Writer / Calligrapher
Spent his high school years in Bangkok. Majored in cultural anthropology at Waseda University and studied Thai branding. After graduating from Waseda University, she worked at a local hotel in Thailand, where she was in charge of public relations, banquet planning and arrangements (weddings and parties), passenger and travel services, and corporate sales for general companies, as well as serving as a guide for government officials, celebrities, and corporate VIP clients.
After returning to Japan, she worked for a Thai government agency in Tokyo as an interpreter for the minister and was in charge of marketing and branding to promote trade between Japan and Thailand. She has been living in the UK since 2017 due to her husband's relocation. She has been living in the UK since 2017 as her husband was transferred there. As a writer, she writes about travel, daily life, and current affairs.
During her stay in the UK, she was fascinated by the beauty of hand-drawing and began studying calligraphy at Sutton College. In 2020, she launched "Surreymay Calligraphy" in order to spread the appeal of calligraphy, and has been working on collaborations between different industries such as graphic designers, artists, and English teachers. She has been working on the cover title of "Colorful Animals," a coloring book by artist KENTA AOKI.
Member of the Calligraphy and Lettering Art Society (CLAS), UK
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
For a foreigner, Japan's railroad and subway systems are dizzyingly complex, and even I, who have been away from Japan for a long time, find them difficult to understand.
The same is true in the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the railroad. In my hometown, there is a tramway called the Tram, as well as a train called the National Rail, which connects the center of London, but when I first came here, I myself misunderstood it for a while.
I myself was mistaken for a while when I first came here. I thought it was a national railway company since it is named "National," but it seems that it is not. I was told that it is a generic name, or brand name, for all the companies that connect central London with other suburbs and regional cities.
The national railroad company, British Rail, operated trains in the United Kingdom until 1994, after which National Rail took over the rail network, which is now operated by a number of private companies. National Rail is the unifying brand and the main brand for passenger trains in the UK today.
As with buses, the Oyster Card prepaid service or contactless credit cards are convenient to use the local trains.
The London Underground, which runs the length and breadth of the city, has an atmosphere similar to that of Tokyo, with passengers not making eye contact with each other and a distant, dry atmosphere inside the cars. On the other hand, the National Rail, which is like a local train, creates a generally relaxed atmosphere, except during the morning and evening rush hours.
First of all, the seats are designed to make you feel like you are on a journey. Many of the seats are spacious, facing each other, with a table in the middle, and you can sometimes see passengers enjoying a can of beer with a side of snacks, which is a familiar sight on long-distance trains in Japan.
Some of them are completely ready for the party, laughing loudly with their upper bodies naked in the cold autumn weather. On the other hand, I encountered a group of dressed-up men and women, perhaps on their way home from a party, sitting in a car with champagne in their hands and enjoying themselves from the station entrance, rather than on the station platform before boarding.
Or perhaps they were on their way home. On the train going down from the city center, there were tired people sipping wine by themselves. On the other hand, a girl with dreadlocks and a backpack on her back, who looked like a traveler, came up to talk to me.
On the other hand, in the up train, there are many passengers who seem to be in a happy mood, especially in the morning after the commuter rush hour. One day, for example, a woman was sitting quietly by herself on the opposite side of the aisle, but she changed when another woman, who appeared to be her friend, boarded the train from a station on the way to the station.
She was all excited, saying, "Oh my gosh, it's been a long time...how have you been? Soon after that, she appeared again, this time with a bottle of champagne and a glass toast! It was a miniature bottle made of plastic, as expected, but it was only a 20-minute ride to the terminal station, the last stop on the local train, after all that trouble.
I was truly impressed by the spirit of the travelers who took the time to enjoy the journey, toasting even such a small amount of time. The fact that it's bubbles and not just wine is also fashionable. ......
You are too well prepared.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
One of the inevitable events for parents with children in the United Kingdom is their child's birthday party.
As with farewell parties, the size and style of birthday parties vary from family to family, but up to a certain age, the size of the party tends to increase proportionally as the children get older.
It is difficult to make a general statement because the pattern differs from family to family, school to school, and region to region, but I would like to introduce a British-style birthday party that was quite different from those in Japan, and surprised me at first.
This is the case at the small local school my child attends, so the situation would be different at a large school with many students.
How to Invite
When you hold a birthday party in the UK, you first tell the people (parents) you want to invite that you want to invite them, just as you do in Japan.
Recently, invitations are often sent simultaneously to the entire group via IT-based social networking services such as LINE, but my child's memorable birthday party debut was an orthodox paper-based event.
From kindergarten to early elementary school, it is common to invite the entire class, regardless of gender.
However, when the party is for pre-school children before kindergarten, or when it is an intimate and homey affair where only the children who are really close to each other are invited, it is not necessarily all the children, but rather it is done in a casual manner, such as by a direct verbal invitation when they meet each other.
Conversely, as the children entered elementary school and their age increased (in the case of our school, around the second grade), they began to be invited separately for boys and girls.
Invitations may be only on social networking sites, or a separate neat card, a piece of paper that you print yourself, or a form with details that you get from the birthday party facility (probably included in the price).
Types of Venues
While in Japan, a birthday party for a small child is likely to be held at home or in a restaurant, in the UK the scope is a bit wider.
For pre-school children or those in an informal group, a party may be held at home, but for others, it is difficult to accommodate the number of people, so a party is often held at a leisure facility or sports facility where children can have fun, or at a community center or church where the venue is rented only for the occasion.
Parents often accompany their children up to the early elementary school years, so if younger siblings and parents (or both parents) are included, the number of participants can range from 20 to 30 to as many as 100.
In the case of a home party, it is implicitly agreed that only the invited children themselves are allowed to attend, unless otherwise permitted by the host, in consideration of the burden on the host.
Entertainment is mandatory.
In Japan, the usual pattern would be to have a playdate with snacks and refreshments, let the children play as they see fit, and end with a cake.
We outsource the use of a large pneumatic trampoline, face painting, and other entertainment to entertain the children with a variety of games.
As the children get older, these "play" activities will become more sophisticated (and the cost of the facility will go up...) and include soccer, bouldering, bowling, swimming, shooting games, and many other types of activities.
Some hosts will organize unique gatherings such as ranching experiences or kimono parties.
How to serve the cake
The birthday song and cake at the end of the party is a common event in Japan, but what happens after the cake is served is very different from that in Japan.
The cake is not eaten on the spot, but instead is frantically cut by the parents on the spot and taken home to each family.
This tends to happen mainly when using venues other than their own homes.
It is assumed that this is due to the fact that the facility has a tight time limit (often 2 hours, sometimes only 1.5 hours) and there is no time to cut and eat the cake, and that the children are already full when the cake appears on the stage.
Incidentally, the cut cakes are sometimes placed in Ziploc bags or disposable containers, but sometimes they are just wrapped in paper napkins, and by the time they reach home, they are a mess, which is shocking.
