Love of my life

Yesterday was St Valentine’s Day and Hubbie and I exchanged cards like we always did. After he left for work, I turned on TV and saw a women’s ice hockey match on the screen.

I used to look forward to every winter Olympic game, especially ice hockey games because I played the sport as a hobby. However this Olympic Game in Pyeongchang, I am not so sure. The reason for my hesitation is not because this game is riddled with too much of the political nuances but because of the heartache I feel every time I watch an ice hockey match. In some way, I could say that ice hockey was love of my life. It wasn’t just a mere hobby but the sport was my obsession.

Of course, my Hubbie is always the most important love of my life and because of his blessing and support, I could enjoy this beautiful sport for a long time.

What a fun, what a joy it was…

Two seasons ago, I decided to give up the sport and it was not easy. Even though I knew I was becoming too old for this amazing but also demanding game, the reality was hard to swollow.

Despite the doubts crept into my head every time I found myself not being able to keep up during training – ‘Am I too old for this?’ ‘Will I bust my knee if I go on too hard?’ ‘Will the coach give me less ice time because I look tired?’, I wanted to carry on as long as possible. It is true that the sport did help prolonging my “youth”. I enjoyed being a part of the team and my teammates’ friendship and encouragement was another reason why I wanted to hang on to the sport. A youthful atmosphere of the changing room helped me to fool myself that I was younger than what I really was, and it was addictive.

The thing I still regret about my behaviour towards the end of my player career was how jealous I was to some of my teammates. Without fully understanding what I was becoming of, I complained to the coach incessantly about my place in the game and the team. I must have been such a pain in the butt.

It is a cruel blow but the decision time arrives eventually to anyone who plays competitive team sports. If you can no longer keep up with the play and your teammates physically, the time is up. It really doesn’t matter how much you love the sport because the writing is on the wall.

Since that June, my hockey sticks have been shut away in a cupboard for good but I do miss ice hockey and thinking about it still gives me a tight chest. It feels like if I am mourning for a lost love. Remembering how great I felt sprinting down the ice and chasing a puck. It was a pure joy!

Now, I ponder if I will ever find another love like ice hockey. Is there any activity which can ignite my passion like the game could? I am really not sure…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Heroes’ Welcome @ Trafalgar SQ 

Which season do I like the least? I was asking myself while jamming my feet into a pair of UGG boots as I clutched Bella under my arm. Ohhh, winter is coming and how much I am NOT looking forward to it!

Yes, winter does possess some beauties, such as frosty mornings or Christmas illuminations. However, the season does have its shortcomings.
1.Bugs. No, not bumble bees or ladybirds but the bugs which make us sneeze and cough.
2.Icy winds. With a dog in tow, I normally have to do alfresco dining, regardless of the seasons. Unless the eateries are canine-friendly or equipped with outdoor heating lamps, I have to don a big coat and brave the weather.
3. Grit. I appreciate that the salt prevents pavements from being slippery but I am weary of it because it is a chemical afterall and I don’t like my baby’s naked paws touching the stuff.
4. Snow in the city. A blanket of snow does temporarily cover up a multiple of sins littering the streets of London. However, too much of this white stuff causes havoc and paralyses the city every time it materialises. I would rather content myself with looking at an idyllic snowy landscape on a postcard than seeing the real stuff outside window. Especially Bella’s fractured elbow won’t be able to take too much stress for another couple of months, I am asking Mr.Santa a mild and short winter.

Before the weather turned cold and the clock went backward, I took fracture-free Bella to Trafalgar Square for witnessing the triumphant Team GB…

The parade of the previous day at Manchester looked amazing on TV and I thought the occasion might be great for Bella the puppy to experience loud noises and crowds.

Princess Bella’s lightsaver!

She found a piece of twig which was obviously too large for her frame. However, she seemed to be very proud of her find.

Then, very loud marching bands of Grenadier Guards and Coldstream Guards approached towards us…

Bella seemed to be a little perturbed by the sight of them but soon she diverted her attention to the twig she was busy gnawing.

Really? There is no parade today?! To my utter disappointment, I was informed by a steward with a high-visibility vest that there would be no Manchester-style open-top bus parade coming down The Mall. Instead, the athletes would be simply ferried to Buckingham Palace by coach.

