Friday 20th April 2007
Friday 20th April 2007
Mum left for the UK yesterday and we have only a couple of days free before our next visitor descends upon us. Something others have warned us about is becoming realised - when you live in a different country, people will use you as a freebie holiday home. People who have only been acquaintances now become "dear friends" and ask to be invited. Ah well.
Rhiannon has a busy day ahead at school. The school photographer is due and she's going on a trip to Kodomo-no-kuni - Children's Land. As far as I can tell, it's a large park with a little petting zoo. She wasn't very forthcoming about it really and we keep meaning to re-visit. I've added it to my list of things to do again!
As for Tim and I - we have a rare night out together planned!
I forgot to mention that a few weeks ago Tim agreed I could join the ranks of the true expat wife and get myself a "helper". This is the local term for a cleaner, babysitter and basically all-round helper. Some lucky mum's have a helper all day, every day. They collect the kids from school, cook and clean for them, and generally be wonderful. How I wish our finances were in the league of the expat bankers, but they aren't, so I will content myself to having her here for a couple of hours a week to do my ironing. I hate ironing.
Merle is adorable and I want to keep her with me forever. Rhiannon loves her too, so we are happy to have her babysit while we go out. We haven't ever really had a babysitter before so this is all fairly new to us all. When we were in the UK, my parents were too far away to help out and Tim's parents - although close - let us down at the last moment so many times we gave up asking.
So with great excitement (on my part - Tim gets to go out more than me… mutter, moan!) we head off to an arranged meal with the parents of children in Rhiannon's class. Although I went out earlier in the year, this is the first time Dads have been invited.
The venue is Andy's Izakaya, an establishment much loved by Westerners as it is quite pub-like and the menu is in English! Our directions were vague - "It's across the road from Bic Camera in an arch under the train tracks"…
What we didn't realise was Bic Camera is massive and the road splits into several branches. The train tracks are part of an enormous interchange and each arch contains a restaurant. And none of the signs say "Andy's Izakaya" - all are in Japanese, of course. I tried phoning some of the mum's whose numbers I had on my phone but nobody replied. After half an hour of looking, Tim was getting cross and was about to demand we go home when he spotted the telephone number on a door which corresponded with the directions we were given. Hurrah!
Inside it was heaving. I've never seen such a large number of people crammed into one restaurant.
Because we were so late, the meal had already started and we were unable to sit next to each other. Tim got lucky and was placed between several rather "merry" ladies.
The food was excellent. And we tried shochu, a rather naughty alcoholic beverage that is served with grapefruit. Can't stand grapefruit, so I had it neat. It's rather like tequila… I think.
As the less determined party-goers left, there was room to move around and finally chat to people. We stayed to the very end and I became close friends with two lovely ladies, Yoko and Amy. I seem to get on far better with the non-Brits here. Yoko is, of course, Japanese and Amy is Singaporean. Both are bubbly, frank, intelligent and great fun.
We must have got home somehow but I have no recollection of that!