Prayer @ Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

The clock went backward during the last weekend and I still haven’t finished writing about my summer holiday! I am so ashamed.

Believe me because I am feeling rather desperate and also disappointed by my slackness. Ohhh, I must find time and energy to resume chronicling the road trip! However, the longer I lay it off, the harder it becomes to get back to my former productive self. I am so depressed.

Anyhow, I have to restart it from somewhere, therefore, it goes like this…

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My mum let out a deep sigh and her shoulders dropped when she checked the latest news in Japan through her iPod touch after we returned to our room at Hôtel Cathédrale from our tram trip. ‘Mao-chan died today.’ She looked visibly distressed while she scrolled the screen.

Mao Kobayashi, a.k.a Mao-chan was a Japanese broadcaster and also a wife of a famous Kabuki actor. She was battling with breast cancer and her days living through the ordeal was recorded in her blog.

I didn’t know much about her and her illness until the BBC featured her as one of the hundred women who influenced the society, 100 Women 2016.

Mum sat at the edge of the bed and uttered, ‘A poor woman. I wish if I could be in her place so her young children would have their mum.’ ‘Oh mum, I never wanna lose you! But I know what you mean…’ We both felt helpless and sad.

‘Let’s visit the cathedral, mum.’ I tapped on her shoulder.

We tried to visit the place one week ago, yet we didn’t in the end because the queue for the entry was too long. However this time, the queue was almost non-existent. It may have been due to the fact that the cathedral was to be closed for the day in twenty minutes time.

The first thing we did as we entered the cathedral was to buy a candle and pray for Mao-chan and her grieving family…

My knowledge about her was best described as sketchy, but her untimely tragic death did touch me.

Unlike her, we are very fortunate, mum and I agreed as we placed a flickering candle on the tray.

Time spent with one’s loved one. That was what she must have craved ardently yet it was cruelly snatched away from her. It must have been heartwrenching for her to realise that she would have to leave them behind.

I promised to mum that I would never ever bore mum or Hubbie with me moaning about lines on my face or freckles on my nose. Because I was so lucky to be alive and all the marks I bore on my body were evidence of my physical existence in this world.

Poor Mao-chan would have loved to have lots of laughter lines on her beautiful face and to grow old happy! For her sake, we must try to be grateful and enjoy everyday as it comes, mum and I put our hands together and prayed.

After dedicating a candle and prayer, we walked around the cathedral.

The inside of the enormous gothic structure was awe inspiring. Soaring walls were like a deep ravine and the nave in front of us was far and long…

Before the present cathedral was constructed between 1176 to 1439, there was a cathedral in a Romanesque style with three apses which was reputed to be decorated with gold and precious stones.

We wanted to explore this amazing place  longer but a church official started to herd up the visitors towards the exit, pointing at his wrist watch. Ok, ok, OK! We’ve got your message. We gingerly started to walk to the door.

Out of the darkness…

and into the light…

Now, we must find somewhere to have our last supper at Strasbourg…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Recurring nightmare

It had been precisely two weeks since the thieves broken into Hubbie’s office. And they came back again last night. They tried to take one of our Macs.

But this time, it didn’t go according to their plan…

They were in for a (nasty) surprise. All the Macs were secured to each desk with computer locks, and they remained on the desks. Out of the desperation, they dragged one of the desks to the door but gave up in the end and fled.

Later on, our office neighbours, who lived upstairs and alerted the police, came to see us and recounted how the incident unfolded last night. ‘This time, they rammed the door with their moped!’ Despite the door being fortified with metal plates and additional locks, the thugs bursted it open in less than a minute.

The landlord visited the office in mid-morning, looking vidibly guilt-ridden. ‘We can not come back here until a proper steel door and additional security features such as window grills and more effective alarm system are in place.’ We all agreed.

So we moved all the Macs to my home sweet home again…

Ugh, I am not a sort of girl who lives in pyjama bottoms at home, but living side by side with the actual working office won’t be easy for anyone, will it? No more lying in or walking around the flat in my sports bra and bike shorts after my morning exercise.

Having said that, I do want the office to be properly burglar-proofed with beefed-up security so I can sleep soundly every night.

May be we should have had an Alsatian instead of a Yorkie…

Bella, you are too burglar-friendly…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

 

Oh boy

I’m just not in the mood to do blogging right now even though I have an ample time to do so. Do you wanna know why I’m so unmotivated?

