January ... Meh.

So Santa's been 'n' gone, the snow's been replaced by rain (actually, that's kind of a good thing - more on why later!) and work is back to normality.

I shouldn't moan - I've had a really great Christmas, and was off from the 23rd Dec-4th Jan, which is pretty good. I got some fantastic gifts, many of them Japan-related (and many of those were Japanese sweets - brilliant!). The candies included some DIY sushi-style sweets, with little sachets and moulds that you used with water to make jellies that look like rice, ikura, tuna and other fish, as well as black icing to roll out (with the mini-rolling pin included) as nori. Not only was it delicious, but it was very fun, and clever, too - I was particularly impressed by the ikura, which was made by mixing up a sweet, red liquid, then dropping it with a pipette (also included!) into a sweet solidifying solution. This satisfied the amature physicist in me as well as the candy-loving child in me!

I won't list every one of my gifts here (as much as I may want to!) but I would like to thank everyone for picking such great gifts and making it a wonderful Christmas. I hope i was able to play a part in doing the same for them.

I began the New Year with a renewed determination to learn katakana, and to my surprise I've done really well! Thanks to the 'Survive! Japanese' phone app on the Android Marketplace. In just two days I've pretty much got it. Compared to the two months it took me to learn hiragana... I really am very impressed with this game - cliched though it may be, it actully does make learning fun. This means I'm able to move on to kanji, which is more of a challenge to me, as my handwriting is terrible. Louise got me a kanji practice book though so I'm having fun trying (no matter how childish my scrawl may be).

Mini Blog-In-A-Blog: Snow.

Normally, I love the snow. My last post was testament to this (wow, that was a long time ago now i think about it). But last week the UK's Big Freeze really upped the ante. We'd already had our share of disruption, before six inches fell in under an hour, which is rather a lot for here. the Councils just aren't geared up for it, and started running out of grit. The roads ground to a halt. We left work three hours early at 4.30pm but still didn't get home until gone half-past 10. And I'm sure there's people out there who had it even worse, too. So as beautiful as snow may be, the fact this particular bout has turned to steady torrential rain is not necessarily a bad thing.

On the plus side, I did see this incredible satellite photo on the BBC last week. No PhotoShop or colour-correction here - this is genuine!

I hope you all kept warm and safe wherever you are - Rob

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