the northern hemisphere she’s not shared her b/day with friends as pretty much everyone goes away. 

This year we decided to throw her a 6 ½ birthday party so that her friends could celebrate. All she wanted was ‘for my friends to sing me happy birthday like I sing to them’. A few friends whose kids are born around the same time thought this was a great idea, so watch out for more ½ year celebrations.
Miho made MissM's birthday cake and take-home cupcakes for everyone

Mr Balloons kept the kids entertained for nearly 2hours!

MrH jr and MsE shared Chinese NY with us and friends in Chinatown. Several families gathered at TUNG FAT for a fabulous banquet dinner. Good Friends Mr and MrsS hosted a very lovely evening and the food was delicious as always.
Incredible street parade

One of 3 tables of friends enjoying good conversation and food

Benjamin and Emily

DH was the highest bidder on a professional photography session at the Annual Daddy Daughter Dinner Dance, so we took the opportunity of going to Sankien Gardens for our photo shoot. The photos were fabulous! The albums made the best Christmas gifts for Mum and in-laws and are one more lovely memory of our time in Japan.

I went to Sydney for a cousin’s Barmitzvah – the last one in the family til BabyJJ’s (and he’s just turned 1). I arrived on the Thursday, and on the Friday Japan suffered an earthquake and tsunami that 9 months on, the country is still reeling from in terms of recovery and rebuilding.

MissM and her friends were just about to be let out from school for the w/end when the quake struck. DH was in the car line up waiting to collect her. I was in Sydney waiting for a phone call or text from DH but was getting them from friends in Sydney who had heard the news reports.

We finally spoke and they were fine, friends were fine, school was fine, apartment was fine. Everyone was fine.

On Sunday night they were evacuated to Osaka by our employer. I flew up on the Tuesday morning and on the Wednesday MissM and I, along with 300 other employee families were evacuated to Hong Kong. I’ve always wanted to go to HK, but not under these circumstances. DH was ‘one of 16 strategic managers’ to stay behind and help evaluate various clients telco situations and offer help in the affected areas. Getting telecommunications up and running was vital but saying ‘see ya’ was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. Watching him standing alone as the buses pulled out nearly broke my heart. I couldn’t cry cos MissM was sitting next to me crying and I didn’t want to make it worse.
Organised chaos at checkin for the chartered flight to HK

MissM was over it before we even started.

MissM and I were in HK til the Friday when we were sent to Sydney with one-way tickets until further notice.

We ended up back at The Medina Apartments in Coogee (funnily enough the same room we had back in July 2010 when we had our first unexpected extended stay), and MissM returned to Coogee Public School but a summer uniform. The kids were so happy to see her!

My wonderful 'god son' MrBH graduated from Uni, and graciously invited me to the ceremony. Each grad was given 4 tickets, so along with his parents and grandmother, I was honored to  be invited. Proud of him then, proud of him always. 

DH popped down to Sydney for a visit; MissM participated in ANZAC Day events at school and went on a few excursions. We all enjoyed Sydney school holidays. It was bittersweet being in Sydney, away from home and friends who were experiencing aftershocks and some food shortages when we were excited to be able to share Passover with family. During Seder, DH got a call inviting him to consider a move to the UK to which we said YES with minimal discussion.

We took full advantage of this unplanned visit to Sydney celebrating Easter, birthdays and more.
Easter with Aunty Vicki, James and Emily

George has been selling us fruit and vegies since I was a bit older than Mia
While being away from home this long was taking it’s toll, it was great to be in Sydney to celebrate our niece and nephew’s birthdays. We were also planning our move over summer to the UK, tho hadn’t mentioned anything to anyone in Yokohama as contracts were yet to be signed.
When we eventually returned to Yokohama I started to purge – 4 bags of clothes, shoes, linen etc were sent to Tohoku with MsN who has been doing THE most incredible amount of volunteer work since the quake (and continues today)
Jack turns 7 and we were there to help celebrate

Mothers Day picnic at Manly Dam

Mum and I on Mothers Day

End of the school year was frantic with PTSA events, the start of the sayonara season for families leaving over summer and of course, we were still quietly planning for our move. We decided, despite not having contracts signed or dates booked for the move that we needed to start telling friends who were either leaving for good or going on summer vacations as soon as school finished as we weren’t planning on being there when they returned. Also, there was the PTSA to consider – my position as VP Events had to be filled, and I wanted time to hand over properly.

So, cupcakes were ordered for MissM’s sayonara at school; my girls night out was planned and we said our farewells. DH’s sayonara was planned for later in the year as he was returning to finish the official handover.

OH! The summer hols were long. By this time we kinda figured maybe we won’t be moving over summer ………… with no holiday plans in place, we made the most of ‘being home’ but didn’t really do much cos it was so frickin’ hot and humid.

MissM’s birthday was spent at Cirque de Soilei, ZED at Tokyo Disney. 

When I look thru the photos, we had some great days out. Sea Paradise with MsS and kids; MsR and girls popped down for several lovely afternoons of fun on the balcony – the girls creating Chalk People or playing with the sand’n’water table (yes, MissM still has it!).We discovered a fabulous bead shop and MissM made a gorgeous beaded headband and heart necklace.

