Tuesday, January 15, 2013


What's that noise?  Did you hear it?  Listen!

That was the sound of the Grand World Tour whoooooooooooooshing past.

And in particular it was the sound of the last week of the GWT whooshing past.  The week we spent with Austin and Kaori just seemed to vanish. Suddenly we were on a train heading from Nagoya towards Tokyo, when the week had only just seemed to have started.

We had a nice (and quiet) last morning at their place.  We had Bacon, egg and toast for breakfast, made sure we were properly packed, and hunted high and low for Sleepy Hippo who seemed to have vanished overnight (Austin found him hiding behind the sofa - we think he wanted to stay in Japan to play with Tatsuki and also Kaori had spent a bit of time gently stroking his head). Then Kaori and Tatsuki went to the library and Austin drove us to Hozumi station where we caught the train into Nagoya and he went to the gym.

Thank you for having us, A,K&T - we had a great time. Next year in Tokyo :-)

The trip to Tokyo was uneventful.  Mount Fuji was out on display as we went past - the last couple of times I've been on that route Mount Fuji was hidden by mist and clouds - and all the people on the left hand side of the train had their cameras out and were taking loads of photos.  Alas, I was on the right hand side of the train and wasn't in a position to get pretty pictures.

We changed to the Narita express at Shinagawa rather than in Tokyo itself.  It was a much more pelasant experience.  We got off the Shinkansen, went through the barriers, I went to the food hall and got sticky prawns and salad and cheese and biscuits and things for a picnic later, we bought tickets to Narita, walked in a gentle manner to the platform and ten minutes later got on the train.  None of the rush and bustle and panic and going down about six levels to the basement that you get at Tokyo station.  I would thoroughly recommend changing at Shinagawa, should you ever be in a position where you need to get from Nagoya to Narita.  We walked on to the hotel shuttle bus at Narita and shortly thereafter found ourselves at the Toyoko Inn - which was 200 yen less than the cost of the Hotel Seagull in Osaka, but which was 5 times the size, had a good sized bed, a lounge suite, a much bigger bathroom, a small cafe where we could have got basic provisions for tea (but we had our prawns and salad so didn't bother) and was altogether a much nicer experience.

We flew home on Saturday morning.  Our seats were immediately over the wing of the rather large plane, so we didn't have much of a view.  But as we flew out of Tokyo the pilot dipped the winds (I assume so he could turn the plane round, and not actually for our benefit) and we had, briefly, the most spectacular view of Fuji San, bathed in sunlight, crested with snow and looking glorious.

We stopped for a couple of hours in Frankfurt, then ended up back where we had begun, at Manchester Airport, where were waiting Tabitha, Gareth and Cally ("It's GAMMA'N'JIM!!!" cried Cally when she saw us). They came back to our place with us and stayed over Saturday night.  We all had Sunday lunch together. The Builder and I had Monday lunch in the Nettle.  It has been snowing and the countryside around our place looked very beautiful.

And now it's time to go back to work, after six weeks off.  I hope I remember the way!  I have to take the car in tomorrow - not only do I go back to work, but my Japanese classes start again tomorrow evening. And I need to know even more Japanese than I know now (which isn't very much) when we go back on the GWT2

Toasting the end of the GWT at our local favourite eating place

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