We turned our heel to The Mall and headed back to the square…

The event was happening within a fenced area and the admission was limited to ticket holders only. The rest of us had to satisfy ourselves with a giant screen erected in front of the Nelson’s Column. However, the traffic around the square was suspended for the duration of the occasion so the atmosphere was happy and celebratory…

Are you enjoying it too, Bella?

She switched her attention to a flyer for Coca Cola from the twig. I pondered if we should hang around until the event was over and decided against it. Bella was still a tiny pup and I didn’t want her to be squeezed in a crowded carriage.

Oh Bella, why do you have to be holed up inside? This autumn was meant to be your very very first autumn of your life!! I am so sad…(sob)

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Shit Happens…

Like any other Saturday morning, Hubbie and I plonked ourselves down at a window-side table at the Shepherdess and leafed through tabloid newspapers kindly left by fellow diners…


Oh dear, poor Vladimir.
That hiccup in the opening ceremony seemed to be giving a field day to the British tabloid…



The ring which misbehaved does look like a BP logo, don’t you agree?


Putting Mr.Putin aside, I feel genuinely sorry for the people who worked really hard trying to make the ceremony special. Even though that kind of “hiccup” was unprecedented in the Olympic history as far as I remember, the opening ceremony shouldn’t be remembered just for the glitch. Let’s hope the rest of the game will run smoothly so we can just smile about it.

Oh no, I can’t possibly eat this many eggs! The kitchen always treats us well…


While munching through the heap of foods, I wondered what would have happened if the bummer happened in the London 2012. It would definitely be mocked & mercilessly teased in Have I Got News for You and Graham Norton for years to come.

After all, we are only human, aren’t we? Shit happens & we have to rise above it…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Shinkansen @ Nagano Station

For all winter sport enthusiasts, tomorrow is the day, isn’t it? As an ex-ice hockey player and skier – after all, I am from Nagano, I do look forward to the Sochi 2014 and do hope the event will finish without incident.

One of the most definite legacies of the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympic Game is undoubtedly the Nagano Shinkansen (長野新幹線) – bullet train / the Super Express Asama…


Despite the fact that the distance between Nagano City and Central Tokyo was only 230km, the city lacked high-speed rail link such as the Shinkansen, and a motorway was yet to be extended to the city at the time of the IOC’s host city selection for the 18th Winter Olympic Game. Therefore, solving the transport problem was an utmost imperative factor in order to invite the game successfully. As the result, the very first Nagano Shinkansen ran on its tracks which were raid over the existing route on the 1st October 1997. The journey time to Tokyo Station from Nagano station was shortened from 2 hours 45 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes…


This reduction of travelling time was welcomed by many as it made a journey to Tokyo much easier. However, the old Nagano station which was modelled after Zenkō-ji was replaced by a bland custard yellow clad monstrosity in order to accommodate high-powered trains such as the Shinkansen and the locals mourned the loss of well-loved character from the cityscape. I suppose the Shinkansen required a much higher calibre in accuracy and engineering, therefore, integrating the existing local terrain must have been too uneconomical. Still, I can’t see why the modernisation in Japan tends to choose the path of bulldozing predecessors rather than conserving them as pieces of history…

Mum & I boarded our train around midday. Ohhh, we must buy bento-boxes for lunch…


Next door to the bento stall was a kiosk, selling sweets, newspapers, magazines and souvenirs…


We grabbed the ones which were the most pricy, believing they would be the tastiest…


However, we were bitterly disappointed. The bento appeared to be packed well, but…


Most of the contents were just the epitome of culinary betrayal…


Two diamond-shaped brown stuff turned out to be pieces of extremely tough beef. In the left lower corner were two konjac slabs with miso paste. A pinky thing on the upper left was salmon & sliced onion, marinated in oil & vinegar. Next to the salmon was Kimpira Gobo – stir-fried burdock, tree branch-like vegetable, very common in Japan. And that yellow lumpy thing was frittered apricot! The rest of the spaces were occupied by cold taste-less rice balls. How could they charge ¥1500 for this miserable bento box? Mum & I pecked at them dejectedly while hen-pecking bitterly…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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