Is plastic free a dream or a nightmare?

As my eldest child prepares us for a march on climate change she wants us all to attend this Friday I find myself in the midst of a plastic crisis. I love the idea that the world will rid itself of disposable plastic overnight but the honest truth of the matter is that until the big corporations change (I’m looking at you Amazon and every big supermarket chain in the world!) the humble consumer can only do so much. I am, in truth, a bit disheartened with my little patch of battlefield in this particular war and I’m considering a retreat. Now that’s not to say that I will start buying everything wrapped in dozens of bits of plastic. Quite the contrary. I still don’t want my vegetables wrapped in plastic and still use soap and shampoo bars and tablet toothpaste and have found various companies who package their goods in sugarcane plastic. I like these changes. What I’m saying is that I’m questioning my orders from the top. That the generals may have lost sight of the final goal but have…

The kitten who stole a week

“Mummy! Mummy! There’s a kitten outside and I’m going to feed him this.” My 3 year old daughter then shows me her handful of leaves. I assume she’s talking about a game she’s playing with her brother. They have both gotten bored at the supermarket and there’s a nice safe area they can play outside for a few minutes whilst I pay. (That’s one great thing about Japan- it’s so safe for children). Then, two minutes later, my son comes in and says “Mum there’s a kitten outside and I think he’s lost.” At this point I realise they’re not playing. I go and look and sure enough, under the recycling bins, is a tiny kitten who is meowing very loudly and constantly. I pop back in to tell the staff but they’re not interested. When I return the kitten has moved but those animal-loving kids of mine have kept and eye on it. 
We managed to catch the little tyke and I only get one bite. I quickly wrap the little thing in my cardigan and little kitten is immediately calmer. We look for a vet but can’t fin…

Reconnecting with my craft

As I may have told some of you since our big move to Japan I haven’t crocheted much. This hasn’t been intentional, in fact it has been very unintentional and it has gotten me down on several occasions (ask mylong-suffering husband). But, within the last few weeks, I have picked up my hook again. The first motivation was finishing my sister’s 40th birthday present.....which was due in February. I wanted to finish this so I could bring it in my suitcase to the U.K. rather than post it! Then it was the boy’s birthday so I made his crochet succulents and now a U.K. friend asked for some soap-holders so I’ve hooked those. I feel so much better for just grabbing that hook and yarn and getting on with it. In fact the little projects of soap-holders and succulents have been perfect. They don’t take long and results are instant. 

This week (and last) we are in the U.K. staying with my parents. We planned to see lots of friends and family but due to my usual illness/exhaustion, other people’s co…

Kyoto Anxiety

Last weekend we went to Kyoto. Now it’s only half an hour from us by Shinkansen (bullet train) but I’ve wanted to go for over 20 years and the husband had time off work AND it was the boy’s birthday so we made a long weekend of it. I was so excited that it turned into anxiety. 

When you suffer from an illness like depression it manifests in many ways. My main issue is anxiety. I worry so much about the smallest details that I have panic attacks. I forget to enjoy myself. I put huge pressure on myself. I can see it coming, like a huge wave of water that’s going to knock me down. Sometimes I can stand strong and let it wash around me. Sometimes I drown in the undertow. There is nothing I can do to fight it. I try. I’ve tried many things but sometimes I just can’t win. Other times I get knocked over by the wave but stand up and let the water wash around me, knowing full well it is full of toxic emotions but it’s around me, not flowing through me. Looking at it I feel stronger. Looking at …

Summer rain

Painting is ‘Quiet rain - Japan’ by Chisho Maas

I’m sitting on what is turning into my favourite stoop, listening to the rain and I’m sheltered by our balcony above. It’s not that private as it looks straight out onto the road but it’s a quiet road. In fact the whole neighbourhood is quiet. It’s 9pm on a Saturday night and all I can hear are a few cars in the distance, the rain falling and causing dripping all around and swelling the river at the bottom of our road. It’s so close and so quiet we can hear it at night. It doesn’t feel like we’re in the middle of the city and yet apartment blocks twinkle their nighttime lights all around us.
It’s the rainy season here so rain isn’t that surprising but was is nice is that the humidity is letting up for us.... some days at least. Sometimes it’s just sticky and you feel like you forgot to dry when getting out of the shower. Sometimes there’s a wonderfully cool breeze and the rain lifts the air and it becomes fresh with that summer rain smell.…

Can we live plastic-free in Japan?

Simple answer: yes, but it’s bloody hard work. One big thing we’ve all noticed since moving here is that Japan is very much still in the throes of single-use plastic life and not many changes have been made towards updating this attitude. Now various propaganda (for want of a better word) will have you believe that Japan is amazing with its plastic recycling because it’s incredibly strict on what it recycles and how that is divided. As a home we have 2 different types of plastic recycling: PET recycling and plastic packaging such as crisp packets and bottle tops. Sounds awesome right? Well this article reveals (as do many more) that whilst the statistics say 84% of plastic in Japan is recycled. Amazing right? Wrong! Only 23% is materially recycled with 4% being chemically recycled and the rest is burned....let me say that again- the Japanese government says it recycles materials which is actually burns to create electricity. 56% of the plastic I take time to recycle gets burned. Now w…

The honest truth

It’s not always easy living abroad. Whilst the experience of a new country is like nothing else it’s difficult to strike the right balance between the daily routine of school and work and boring household stuff in order to actually experience the country you come to live in. My job, as I see it, is to be chief organiser of excursions, holidays, visits and touristy things whilst balancing family life. I can’t always manage it as my brain sometimes takes a day off! Also, everyone is utterly knackered, it’s humid and raining all the time (but it is the rainy season), we don’t know the language or the culture and have a list of places everyone wants to go that’s longer than we can manage. Oh and there are mosquitoes.....lots and lots of mosquitoes.
But, as with everything in life, we are finding the balance. We all pick up when going on an adventure, we love our house and the area we are in which is right near the river (hence the mosquitoes). We have air conditioning so can avoid the humi…