Monday, 3 August 2015

Seaside pics...

From the shopping centre! Bit random but they had a little beach and seaside themed activities set up in the shopping centre, of course, we managed to pick a day when it wasn't actually on!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

And we are off...

Only a week or so late with this lol.
I'm catching up...honest!

Some random pics of our journey, I live this window display with the giant quilling...

And officially on holiday! Campai!

We flew with Etihad, great survice, very bumpy flight and we flew through a thunderstorm which was a bit un-nerving! We had 6 hours to kill in Abu Dhabi, the airport is clean and plenty of seating so it wasn't too bad. We watched the sun come up over the planes.

The final flight was another 8 hours but all fine. I had ordered us fruit platters, so much better than the regular meals, Ebi-kun doesn't like the normal flight food and I always feel bloated when I have eaten it. So having fruit and some healthy snacks was a much better way to go!

I'm pretty sure many people don't realise you can order different meals and there is a whole range of things you can choose.

We arrived to a cloudy and dull Manchester but in one piece, with the joy of jetlag about to kick in.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Tsukuba Science Museum

Sorry! These posts are out of sync! Because our flight was a night flight we took our time in getting to the airport and took a diversion to the science museum in Tsukuba. There was a lot of hands on stuff to do, plenty of experiments and pretty much everything had an English explanation too!

Surprisingly it wasn't very busy. We spent a couple of hours in there which was enough, it wasn't big enough for an all day event.

I imagine it gets used a lot for school trips and looked like upstairs they had group talks etc. Worth a visit if you are in the area. 

Once we were done we headed off to the airport.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Dr Who Cake

Ebi-kun wanted to celebrate his birthday with daddy before we left for the UK, so being the complete nutter that I am, I made a cake the night before we flew!

It was actually really easy and turned out great!

What you need:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g flour (SR or add 1tsp of baking powder if using plain)
  • 125g sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • blue food colour
  • blueberry jam
Heat the oven to 180c

1. Beat the sugar and butter together until creamy
2. Mix in the eggs and food colour
3. Fold in the flour and salt
4. Pour batter into a round cake pan
5. Bake for 20-25 mins until sponge is cooked through - the top should spring back into shape when pressed
6. Lick out the bowl whilst cake is in the oven
7. Take cake out of the pan and leave to cool
8. Once it has cooled, slice in half and fill the middle of the sandwich with jam. I actually used some homemade blackberry jam from blackberries in the garden.

I don't have the measurement for the buttercream, I just winged it using butter, icing sugar, lemon juice and blue food colour. 

I don't think I have ever used so much food colour in one cake before! It's a good job I rarely use it outside of birthdays!

I slapped the buttercream on with a knife and then swirled it around using a fork. I dipped the fork in blue colour with water and dragged it through the buttercream of get a better 'painted' effect.

For the tardis, print out the PDF HERE, I didn't bother making the bottom, just cut it at an angle before shoving it into the butter cream! And the stars are just coloured paper too, if I had more time I would have made edible ones.

One happy little almost 10 year old!

As you can see... it was seriously blue, if you decide to go hardcore blue, be warned, it comes out the 'other end' a bright green!

And if you have a little Whovian who needs some writing practice, I have a free Dr Who writing kit over on the work blog, click HERE to get it.

Summer Homework

Ebi-kun worked like a little trooper to get his summer homework done before we left for the UK. 400 kanji and a book full of maths plus the summer project. He used the making of the den as the project, wrote up each step and adding photos. Took him quite some time but he did a great job!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Aikido at the Budokan

This is completely out of sync, I was the unofficial photographer for the day and it took me forever to edit all the pics of all the kids!

It was an annual national Aikido meet for the kids, we missed it last year because it clashed with our flights.

Let's play spot the Ebi-kun... I'll give you a hint, he has an orange belt and is sat next to someone with black hair...

It's an all day event and they start with warm ups and group training. Then in the afternoon each attending dojo gets a few minutes to show off their skills.

Waiting for their dojo's turn...

This year Ebi-kun is the highest ranking in the kids from his dojo but still one of the smallest (but not the youngest, he just happens to be a bit of a squirt!)

It was a fun day and not too hot in the dojo but outside was awfully hot! We finished off having dinner at a nice Italian place.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Family Summer Festival

A couple of days in and the jet lag is just about clearing up! We had a not so fun start to the day, my step-dad has had a couple of strokes and has had to move into a home, he has only just moved in and my mom got a call in the morning to say he had had a fall and bumped his head so they had called an ambulance.

It meant a trip to the hospital and a barrage of tests but he was given the all clear and was back at the home by lunchtime. In the afternoon we all went down and met with Ebi-kuns cousins because they had a family day fund raiser going on. First up was Punch and Judy, A-chan grew up in Greece and only moved back to the UK a year ago so neither her or Ebi-kun had any idea what Punch and Judy was about.

I was quite surprised that it was the original storyline, domestic violence issues obviously hasn't caught up here yet! There was a disclaimer at the end telling the kids not to copy what they had seen!

