Sunday, 3 December 2017

Where we have been in 2017? Japan and elsewhere

So, you may well have given up hope of me ever writing another blogpost again. I think time has just rather run away from me...something I am thinking very seriously about at the moment (more below). So, let me fill you in on the past few (ahem) months.

Well, the big highlight of this period was our incredible trip to Japan. You can find all our photographs in the 'Photos' section of the blog. Suffice to say, I think Japan is my favourite place in the world. We loved the food, the people, the culture, the mix of crazy madness and quiet zen, the incredible public transport, the fact that Totoro is everywhere. We flew into Tokyo (via Doha, one of our favourite places the change planes) and spent a few days exploring this capital's many interesting districts. We took a trip up into the Nikko National Park and spent happy hours in smokey old skool arcades playing 'Street Fighter II'. We then took a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, a trip I have wanted to do for years. It was incredible to zoom past the Japanese countryside at a million miles an hour. Kyoto is a very different city, full of little streets and geishas and amazing temples. And more excellent food (D got quite addicted to these wee omelettes with sausage inside wrapped in nori seaweed - better than it sounds!). While staying there we did a day trip (using our wee Japan Rail Passes, which we used until they fell apart) to Hiroshima. I wasn't that keen on visiting this city (seems a rather odd place to go on your holidays) but I am so glad we did. It was the most mournful and yet peaceful place I have ever been. It has the most horrendous history but is now a vibrant city, rebuilt after such horror. It felt strangely uplifting in a way that I am not sure I can explain. We also caught the ferry to Miyajima, one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The cable car was a pretty exciting way to journey up the mountain. We travelled back via Amsterdam (a place I had visited earlier in the summer for a conference). There were so many highlights from our trip - do take a look at our pictures and follow our amazing journey.

Lots of other stuff has been going on - fun weddings, some cricket, visits from our family and friends, trips to Edinburgh and Oxford (partly work, partly fun). University life has been hectic and full - teaching, new articles to write, proofs to complete, and, just a couple of weekends ago, our first proper public engagement wrestling event as part of Being Human. It was a terrific night and, in a bucket-list moment, fantastic wrestler Mark Haskins 'cut a promo' on me at the start. Pretty awesome stuff (check out our instagram feed).

All this has been terrific, but it has also been a time of more yucky illness and a struggle to find real balance in life. I think I have probably always found this quite hard - I have a tendency to really throw myself into work. But I have begun to realise more and more the importance of finding balance, peace and rest, as well as other things to inspire and opportunities to serve. I am spending December (when I am not preparing for Christmas, marking assessments, finishing a journal article and doing a few pleasant travels) really trying to develop this balance. It is an interesting, sometimes challenging project.

So, from us to you, we wish you a wonderful, peaceful Christmas time wherever you are in the world.