Sunday, 17 April 2016

Barbies Big Adventure: Godan Test

So as I mentioned, for quite a few years now I have studied a martial art.  I love it.  I can't explain why, or how it makes me feel but I really do love it. 

 I recently had the amazing opportunity to go to Japan and train.  It was my first trip over and I was excited, nervous and honestly a little apprehensive.  It was a bucket-list type of trip for me, one I've dreamed of since I started at 17.  My teacher was there for the first few days, he showed me where all the important places were and made sure I was generally settled in. 

This trip gave me the opportunity to take my godan test.  It is one of the few formal tests within the organisation and is the only way to obtain a 5th dan grade. The test itself involves being struck with - or dodging if you're doing it right - a padded sword that is being swung at you from behind.  I arrived on the Friday and made my first attempt that evening.  I think I was too amazed at simply being there to be nervous or as scared of performing badly as I was before my trip.  I and thought that failing would kill my confidence, but surprisingly, when I got hit I was okay about it. Apart from the burning line on my head!...The next day when I finally got up (my teacher had taken us all out and we didn't get home until the early hours of the morning) I realised that I needed to fail on that first attempt.  It taught me the most valuable lesson - what I was supposed to be feeling.

At the Sunday class I tried again, this time knowing what I was looking for and I passed straight away.  I can't tell you what happened, it's honestly a complete blur, all I know was that I knelt, I moved when I felt I should, then there was a shout, some clapping and people congratulating me.

The rest of the trip I attended a large number of training sessions, often getting made to show techniques in front of the class by the teacher as the newest 5th dan in the dojo.  That bit was mortifying but everyone was very nice - I know I looked petrified.  Not as much as I did on the following Friday when the grand master himself pointed at me during class and beckoned me to punch.  I know I looked terrified because people told me so afterwards...but I did it and survived to tell the tale!  Students of my grade wouldn't normally be selected for that so I feel extremely honoured, I'm probably more proud of that experience than I am of getting my grade!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Barbie bucket-list trip ahoy!

We all have a bucket-list, not necessarily a physical one but a list of those things you would love to do...one day....well recently I fulfilled one of my items on this imaginary list and went to Japan.  It wasn't really for what most people would consider a holiday, I didn't do very many(or really any) of the standard tourist type activities because I was there for one reason.  Martial Arts. One in particular, that I have been training in for more years than I usually like to admit to (it makes me feel both old and like I should be better at it by now!)

So, I took a trip to what a friend described from my holiday photos as the ass end of Japan - not meant in a bad way but when you mention a trip to Japan people automatically imagine the bright lights of downtown Tokyo - I stayed mostly in a shopping district and travelled daily to small villages that often contained not much more that a few shops, houses and a dojo.  I have a fair number of photos but I spent quite a lot of time with Hiromi who is a selfie-obsessive so I also have lots of photos that look like this...


I have another post coming soon so I can ramble specifically about the martial art bit but here is the flavour of Japan as I saw it...
Dolls for Girls Day

buildings near Mabashi

Cute little box cars


Purple bunned burger...no idea why!

If you're going to groom dogs why not in a window?

Noda shrine


From what appeared to be the pork only restaurant - after some discussions with the waitress!

Typical breakfast in my hotel

"view" from my room, this summed up the oddity of Japan, the big highrises with the little shrine nestled between
More posts will follow about this trip...if only to make me stop talking about it constantly!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

2015. The year that killed my youth

OK, so its a bit of a dramatic title....but 2015 was a bit of a shitty year for the heroes and icons that dominated my childhood.

I'm a late seventies child, so I only really remember the early eighties onwards (there are some years in the late nineties/early 00's that are a bit hazy, but the memories are there somewhere!). So of course, I have early memories of watching "Jim'll fix it" and Rolf Harris....and well, their reputations are now far more questionable than they were back then.

