Wednesday 19 December 2012

Christmas is coming...

Only 5 days until Christmas and today my annual package from my parents in London arrived!!

Inside was the gravy I asked for to make the sauce for Christmas dinner and a selection of 3 mini Christmas cakes...with no strawberries in sight ;)

I am getting excited now...

COMING SOON...Top Ten Christmas Tunes!!

Sunday 16 December 2012

Stop to smell the roses

In class last week we had the phrase 'See the bigger picture'. It reminded me of one of my favourite sayings, 'Stop to smell the roses'.

Everyone should take time to 'stop and smell the roses'

Both have a similar meaning. Slow down for a minute, take a look at your life, ignore your problems for a while and see the positive things in your life.
This is something that we all need to do every now and again. Especially at the end of the year.
In Japan there are many "End of year parties" (in Japanese 'forget the year' party) which I always thought was a strange, however forward thinking, idea. Why would anyone want to forget the year that they had just lived?
Every year on New Year's Eve I sit alone for a few minutes and think about everything that had happened that year, and how I will learn from the mistakes I had made, to make the next year a little better, and just to take a minute to 'stop and smell the roses'.

2012 has been a great year for's to 2013!! (if the world doesn't end on December 21st ;)

Saturday 8 December 2012

Santa Claus is coming to town

It is this time of year that I start to feel homesick. Christmas in London holds so many good memories for me that when December the first comes around and Christmas songs start appearing around town the memories come flooding back.
I was feeling especially homesick the other day and decided to take a look on the internet at the most famous Christmas lights in London, in Oxford Street, which are sponsored by Marmite (the smelly brown foodstuff that I love)

 Then I found a link to another set of Christmas lights in Carnaby Street and I love them!!
I know they are not particularly Christmassy but the design and the presentation are wonderful.
I just wish I could go there to see them in person and walk around in the freezing, rainy evening air, eating a bag of roasted chestnuts and feeling that special Christmas feeling.

Oh by the way, as I mentioned Christmas music here is my all time favourite Christmas song...enjoy :)

Saturday 1 December 2012

Great drawing

Yesterday, in an elementary school class I was doing 'He is wearing.../ She is wearing...' and learning some clothing and we were drawing some outfits for a listening/comprehension exercise.

I asked them to draw two pictures...

The first 'He is wearing a big, old, striped T-shirt', the second 'She is wearing a small, new, polka dot T-shirt'.

One of my students in the class, Miss A drew this really nicely...

...and Mr T drew this...

I love his imagination.
He is always sketching before and after class, and he is getting better and better. I can't wait to see what he draws next time!

Monday 19 November 2012

Skin colour?

Last week I was teaching a kid's class and we were doing some colouring.
One of my kids asked me if I had 'skin colour' (肌色)

My first thought was 'What is skin colour?'

Whatever colour 'skin colour' is, it certainly isn't the colour which is called 'skin colour' in Japan, which is a mix of brown, orange and pink.
I have never seen anyone in my life with skin that colour!! If I did I would probably tell them to go to the nearest hospital!

Later I was thinking about it some more and remembering some of the differences between Japan and England.

In England, where there are so many people of different ethnic origins living together, it is definitely NOT OK to say skin would be considered racist, or offensive to anyone whose 'skin colour' is not the same colour as the resulting crayon.

England is the land of pc (politically correct) language. A place where it is not OK to sing the children's song 'Ba ba black sheep' for fear of offending people of African origin. A place where it is not OK to say 'policeman' because it may offend women.

The phrase 'politically correct' means language which cannot be offensive to anyone, or group of people, and I couldn't help but think that 'skin colour' could be offensive to most people...

Today I was surfing the web and came across this image which I think sums it up better than I ever could...true 'skin (flesh) colour'

The next time someone says '肌色', stop to think 'Exactly whose 'skin colour' is this?'

Tuesday 30 October 2012

say / tell

I am often asked "What is the difference between 'say' and 'tell'?"

The meaning, of course, is very similar but the way to use them is different.

to tell (someone) (something)
to tell (someone) about (something)
to tell (someone) to (do - ) 

to say (something)
to say (something) to (someone)


He told me a story.
He told me about his plans for the weekend.
He told me to sit down.

