We were warned before we moved here that people would see us as a chance for a free holiday and that all kinds of distant friends would come out of the woodwork and visit. Sadly, the people I would dearly love to have come and visit are unable to due to lack of finances.
Tim only gets a set number of days leave per year. Rhiannon has set school holidays, of course. And we only have a limited amount of money to spend on holidays, as has everyone.
Our summer holidays are reserved for going to the UK in order to a) escape from the melting heat and humidity of a Tokyo summer; b) to stock up on stuff we can't get here and c) use up the ridiculously long school break – over 8 weeks!
Christmas holidays have already settled into my Mum coming over here. As a fairly recent widow, I cannot bear to leave her on her own over Christmas and she's never been invited to spend it at my brother's.
That leaves the school's Easter holidays (about 3 weeks) and the February and October one week half terms.
Tim's parents keep saying they will come over to visit, then not committing to a date.They only want to come when Rhiannon is off school. So the Easter holidays are reserved for them. But once again, they cancelled their plans at the last moment.
A friend of mine – an ex work colleague from years ago – invited herself and her daughter over, for a week in April. Unfortunately, her child's school holidays don't coincide with Rhiannon's break so this will not be as much fun as hoped. But there's a weekend in the middle of it, so the girls can spend some quality time together.
And it took a while to get all the dates confirmed, otherwise we would have taken some proper holiday time at Easter.
So that leaves us only the one week half term breaks to get some much needed R&R for ourselves.
Japan is a surprisingly long way from everywhere. We don't want to spend hours on a plane for just a week's holiday, so look for closer options. We rather fancy Saipan or Pulau, but can't sort out the flights in time, so we get a last minute trip to Guam. It's only three hours away.
We never do package tours, but book it all separately. This time there are no self-catering options available so we have to plump for a hotel. Later, we discovered that most of the rest of the school are going to Guam as well, but will be staying at another hotel some distance away. While I am sure Rhiannon would like to play with her friends, I am very relieved I won't be forced to socialise with any of the parents. Yes, I am an unsociable cow at times.
I want, and desperately need, proper peace and quiet as I have been working my butt of recently, and with all the hoohah over the past few weeks I just want to kick back in the sun, read endless books and relax properly with no computer, dreadlines or email.
Then I get 'flu.