Watching dodgy blokes on TV aside however, I really mean the rest of my youth, I love Hammer Horror (and pretty much all dodgy horror movies) so the death of Christopher Lee in May was a loss.  After the death of Robin Williams in 2014, I knew that movies would never be the same again but now I can be doubly certain.  This followed on from the death of Leonard Nimoy, in February and as a (not so closet) Trekkie, it was a sad day. 

Musically it was a nasty year too, with B.B King, Scott Weiland and Lemmy all gone.  

None of these however were as much of a loss as one of my true childhood (and adulthood) loves, Terry Pratchett.  I admit that when the news of his death broke I was in tears on my commute home.  In a selfish way I wasn't upset because he had died, he had been suffering from Altzheimers for a number of years so it was quite expected in some manner, but because there would be no more of his books to look forward to and because of the sudden outpouring of grief on social media from such a broad range of people.   For Christmas Mr B bought me Terry's last book.  I haven't read it yet.  Not because I'm not itching to, but because when I do I know I will turn the final page and will never have any more to come.

Well, we are in 2016 now and already more big icons have disappeared...Lets hope it stops there for a while or we will only be left with reality TV and Katie Price "novels" to keep us entertained.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

One year in the blink of an eye

I feel bad.  Not generally, life is pretty great in Barbieland at the moment, but I feel bad for being so absent. 

So, I thought I'd catch up a little...it's been one hell of a year!...but in good ways.

Last October, I changed jobs.  Even before then life was pretty hectic, but typical of me, I do like to give myself a challenge...The new job was in another city.  Great....so a commute was my only available option.  Mr B was still gainfully employed in our current city, but (thankfully!) was willing to look for a new job so we could relocate.

Just as I started my new job, another employee mentioned the magic word...kittens.  We had been looking to get a new kitten to keep Tori company since our lovely Sasha had passed.  My new contact volunteered for cats protection and had just rescued two kittens to re-home!  We had only planned on taking just one...but how could we separate them?

So, we had two new arrivals...

It took a few months of 3 hours on the train before I heard the wonderful words 'I have an interview!' of course, B being B, he aced it and was offered the job.  It wasn't just any job either, it was a job in his desired field and all the other wants we have when hoping for the right job to come up....Excellent!

Then came the panic.   I'd been looking online at places to move to for a while, trying to prepare for the time ahead, immediately, I started booking viewings and doing more research on areas and all the other important stuff when relocating.  It was time consuming, and due to work schedules (and the distance) I did all of these by myself.  That wasn't a problem at all, thankfully Mr B trusts my judgement!   Most of the flats were not making me particularly happy, and we were on a time limit.  So when a flat came back on the market that I had previously been quite taken with I pounced.  booked a viewing and took the flat without B ever seeing it.  Thankfully, on moving day a couple of weeks later he did like it!

Since then, life has started to calm down.  I can't say I miss the commute, I'm doing well in my new job as is Mr B, and we are starting to settle into our new city.  The cats seem to love the space and regularly use the hallway as a racetrack.

We are still trying to fill the new flat up, there are a few less boxes and a few more seats so its going in the right direction. 

So that's been it....1 year, 2 jobs, 2 flats and 3 cats. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Attack of the boxes...

I've just moved house.  I don't really like the experience..Don't get me wrong, the first bit - looking at places on-line and going on viewings - is fun, but the actual moving bit is a total pain. 

It's been a fairly big move, into a different city that I have only known for 6 months.  (My main excuse for no posts of late has been an eternal commute across the country everyday for work which took me out of the house for at least 12 hours a day) I'm still learning my way around and getting used to the different rules that come with a new city.  For one, people here don't queue.  I'm so used to the (generally) ultra polite ways of both Norwich and Edinburgh that this fact has been a little hard to get used to.  On the positive side however, the majority of people here are very friendly, and the standard of customer service in general is far higher...it's nice not to just receive a grunt from checkout operators in supermarkets! I'm certainly enjoying living in Glasgow so far, the reputation that puts people off visiting doesn't appear to be well earned...I've yet to witness anything that I wouldn't have seen on the streets of every other city in the UK.