As they got older, they had more room in their stomachs, or perhaps it was because they were more comfortable with their food as they got older, but as they reached elementary school age, they ate more of their food on the spot at the facility.
Preparing even for parents
For elementary school students, it is becoming more common to drop off children at birthday parties and pick up their parents at the end of the party.
These food and beverages for parents usually include soft drinks, coffee, tea, and other hot beverages, as well as tea cakes and sandwiches.
The host may serve exactly the same buffet-style meal as the one served to the children, or may even provide champagne, wine, and beer.
Some of the parties are as large as 1.5 or 2 after-parties of a wedding, which can be overwhelming.
Souvenirs to send off the guests
When you attend a wedding in Japan, you are likely to be handed a "petit gift" on your way out, but in the UK, there is a similar custom at the end of a birthday party.
After the climax of the party, when the cake presentation is over and the party is about to end, the guests are often given a small bag of souvenirs. The contents of these bags vary, but the most common are the slices of cake mentioned above, candy, cheap toys and stationery found at fairs, and thin picture books.
However, as the school year progresses, do mothers honestly think this is unnecessary? As the school year progressed, however, mothers began to omit these items in favor of sweets, or even none at all.
The above is the sequence of events, but in general, when the children are small, there are more detailed arrangements and it seems to take more time and effort.
In addition, the hosts themselves may become over-enthusiastic as it is still an unfamiliar experience for them.
There are also parents to accompany them, so there is a possibility that they may end up looking over the top.
I am reminded of a memorable comment from a mother who was the first person I asked to teach me about British-style birthday parties.
This is not a competition."
She was absolutely right. Some people do not hold birthday parties in the first place, and each host has his or her own particular points to focus on, such as the type of venue, size, entertainment, cake, food, souvenirs, and so on.
The only thing they have in common is that all parents put all their energy into seeing their children happy, and sometimes even their parents' parents and siblings' relatives provide support, and the whole family works together to make the party a success.
This is common to all countries.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
My first trip abroad after arriving in the UK was to Belgium.
I am not much of a beer drinker, but I liked the taste of the beer, which is as easy to drink as that of Germany.
The logo for souvenirs is also cute.
Although Belgium is an island country like Japan, the Eurostar international express train service is available across the sea, making the continental European area feel like a neighbor.
As we boarded the train from St. Pancras, the departure/arrival station in London, another family of four, similar to ours, got on the train.
They looked as if they were about to embark on a "fun-filled journey! Both the children and their parents were excited.
After a while, however, something was not right.
The couple looked around and a tense and disturbing atmosphere began to emanate from them.
By the end, they were crawling on the floor.
It was clearly "that thing.
We joined them in their search, but I myself was well aware of how difficult it is to find a transparent "thing.
It is very, very difficult to find a contact lens dropped on the floor.
The mother of the person who had dropped the lens panicked, covered her face, and finally started to cry.
Even though our trip had only just begun, everything we saw on the way home and everywhere else we went seemed to fade into thin air.
I could understand why I felt hopeless.
The children, who had been so excited just a few minutes ago, became completely quiet and awkwardly began to play a game.
On the way to France, we passed through a town called Lille, and I was surprised at how close we really were to France.
It was no wonder that a French family I know said they always return to their home country by ferry and car.
We arrived at Brussels South Station almost on time, a little more than two hours after our departure from London.
After leaving our luggage at the inn, we first headed for the Grand-Place, which was registered as a World Heritage site in 1998 and is the most popular tourist attraction in Belgium.
It is a cobblestone square surrounded by medieval buildings and originally flourished as a market place.
Perhaps because of this, it has a somewhat market-like atmosphere, with painters spreading out their works.
I found a beer museum, so I rushed in and had a drink.
The museum is very small, so I only had a quick look at the video and the exhibits, and then I was done.
Speaking of Belgium, it is also famous for its chocolate.
I took a good shot in front of the Godiva chocolate store, which is also very well known in Japan.
We also visited a small chocolate factory a short distance away from the square.
As soon as I arrived, I did so many "Belgian things" already.
The seafood soup, shaved cheese, and baguette I had at a seafood stall were also delicious.
As a French-speaking country, Belgium is also a country of gastronomy, which is envied by British residents.
Schuman, east of the center of Brussels, is home to many of Europe's major institutions, including the European Union headquarters, where three European flags waved in the wind in front of the impressive, oddly designed building.
In the land of chocolate, Bruges, the "City of Chocolates," is especially sweet smelling and lined with chocolate stores everywhere.
The next day, we took an hour-long train ride to Bruges, a small canal town that still retains its medieval atmosphere.
Here, too, the cobblestone streets spread out, just like the streets of Europe itself.
With the Church of Our Lady of the Angels with its tall spire as a landmark, we visited chocolate shops and successfully obtained souvenirs for our neighbors.
Now that we have learned that Belgium has a wealth of local specialties, many people consider mussels to be one of them.
It seems that Belgians are quite fond of mussels, and "mussels steamed with white wine" is one of their favorites.
Indeed, many people dining on the terrace ordered buckets of black mussels.
This dish was definitely the perfect choice for dinner that night.
It went perfectly with Belgian beer, and as I stood in front of the pile of mussels, silently removing the shells, I chomped, or rather gulped down, the flaked mussels.
Oh Belgium, I had no idea that you, little Kimi, had such a wide range of drawers.
It was an excursion that brought me close to many tasty experiences.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
Apples in abundance.
It is that time of year again.
The apple tree that sits in the middle of our yard begins to bear many green fruits around this time of year.
Unlike the supermarket apples that are sold all year round and have no sense of season, our apple tree clearly shows us the changing of the seasons. In spring, after a long and cold winter, the tree blossoms beautiful light peach-colored flowers, and after they flutter and fall, small hard fruits form. In winter, even the leaves fall off and the tree becomes lonely.
This apple tree can be seen directly in front of my kitchen window.
My son entered a local school in England at the age of five.
We looked for a school that would accept a Japanese child who did not understand English at all, and that was the only thing we focused on.
We had heard that we could not get into the school right away due to quotas and conditions, but fortunately, it was rumored that the younger the child was, the easier it would be to get into the school in terms of adaptation and learning.
We contacted the school we had our sights set on and made an appointment for an interview.
On the day of the appointment, we were given a tour of the school and then met with the principal.
Sometimes I felt a sense of déjà vu, as if I had been transformed into my mother's image, wondering if she had done the same thing.
Compared to my mother, my son's age was no hurdle, and he would adapt in no time at all.
I was optimistic.
Let's start with a grade down."
I was inwardly upset by this unexpected turn of events, but school life had begun.
When I dropped him off at his classroom, he looked at me with tearful eyes.
He couldn't answer yes or no. He shook his head furiously at the teacher who tried to talk to him and left the room as if he had given up.
He shook his head furiously at the teacher who was trying to talk to him, unable to answer yes or no, and left the room. After that, we'll cut it off."