There was also face painting, bouncy castle, cakes to be bought a raffle - I won a 20 quid gift voucher and a tombola where I won nowt! Andy was the first dad to get his facepainted, comical because he is a big chap and about 6'5" tall!

M-chan is such a little dot and was a leopard...

A-chan got hers done later. There is only 4 months between A-chan and Ebi-kun but she is a good head taller, it's hard to believe they are so close in age!

Ebi-kun was a lion...

Papie made it outside for a while, it was good to see him out in the sun. It's great that the home has these days, it was a lovely community spirit and I'm sure the residents love having the family and kids around.

When we were done there we all headed back home for dinner, the kids get on really well although we did have a mad half hour doing 'yoga'. Fun day and turned out to be a late night but at least I slept through until 5.30am!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Build your own den part 5 - the big reveal....

We had aikido in the morning and because Ebi-kun had a national demo to attend the following week he couldn't skip class. So after aikido we grabbed some lunch then got straight to it. The first job was to put up the pillars, we used L brackets to do that.

The attached the cross beams for the roof...

There were a couple of re-calculations that had to go on, due to the plans not being quite right but nothing major.

Then they put netting over the roof frame to help prevent bugs and beasties getting in..

And this it was time to put the walls on. Either DH or I helped them put the wall in place and get the first couple of crews in and then the boys got busy and did the rest.
Daddy took charge of the roof. It would have been great if we could have had another weekend to work on it but the following weekend we had plans then we fly to the UK a couple of days later, so it was crunch time and no slacking off was allowed.

And here it is... a lot of sweat, no tears and quite a bit of blood loss (thanks to the mozzies) went into building this! Ebi-kun is one very happy chappy, this incidentally is his birthday present! Nothing quite like having to design and build your own birthday gift. 

I think the experience he will carry with him forever, long past when the den had gone. 

Interview with the designer:

On a scale of 1 - 10, how difficult was this project?
7 because working out all the problems was difficult.

What did you learn from the project?
How to use the tools.
That it was really important to do all the plans first and it's good to have people helping you.

How do you feel about the final result?
It was fun but difficult to build it. It's cool and turned out better than I thought it would!

What I feel he learned from the experience was project planning, that it's sometime slow and boring but vital to get get a good end result. That you have to be prepared to make changes along the way and that creative thinking will help solve a problem. 

And that big projects don't happen over night, that perseverance is very important and that quitting half way through is not an option. I think this is really important these days as we live in a time when everyone expects instant results and life really doesn't work like that.

I'm really proud of what he has achieved and I'm sure hours of fun will be had in the den. He has yet to do the interior, I will be sure to give you a tour when we get back from the UK. I did suggest a trip to Ikea for interior design but they both look at me as if I were mad! can't imagine why...

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Build your own den part 4

The foundation was all in place so it was time to start building! S-kun was bought in again to help, they were loving it! Even though they had done a great job with the concrete blocks, they weren't perfectly level so we needed to add a bit of packing under the main frame to ensure everything would be level.

Next job was to put the frame together. That was pretty straight forward as the wood was already cut to size. 

Again the boys took it in turns to use the drill and everything moved along quite quickly.

Of course we had to stop for a tea break, or more accurately a senbei (rice cracker) and mugi-cha (barley tea) break.

Then it was back to it. Even though it was hot, this section of the yard doesn't get much direct sunlight which was a blessing as it was a really hot day and the mosquitoes were out in full force. The frame was attached the packing and then to the concrete blocks.

Time for the floor boards...

And to try it out! Get up you lazy muffins and get back to work!
note how cute it is that they take their shoes off automatically!

We doubled up here, Ebi-kun and daddy drilled the holes and S-kun and I put in the screws, we had the job done in next to no time.

Which obviously meant another snack break! I could get these lads jobs on an English building site!

S-kun had family stuff to do in the afternoon so after lunch we went back to the home centre to buy the rest of the den supplies. The plywood was not pre-treated so we had to buy paint/stain to treat it with. Ebi-kun picked green for the door and window and honey maple for the doors.

Whilst daddy got busy cutting the window out, Ebi-kun and I got busy with the paint brushes. We just about managed to get everything painted and cut out before we had to call it a day. Luckily the weather gods were on our side and it was a fine night so we just left all the plywood out to dry.

We had one afternoon left, would we manage to finish the build in an afternoon? Find out next time in the final part of this exciting installment of "Build your own den"

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Build your own den part 3

We left you hanging, wondering about the solution to the concrete foundation blocks! Before that got figured out the boys measured the frame and cut the wood to size.

Starting off with the hand saw..

But soon moved onto the power saw. Once all the frame pieces were the right length, we set about the foundation blocks - OMG this was such a huge job!

This is where we needed daddy muscle on site, the blocks are really heavy and he decided that the best thing would be to dig holes and level them that way. Easier said than done! Eventually we got all 7 blocks in.

There was a lot of taking out and putting in. I'm pretty sure this wasn't the most efficient way to do this job! Part of the learning curve.

Ebi-kun filling in the soil around the blocks after checking the wood was level.

Finally, this took hours. We finished off all filthy and exhausted! The wood hasn't been fixed on here so that went back in the car. We'd have to wait until the following weekend to continue on the project...

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