Hubbie’s office was broken in last night.

I was absolutely gobsmacked when Hubbie phoned me this morning from a front door of his office. He arrived at the door and saw a substantial damage on it with a huge padlock dangling from it…

This was what the police attached in order to secure the door.

Our neighbours, who lived above our office and reported the commotion to the police last night, saw two motorbikes and four guys speeding away from the street.

The actual damage, apart from the front door, was his five Macs. The thieves yanked them off from the desks and took them away. Luckily, they didn’t take any servers or cameras, therefore, they didn’t clean us out.

If you see this mark on your window or door, clean it right away!

A guy from another office on the same street had paid a visit to us and pointed out that the mark on our window was the same one which was left on his basement window. He claimed that the mark was a sign left by street criminals for members of local burglars so they would know which property to break in. And this particular one indicated which business premises had Macs in their office!

Our landlord came with a team of builders later so they could secure the front door. Their electric drill made a loud noise, and poor Bella was freaking out.

I don’t know when I feel like getting back to chronicling my road trip yet. I would like to but feel a bit too distracted…

You know what I mean…

The criminals made such a mess on my desk, and I am too depressed to sort it out right now… 😦

Petit Train, ambulance & soldiers…

We arrived back to the city centre from the west bank, using our return tickets. We alighted at Broglie which was a tram stop one stop away from Homme de Fer. From there, we walked down Rue du Dôme and at Rue des Hallebardes, we turned right and followed the street towards our hotel.

Same as the most of the streets around the famous cathedral, rue des Hallebardes was lined with high-end fashion boutiques, chocolatiers and beauty shops. Their show windows were beautifully dressed and the items on display were all very seductive.

How about this backpack for a champagne picnic?…

Very chic, huh? They also had a matching set of canvass chairs too.

Then, we saw the Petit Train which came down the street towards us and stopped…

 

​A man was strapped on the stretcher, and the medics were standing around the open doors…

They seemed to be in no hurry to take the patient away. Maybe, he has injured himself rather than he is suspected of health scares, such as heart attack or brain hemorrhage, we guessed as we observed the scene.
Then, we saw a group of soldiers coming down the street…

They marched on, stony-faced…

The sight reminded us that we were living in a precarious time. A sense of danger was never far away…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

We miss you…

Bella and I visited Kensington Gardens for a different reason today. We wanted to drop in at the park and lay flowers for Princess Diana because today was the day when the princess died in Paris 20 years ago.

We alighted a bus at the bottom of Kensington Church Street and bought a bouquet of flowers from an open-air florist by the church.

Gilded gate outside the palace was turned into a makeshift shrine for the princess and crowds were gathering around it…

On the same day 20 years ago, I was in Japan, spending my summer holiday with my parents. I still remember clearly what we were doing when the news of her death came in. It was an ordinary sunny Sunday morning and we were watching some news review show on TV. Out of the blue, a guy who was panelling the programme started to listen into his earpiece intently and then announced, ‘Princess Diana seems to be hurt in a traffic accident in Paris.’ My late dad, mum and I looked at each other and uttered ‘Oh my god!’ simultaneously. Then, we saw the same presenter’s expression turned very grave as he received more updates about the princess’s condition. ‘I am afraid to inform you but the princess has died.’ We all lost for words. ‘No, no, NO!’ Princess Diana was very popular in Japan. She was loved because of her beauty and her charity works. We were devastated by the news.

People were reading notes attached to the shrine and laying flowers…

I wanted to come here 20 years ago and mark my respect. Now, I can finally do it, I felt very emotional as I placed my bouquet along the fence.

I never saw her in person but I adored her beauty, especially her warm gaze…

It was difficult to believe that 20 years had passed since she was gone…

She was the best loved British royalty for sure and I miss her very much…

Britain did become a less interesting place since her death. Despite her sons has grown up to be two fine men, they can never match their mother’s star quality and charm. Diana really was one of a kind. She was a treasure.

Lots of media were there to cover how the public were marking their tribute…

BBC, Sky News, CNN, etc, all camping out between the statue of Queen Victoria and Round Pond…

I miss you, Princess Diana. Please rest in peace.

I will never forget you.

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