I can't finish.
Not enough at all.
6pm, 7pm, sometimes 8pm...
As I sat beside him, waiting for his answer, I was lulled to sleep and my consciousness began to cloud over.
It was high school when I attended an international school in Thailand, so I was alone at the table in the quiet living room, doing my homework every night until midnight.
As I impatiently listened to the ticking of the clock, I looked out the window and saw the beautiful night view.
Bangkok was a city.
Compared to that, my son is still young, so I thought he would be able to learn English naturally, on his own.
You don't have to take it so seriously," he said. We're pretty techy."
That's because he speaks English...
"At Christmas time, all of a sudden they started speaking English."
This is what the mother of a girl from Spain, who had moved to our school with no English, said.
How many days are left until Christmas?
My mother even told me that what I was doing was "parental ego".
I don't know if I should spend that much time and make my son suffer.
She also said that I simply wanted to send him to an English school.
That may be true.
Because my own life was changed by learning English abroad.
I want my son to see the same world.
But wasn't that the same for my mother?
Isn't that why she went to the trouble of sending her younger brother and sister to the same interscholastic school as me, even though they had the option of going to a Japanese school?
At least in my son's case, he had no other choice but to go to a local school.
Or was it my duty as a parent to send him to a Japanese school in London, hours and hours each way?
I ran into the kitchen, put my hand on the sink, and saw an apple tree in front of me.
In the darkness, the fruit, which was just beginning to turn red, was pale and shiny.
That year, I continued to work silently to turn the remaining apples into jam, jelly, pie, and sauce.
The school had a nativity play, which they do every year, in which they act out the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
My son played the role of Joseph, the father of Christ.
one of the parents said to me. Compared to the roles of the sheep and the star, which were mostly sung and had few individual lines, Joseph's role was a more glamorous one, I wondered.
Or was it because my younger brother was in the exact same situation as my son and was assigned the role of Joseph in Thailand the year he could not yet speak?
Either way, I felt the consideration of my teacher.
On the stage, my son was walking to the left and to the right without speaking, being led by the girl who played the role of the Virgin Mary, and beaming.
The next year, when the apple blossoms were in full bloom, my son "skipped" his grade with a "Study Hard Award" signed by the principal.
A short time later, the apple blossoms were in full bloom again that year.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
Basically, none of the houses in England have an intercom.
They have either electronic buzzers or metal fittings like handles that are attached to the door with a bang! to announce a visitor's arrival.
Some houses have both, but a good percentage of them have broken buzzers. Manual is more reliable.
I once lived in a house in the countryside without an intercom in Japan, where I had to open a small window at the front door to respond, but my current house does not even have one.
When they first came, I didn't know how to answer them, or just raise my voice.
But what? And I can't find the words to say it in English.
I would like to say something like, "Hi," or "Please wait for me," from inside the room, but I have never been in such a situation overseas before, so I can't think of anything.
As a result, I can't think of anything to say. But one day I asked other Japanese residents and they all answered in the same way
He is silent, thinking for a moment. As a result.
"Not... say anything?"
Indeed, I have never seen any other foreigner come out while saying something.
As for me, I get nervous when there is a knock on the door, especially when a delivery person knocks on my door, because I don't want them to think I'm not home and not be able to pick up my package, but visitors here know what to expect and just wait until someone comes out.
Well, that is also this Corona disaster, and the luggage and the normal stuff is gun-gun! It doesn't matter, though, because the basic rule is now to just knock and leave it at the front door before the door opens.
Frequent religious solicitations
In Japan, one can refuse over the intercom to accept religious invitations to visit one's home, but as I repeat, there is no such thing here, so one has no choice but to open the door and respond.
After the corona, visitors were more wary of infection and rarely showed up. Before that, however, a couple of ladies would show up in a very pretty summer dress and hat, looking as if they had just stepped out of a movie, perhaps to make a good impression.
One day, a mother came with a baby in a stroller. I was surprised to find that they were handing out flyers for church-related events, or that an elderly gentleman appeared and asked if I had already done so, as it was "Donation Week." The United Kingdom is a multi-religious country, but since Christianity is the national religion of more than half of the population, there are many Christian solicitors.
I can deal with such people who leave a "God's booklet," which is a standard item, in a reasonable way, since all I have to do is accept it, but I am still puzzled when they suddenly start talking to me without informing me of their intention of visiting me.
I sometimes encounter this in Japan as well.
I'm Marie, by the way. What do you do when you have a problem?
When suddenly bombarded with unexpected words, even though they are unfamiliar with the language, they become tensed, unable to comprehend the situation.
My mind was swirling with countless questions about who the hell he was and what he wanted to talk about, causing me to feel confused for a while.
As I listened to the conversation, I gradually realized the purpose of the visit, and although I would not say such a thing now, at first I thought it would be wrong to refuse the visit so bluntly, so I responded in a way that seemed to please the other party by saying, "There is a church nearby, so it would be nice to go there.
Then, do you already know this verse from what chapter of the Bible? They would push me and say, "We think this chapter is the right one for your current problem.
I am not particularly troubled....
I have encountered a similar situation in Japan on several occasions. When I was meeting up with friends, they would come up to me without my permission, commiserate with me without my permission, and start praying for me without my permission.
In Corona, that stopped, but this time I received a handwritten letter from a strange group! There is a pamphlet inside, which is recognizable, but the envelope is a regular white envelope, addressed to "Dear Resident" but written in a warm hand (retro handwriting stands out in this day and age!). The friendly tone of the lettering was so dense that for a moment I wondered if they were acquaintances.
Prosperous Charity Activities
Although the British people are a bit of a fussy lot, I had always heard that they have a strong spirit of charity, perhaps because of their Christian beliefs and widespread philanthropy.
In fact, the culture of donation is indeed deeply rooted in the UK, with recycling stores being called charity stores, the proceeds of which are donated directly to support groups, and schools having their own donation programs.
Some mothers, rather than their children, hold their own birthday parties, and instead of accepting gifts, they encourage donations to one of the organizations she supports, or they hold class tea parties at home with games and other activities, and donate the money collected as a "participation fee" to cancer patients. Some people
Children's schools and Boy Scouts regularly ask for donations of food such as preserves and canned goods to be delivered to various organizations, and for school events, children are allowed to come in costumes or plain clothes instead of their regular uniforms, in exchange for a one pound donation to an affiliated support organization. The event will unfold.
At Christmas, there is an annual charity event where empty shoe boxes are filled with Christmas gifts and sent to underprivileged families in Eastern Europe.
I am impressed that some families prepare enough gifts for the number of children in the family, while I can only prepare one box at most.
This year, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the planned charity was changed and the money was allocated to support Ukraine.
There were two types of aid, financial and in-kind, and I prepared and donated several items from the list that was requested.
As a slightly unusual story, a mother and her husband had a fight and ran away from home, and while they were camping out in a park, people who looked like a homeless support group showed up and gave them food.