We have been lucky enough to land ourselves a much larger flat than before, the same number of rooms, but better proportions and less wasted space than our last place.  The only downside to that is that all of our furniture (or what we have at the moment) now looks very small and doesn't really fill many of the rooms...I'm a fan of minimalist living but this is a little extreme!  The boxes were making up for it but as we empty them the place is...emptying.  I can see some shopping in our future in the months ahead.  (The cats on the other hand are loving their new spacious playground and have been in box overload...whenever you open a box...there's a cat.)

You never seen to realise quite how much junk you accumulate until you have to pack it all up and then unpack it again into a different place, the books that came off a bookshelf should all fit back on right?  Not according to the laws of physics on my bookshelf! I've even removed several large books and there still doesn't seem to be enough room...


I've unpacked a vast amount of boxes and have now officially entered "home making mode"....my desire to hang pictures and place furniture is overwhelming but making my new place feel like my home is an important stage of the whole moving process for me...I can be very territorial and get rather antsy if I don't have recognisable objects around.   I have spent hours today wandering around the house armed with various pictures and other objects trying to figure out where I want them...B Man gracefully lets me have free reign of this part of the decoration, provided that I leave control of his man cave to him.  I can handle that.   I still have many hours of wandering ahead before I get all the pictures I have up (never mind the ones that I'm sure to find on my travels and add to the collection!)

Once I've finished with the boxes, and I stop getting lost on my way to work, I'm looking forward to life settling back into a nice easy routine...one with evenings and weekends when I actually have some spare time!   I'll let you know how that goes....

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Barbie gets serious...not decisive...but still serious.

I read this article recently, it's being doing the rounds on some of my friends Facebook pages.  I'm impressed.  It takes a huge amount of courage and strength of character to be able to face people who are potential threats to you so I very much applaud Mr Davis for his achievement. 

Reading the article made me think of my own recent internal argument relating to this subject....I admit that I have been a little disturbed of late by a number of posts I've seen shared by friends which are either a little questionable, or in some cases, outright offensive. I'm not going to share any of them here as I don't wish to add to their distribution.  Just to clarify, they are mostly posts which scream of religious intolerance and general misunderstanding of the subject they speak of.

 I've been in two minds on many occasions to instantly remove those posters from my friends list.  The internal argument goes something like this:

Voice 1: "do it! you don't want to be associated with people who actually think like that! Anyone who would share that is a bigoted ass hole." 

Voice 2: "but they're your friend, you've know them for "X" years and you know that they don't actually have that opinion.  Maybe they're being sarcastic or missing the point."

Voice 1: "or maybe they've changed...you haven't seen them for a while, friends drift and people's opinions can be influenced.  Maybe they are that person now."

Voice 3: "but I don't actually know. Jumping to conclusions in either direction may make me the exact person that I'm condemning.  I need to think on this more."

I know I said two minds, but there's always a little voice of reason in there!
(P.S. I'm not actually crazy...I have been tested ;) )

I did challenge someone on a post lately...I pointed out the inconsistencies and errors, and the response I got was confusing.  The person responsible for the post replied saying that they agreed with me and that they wanted to understand more about why people wanted to do such bad things and "ruin our country".  I know that not everyone has a pre-determined level of common sense, but surely, if you want to understand something (in this case it was Islamic beliefs) then the way to do that is to ask questions, or read and learn for yourself...not post intolerant garbage on Facebook. 

Is it me who's missing the point? 

My internal argument therefore rages on...the myriad of voices bickering over whether or not to hit that de-friend button...I guess that in some ways actually writing this post may solve that problem for me....I'll let you now if my friend count inexplicably goes down once this is published!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Breaking News!...Man wears mask on Halloween

Yeah, really.  The Scotsman must have been digging deep for stories yesterday so they actually bothered to publish this story  Maybe they had forgotten the date of Halloween?

On the other side of the country however, the clock in Glasgow Central station was dressed up for Halloween for weeks and nobody even seemed to notice!  I, of course, took a photo like the stupid tourist that I am!