Monday, 27 May 2013

Our New Flat

This post is entirely an excuse to show off our lovely new flat. It's the first time since Uni that we've ever been able to properly choose our own place to live. It's also the first time we've had somewhere big enough for us to have space for all our stuff, and one of only 2 places (the other being our tiny apartment in Japan) where we're not sharing with someone else. In the last 4 years we've lived in 8 different places, and it's been 7 years since I lived in one place for longer than a year. It feels amazing to know we're going to be settled here for probably 2 years, and we can actually make it feel properly like home.

View across Birmingham

Main living area

We have a SOFA. For the first time in 4 years. It's amazing. 

It also has a table big enough to easily feed 4. I can't wait for dinner parties! 

Our kitchen has an OVEN, SURFACE SPACE and a FULL SIZED FREEZER. I am in heaven. 

John's Mum bought us a beautiful silk bonsai tree

Our bedroom

It's so lovely and light

Thanks to both sets of parents for helping us move in!!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Appreciating England

Living in Japan last year taught me a lot of things. I learnt what an earthquake feels like, how to behave in an onsen to avoid obasans' disapproval and the right way to pitch a squeal of 'kawaiiiiii' so it almost shatters eardrums. I also learnt some slightly more serious stuff like how to survive in a very small apartment without much stuff, how to make a home for yourself somewhere totally unfamiliar and that good friends remain good friends wherever you both live. 

However, the biggest life lesson I think I learnt in Japan was an appreciation for the world I live in. This is partly because the Japanese (even those in cities) generally seem to be more in tune with the world around them than most Westerners. The way people celebrate the arrival of cherry blossoms and spring, and the delight they take in the autumn colours are both fantastic. I know the English traditionally love talking about both the weather and their gardens, but there isn't the same appreciation of nature. 

However, the main reason I've gained an appreciation for the world around me has nothing to do with the Japanese themselves. Its because of England. It's easy to forget how much people all over the world love England. It's easy to forget how lucky one is to be English. We can travel to almost anywhere in the world and be understood and gain work (and work visas) due to our language. We have historic buildings and an amazing history and beautiful countryside. In spite of people who vote UKIP, those who committed the horrible act in Woolwich this week and the bigoted idiots acting the way they are in response, we are still a country that welcomes people from all cultures, religions and walks of life. We're a diverse and vibrant country, where people can be whoever they want to, and be whatever they want to be. It's easy and cheap to travel to anywhere else in the world, especially all the amazing places in Europe. England is wonderful, both because of its innate Englishness, and because of how well that Englishness is adapting to suit the multicultural world we now live in. 

England isn't alone in being like this, and it certainly isn't perfect, but living in Japan reminded me how many people would love to visit, or even live, here. Since coming back, I have tried to keep this view fresh in my mind. I sometimes try and look at England through a Japanese lens. Some things are scary. I miss walking alone at night unafraid, cheap restaurants and mountains. But a lot is great. 

I guess this is all a very roundabout way of saying that I'm trying not to take anything for granted any more.

London Bridge by night

Traditional Parish Church near my parents' house.

Suffolk fields

York Minster

Swans on the Waveney

Birmingham's canals

My favourite London view, from Millenium Bridge. Globe Theatre and the Shard. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

Hello there!

Long time no see, blogging world! How are you all? Life has been a mix of lovely, depressing, busy, boring and relaxing since I got back, with a big chunk of frustrating thrown in there too! But now, after spending a couple of months with our parents and dashing about to interviews, John and I are living in Birmingham (in the UK, obviously, not the one in Alabama!).  We both have places at the University of Birmingham to start a Social Work MA in September, and in the mean time are working in care. Well, John is working, and I will be working as soon as people (various) start actually doing their jobs properly! This is mostly where the frustrating comes in, but hopefully its pretty much sorted now. We've been living in a shared flat for the last 2 months since we moved here, but are moving this weekend to a new flat and then we should actually be able to settle down for a couple of years at least. I haven't lived in one house for longer than a year for 7 years, so I can't wait to actually make somewhere home!

I haven't been very inspired to blog much since I got back, I think it's probably due to not feeling settled enough myself to want to share anything with the world. I have done one or two posts over on my other blog, which, as the name suggests, is a solely food related blog. I've been enjoying having a worthwhile sized kitchen and an OVEN so much that food has taken over my life far too much recently.

However, the spring is finally here, the days are warming up and I'm starting to find new places and do new things that I want to share. I'm not promising to blog as much as I did in Japan; Birmingham just isn't as interesting, but I am attempting to make a vague comeback!