The mother was so touched by their kindness that she has since become involved in donation activities.
I used to think, "There are so many disadvantaged people in the world, and I wonder if my little bit of action will have any impact.
I want to learn from good habits as much as I can.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
galette de roi
In recent years, Galette des Rois has become more and more popular in Japan, and this year we saw it in many places, but I first learned about the traditional French pastry Galette des Rois when my mother bought it for me one day in 2009 or so.
The pie is filled with almond cream and contains a ceramic doll called a fève, and I learned the tradition from my mother that whoever guesses it will be crowned king for the rest of the day.
This pastry is eaten on January 6, the day of the Epiphany, when Jesus Christ was found as the Son of God by three wise men from the East who visited Bethlehem, and is an essential part of the New Year celebration in France.
I had as much prior knowledge of this as anyone, so I was surprised when it appeared as a "birthday cake" at a Frenchman's house. It was the longest square cake I had ever seen, and it was extra large.
She said, "This is what I make every year for my birthday because it's easy to make and can be shared by everyone. She said, "This is what I make every year for my birthday because it's easy to make and everyone can share it.
She seemed to be convinced, which was typical of her, as she was usually quite bold.
I was originally introduced to her by another French mother, but at the time, neither of our children were in the same grade and we had nothing in common.
Maybe that's why she started off with an "oh yeah" attitude and continued the conversation without me, which honestly made me feel bad.
I guess she wasn't interested in me at all.
Or maybe, since it was her, she didn't even mean it?
I don't know what her intentions were, but ironically, I ended up spending a lot more time with her than I did with the mom who introduced me to her in the first place, and she became a family friend.
I didn't know that at the time, and I never saw her again, but things took a sudden turn when my younger son started preschool.
I was in the same class as her child.
She suddenly started smiling at me when we passed each other on the street, and one day, she even invited me to her house after school, even though school had not started yet.
I was surprised by her change, as if she had turned her hand in the right direction.
Is this what the French call "getting to know each other and going deep"? Isn't this too typical?
At first, I was quite skeptical.
However, for some reason, I find it easier to get along with people I have a bad impression of when I first meet them.
Also, "Americans seem to be very cheerful and friendly at first glance, but they are socially awkward and difficult to get to know. On the other hand, Europeans may be distant at first, but it's easy to build true friendships with them," I've often heard.
It is true that the high school I went to was an American-style school, so Americans naturally made up the largest percentage of the students, but it was the Dutch and the French who kept me company and befriended me even with my poor English.
But it was the Dutch and the French who kept me company even with my poor English, even though I was the only Frenchman in my grade.
And now, after all these years, I feel like saying "déjà vu" in French when I meet a French mom again.
To be precise, I guess it's deja vecu, a feeling of déjà vu, as in, "I feel like this has happened before.
Let's say it's Monica.
Monica is a natural.
The longer we've known each other, the more times I've been let down by her, but the most important thing is that I can't tell whether she's a natural or a vindictive person anymore.
She remembers my name wrongly (on purpose).
Monica's cell phone messages always start with an incomparably polite beginning.
My name is May, Pearly May.
At first, I thought, "Oh, I'm wrong. At first, I thought, "Oh, I'm wrong, I'm still wrong.
Then, I took the trouble to put "From May" at the end of my reply so that people would notice.
I'm still writing "From May" at the end of my replies, verbally, on greeting cards, and on my cell phone.
I'm still "Dear Maisie.
At this point, I feel like I've made a mistake.
I'm only kidding, but recently I had another extremely pleasant experience.
My daughter brought me a present for my birthday, but all she got was an envelope.
I had heard that in this country, the birthday card is given on the day of the birthday and the present is sometimes given later.
But when I checked inside, I found that a euro bill had somehow fluttered into existence!
Monica is a natural at this.
For about 10 seconds, she said, "I'm trying to....
What's in your heart?
But I decided that it must have been a passionate appeal to her beloved home country, saying, "Use it when you go to France.
I sent a thank-you message saying, "I'm looking forward to the day when I can buy toys in France.
Wait. No, wait, wait, wait."
No, wait, wait, wait." This seemed to be a serious mistake, because WAIT was written three times with sincerity.
He offered to exchange it for a pound, but I declined.
I hope that my daughter will always take out this Euro and remember this delightful French family when she goes back to Japan in the future.
I think Monica might be the only one who is happy...
Well, I guess I'll have to bake a Galette des Rois soon, next year...
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
The first time I encountered the name Marion was when I was a foreign student from France.
She had a slender body, long chestnut hair, a pale pink manicure, and always wore clothes in the style of an honor student.
The way she spoke English in a soft tone as if it were French was typical of the "typical" French people that Japanese people, or rather I, imagined.
By the way, the crepe shops in Shibuya and Harajuku are also called "Marion Crepes.
After all, the name seems to have originated in France.
That's why I was a little surprised when I came across a British "Marion".
I wondered if she was of French descent. I thought.
The Marion here is the same small size, but her chestnut color is much closer to silver.
Her speech is a little slurred and fast, as is typical of her age, and it is often difficult to hear her.
My daughter is quite a people person, waving to strangers.
Ever since the Corona disaster, when we switched from taking the bus to school to walking completely, she would stop at certain places and say bye to the houses along the street.
In this residential area, people don't mind if the windows face the sidewalk and you can see the inside of the house.
Rather, many houses are decorated with beautiful flowers, candles, ornaments, cards, etc., as if to show off their interior.
The curtains are left open even though it is quite dark and you can see more of the room than in the daytime when the lights are on.
Children are doing homework at the dining table, adults are relaxing in the living room watching TV in front of a huge screen, and grandmothers are knitting or doing puzzles.
It's safe, or maybe it's just around here.
The house where my daughter waved to us had an aquarium in the window, and we began to call it "the aquarium house.
We saw each other quite often, going to and coming from the house every day, but it wasn't until about two months later that we spoke to each other for the first time.
Unusually, Marion was working in the front yard along the street.
Coincidentally, the next day was my daughter's birthday.
The next day, as I passed by on my way home as usual, Marion came out of the house with something in her hand.
From a grocery bag, she carelessly took out a blue stuffed dinosaur and a birthday card.
The price tag was still firmly attached to the dinosaur.
Lots of LOVE
I received a lot of love.
I felt both grateful and sorry when I thought that they had taken the trouble to prepare it for my daughter in one day on such short notice.
On the last day of school, just before the Christmas vacations, I couldn't see Marion in the morning or evening.
When I went to give her a Christmas card and a small gift a while before that, she was not home, so I left it at the door.
I came home thinking that I wouldn't see her again until next year.
Then there was a knock at the door.
No one usually comes to my house after dusk, not even the mailman.
I opened the door suspiciously and found Marion standing there, dressed in a down jacket and looking cold.
He had brought us a Christmas present wrapped in crumpled wrapping paper and a card.
