unallersimple: (hearts)
This weekend I have been in London for my friends' wedding. The apostrophe is in the correct place there as it was Mark and Yvette who got hitched. They are two of my best friends who I lived with for several years whilst we were all at uni. They may have driven me mad by playing endless amounts of McFly and High School Musical during that time, but they have always been there for me over the past 10 years. Yvette came to visit when I lived in Japan, and her family have always been a bit of a surrogate one for me. They have had me to stay over many times, and saved me from jet lag and cancelled flights whenever I've flown in and out of Heathrow. All of her family have welcomed me with warmth and plenty of banter. Mark's mum has always looked out for me whenever she visited Norwich.

I can't deny I was a bit shocked when Mark & Yvette first got together as I didn't see it coming at all. I thought we were all just a bunch of nerdy best friends! However as time has gone on I've honestly never seen two people better suited to each other than those two. When Yvette called to say Mark had proposed in 2013 I was pretty much jumping around with happiness and excitement and crying down the phone at her. Half of me thought "but of course" and the other half thought "What's taken them so long?!"

Their wedding was so moving I'm still crying with happiness this morning! Everything about it was so perfect and beautiful. The venue was gorgeous and had been beautifully decorated. What made it even better was when you looked more carefully at everything there was actually nerdy references everywhere. For example the paper flowers on the tables turned out to be folded from the pages of Harry Potter novels, and the groom and best men all wore superhero outfits under their shirts.

You could see how much hard work everyone had put in together for the big day, and how the wedding had brought family and friends even closer than they already were.

The service was moving and uplifting, and was a wonderful blend of British and Ghanian cultures. The food afterwards was fantastic, and whilst the speeches went on for an hour after dinner, no one minded because they were all so moving and funny. Everyone kept thanking each other, and were paying compliments to how wonderful other friends and family members are. People kept saying how happy and amazing it is that two wonderful, wonderful people are now husband and wife and that two wonderful, wonderful families have come together and love and support each other. None of this was cheesy or soppy in the slightest because it was all so heartfelt and genuine.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay and celebrate long into the night as the train back to central London took an hour and I didn't want to miss the last tube train back to my hostel. But I did have chance for a good boogie with my friends and their families before dashing off into the dark.

One of the things I have really valued and been grateful for with both the hen do and the wedding this year is being able to meet all of the special people in Mark and Yvette's lives. I have now met and spoken with their friends and family that I'd previously only known by name. They are all such cool and wonderful people and I hope I can hang out with them more in the future.

The bride and groom have requested that guests refrain from putting photos online for now as they want to see their own photos first. So I will post some pics at a later date, presumedly when I've finally stopped crying over how beautiful the wedding was and how happy I am for my friends!
unallersimple: (japan poster)
Aside from visiting a lot of restaurants and doing some sightseeing around Matsue, me and Yvette also took a two day trip to Kyoto. It was really nice to go there while it was warm, sunny and free from the excessive crowding that occurs during public holidays. The city had a really beautiful and peaceful feel to it for me this time. We never rushed anywhere and we enjoyed strolling around and soaking everything in. The first day we hit the shops. I got really excited about the chance to buy more books which I started reading as soon as I got back to the hostel.

On our second day we went to a place called kiyomizu-dera. It was my third time there but it never gets any less amazing for me. Every time I notice something I never saw before. This time it was that there are statues inside the main gate protecting what's inside the temple grounds. A highlight for me this time was that without the crowds I was able to go inside one of the main buildings and tap a wooden rod against a large metal bowl (sorry I don't know the names for either of these things, but I assume they're for prayer). The sound was just beautiful. It's one of my favorite sounds of Japan, and as people were always lining up to do the same it was sounded every few seconds and created a stunning atmosphere for us to explore the grounds to.


^The main gate at the entrance to the temple. Behind the green mesh panels lie the statues I'd never noticed before.


^Yvette purifies herself before going in to the main temple. (Not that she's unclean, it's just the name for what she's doing! The way to do it is you first pour water on one hand, then the other, then rinse out your mouth with water from your hand and voila, you are clean and able to go in.





^ The pagoda and some of the temple buildings.



^The main temple building behind Yvette, on a base of wooden beams that places it high up in the trees on the hillside.


^The main building from below.

x
unallersimple: (japan poster)
It was so weird waiting for Yvette at the airport. I still couldn't believe she was really coming! It was funny that we were the only black and white people there, and conveniently this meant that it took us less than a second to spot each other in arrivals. We got the bus back to Matsue and immediately started jabbering away about how much we've changed, recent news, jet lag, the weather anything/everything else.

After a long sleep for both of us we finally dragged ourselves out somtime the next day to the lantern festival at Matsue Castle. Every weekend for a month between mid-september and mid-October the city puts lanterns decorated by local schoolchildren up around the castle and moat. The car park is filled with food stalls and you can ride around part of the moat after suset which is something you can't normally do. It's an absolutely wonderful experience as it looks so beautiful by lantern light. We wandered around for a while eating festival food then rode the boat back round to where we parked our bikes and wobbled home. She was so much better on the bike than I was this time last year. She didn't fall off once.

It was interesting to see Yvette's reactions to Japan. I've become so used to everything now, that seeing her puzzled look at people bowing or my students yelling "Riji!" at me from across the road brought back many memories of my first few months here. There was a re-awakening too of the parts of my own culture and language that I'd forgotten. It was hilarious watching her trying to discretely take a photo of someone wearing a face mask in public. She was so shocked by them.

The following day we had a picnic by the lake, wandered around Matsue castle so she could see it in daylight and stuffed ourselves full of sushi. We seemed to have started a trend then of taking photos of us either with a restaurant character or eating inside a restaurant. My photos seem to show little else!


^ Yvette meets Spiderman, who lives in Matsue when he's not staring in movies or fighting crime.


^Showing this photo to my Japanese friends produced a lot of startled reactions because of her skin colour and the fact that she was eating left handed.


^ Posing with "Big Boy", one of the amusingly named restaurant chains in Japan.


x
unallersimple: (globe)
I can't remember if I've mentioned this already or not but Yvette is coming to Japan! In a mere week she'll be stepping off the plane in Yonago. I'm so excited. Can't wait to see her but still can't believe it's really happening!

Excitement!!!!!! Yet so much cleaning left to do!!


^Oh uni days.



x

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