He said (that) he was hungry.
He said 'hello' to her.

Sometimes you can use either to say the same thing...

He said he was hungry = He told me (that) he was hungry

He said "Sit down" = He told me to sit down

Hope this helps...if you have any questions please comment below :)

Sunday 14 October 2012

Amazing voice

I was just reading the news and I came across a piece about a new singer who is currently the favourite to win 'The X Factor', a UK TV talent show and I can see why...

She is only 16 years old but she has one of the most amazing raw voices I have ever heard...

Then last week on the show she sang Minnie Ripperton's 'Loving You' is amazing

Friday 12 October 2012

Bumped into...

'Bumped into' is a very useful verb to know...

Last week I was out for a walk around Kure with my wife and I bumped into 3 of my students with their mum.
They are only 4 years old and they are triplets!!

I really enjoy teaching them and, because they have been coming to me for around 2 years now, their English is very natural and their pronunciation is excellent...

thank you Mr K, Mr F and Miss K and see you soon :)

Wednesday 3 October 2012

get into / be into

One of my students said in class 'I got into Jazz music now'

What she wanted to say was 'I am into Jazz music now / at the moment'

To 'get into' expresses a change over time from not liking something to liking it...

'Last year I got into cooking' means before last year you didn't like cooking, but now you do, so...

'Now I am (really) into cooking'

We use 'be into' with 'now' or 'at the moment'

'I am (really) into going to the gym at the moment'

We use 'get into' a lot with 'last...' or 'recently'

'I got into painting very recently'

Hope this helps :)

Friday 28 September 2012


My friend who works in a children's ward at a hospital in Hiroshima asked me to make a poster to keep visiting children out of the ward. It had to be eye-catching enough to stop them entering, so I came up with STOP MAN.

She just sent me pictures of the final posters in place...

I was really glad to be able to help :)

Monday 10 September 2012


We just came back from our 2 week tour to London. This year we took 10 students with us and we had a great time. We did a lot more than last year and definitely saw more of London, ate more food and drank more beer...
Everyone had a great time and you can see a lot more pictures if you follow the link below

See you !

Sunday 12 August 2012


I am looking forward to going to London so much that I decided to draw a picture of one of the places that holds most memories for me in London, Berwick Street in Soho...I will be walking this street very soon : )

Thursday 2 August 2012

CUE in the Chugoku Newspaper

Good morning!!
Today the new issue of Cue was published...

On page 2 there is an article about London... ME!!!

Summer holidays

So it is summer holidays time again and so it is time to visit Hiroshima's art galleries for kid's events.
Every year, through-out the summer holidays, Hiroshima Contemporary Art Museum (my favourite place in the city) and Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum hold special art events for kids, which are usually free to enter.
So this week I took my 7 year old daughter to the Prefectural Art Museum to do some drawing on the floor!!

It was busy when we arrived but my daughter soon picked up some crayons and started, a little tentatively at first, to draw on the walls and floor. By the time we left she was jumping up and down with crayons in her hands trying to draw as high as she could on the wall, and climbing on me to get to the top.

We had a great time and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something to do with the kids.

Then afterwards we left the back entrance and went to see Shukkeien. It was the first time I had been there but it is so relaxing and tranquil that I will definitely be going back again soon.

Saturday 28 July 2012

London Olympics 2012

I have never been the biggest fan of the Olympics, and actually London people in general are not that interested in them either, however this year, because the games are being held in my home town, it is a little different.

On Saturday morning I woke up a little late and switched on the TV to catch the end of the opening ceremony and I was pleasantly surprised.
When I heard that the opening ceremony was being directed by Danny Boyle (a movie director most famous for directing 'Trainspotting' and 'Slum Dog Millionaire') I immediately thought "Oh no! This will be another attempt by Britain to try to look 'cool' in the eyes of the world, which will undoubtedly fall flat on it's face", but this time I was wrong.

It had history, heritage, respect, multi-culturalism and was, on whole, a fantastic representation of everything that is still 'great' about Britain.

However the jewel on the crown for me was the torch lighting ceremony.

