30 December 2010

My Christmas Holiday Adventures - The Journey Down.

My Christmas holiday is nearly over and soon it will be back to the real world.

My holiday began on the 19th December as it was the day I began my long drive back home. I had concerns that the weather in Essex would prevent me from getting home safely. The last thing I wanted to happen was be stuck in a Travelodge due to snow. Which you would all know has been the only news in the UK for the first weeks of December.

However Essex had no snow forecasted and heard the motorways should be clear. If there were going to be any roads clear then it would be the M1 and M25 so we should be fine. To be on the safe side, we got my partner's mother to keep us updated on weather around the Essex area.

As we drove down the M1, the motorway was indeed free of traffic until we reached Milton Keynes where the recent snowfall turned the M1 into a slush pit. The traffic was slow which is to be expected. Dangerous driving conditions equals cautious driving but there were stupid people who clearly didn't see the danger of driving fast on ice and just carried on driving as if it was normal weather.

I know I'm a nervous driver but when you see the outer lane on the M1 covered in snow, what clever spark would think "hmmm that looks like a good place to drive at 60mph". We only needed one idiot to lose control and that is it, M1 is closed for god knows how long. Fortunately nothing bad happened. Nothing like a bit of paranoia to keep one on edge.

Our plan was to stop off at Milton Keynes for a break and to change drivers but the snow prevented us so we stopped at the service station just before the Milton Keynes junction. I wonder how much anti-freeze the station sold because all I saw in the carpark was everyone pouring the stuff into their engine. Clearly these people didn't listen to the news and didn't hear of the recent snowfall and were caught out. Not a problem for us of course as my car was all prep for snowy weather.

After eating our lunch we set off again. It was slow but progress was made and and before long we were on the M25. Once we were on the M25, I knew we were nearly home probably another 1.5-2 hours the most.

It was boring, I hate motorway driving because it is boring and you get mad people who just zoom past you as if you are stationary. Some people need to slow down!

It took in total 5 hours of driving but at least we got home and only used £25 worth of petrol.

So what plans do I have for Christmas? Well the first thing on my list was to begin writing lists of things to do and ask for my wedding. Second, meet with my wedding co-ordinator at the Roslin Hotel where I was going to get married. Third, decide what to do about my job situation for the New Years, as much as I love kanzashi making it is just not bringing in the money and I have the tough task of finding a job in the new year. Fourth, try to keep my mother and father happy so they don't feel like they are losing a daugther, Fifth, sort out the remaining etsy descriptions for my kanzashi that I wish to sell. And finally, try to relax which is easier said then done.

13 December 2010

Busy Weekend - Part two KDJ UK

Waking up on a dark Saturday morning isn't easy and this Saturday was no exception but I must get up. For one thing, I am not sleeping in my own bed and I had to get ready for Kimono de Jack UK get together at Birmingham Christmas Market.

Once again, plans were made to arrive at Birmingham New Street train station at 11.00 but we took our time having breakfast which meant getting ready was delayed and we missed the intended train. Nevermind, there was another train and in the end we were only half an hour late.

At the station we met up with our fellow kimono friends and off we went to tackle the market!

Wow it was busy, I know that Christmas is just round the corner and everyone was feeling very festive but the crowds were unbelievable. Putting this aside, there was so much to see and eat! I could happy go from one food stall to the next eating but I know that would be bad for my health and finance. So I did a lot of window shopping and thinking "hmmm that looks yummy!".

Now this is a German Christmas Market and one can not go to such a large Christmas market without going to the grilled sausage stall. So we all shuffled our way to purchase a nice grilled sausage in a ridiculously small roll. Very traditional since that is how they sell them in Germany. After demolishing that, it was dessert which was a nice waffle with cherries and cream. Again this was polished off very quickly as I am a sucker for a nice waffle. Hmmmm should I purchase a waffle pan I wonder??

Here is our little group. There are no pictures of us eating because that would be unflattering and all of us were eating which is far more important then pictures.

We thought this was an ideal time to take photos so here are some more.

Feeling somewhat stuffed and in need to get away from the crowd, we thought a visit to see the Staffordshire Hoard was in order. We spend sometime wondering around taking in the history and art that was on offer, not to mention savouring the peace and quiet. Also another chance to take pictures. Here we saw the kimono that Liz was wearing, a kimono with lots and lots of dots. How resistible!