She was supposed to be waiting for us on our way home, but it seems she missed us.
It contained a card game and a picture book that my grandson had been playing with.
It reminded me of my mother in Japan, as my mother had also saved picture books and clothes that we used to read to her grandchildren.
We continued our "bye bye" exchange with Marion over the years, and she gave me picture books of her grandchildren.
On a spring afternoon when the tulips were in full bloom, Marion was standing outside again.
Marion was standing outside again on a spring afternoon when the tulips were in full bloom, and she said, "We're pretty well acquainted, aren't we?
So I just wanted to say, hey..."
I'm sure we're pretty well acquainted.
Marion looked up as she leaned closer, half of her face so red and swollen that I couldn't tell where her eyes were.
My son," he said, "is in trouble.
After that, he was moving restlessly, saying something about showing me a picture.
I thought he was going to bring the photo of his son outside, but he just stood there and asked me to come inside.
Just to the right of the entrance is the "aquarium room.
In the kitchen in front of me, I was shown a letter that had arrived this morning and a color copy of a newspaper article.
Perhaps to give me time to read, Marion was asking her daughter questions about her school life today.
Unfortunately, my English reading skills were not good enough, and on top of that, there was no way I could read or understand a letter written by a private person.
In the first place, I didn't understand why she had learned of her child's death from a letter and a newspaper, and the sudden turn of events only confused my mind.
In between, I would ask myself, "How is this possible? What a tragedy.
Don't you think so?" I cursed my English ability to repeat "yes" and "I'm sorry" to Marion, who kept repeating tragedy.
They didn't seem to be seeing each other often these days.
But he's a very lovely man, a good father with three children..." he said, wanting to tell someone how hard it was because he had been crying all day, turning on and off the TV.
How old are you? Have you ever had these feelings?"
I asked my child, "Do you get lots of hugs from your mom and dad all the time? I know you do. I hope so.
Finally, as he walked me to the door, I wondered if I should have been the first to hug him when he told me, or if that would have been better in the Western way, but it's Corona...
But it was Corona....
I squeezed her hand and she squeezed me back with such a strong grip that I wondered where she got the strength to do that. I felt a strong regret that I should have done something like hugging her shoulder or something like what I often see on TV or in movies.
"Spend more time with your children.
Marion said at last, and closed the door.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
It's that time of the year again when England turns red.
No, it's not autumn leaves.
It's still a bit early for Christmas.
"Oh, I see. That's red.
I'm amazed at the people who thought that.
I, on the other hand, can never think of poppies as red.
The first year I came here, I turned on the TV and wondered what was going on.
There was a strange red round object stuck in the chest of a black male newscaster.
The blonde female anchor on the other channel, the reporter, the talk show host.
In other words, every single person on the screen was wearing something.
What is that red thing?
I can't even imagine what it is, given its shape.
One day, this unidentifiable object suddenly started to turn red in the streets of England, in the media, everywhere, and in the whole country.
To be honest, I felt a bit creeped out by the fact that everyone was wearing the same thing, which is not something you would expect to see in a free and democratic country. Where did they all get those things in the first place?
While I was thinking about this, I went to pick up my child from school and saw a group of students holding square boxes, shouting like beer vendors at a baseball stadium or children collecting red feathers.
A child asked me to buy one.
When I got closer and took a closer look, I saw that thing!
There it is! A mysterious red unidentified object!
Are you buying it? What is it for? What is that thing anyway?
The ones I'd seen on TV before were made of metal, like pin badges, or cloth, but this one was made of red construction paper, cut out in two small circles, and fastened in the middle with a black circle, like a snowman.
It looks like it's going to tear soon.
The kid is still begging for it.
I later learned that this was a memorial item for the war dead of World War I.
The name comes from the fact that only the poppies survived the war and bloomed into a field of flowers.
Since then, the poppy has become a symbol of consolation for the victims of the war, and brooches and other goods have been sold, but this is one of the fundraising activities by the British Legion, and the proceeds are used to support British military personnel.
In 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, ceremonies and other events were held in many places on a larger scale than usual. Our family also attended a memorial service at a church as part of our son's Boy Scout event.
At 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed between Germany, the defeated nation, and the victorious Allies.
We stood and waited for a minute of silence at exactly 11:00 a.m. before taking our seats.
After that, there was a talk about the day of the armistice agreement, and the story of how and when the soldiers of each country sacrificed their lives to become the last casualties of the war just before the 11th hour.
The American soldier who was shot by a German soldier just 60 seconds before the ceasefire was implemented, and the German soldier who was shot by an American soldier who didn't know it yet, even though it was after the ceasefire was implemented, what a waste.
In the end, the pastor said, "If we forget, the tragedy will be repeated.
So we will never forget. I was touched by his words.
I guess that's why we must not let crimes and disasters fade away.
The words "so that we don't make the same mistakes again" that I hear every day are for that purpose.
I'm a foreigner here, so I shouldn't fall under this category, but at these times of the year, the streets are dyed red, and if you don't wear a brooch, you feel like an unpatriotic person, as if someone is testing you.
It seems that even the British feel the same way, and there are some people who dare not wear brooches, wondering what their policy is.
Incidentally, there are also poppy scarves, accessories, mugs, and other related goods sold at war museums at any time of the year.
There is also a custom of painting poppies on round pebbles and decorating them as a school event, as is the case with the Boy Scouts, and these poppies are apparently placed at the entrance of the house so that they can be seen on the street.
When I was on the road, I found a poppy wreath quietly and modestly displayed in a corner of a church I passed by, or a huge poppy wreath at a monument to the war dead in a park or tourist facility I visited.
Somehow, I felt that the atmosphere was very similar to the atomic bombing ceremony in August in Japan.
As a resident of the UK, I felt that I had to respect this custom in the future.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
It's the "autumn of sports" not only in Japan but also here in the UK.
Field day is usually held in June or July before the summer vacation, but this year, because of the dubious corona regulation, the supplementary school held it in September after the vacation.
This month, October, seems to be the month when many marathons and other running-related events are held in various parts of the country. It's also the month of Halloween, but before I could even think about what it's like in the UK, my child's school is in the middle of its annual "half-term" break between summer and autumn, so I still don't know anything about the school events, at least not yet.
Halloween in the UK
In the United Kingdom, where most people are Christian, Halloween, which is said to have originated with the Celts, is considered a pagan festival and is passed off as a normal day when nothing special is done.
Of course, if you go to a supermarket, you can find plenty of pumpkin-shaped sweets and costume goods for sale, and if you go to London or tourist spots, you can feel the atmosphere of Halloween in a certain way because there are many pagan customers.
However, in my daily life at least, I have never seen neighborhood children going door to door in costume to get candy as "trick or treaters" for almost five years.
Since that was a bit lonely, my family participated in a running event called "Running through the vineyard in costume" before Corona. On the day of the event, adults and children dressed up in their favorite costumes would gather and run two kilometers, starting at a very early hour when the grass on the ground was still wet with morning dew.
