Friday, 26 September 2014

Catching Up

Sorry for being a bit quiet lately.  I've had some medical issues, a bit of a shock as I am not usually ill.   But now I hope I am on the mend and I'm looking forward to our forthcoming trip which will take in Japan,  New Zealand and California.

I've never visited Japan and nor has T (the picture above was taken by F on his visit a couple of years ago).  The trip is built around my work about Lewis Carroll  and I will be seeing Tokyo and the Toyama region with some Japanese "Alice in Wonderland" friends - Alice is popular in Japan.  I will also be writing some travel articles and of course posting here! 

Thanks to the travel articles, JNTO has teamed me up with the company Japan Experience which has just sent my Japan Rail Pass - yay - my first hold-in-the-hand tangible evidence that the trip is for real.   The company has also fixed some interesting outings for me around Kanazawa and Kyoto.

And I'm really delighted at the prospect of meeting Yoko, Tomoko and Keiko in Nara.  They blog about this very beautiful area of Japan (click on their names to see their blogs) and it is completely because of them that I put Nara on my itinerary.

So, as well as planning the trip, re-reading Lewis Carroll notes, doing other work and hanging around in hospitals, these are some of the more fun things I've been doing while I haven't been blogging....

Went down to Henley to see how K's boat is getting along.  It has a permanent mooring in a beautiful stretch of  the Thames.  She treats it a bit like a holiday cottage, although the engine works fine. She's just had it craned out to be blacked at the bottom and repainted in traditional colours.

The next thing will be to paint  the traditional decorations of diamonds, roses and castles back on to the doors and sides. K's considering doing it herself, it doesn't look that hard.  (So speaks the person who can't even paint a number on a bit of wood to go on our front gate.....)

Went to a concert of Indian Music at Kings Place, which is a fairly new and completely inspiring music and cultural venue in Kings Cross.  The concert was over four hours long and to be honest I'd been wondering if I could sit and listen to Indian music for 4 hours because I don't know anything about it.  But the flautist Shashank Subramanyam was just astonishing and his accompanists so good that I didn't want it to end.    I took the picture when they'd finished as you weren't allowed to film during the performance.

Spent lots of time with the twins who are always such fun.  And we took Little A and S to Regents Park boating lake which is so entertaining, though expensive.

We also paid a visit to in-laws in Dorset.   Here's a photo of us trying to find a spot to picnic on the beach in the RSPB reserve at Arne Peninsula.  We'd forgotten to check the tide tables, and so actually it was high tide and the beach was covered in water! But we found a handy canoe tied up to a tree and had our picnic in that as the waves broke around the canoe.

Also spotted this threatening sign on a pretty little bridge nearby

I've been looking through other peoples' travel blogs, and found this one which interested me. It's about dealing with anxiety, particularly travel anxiety.  Actually, I have suffered quite badly from this too (although not as badly as Lauren, the blog's writer). It's OK now that I have wound down travel writing and really just do it as a hobby.  But when I was being well paid as a freelance for turning in the perfect product to someone else's specification, there was a lot of anxiety attached in taking off into the unknown.  Obviously it is nothing compared to the stress of being a brain surgeon or a judge (or indeed anything that actually matters).  And it was well worth it for the wonderful experiences.

Lauren thinks that too. Take a look at her blog, it's good.


  1. I am sure glad you are feeling better. Did you catch something from Adullamite?

  2. My dear friend, I hope you feel better and enjoy a lot of your exciting journey, I tomeré me a break these days to travel south. A hug and good weekend.

  3. Oh no - sorry to hear you've not been well. I hope you are feeling loads better now and ready for your trip to Japan.
    That boat is beautiful! The paintings on the doors are lovely too.
    What a great idea to sit in the canoe for your picnic :-)
    Happy travelling :-) x

  4. I was lucky enough to visit Nara some years ago. The temples are amazing. I'm sure you will enjoy your trip.

  5. Long time since I was in Japan, just remember it was hot & humid. Grerat place to visit. Henley is just down the road from me.

  6. Hi Jenny,
    So sorry to hear that you have not been well. I hope you are on the mend now and are feeling much better!
    You seem to be living life to the full and how wonderful to hear about your trip to New Zealand and Japan. I wish I could go with you!
    I would love to see the parks and gardens that Yoko talks about on her blog... I lived in Auckland and Wellington for quite a few years. I would like to go back to visit again to see if it's changed.
    I will look forward to seeing your post when you return from your travels. Have a good weekend!
    Jo. x

  7. I am so sorry that you were ill, Jenny, but glad to hear that you are getting better. Your trip to Japan sounds exciting and I look forward to reading your posts on your travels.

