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Dr John Hawkins

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...And Welcome to the Year of the Mouse

Posted on 2008/01/05 12:46:56 (January 2008).

[Tuesday 1st January]
Happy New Year everyone!

Yes, it's the Year of the Mouse in Japan - they borrowed the system for naming years from China, but technically in China the New Year hasn't started yet.

So Chie and I woke fairly early in the morning in the very nice conservatory in Rob and Kate's house. It didn't seem like anyone else was stirring, and I wanted to make something of the day, so decided to just tiptoe out.

To this end, the New Year for us commenced in earnest with an increasingly desperate attempt to find our way out of the maze of suburbia which is Lower Earley. At the time of construction it was the largest private housing estate in Europe, and I believe it's design principles were inspired by the work of King Minos of Crete. I began to despair after about an hour, when I was convinced we had actually come in a full circle (although how would you know in the suburbs?), and being the morning of New Year's Day there wasn't a soul to be seen on the streets for us to ask directions. Eventually we found ourselves in some sort of park, where we did finally find a couple out walking their dog, and with an air of desperation asked them for directions. We got to Earley station just in time for the train (albeit that our horribly convoluted route meant we'd probably missed the previous two) and breathed a sigh of relief as we headed back to the safety of London.

We were starving by the time we reached London, and so rather strangely went for lunch in the cafe of the House of Fraser near Victoria. It was completely deserted in there, and felt a bit like the end of the world, but the bowl of leek and potato soup was welcome nonetheless. I also bought a new jumper in House of Fraser, in an attempt to appease Chie and hopefully bring the ordeal of shopping to a swift conclusion.

After a bit more shopping we headed back to the flat. For dinner we had a kind of Osechi-ryori, the traditional food eaten in Japan at New Year. It was of course a very cut down version given the available ingredients and the requirement to make it vegetarian, but it was nice nonetheless - I'm a particular fan of mochi.

Oh and we also finished the jigsaw that me and Chie had been doing over Christmas. The last bit - the sky in the scene - was nothing but trial and error grunt work - and the thought of just giving up did occur to us several times. However we persevered, and when we finally did get it finished it was very gratifying. It's the first time Chie and I have properly done a jigsaw together and I have to admit to finding it a very relaxing way to pass the time.

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