We decided at the last minute to book a holiday, as we knew we weren’t going to the UK any time soon. We weren’t fussed where we went, so long as there was a pool, a kids club, good food and no sight seeing opportunities to distract us from relaxing and spending time together. Club Med Bin Tan was brilliant in every way. We highly recommend it.
We were seldom out of the pool

MissM joined Kids Club and went sailing

DH played several games of golf. We joined him at dinner on the green.

Kids Bar - Hannah Montanah's all round

MissM was patient while getting her hair braided

A few new friends.

MsS and MsS joined me for a day trip to Kappabashi and boy did we have fun. So many incredible shops to explore. So many kitchen and/or cooking utensils you never knew you needed til you saw them. Who knew colanders came in so many sizes? Every time we use our boiled egg top-chopper-offer, or the sexy curved olive tray, or ceramic chopstick holders or cutlery rests I remember what fun we had.

OH! And the hilarious trip to ‘Dirty Dishes’ with my St Maur girlfriends. Choosing between numerous rice bowls was tiring, and hungry work.

If that wasn’t enough, my first and last visit to the famous China Pete’s and purchasing a dinner set which is still in boxes as I’ve no where to put it.

I have ended up with SO MUCH Japanese inspired plates and bowls that I need to buy another buffet for the dining room. Still it’s absolutely lovely entertaining and using all these things as constant reminder of our home  for 3 years. They are also proving to be wonderful conversation starters.

DH went to the UK to sign contracts and start meeting’n’greeting ‘new’ colleagues. MissM and I were so hot and dare I say bored, that we went into Tokyo for one night and stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental for something to do! We swam!!!!!! We met MsS for dinner.

We returned to YIS for the beginning on the new school year, and MissM started grade 2. Everyone was so happy and confused about seeing us back. It was the same for MissM as we knew we were still going, just not sure when.

I was happy to help with the Annual Welcome Back Event and at the same time finally learned the art of hanging back and letting others take the reins, knowing full well things will be the same, but different once we’d moved on.

Rosh Hashana came and went – next year in the UK as we had a contract and a moving date.


MissM’s sayonara on the balcony with all her grade 2 friends and teachers was casual and quick – just the way she wanted it. We got a few photos with her favorite teachers that will look great in her album.
Last day, and a hug from MrT before school

Miho's yummy cakes

BIG hugs for Mr Macdonald, the best headmaster EVER!

Mia's Grade 2 buddies enjoying the cakes before they presented her with sayonara gifts

The girls came over with their shopping bags and raided the pantry, fridge, freezer and laundry at my invitation.

The packers came.
Always a weird feeling seeing your house in boxes

We moved out of Leyton House and into the Pan Pacific where our adventure started two weeks shy of 3 years ago.

DH flew directly to the UK to start work and MissM and I flew via Singapore to visit with friends. We met BabyC, hung out with friends, rode the Singapore Flyer, saw the Terracotta Warriors exhibition and swam.

Arrived in the UK on November 11.

Mr & Mrs B just happened to be in London our 2nd weekend in Winchester and popped down for lunch. We visited Winchester Cathedral for the first time.
Magnificent Winchester Cathedral

MissM started Prince’s Mead, we found a house, acquaintances slowly becoming friends, lots of lunches and coffee, DH went back to Yokohama to finish off work ………… moved into House, play dates start, brother, SIL and kids announce they have booed tickets and will be with us Xmas/Boxing Day (first time we are with family at this time of year since leaving Sydney).
Daddy helping fit the back pack

This is it, Prince's Mead

First Morning.

Visit with MrsT and family (friends we met in Yokohama) for a lovely family day. Tasted Yorkshire pudding for the first time, as well as bread’n’butter pud.

We moved into Hinton House and very quickly made it HOME.
Never dreamed we'd have our own road.

Yes, turn here

The home is divided into 2 - the door on the left is ours :)

MissM sings Carols at Winchester Cathedral.

MsL has a baby girl; MrsW had a baby boy.

Chanukah was shared with new friends, who just happen to be long lost relatives.

My brother, SIL and kids were with us for Xmas Day and Boxing Day – the first time we’ve spent the day with family in five years. It was a great day.

I hope i haven't missed anything! It was a full on year, but we made it to the other end stronger and happier.

We’ve already got so much to look forward to in 2012 – lots of weekends away exploring our local area and slightly beyond. Sooner, rather than later, we’ll popup to Dubin to visit friends; we’ve friends in Bucharest, Budapest and Paris, plus a few other cities and will plan to visit if not 2012, then 2013 (that’ll come around fast for sure)

MrH jr has booked his tickets to visit.

CousinZ will be here for a few days after her trip to Israel.

Mum and SIL’s Mum are booked to visit in May/June.

There’s a few 50th birthdays of BF’s to celebrate plus lots of other wonderful celebrations along the way.

While I don’t want to wish my life away, roll on 2012 …………………… 

With love and friendship

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post .So many memories. Looking forward to keeping in touch in 2012.