Uncertain beginning…

My mum had done it again. So what had she done?, you may ask. Well, let me explain.

Everything seemed to be going swimmingly then…

After finished checking in at the gate, we moved to a security check-point and a staff there asked us to step out of the vehicle. ‘Mum, he wants us out of our car.’

I didn’t see what happened because I was occupied with the security guy and mum was at the other side of the car but she stumbled as she was climbing out of the seat and took a rather awkward tumble.

The security was all clear and we were allowed to return to the car. As I buckled up and started an engine, mum confessed what she had done to herself.

‘You did what?!’

She showed me a red mark on her knee as she recounted the circumstance of her little accident. ‘Were you hurt?!’ ‘I think I twisted my hip when I tried not to fall.’ Oh no, mum…

The journey to Caen Port was to take five hours and her injured hip started to bother her as soon as we settled ourselves in our reserved reclining seats.

‘Don’t worry, mum. I’ll fetch painkillers from the car!’

I went down to the car deck with a steward and brought back the medication and a yoga mat. ‘Mum, lie down flat on the mat.’ Even though she found it a bit embarrassing at first, she admitted that resting on the mat felt much more comfortable than on the reclining seat.

The ferry was busy with school children. It looked like there were at least three separate school trip parties on board and the kids were everywhere except the reserved areas.

You go and entertain them!

Good luck, Mr.Teddy…

Then, I went to the upper deck to take some photos so I could show them to mum…

I wished if she could come with me because the views around the upper deck area were spectacular.

We are almost there!

‘Oh, why did this happen to me?’ Mum sighed as she did her seatbelt. ‘I’m sure it will get better soon if you take it easy for a while.’ I tried to sound optimistic even though I was not sure at all.

It was hardly an auspicious beginning of our road trip…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Too late?

May be it is a bit too late to brush up my French? Mum and I are to sail to Caen in two days and I have just restarted my French lesson!!!

Oh well, I truly hope that we won’t encounter any challenging situations during our road trip…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bavarian getaway

Before Bella managed to drench her face and paws at the Royal Academy, we visited Waterstones to buy some maps last Sunday.

I was planning a European holiday with my mom sometime this June, and needed large paper maps so I could plot possible route by car.

They will do, Bella.

Yes, I will be driving to Bavaria!

Don’t you worry because I am a seasoned long-distance driver. Enough mileage was clocked up while I was driving for away games, from London to Newcastle, Sheffield, Cardiff and so on. I also took Mr.B and mom as my passengers to Brittany and Paris in the past.

I want to show my mom Romantic Road and Garmisch-Partenkirchen as they are my late father’s favourite places…

I love to see the sceneries which my dad was so impressed and talked about countless times. Mom and I agree that we want to see what he saw so we can feel him closer.

Now, I haven’t decided if I should take Bella with us or not…

All depends on if Hubbie will be coming with us or not. I must start more detailed planning, however, there are still too many “if”s!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Beacon of Lettaford

Let’s go back to The Chapel in Dartmoor, where we enjoyed a relaxing long weekend a few weeks ago…

This modest granite-stone building, our temporary abode, started its life as a schoolroom / chapel. Sometime in 1860, the door was opened to a small number of local people who were there to attend a Sunday prayer meeting. And for the occasion to take place, there were two women who made it possible – Mrs Susan Walling, the schoolmistress, whose influence must have been a catalyst to initiate the construction of the building. And Miss.Pynseat, who funded the project and became the owner of the building.

Inside of The Chapel, there was a reference on the wall to indicate who was behind the plan…

The Landmark Trust always furnishes and decorates their properties with hints of the individual history of which each building underwent originally. The maiden in the artwork must have implied one of the aforementioned women and a lamb must have been the locals who were the recipient of those women’s goodwill.

The images of the abandoned chapel before the Trust started its restoration…

The congregation of the prayer meeting was consisted of local farmers and farm labourers and the number was once over 25 in its hay day. However, the number dwindled after the agricultural depression of the late 19th century and the departure of the funding member, Mrs.Walling, from Lettaford in 1904. Apart from a thank you note address to her by the locals, there was no record which explained the reason why Mrs.Walling left the hamlet. Could she have emigrated to Australia in search of a better life as the area around Dartmoor was never wealthy?

During the 1920’s, the number of attendance must have increased significantly, and as a result, the schoolroom / chapel was extended…

A single-storey structure made of galvanised iron and wood was attached to the existing building.

In 1943, gas-lighting was installed, and then, finally, electricity came to the chapel in 1963. Despite the modernisation, however, the number of congregation continued to decrease and it became as little as four in the late 60’s. Eventually, the decision was made in 1977 that Latteford was to be incorporated into the Exeter Methodist circuit, and the entrance to the chapel was closed until the Landmark Trust started a restoration work in 1981.

The charter of young Methodism was on the wall…

It was touching to realise that, once upon a time, this place was a centre of the community, filled with the laughter of children, hymns and Christmas carol. This small chapel must have been like a lighthouse for those who inhabited the unforgiving terrain of Dartmoor which sprawling out like ocean.

Yes, you did provide us warmth and comfort…

We said good-bye to the hedges of Lettaford…

So which property of the Landmark Trust we gonna visit next? I can hardly wait…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

New Year Day @ Zenkō-ji

On the afternoon of New Year’s Day, Mum & I agreed that we were in need of some fresh air, therefore, we donned warm clothing and sauntered to Zenkō-ji.
On the way, I saw a pair of huge trees standing, assisted by steel supports at Yubuku Shrine. Mum explained to me how the trees were struck by lightning one summer and the impact was felt even by her at home 10 minutes walk away from the shrine. The trees had to be trimmed in order to make them safe. Just imagining from the size of the remaining trunks, they must have been gigantic trees…

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We arrived at Zenkō-ji and found the promenade choking with worshippers…

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The orderly crowd was waiting in queue to enter Hondō shrine. However the queue was stretched as far as Sanmon Gate and beyond…

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Within the temple compound, kiosks selling talismans and fortune slips were everywhere…

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They came in various forms. Arrows for warding off evil spirit and bamboo rakes for gathering fortune…

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The staffs seemed very busy, being called up from all directions…

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Next to the kiosk, I came across this dog looking thoroughly bored. He / she stood there with the air of resignation while its owners hotly disputing what charm they should buy in order to improve fortune this year…

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The area around the promenade closer to Hondō shrine was all blocked off as a part of crowd managements. So we were forced to walk around the boundary and join the Sando Promenade at the intersection…

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Though not as packed as around Hondō, the pavement was brimful of visitors…

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“Goheimochi” on sale…

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Goheimochi is made of mashed steamed sticky rice and miso paste. Mashed and hand-formed rice is skewered with a bamboo stick and grilled over the flame. Once cooked, sweetened miso paste is spread over the rice ball lollipop and sold as Japanese street food.
Mum & I wanted to try them but there was a long queue in front of the shop front so we gave up and walked on.

A couple in kimono…

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We reached Niōmon Gate and found crowds of people still pouring in towards Hondō…

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We realised that there would be no chance of finding any cafe for a mid-afternoon snack. So we headed back home.
On our way home, we came across this sight…

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A row of cars were queuing for a pay car park near the temple. How long did they would have to wait in their cars, we had no idea. From the amount of the visitors we saw at the temple, they would probably have to wait more than an hour. We hoped if they could make it to Hondō before it closed at 5 pm…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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