The distance was not too long, and it must have been a great feeling to run through the shrubbery of grapes in the harvest season while looking out at the hills in the distance. After reaching the finish line, we were treated to a toast of outdoor wine in the garden.
Since it was still morning at our house, we ordered a "cream tea" with scones and tea at a café with a beautiful glass ceiling instead. Afterwards, we went on a winery tour, which even I, a non-runner, thoroughly enjoyed.
Ireland, a neighboring country of the United Kingdom, is originally a Celtic country, and it is said that the custom of celebrating Halloween remains in its purest form. Another year around this time, my family flew to Dublin, the capital of Ireland, to participate in yet another running-related event.
The lobbies of the hotels we stayed in and the pubs around town were decorated for Halloween, but it was not the day of the event, so there were no costumes in full swing.
However, there was a festival going on in the park, and I was happy to see street performers with puppets and black cloaks and dresses, playing musical instruments and singing, and I was able to feel the Halloween atmosphere.
The Dublin marathon that my husband participated in was like a cultural festival held over several days.
The numbers that participants wear on the day of the marathon are usually mailed to them in advance, but for some reason we had to go to the venue the day before to pick them up, so the whole family went there.
I thought I would just get my number and be done with it, but I was surprised when I arrived at the venue. The Dublin Marathon is said to be the fourth largest marathon in Europe, and as I mentioned earlier, the venue itself was large and crowded with people.
Each of the sponsors had their own booths where they handed out many samples of their products for tasting, and there were balloons and face painting corners for children, making it a fun event for the families that accompanied us.
It was impossible for my husband to be a participant in this event, but he was so excited by the festivities that he couldn't forget to register and enter. As I walked up to the counter, I was greeted by a staff member wearing an Irish-style hat that looked like a clown's. He would shout out the word to the first-time participants and encourage them with applause and cheers.
How jolly and fun!
To be honest, I was prejudiced by my usual bad habit of thinking that since Ireland is further north of England, the weather would be cloudy, gloomy and dull.
However, the morning after the race day, the weather cleared up and my husband was able to challenge the race in the best condition under the azure sky.
The next morning, the sky was clear and my husband was able to tackle the race under the azure blue sky.
I can't wait to experience this atmosphere again.
It's a pity that Japan is still in a tense situation, but fortunately, the UK has almost completely abolished the Corona restrictions since July this year, and we can now enjoy our entertainment relatively freely again.
The running event in the vineyards seems to be back on track. I'm not sure if I should revisit this event or not...
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
"Andy, the Cypriot neighbor to my right, starts every summer with this line: "I got fucked by the heavy rains the other day.
This is the line that Andy, the Cypriot guy who lives right next door, starts with every summer.
I don't know what kind of work he does for a living, but unlike my garden, where flowers are left to bloom without any care, and there are hardly any flowers at all because I don't plant them myself, Andy's garden, where he spends the rest of his life leisurely gardening, looks like something out of a magazine.
The generous neighbor to the right
The opening lines are mainly about figs, one of his many crops.
It seems to be the ravings of a layman that rain is good for growing fruit, and that too much rain is a nuisance when it comes to figs.
Nevertheless, every year he sends me a gift.
This is due to the fact that he and his wife take good care of their garden all year round.
Even in the winter, when the weather is often bad, when the rain stops for a moment, they take advantage of that moment and immediately start working in the garden.
In the spring, the garden is a feast for the eyes with its colorful flowers, and around this time of the year, when it is time to harvest, it provides us with the following greenhouse-grown vegetables and fruits from the garden.
A big, big green vegetable, lahana.
They say they brought it from Cyprus because we don't have it in England.
They say it is best boiled, drizzled with lemon and olive oil and served with steak.
The simplicity of this dish is similar to that of Japanese soaked vegetables, and unlike the English who don't (or can't) enjoy it that way, I can relate to it.
I always have too much of it, so I pickle it in vinegar and use it as herb vinegar.
It's so versatile that I can use it in salads and as a drink.
They don't look good, and to be honest, I'd like to get rid of them, but every year I cover the whole tree with green netting to prevent the birds from eating the flesh.
That's how our family benefits from the harvest, though.
Actually, we have plums in our garden, but the ones in our house, which are not well cared for, are obviously smaller and sour, unlike his.
On the other hand, the ones we get are large and incredibly sweet and delicious.
The figs here, or especially those from his garden, have yellowish-green skins, and at first I was puzzled.
However, despite their appearance, the inside of the figs are a beautiful pink color with a juicy sweetness that spreads in your mouth.
Secretly, this is the most fun I have when I share them with others.
As for the figs, I was told that I could pick as many as I wanted from the overgrown ones in my garden.
In Japan, and even here, figs are quite expensive when you buy them at the store, even though there are only a few small berries in them.
It was like a dream come true.
For some reason, the bounty from people's gardens has been a great help to me, as I've been able to get vegetables at just the right time, near the weekend, when my refrigerator is already empty and I'm wondering what to do for a side dish tonight.
Season's Greetings and Home Visits to the Left Neighbor
If the above is my neighbor to the right, my neighbor to the left is an elderly lady who lives alone.
She takes seasonal events very seriously, and I was surprised when she came all the way to my house at Christmas to send greetings, cards, and chocolates for each of my children.
One day I noticed three strange soccer balls lying around in the yard, and it seemed that the lady had thrown them in there unused.
Another time, I found three tennis balls lying around, but they were thrown in by the gardening couple to my right.
Since they greeted us at Christmas, we followed their example and visited them one year on the morning of Easter, a spring event.
We were greeted by a cute little bunny with high quality chocolates for the kids again, so we had to ask for their kindness.
On top of that, our neighbor even invited us into her living room instead of her front door, even though she was still wearing a pajama-like gown.
My child went in quickly without hesitation, and I took advantage of it and brazenly interrupted him for a little while.
The room had a fireplace, framed pictures all over the walls, and small items tastefully arranged, which I guess you could call a traditional English home.
The room was full of a sense of dignity that I had never seen in my mom's house before because I am from a different generation.
I had heard somewhere that English people, who love to talk and have tea, always keep their houses clean so that they can invite guests in at any time like this.
My friend said, "You can't do that if you have children," but it is true that many British households leave their curtains open and decorate their windows with flowers so that they can be seen from outside.
The British neighbors usually decorate their houses with fresh flowers and spend their days gardening like the couple on the right and spending their days carefully like the lady on the left.
I am looking forward to seeing the Christmas wreaths and lights decorating each house from now until winter, and seeing the elaborate decorations in many houses.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
The school year in England starts in September and is divided into three terms: the Autumn Term, which lasts until December; the Spring Term, which lasts from January to early April; and the Summer Term, which lasts from late April to July.
Therefore, in Japan, March is the season of separation, but here, summer is the time when more and more students, not only graduates but also current students, change schools.
