16 June, 2019

Miya sama, miya sama On n'm-ma no mayé ni

Here are notes - in the form of haikus - from my recent short visit to Japan.

Tokyo



Ever-disciplined crowds everywhere,
No rubbish bins, yet, a spotless city.
I caught up with a post-grad classmate established here.





Family reunion, Matsumoto



Steam twirling above the open-air hot pool
Grassy smell of the bedroom straw tatami
We enjoyed exquisite meals at Kai.






JR trains


The stops are always "brief" along the JR network
But crowds move on and off without delaying trains.
Sadly, there is no hot tea on the snacks trolley.


Kyoto 

I have enjoyed strolling, shopping, eating, even running in Kyoto's avenues and alleys
The handicraft is rich; the cultural sites breathtaking...
Pity the crowds!





Miya sama
W. Gilbert and A. Sullivan, The Mikado, Orchestra and chorus of the Welsh national opera, Sir C. MacKerras, Telard

29 April, 2019

Skies are blue

I have been on holiday to Yorkshire during holy week. I had gone prepared for spring weather in the North of England: cold showers. My corduroy trousers, wool pullover and duffelcoat came in handy for the first two days in the Southeast with temperatures below 7°C and hail in the morning.


However, to my delighted surprise, as I drove up North, the weather became warmer and warmer and the skies bluer and bluer. On Good Friday the title page of the Yorkshire Evening Post stated that temperatures in Leeds were warmer than in Athens! My heavy corduroy trousers were no longer adapted to temperatures above 20°C so I had to buy a pair of bermuda shorts.

I was also very lucky in crossing the paths of Graham Taylor and Dan Golden, musical friends whom I had first met 15 years ago in Bangkok and who were also holidaying in the UK from Tenerife and Bangkok respectively. We enjoyed good food and choral music together. Indeed, holy week was the right time to visit the UK to listen to religious choral music as all the cathedral choirs were involved in sung services throughout the Easter period. I got to hear the excellent choirs of Saint Paul's cathedral in London and York Minster. David Hope, another old friend from Ho Chi Minh City invited me to a Bach Saint John's Passion in English sung by musical friends of his in Leeds Minster.

My three quintessentially British highlights from this trip:

1) Hours of trekking among the sheep, hand-made stone walls and under the limitless blue sky of the Yorkshire dales.



2) A sunny day out on the roads of Northeast Yorkshire in David Hope's open-roofed car.

3) Afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and cakes at Betty's. I visited their outlets in Harrogate, York and Ilkley over three days to try out several savoury and sweet delicacies together with their delicate tea blends.

Over the rainbow
Judy Garland, Naxos