    I read Lauren's post on anxiety and was impressed with her ability to work through her fears. We all face anxiety problems during our life, some worse than others. I have suffered from panic attacks and depression, but on a much smaller scale than Lauren, and know how frightening and paralyzingly they can be. How brave of her to chronicle her challenges and how wonderful that she was able to push through her fears and become the independent women she is now.

  8. I'm sure you feel fine now and the upcoming trip will certainly keep your moral very high! Never been there, it sounds very exotic like destination. My brother visited Kyoto two years ago and was very excited with all he saw and experienced.
    Enjoyed all your lovely post. Best wishes from me!

  9. Delighted that you are on the mend and ready to undertake your exciting journey to Japan - how lovely that you will be meeting up with one of my favourite blogging friends, Yoko.
    The concert of Indian music really does sound to have been enthralling.

  10. I hope that you are fully recovered now and are able to enjoy your journeys. I do so love reading about them, seeing the images you capture.

  11. Sorry you've been poorly. But what an incentive to get well this Japan trip must be. I'm a bit envious - in the nicest way possible!

  12. Hope the health issues are behind you. The trip to Japan sounds like such an adventure. I know you will show us lots of interesting and unusual places.


  13. So glad you are mended. And so to Japan - I've never been, and will follow your journey avidly. (I did love New Zealand - hope you get time for a little travelling there. The scenery is unlike anywhere else.)

  14. I'm sure you're going to enjoy Japan, didn't realize there was a Lewis Carroll/Japan connection.
    Our daughter lives on the southern most island in the city of Fukuoka and loves it.

  15. I hope you are feeling heaps better now, Jenny. Planning the trip to Japan should make you feel good. I look forward to reading all about it when you get back. Loved the artwork on the boat... the designs always fascinate me when I see them. I tried it once and made an awful mess of it!

  16. Your trip to Japan sounds wonderful. I've always wanted to visit Kyoto. If you go there I hope you take lots of pictures. And I'm sorry to hear you were not feeling well. I'm glad that's behind you.

  17. Oh … how exciting for you to travel to Japan and beyond. Yoko (stardust) produces one of my favorite blogs and you are so lucky to be able to visit her and the others in person. I will be reading about your upcoming travels with great interest!

  18. Good to be catching up with you, Jenny! Your Japan trip will be fascinating, I am sure of that - and of course I am looking forward to some posts with great pictures and lots of interesting information.
    I do wonder why the traditional colours for this type of boat are green and red.
    Also, I very much hope your health issues are sorted (or will be soon), and you'll be in full travel form when the time comes for setting off to the Far East. I remember you had a long-going struggle with a virus earlier this year (hope I am not mixing this up in my mind with someone else's blog), and hope this has nothing to do with it.

  19. It's great to hear from you and know you are feeling better and planning fun stuff in the near future!

  20. I can hardly wait to hear all about Japan and see all the pictures! Going to be fun to meet people you have only known online, too. You've been quite busy as it is. Hope you will be feeling tip top for your trip. :)

  21. The big fish reminds me of the Big Fish by the River Lagan in Belfast city centre: I've always been fascinated by houseboats and the idea of living on the water, though I wouldn't want to live in such cramped quarters myself; I need plenty of space around me.

  22. I'm very pleased that you are now on the mend and will be well enough to make the trip. It's looking very interesting - which part of NZ? - and I hope it goes very well for you.

    On the bridge notice I wonder how many people now even remember what a felony was? On my first trip into the USA (from Canada by road bridge in, I think, 1992) I was questioned by an Amazon wearing an equally fitting side-arm who wanted to know if I'd ever committed a felony. When I started a law degree we still learned about felonies but it did make me wonder what people from most parts of the world made of such a question.

    1. I'm using this reply box even though it's barely legible because I know you get comment updates. (I've replied in a "group reply" comment too. this is what it said: "GB, it'll be around Christchurch - I actually looked to see if I could make it to Napier having read all about it in your blog, but I won't have enough time to travel too far. I'm definitely feeling I need at least twice the time if not three times, for everywhere I am going to visit. ". )

      And then, as for felonies - I didn't realise they didn't exist any more in English law. I googled "What is a felony?" which somehow reminded me of the famous question by the judge James Pickles, "Who are the Beatles?"

  23. I like the idea of a picnic in the canoe with the waves lapping up! Unexpected but fun!

    I'm so glad you are going to Japan -- it is a fascinating place and I'm wondering if you will be there long. If you are in the Shiga prefecture, I can "introduce" you to a number of people whom we've come to know when they were serving as delegates here in Michigan (the sister state). Most live in Otsu, which isn't far from Kyoto. They are wonderfully gracious and speak English well! So, if you need an intro, let me know!

    Hope by now you are feeling much better and good to go! Can't wait to read your posts!