However we all needed to find a place to sit down and have a nice cuppa. Off to Cafe Rouge! And on the way we found Mr Alien joining in the festive cheer.

Now we were refreshed, one of us had to catch a train so we walked her back to the train station only to find out the train has been cancelled! Oh Virgin why did you do that? Knowing it will take some time to sort this out we said our goodbyes and off she went to find someone to tell her what to do.

The remaining group decided to commence shopping since we couldn't leave the market without something to show. I brought five doughnuts (or berliner) while Lyuba decided to get some freshly cooked dutch pancakes! Don't they look nice.

Then one of us remembered that there was a sweet shop called Cybercandy where you can buy all sort of sweets from other countries. We like discovering new and wonderful sweets so we minced our way to the shop and brought a load of them. I was still holding a box of doughnuts so I thought it was best that I didn't buy any sweets. Although if they had a particular type of chewy sweet which my partner enjoyed once in Canada then I would have probably brought some but I was saved.

By now it was 16.20 and although my train didn't leave until 18.03 I thought I would make my way to the train station with my friend from London. The others lived near Birmingham so it didn't matter what time they left.

Yep I waited at the train station for over an hour but at least I got on my train and managed to get my seat without too much hassle.

And folks, that was the third KDJ UK get together.

January 2011 is being arranged as I type and hopefully it will be announced on our facebook group soon.

If you are wondering about those five doughnuts that I brought, no I didn't take a photo of them because I forgot and yes they were very nice.

Busy weekend - Part one kimono demo

I have been hoping that the snow and ice would melt by last weekend so that my little trip to Birmingham was not hindered by the cold.

Well I made it to the train station on time and yep the train left on time however due to signalling issues between Sheffield and Derby I managed to be delayed by 10 minutes and missed my connecting train to Birmingham. Sigh...................................

So much for my careful planning.

However I got the next train which was a twenty minute later and then had a nice chat with a lady on the train which made the hour journey seem to disappear. Strange how a conversation with a stranger makes a journey more enjoyable.

Arrived in Birmingham around 13.30 and found Hong (with her boyfriend) looking a bit tired. Well she has been ill for the past week so I'm not surprise. After another 20 minutes wait for the next train to Blake Street, we all arrived at April's house and accommodation for the night around 14.30.

She has two gorgeous shiba inu, Azuki and Cassey. Azuki was very laid back when we invade our friend's house however Cassey was a bit nervous but she eventually calmed down.

All we have to do now is wait for the remaining guest (Lyuba) to arrive, have a bite to eat and then off for the first event for the weekend.

ETA was 15.00 but when 15.00 came she still has not arrive. So we waited and waited until it was time for dinner. By now it was 17.00 and we were wondering what happened to her, did she get lost in the wilderness of the Midlands? Well we found out around 17.45, it appears she took a wrong turning and was lead astray by her satnav. One should never trust their satnav is the moral of the story.

Fortunately we still had time and after dinner we got our kimono and kitsuke-ware together for the journey back into Birmingham city centre for Birmingham Japan Society Christmas party and kimono demo.

You would have thought with all our adventures that this journey would be incident free but you are wrong. Being slightly unsure of the route we missed the turning however the mistake wasn't as bad as we thought and in the end, it turned out to be a nice if a somewhat unplanned detour to the Brasshouse Centre.

With plenty of time, we got ourselves dressed and by 19.00 we were all dressed and ready for the demo.

Here is Liz looking gorgeous in her green furisode with pretty butterflies.

Hong is sporting a hikizuri which has a co-ordinating dounuki. This made all of us drool because just look at it! The colour and patterns on it are amazing. However we had to fudge it a little because none of us had experience in putting on a hikizuri but Hong spent most the time sitting down so no one saw any mistakes. Lyuba decided not to change and instead become the photographer for night. Hmmm I wonder what pictures she managed to get?

It started off slow but it picked up and we even had two lovely ladies who were more then willing to try on kimono. They are the ones on the left and right, if you are wondering who is the one in the middle well that would be me. I never realised how long my hair has grown and how thick it is when plaited until I saw this photo.

We always enjoy meeting new people and as these two were so enthusiastic we told them about our Kimono de Jack UK get together for the following day. As they say, the more the merrier.

Well time flies when one is in good company and conversation and soon it was nearly 21.00 and we had to be gone by then or we would have been locked in. After exchanging mobile numbers with our two latest members to the the KDJ UK group we hastily packed up and made our way back to April's house for some sleep.