The 'Olympic Cauldron' which consisted of 204 copper 'petals' (one to represent each nation taking part in the games) was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, a British designer also recently made famous fro his redesigning of the iconic London bus for the 21st century.

It was absolutely stunning.

It was one of those moments of design beauty that makes the problems of everyday life melt away and leaves you feeling totally fulfilled. And for once it was British. I felt British pride for the first time in many years.

Tuesday 24 July 2012


I went to the doctor today to have my cast taken off!! Finally I am free!

I have spent the last 4 weeks in itchy hell...I cannot tell you how good it feels to have it off.
However I still have a couple of weeks of physiotherapy ahead of me until I get the movement back into my hand.

I love my hand...happy happy day :)

Sunday 15 July 2012

Real Ale

There aren't many things I miss about England. Since the arrival of the internet I have been able to catch up on all my UK telly, buy import goods which are delivered directly to my door, read all of the London news and stay in touch with my family and friends via e-mail and Skype.
However one of the things I have missed, and one of my favourite things about going back to London, is British real ale.
Brewed in small quantities in local breweries around the UK, these ales are made from centuries old recipes and are made using the finest natural ingredients, including the best UK hops, which give ale it's deep, distinctive, often fruity, taste.
When I went back to London in March this year and stayed with my parents, me and my dad went shopping together every day and bought a different ale to drink each night. It was heaven!

I have never seen British ale in my 9 years in Japan, until last week when I was out shopping in Hiroshima.

I was in Tokyu Hands!! looking for some art materials, leaving the shop empty handed, when, as I was coming down the escalator, a display of 'Belgian Beer' caught my eye.
As I walked towards it I suddenly saw, at the edge of the display, 2 bottles of British ale!
I had to check that I wasn't dreaming...then took them to the till and bought them.

For the last 2 nights I have had a bottle a night and, if I close my eyes, I could be back in London, sitting in my local pub, drinking.

I have to go back to get some more...I have my fingers tightly crossed that they haven't sold out!

Wednesday 11 July 2012


Hello everyone.
I am so sorry it has been so long since I wrote my last blog post.
A few weeks ago I fell off a ladder and broke my wrist!

So now I am in a cast, can't use my right hand and am having trouble doing anything...
Hopefully my cast will be off soon and I can get back to writing more posts
Take care and be careful on ladders!

Tuesday 12 June 2012

I Want My Hat Back

I love reading to my kids and I am always looking for new English books to read to them.
When I was a child I used to, and still do, love children's books which adults can enjoy too and with some dark humour.
I found this book, called 'I Want My Hat Back' on the net and, after reading the reviews, bought it.
It is so good!
It is funny, the illustrations are fantastic and it has the best dark twist at the end!
I recommend it to everyone, adults and children

Friday 1 June 2012

I said I would...

This is something that often comes up in class.

"I said (that) I would (do...)"

It is a very useful phrase to remember for talking about the past. It is usually used to talk about past plans you had which didn't happen in the end.

"I said (that) I would meet her at the station but she didn't show up"

"I said (that) I wanted to be a pilot but I failed the exams"

It is used often when talking about others' promises to you which were broken...

"My wife said (that) she would buy me a new coat for my birthday but she didn't"

Please try to make your own sentences with the phrase and try to use it in conversation


Friday 25 May 2012


When we went to London in March we were walking around in east London one day and we came across a young woman painting a mural onto a wall. We stopped to watch her work for a few minutes and asked her if it was ok to take some pictures. Then we left and I never thought any more about it...

Yesterday I was surfing the net and I suddenly came across this video of a stop frame animation, and it is the same piece we stopped to look at !
It is fantastic ! Apparently the whole animation took 3 weeks to finish and the resulting video footage was edited down to this 3 minute video.
Please check it out...

Thursday 17 May 2012

LONDON #2 - Street Art

Sorry I have been away for so has been hectic for the last month.

Any way back to business!

I am a big fan of 'street art', which used to be graffiti until it branched out into other areas of publicly displayed 'art works'.
London is covered in 'street art' and while I was there I took many photos of the best pieces I saw, and here they are for you...I hope you like them :)