  24. I have family that lives in Japan and have visited many times.
    You will have a great time.
    Love the rail pass. It is such a great deal.
    Feel better soon and enjoy your trip.

    cheers, parsnip

  25. I am so glad that you are on the mend and feeling much better. We will welcome you in Nara.
    Please take care not to be tired before your big travel!!

  26. Dear Jenny - The clock has started ticking in me to know your departure for Japan is within a month. How exciting! JNTO site must have been helpful. Even when you have lots of things to do, spending with your twins must be joyful - they are such adorable babies. Your mind must have restored from the busy days by that Indian music and I hope your body has mended fully. Try to be in fit as travelling from one place to another for about three weeks is a little bit tough physically even when you have wonderful time. Happy and healthy days ahead! See you soon, Jenny.


  27. The narrow-boat looks amazing. I hope you have a good time in Japan - looking forward to lots of fascinating photographs when you return!

  28. I'm sorry to learn you've been unwell, Jenny...but please you're now mended or on the mend. :)

    Alice is loved and has been loved by millions. Who in their right mind wouldn't love her? Even the Mad Hatter loved her!

    Wonderful pics and tales attached....thank you.

    Take care.

    Anxiety is relative, no matter what...and shouldn't be discounted.

  29. Glad you are feeling better! You still managed to be really busy and visiting lots of places.

    I can't wait until we get to see all your pictures from your trip to Japan!

  30. I'm sorry to hear you've been ill. Glad that you're feeling better now though.

    I'd love to travel to Japan someday. I'm looking forward to reading your post and seeing all of the beautiful picture to go along with it.

  31. What an exciting trip! You will come back with so many memories and I hope many pictures to show us. New Zealand also is a great destination. Enjoy yourself.

  32. Ah, Jenny, I do hope you're completely well before you set off to Japan. What an exciting trip that will be. It's so far away though. I'd definitely have anxiety about such long flights. I love the narrowboat (of course) and no, the painting is not difficult, but very time-consuming. I've done a bit of it and honestly, if I can, anyone can! Your Dorset sign made me chuckle. Where on earth did you see that? Wonderful. I adore Dorset!

  33. Hi Jenny!
    I'm glad you're better now and had some visits. Lovely decoration of the doors, some years ago I did the same, painted on the glass doors. I also was glad to know that you've been to the Regents park. I walked there too and may be in the same time as you were boating. I have my new post about my stay in London and the Regent's park.
    Wish you interesting trip to Japan with Alice's friends!

  34. I look forward to seeing the result of the canal art; I’ve always found it fascinating. Enjoy Japan!

  35. Owning a narrowboat was one of my fantasy's while living in London. Such a good escape!
    "Transportation for life!" Most crimes only got seven years!

  36. First of all, I wish you better. As for Japan, it's a land I've always wanted to visit, but then again, I say the same about pretty much every country. :-) However, with Japan it's different. I was really into Japanese culture when I was a child (also into the Greek and Roman myths) and my son now has developed an obsession with manga comics.

    I had a similar experience to yours with INdian music when I still lvied in Cuba. I was invited to a concert by an ex-teacher from my uni who at the time had started to work at the Indian embassy in Havana. I had never been to an Indian music concert before and left (surreptitiously, mind) after the first 20 minutes. And yet, now I can't do without it. Love it. I have a few albums by very good artists (including Anoushka Shankar) and try to catch the Darbar Festival on telly every year.

    Have fun in Japan.

  37. That boat is gorgeous! I love the painted doors. I'm not sure how I'd like living on a boat, what with the seasickness issue, but boats sure are pretty.
    I hope that you can enjoy your upcoming trip in the best of health.

  38. Here's hoping you have a marvelous time. I enjoyed Tokyo when I was there some 35 years ago. I suspect it has changed quite a bit since then, so I'll offer no particulars.

    Love the sign on the bridge. Is it old enough that the "transport" may have been to Australia?

  39. Thanks for the comments! I am glad to read every one. I've made further attempts to sort out the blog colours but it really does seem to be hopeless, by the way so I'll be returning mostly to posting replies like this.
    Thanks for all the good health wishes, and I'm glad to say I am feeling OK now. Meike, I don't know why the traditional colours are green and red. There are also traditional styles of decoration - wonder if they really are traditional actually. I sometimes wonder! I agree Valerie, often things look so easy to paint but then you realise that it's far harder than you think. A matter of proportions and getting the right style -it's really quite subtle.
    Mac'n'Janet and Parsnip, have been reading about your relatives who live in Japan. Must be fun to be able to visit family somewhere that is different and exotic.
    Jo, everyone tells me about the NZ scenery so I am looking forward to seeing it.
    Rosemary, I have an idea I found Yoko's blog in a link from your page - -or was it the other way around???
    Bill, I am hoping that the weather will be less humid - I think that is mainly in the summer. HOpe so! :)
    Haha teresa, I am glad someone has commented on our smart idea of picknicking in the canoe. It wasn't ours of course but I don't suppose the owners minded!