In some cases, parents hold farewell parties privately, and every year from June to July, especially before Corona, we had a lot of farewell parties.
The organizer is the one leaving
In Japan, when you hear that someone is leaving, the people around you will probably be thoughtful enough to host a farewell party, or in English, a farewell party, and the person leaving will be invited to the party and given a gift.
However, like many other countries, the UK is the complete opposite of Japan, and in this case, it is the person leaving who has to host something.
The name of the party may be "leaving party" as in "I'm leaving" or "thank you party" as in "thank you for everything.
The format varies from casual to formal with a dress code, depending on the organizer.
The scale of the party can range from a simple "play date" where a few close classmates are invited to the house to play as usual, to a large party where the entire class, or even each grade if there are siblings, is invited, as if it were the after party of a wedding.
What they all have in common is a sense of gratitude to those who have helped them in the past, and a sincere desire to entertain.
With this in mind, even if there is only one type of drink or food, it is possible to have a party that is filled with excitement and a farewell.
How to Invite
Invitations can be given in a variety of ways, from verbal invitations such as "please come if you have time," to class group chats using social networking services like LINE, to special groups that only invited guests can see, to e-mails and electronic invitations sent individually or to everyone.
One of the unique features of overseas parties is that most of them are for not only classmates but also their entire families.
If the party is that large, it is necessary to let the host know in detail how many people are in the family, whether they are adults or children, and whether they have any food allergies.
Type of venue and attire
The place where the meeting is held depends on the number of people and the situation.
If it was a tea party for just the kids or moms, it could be held at home. If it was a large group of family members, it could be held in a school hall, a church hall, or even a sports club with a huge field hockey field.
In June and July, when the farewell party season starts, it is a refreshing early summer with many sunny days in England, so we sometimes bring our own lunch and have a picnic in the park.
Of course, we are free to dress as we please, but as I mentioned earlier, there are some meetings that have a dress code.
When I first came here, I didn't know much about the situation and thought that I would have to dress neatly like that every time, so I went to the next meeting dressed in the same way.
That day's meeting was a barbecue party at a cricket ground, so when I arrived at the venue, I found that all the participants were completely casual, wearing shorts, T-shirts and even beans.
I stupidly wore high heels to the party, and I had the bitter experience of having my heels sticking into the grass every time I walked, making it difficult to walk.
I still find it difficult to predict TPO in foreign countries.
Souvenirs for the host
In the beginning, I was also worried about what to bring as a souvenir.
I thought it was a difficult question to ask, but I really didn't know, so I asked one of the prospective participants, and he just said "huh" and clearly hadn't thought about it.
I thought it was strange at the time, but when I arrived at the venue on the day of the event, I was convinced that many people were empty-handed.
It seems that you don't have to worry so much about it, especially if it's not a home party.
If it was not a home party, there were a few people who gave wine, but one person said, "I'm about to move, and I don't want to receive something so heavy. I wondered if it would be a problem to receive such a heavy gift.
I thought it would be a good idea to make the gift small and light so that the organizer can easily take it home, or to prepare a gift for the organizer's children.
It was also interesting to note that the wine and sweets were left bare and unwrapped.
However, the British are card-carrying people, so the cards in the envelopes were taped to the boxes as if they were a gift.
As is the case with birthdays, the card is sometimes more important than the present, and if you are unsure of what to give as a souvenir, you can always just hand over the card.
In fact, I often saw that pattern.
If you are invited to a party, I think the best gift you can give to the organizer is to attend the party.
Speaking of my family, when we have a private family relationship with someone, we invite them to enjoy a barbecue in our yard in the Japanese way to show our appreciation.
It's a great way for the noisy kids to have fun and enjoy the precious sunny weather that only this season can offer.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
I didn't know, I didn't know.
I didn't know that the British people were so Latin in a way.
I came to England with a very skewed image of "English people who like old things and live quietly in a dark fog," and was surprised at how often I was talked to by strangers passing by.
I was surprised at how often I was talked to by strangers passing by, some of whom were extremely cheerful.
Some people are so cheerful, and some people make you feel so excited that you misunderstand.
The Carpenter's Fascination
Before I came here, I was struggling every day to raise my young child, and I had no time to think about myself.
At first, I tried my best to look like a crazy person, pushing a stroller along the Tamagawa River in a tight skirt and heels, but I soon settled down to something easy like a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.
I hadn't had a crush in several years.
It had disappeared.
But here it was.
The country of England reminded me once again of this beautiful, passionate feeling.
The first thing that came to mind was a man who was working as a carpenter, which I will never forget.
Here, old buildings are used carefully for more than 100 years, so you can see houses being repaired here and there all year round.
There are many people who look like migrant workers from India or the Middle East, but there are also people who look like genuine Englishmen.
They are all very friendly, especially when children are watching them work with great interest, and they will usually wave or say hello to you from the roof tops.
When there is construction going on at a house on a street I pass all the time, I naturally get to know them.
They may be working more efficiently, but they are also playing popular songs on the radio and playing hometown songs like the Koran.
It was quite surreal and amusing to see the Indian-looking people playing K-pop, but the Caucasian men in particular were whistling "pew" in a chilling way.
In Japan, there are no men who will pew for you even if you are just chilling out.
That alone is enough to raise my spirits, but then there's this handsome guy, no music playing, calm demeanor, who just greets me with a brisk "Hi" every day, even when I dare to walk on the other side of the road because I'm embarrassed.
Even if I dare to walk on the other side of the road because I'm embarrassed, he still greets me with a dazzling smile...!
I'm not a comedy duo, but I'd fall in love with him!
He's just like a drama.
Speaking of greetings, this is something he does very often.
When I think he wants to say something from far away, he waits until I come near him and then does it.
Sometimes a car would pull up in front of me with a squeak, and then the driver would get out and greet me with a big smile and a "good morning".
I thought it was impossible, but then I asked myself, "What? Maybe he parked there just for me⁉︎", and my unwanted paranoia spreads.
It's just because I happen to be there, but it's just too cool.
A shocking confession that happened while passing by
Another day, a loud voice called out from behind me, "G'mornin', Beautiful Girl! from behind me.
What's going on⁉︎I'm not old enough to be a girl, so who would I be⁉︎?
I turned around and saw an old man on a nice sporty bicycle.
I barely returned his greeting, and as I passed him, he said
"I love you, baby!
and rode away like a gale.
I have been spoken to countless times in my life, but this was the first time someone said "I love you" to me, and I was stunned for a while.
Of course, it was a greeting, I told myself, but even if it was from an old man...
You're too lovely, Englishman!
Little British Gentleman
The British have a uniform culture.
The students are too cool.
From kindergarten onwards (depending on the school), students wear ties and blazers, and by the time they reach junior high school, they look like fine English gentlemen.
Some of the college-age young men wear casual suits and bow ties every time, even though they don't seem to be in uniform.
I was tempted to ask, "Where are you going?
