Thursday, August 31, 2006

The end of the holidays…

With record rainfall, record heat and two children at home for the holidays I haven’t been near the garden for weeks…. But, hopefully that will all change tomorrow. As you may know Japan is a country for “seasons”. There are given days when all the office workers change from short sleeves to long sleeves (regardless of how hot it actually is that year), the pools all close on August 31st (despite the fact it is still very hot…) etc. The first of September signals the end of the school holidays and the beginning of the season to start planting autumn vegetables. Unfortunately as you can see, I have quite a lot of work to do before any planting can happen! I’m determined to get it started tomorrow, but it will need to wait until the first batch of pumpkin and apricot jam of the year is made…. Maybe by the afternoon I will have weeded a small section! Where are my "WOOFERS" when I need them????
On a better note the rice is definitely growing well and the first grains are now fully formed. Only one and a bit more months until harvest!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Herb tea anyone?

Every spring I get really enthusiastic about the garden, plant lots of seeds, vegetables etc. that should all be ready in the summer months. But then the summer arrives..... and not only is it too hot to contemplate moving further than the fridge for a cold drink, but it also gets very dry and therefore almost impossible to keep everything watered and even more impossible to pull weeds out as the ground is so hard.
The result is always the same..... a garden full of weeds just waiting for the cooler autumn months to arrive! This year has been no exception. Although this week I did manage to weed the top corner garden and discovered some nice surprises. The top photo is my "herb tea garden". I was thinking that it was all weeds, but in fact there are virtually no weeds in it. The lemon balm, lemon grass and lemon verbena all seem to love living together in their sunny spot.
The cinnamon basil is also managing to survive well. I know you are not supposed to let basil flower, it does a good job of filling a spot in the garden and adding a little colour. And besides, there is only so much basil you can eat every day!
On Tuesday I managed to mix work with "pleasure" and took the children camping. If there hadn't been about 20 children there with us it would have been perfect.....

Sunday, August 20, 2006

First visitors

On Thursday we officially became new "guest house" owners. Well we haven't actually paid the final installment yet, but we have got the keys and have started moving some things in. We had a typhoon arrive on Friday (knocking down all my sunflowers and beans....) and that combined with other work meant that I really didn't get a chance to get near the place until Saturday. Of course now that we have spent all this money on a the actual house there is no money left to decorate it properly, so things that have been cluttering up our house have been shifted in there in the meantime. As soon as the children go back to kindergarten in September I am determined to spend some more time there - especially in my new kitchen!
The first "Korean guests" have postponed until December, but the first guests have already spent a night and have put their stamp of approval on the place - mostly in the form of greasy hand prints all over the walls...... We are looking forward to having you stay at "Kiora Cottage" (yes, I think Tom has finally agreed to a name.....) some time soon!

Monday, August 14, 2006


Recently I've had a few "bad experiences" with clothes. I have never been a great one to really worry about what I am wearing and with two small children I am used to discovering unwanted "marks" on my clothes after leaving home in a rush. My children have grown a little more now though and the surprise discoveries of a bit of snot or vomit (sorry I don't mean to be graphic!) have been getting less and less frequent. However twice in the last week I have looked down at my shirt in a meeting and discovered it streaked with greenish yellow lines - everywhere! I think these lines must appear after I leave the house as they are so obvious after I sit down that I can't imagine how I never noticed them before. They have been a bit of a puzzle to me - they don't come out in the wash (although with a little "Sards Wonder Soap" I can generally get them out) and they seem to appear from nowhere.....
It wasn't until this morning that the mystery was solved. You may remember a few weeks ago I posted a photo of a bright green caterpillar. Well this morning I found another huge caterpillar munching on a tomato plant - and guess what??? It was exactly the same colour as the stains all over my shirts! Thinking back I realised that each time the stains appeared I had quickly gone into the garden before going to my meeting to collect some tomatoes to take with me..... mystery solved!
On the insect theme - this is a "Giant Katydid" and I would just like to tell you that they are even noiser than the frogs and the cicadas put together! I just scared this one away from our deck door as it was so loud that we couldn't hear the TV - I made a sound file to show you what I am talking about, but my technical knowledge falls flat of actually being able to attach it to this blog. You will just have to come and listen for yourselves!

Okay, so I really don't have a lot to write about today..... sorry! Actually the guest house was supposed to be completely finished and handed over to us on Friday, but it wasn't quite finished in time and now everyone here in Japan is on holiday until the 16th so we are still waiting to actually get inside and put some furniture in it. A little frustrating, but I think the end is insight. There are 4 Korean City Office workers booked in on September 11th, so here's hoping it is finished by then! We have to start paying for it somehow.....

Saturday, August 05, 2006


One of my dreams is to take my children camping every year - like I used to go with my family in New Zealand. A week by the river with nothing to do but eat, read and play cards. Heaven! Of course the ideal camp spot for me is:
  1. Reasonably close to home. I don't feel the need to drive for hours and hours to get somewhere only to have to drive all the way back again if someone gets sick.
  2. Close to some water - a river or the ocean will do (even a good pool close by would be adequate).
  3. Close to a clean toilet. Nothing like wandering for miles in the dark to the closest toilet only to stand in some poo!
  4. Some access to cooking facilities (don't want to rough it too much....)
  5. Not many people close by - I would hate for them to be driven away by my lullaby singing at night!
Anyway - after going through my ideal camp site list I realised that we have the perfect camp site right here in our back garden. So, the children are asleep out there right now and Tom will soon join them, which means I get the house to myself. What more could you ask from a campsite??? Any other campers are welcome - please bring your own tent though - ours is a little full!

Along with our new campsite, we also have a new front door, new doors inside the "guest house" and new lights so we can venture in there at night. Also in the camping mode we ate outdoors tonight - nothing better than tempura cooked outside with vegetables taken freshly from the garden. I think we had 9 different varieties of vegetables today. A pity you can't deep fry tomatoes.......

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Magic Sunset

Now who wouldn't want to stay in a house that had views of fantastic sunsets like this each night? The site manager estimated that all would be finished in a week's time.....I'll believe it when I see it!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


The weekend was a busy one! On Saturday we suddenly felt the need to paint the deck of our house (not the new house - the deck for that one isn't built yet....). What we forgot was that it was going to be yet another boiling hot day and that our feet would burn as we were painting it! It has been averaging at least 36 degrees each day lately....
We also forgot that we would have "helpers" - along with the frogs there was of course Emily who decided she had to "help" the entire time. Hard to say no, but frustrating when you say yes!
Sunday was Masaki's fourth birthday so we mixed New Zealand traditions with Japanese traditions and had a cake and noodle races down a bamboo pipe. Fun for all!

The house is on hold at the moment - the latest hold up is that the rubbish company won't come and empty the skip which is overflowing with rubbish. This means that the plumbers can't do any of the drain work, which means the concrete people can't do any of the final touches. The builder hasn't turned up to do the front steps again today so everywhere is very quiet. In a way I think we are now hoping that they delay a little more as we have a clause in our contract that if everything is not completed by the 20th of this month then penalties start to be incurred and our house gets a little cheaper! Maybe that way we will be able to afford to put up curtains!

The latest development in the garden at the moment is the discovery of a new variety of pumpkin.... Most of my pumpkin plants were self seeded in the compost and there were two different varieties - butternut (like the one on the left) and a small green variety. They seem to have mixed somehow to produce the one on the right. I wonder what it will be like inside......