  40. Should be a great trip - glad you got being sick out of the way beforehand!

  41. Oh! Regent's Park! I did so want to go there when we were in London a few weeks ago, but I never made it. (So many things to see and do!)
    I have been there once, years ago and I have never forgotten it. xx
    Hope you are feeling better...Richard and I have both been sick since we got you, I don't normally get sick and it has thrown me off a bit. (Oh, and I remember...I have to say "ill", if you say sick, people in England think you are going to throw up! LOL)

  42. Thank you, Tomoko - I am so very much looking forward to meeting you all!
    GB, it'll be around Christchurch - I actually looked to see if I could make it to Napier having read all about it in your blog, but I won't have enough time to travel too far. I'm definitely feeling I need at least twice the time if not three times, for everywhere I am going to visit.
    Parsnip, I have been looking at your lovely Japanese themed posts for some time now, how lovely to have family there!
    Jeanie, thank you so much - and ditto to what I said to GB... if only I had three times as long. I'll be in Kyoto but not nearly long enough - I've been looking at websites of things to do there and it's dazzling, plus a friend of mine has a photography exhibition there which of course I must definitely see!!
    Nick, I hadn't heard of the Big Fish but googled it and it's stunning. there's so much wonderful public art these days, not just good but accessible and attractive too.

  43. More comments! Thank you for these too. Val, the bridge was near White Mill in Dorset a charming place. Lee, thank you for your lovely comment, and wise words. And Yoko, for your kindness, I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to meeting you. Yes, travelling is exhausting and can be anxiety making but it is such a privilege. I sometimes think of how our ancestors might have felt to know that their descendants would have so many wonderful chances in life.

  44. Jenny, I have come here so late. Yoko invited me to join in the fancy meeting with you. I can't pass up this opportune time! I am so delighted and excited to have you here in Nara! You are full of energies to do whatever you think is fun and find out something interesting from your perspective.
    I hope you'll enjoy your stay in Japan. It may be the good time to see beautiful Japanese autumn leaves.
    Take good care of yourself and happy flight, Jenny.

  45. Thank you Keiko - I'm looking forward to meeting too!
    Kay, I'm sorry you have been ill - I think often just eating what you're not entirely used to can have that effect but I hope you didn't have any dodgy grub in the UK!
    Sparkling Red, tthank goodness sea sickness isn't an issue on a narrow boat, they only go on very calm waters (mostly canals) and are flat bottomed. I get so seasick usually but I've never had a problem on this boat!
    Val, I knew you'd have a comment - I think K will have a go at the boat painting, if she has time. She's super busy. I might even have a go - except that I still have a number sign to go outside the front door which is hanging fire!
    Nadezda, I couldn't get access to your blog,but I'll have another go because I'd like to read your post. The gardens at Regents Park really are great and I always enjoy going through them. We don't live too far away.
    Cuban, I have come to the conclusion thatt he thing about Indian music is that you have to be ... well I would not quite use the word fatalistic. But you have to just let it happen. Or at least I do. then I can really get into it and appreciate it. I used to find it hard going too, though.
    Adullamite, the more I think about transportation the weirder it seems. I suppose it was cheaper than putting people in prison but taking them out on the ships must surely have been quite a big expense. Yes, there is something very much of the fantasy about being on a canal boat, at least in the summer. Not quite so nice when everything freezes in the winter I suppose although K's boat has a very cosy fire.

  46. Many thanks for all the really interesting links. Your trip to Japan sounds wonderful. I hope you'll be fully restored in health by then

  47. I could have absolutely sworn I commented on this post but I guess blogger didn't take it -- I'm glad I came back. There was so much to love here -- that fabulous boat with the wonderful painting. It's just magical! And the picnic in the canoe! I'm thinking you may have been a little wet but oh, so wonderful. And the concert and the beautiful trip to Dorset. You have been a busy woman!

    Also, I don't know if you will be in Shiga, Japan (the prefecture or state) but if you think you might and you are not on a guided or structured tour I would be glad to see if our friends could connect with you. They are good English speakers and very nice people! We have worked with many of them who spent a year or more in the U.S. as delegates to the sister state. Email me if you think that might be something you want and I can see who may be available.

  48. Hi Jenny. I'm just catching up with your fascinating blog so please excuse the late comment. I had to remark on the Dorset bit. Arne is opposite Rockley View Point where I often walk with Jade and it probably features in the photo, just across the water from your canoe. we might have been able to wave to each other. About the bridge notice - I've seen one like that on the bridge by the mill at Sturminster but I see you say it was at White Mill, which I also know.


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