I have to take my hat off to the culture that allows people to wear suits as if they were regular clothes even though they are not salaried workers and have not yet entered the workforce.
As I expected, people of this age group would never talk to a foreigner, but junior high school students are not so shy or self-conscious yet, so they are rather friendly.
One day, a white boy on a bicycle came from in front of me.
He said, "Cheers.
Cheers," he said. To him, it was just a thank you, but he said "Cheers" instead of "Thank you," and because he was a beautiful boy who looked so melancholy and delicate, I was knocked out!
Too direct a compliment!
There's more. The last story is about a black boy.
He was a junior high school-aged boy, again wearing a school uniform, who walked from the other side.
He looks like one of my child's classmates.
I couldn't help but look at him, and for some reason, he looked back at me.
As I walked by, our gazes intertwined for a few moments, the boy suddenly turned around and said, "Hi! I thought to myself, "Oh, wow," and greeted him back.
"You're beautiful today!
When I returned the greeting, he gave me a thumbs-up.
He said "Today," so he might have been watching me in passing.
He was wearing a jacket that covered his knees and long pants, not a hint of sex appeal.
During the winter, especially in this area where it's still cold even after spring, I usually wear my jacket buttoned up and no accessories because I can't see what's inside anyway, and I pick my kids up and drop them off every day looking dull.
But on this day, in early summer when the weather had suddenly warmed up, I took off my jacket for the first time this year and wore a long-sleeved dress with a necklace and sunglasses to protect myself from ultraviolet rays.
I still wore the same long pants and sneakers, but I was happy and embarrassed to receive such unexpected words just because of the change in my upper body.
In the end, he even said, "Have a nice day...
As expected of a country of gentlemen.
Compared to when I first came to the UK with the terrible prejudice that it was a place with English gentlemen with wrinkles between their eyebrows, my impression of this kingdom has increased by a huge margin.
DAYS/ Purleymay Column
"What do you think of when you think of England?
"...a song about London...
This was an exchange on "Japan with Sue Perkins," a program on the British public broadcaster, BBC.
Sue Perkins, a comedian, actress, and writer, was asked about geisha in Kyoto.
Sue was unhappy that in England, where there are so many iconic icons, the only one chosen was not even London Bridge itself, but rather the "Song of London.
He was also shocked when he was told that "Americans and English people are the same.
As someone who lives in Japan, which is so far away from Europe that it is called the "Far East," my image of England is not much different from that of a geisha, and at most it is the Union Jack.
It was one of the countries I wanted to visit as a travel destination, but I never thought I would live there.
This is exactly what I meant when I said, "I never dreamed of it.
As we had spent our bachelor days in India and Thailand respectively, Yangon was rather familiar to us geographically, and we were fine with either. Although Yangon is now in trouble due to the military coup....
Around this time four years ago, in June, I landed at London Heathrow International Airport with my child.
June in the UK is already early summer, and I can now recognize it as the best season of the year to spend time in.
In fact, the driver of the car service I used from the airport told me, "It's hot again today, it's already summer..." As a newcomer from Japan, I was shivering from the cold wind blowing and had no idea how it could be "hot and summer.
It may seem persistent, but I can now say that "summer in England" is beautiful and refreshing, with sunny days and blue skies.
However, this is only a small part of the overall rainy season, and in fact, it is common here to have a sunny day, only to have rain the next day.
This year, for example, we were so excited about the unseasonably warm weather in March, but the next month it was back to winter.
It used to snow every week.
After noticing this fickle weather pattern, I became incredibly grateful and uplifted when the weather cleared up even a little. This is something that I have consciously acquired, a kind of wisdom for living.
The house we were planning to move into was still occupied at the time, so we decided to rent a house that my husband had moved into earlier.
The house was usually used as a share house, so it had a lot of rooms and bathrooms and was very spacious.
However, at that time, this vastness was too much for me.
Since I had just come from Japan, I had no idea to turn on the heater in June, but at that time, the heater itself was set to be off due to the season.
However, as a habit I acquired later, in the UK, the time to turn on the heating is when you feel like it, regardless of the season.
At that time, it was cold enough to turn it on.
But I didn't know that, and I was shivering on the sofa every day because it was always chilly and dimly lit inside the house even though it was sunny outside.
I basically didn't have any long sleeves because my belongings hadn't arrived yet.
Although the house was fully furnished, there were still no familiar cooking utensils or cookbooks, and as I could not cook without recipes, the unsatisfactory food and unfamiliar ingredients literally made me feel unappreciated.
To make matters worse, there was no electricity in the bathroom, and although it was summer and the days were long, it was still dark by the time I took my bath every night.
I had to grope my way around in the dark, but fortunately the bathroom on the third floor had a window, so as long as I could get to the bathtub, I was able to get by with the little light that remained outside.
I still didn't know the geographical composition of the house, so I didn't know where it was located, but the view from the window was of a garden and beyond that, a forest covered with trees.
The only other houses that peeked out from time to time were roofs, and the rest of the houses lined up toward the hill were visible in the distance like paintings.
What is this fantastic scenery?
It's like something out of a fairy tale, a Western-style house that suddenly appears in the forest!
While admiring the scenery, I felt sad and sad.
I hadn't decided on a school for my children yet, and I didn't know anyone nearby. The only people I talked to outside of my family in the past few weeks were my landlord, the principal of the school I went to visit, and the engineer who came to repair the electricity.
It was as if we were living a reclusive life in anticipation of our "stay home" at the Corona disaster that had been going on since last year.
When we turned on the TV, all we could see was a report of the terrorist attack on London Bridge the night we arrived.
Ten days later, the Grenfell Tower, which was said to be the deadliest building since the end of World War II, was ablaze.
At the time, the United Kingdom had decided to leave the European Union (so-called "Brexit") the year before, and in a bad way, it was attracting attention in Japan. And then I came here and found myself in this situation. I overreacted even to a casual message from my parents, and even thought of unrelated things like, "Did my family bring bad luck from Japan? I was even thinking about something unrelated.
Let's go outside.
Let's go out.
On the weekend, I left my child with my husband and walked around the city by myself for the first time.
I noticed a lot of churches. As if invited, I wandered in and was approached by a smiling woman.
It was the first time I had a private conversation with a Briton, not a "business meeting.
There, I learned that the church held weekly gatherings for parents and children, which acted like a children's center in Japan.
For the first time, I made a mommy friend.
In July, I participated in a picnic for the first time.
I was invited to a home for the first time.
Visited a local festival for the first time.
In August, I bought a bicycle.
Until then, I had walked everywhere, except when my husband drove.
It took me a long time to get around with a toddler.
On the weekend, I rode my bike alone for the first time and went shopping.
With just one pedal stroke, I was sliding forward.
My vision suddenly became as high as the driver's seat of a truck.
The early summer breeze cut through my whole body, and it felt good.
This is England.
I put all my energy into my pedaling feet.