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18 August 2016 @ 12:35 pm
I'm back from my mini trip which was longer than I realised!

So before Tuesday last week I was having a lazy summer break. I stayed home a lot (until Pokemon Go cam out I guess) and played games and watched Netflix and Youtube.

But Dad and his girlfriend, Jan, came to Japan. Which ment a trip up to Tokyo for me! And me and Hiroshi had decided that since he only got a handful of days off for Obon and such, that we would take a few days for ourselves. Except we still hadn't decided where to go. And that would change what I needed to pack. I ended up ordering a little "small" suitcase that could act as hand luggage on a flight. Which was just as well! Since he decided on Okinawa at the last minute!

All packed! My boots took up about 1/4th of the case!

I took the shinkansen up to Tokyo because I like it and I can't be bothered to travel out of Osaka to fly to outside of Tokyo and travel in to Tokyo. We met up with my (sort-of) cousin in Shinjuku and had an awesome dinner.

I made them all do peace signs.

Next day we had a bus tour around Tokyo so they could experience as much of Tokyo as possible in one day. They really liked the tea ceremony and stone verson of teppanyaki. We finished up by going to the restaurant that inspired the fight scene in Kill Bill. Jan wasn't too impressed by the whole fished she was served, but Dad and I enjoyed our food.

I was impressed at how cheap it was considering we had a bottle of wine with dinner.

Thursday was supposed to be train hopping around Tokyo to see a few extra places, but they were kind of enthralled by the Shinjuku crossing and ended up spending about 2 hours in Starbucks watching it multiple times. We left Tokyo after a late lunch for the 2 and a half hour train ride to Kawaguchiko at the base of Mt. Fuji. Long naps were had. We were in seperate hotels, well I was in a hostel, so we parted ways for the night. Originally we were going to wait until Hiroshi arrived to go get dinner, but he'd taken the bus as it was cheaper and it'd got stuck in traffic and was going to arrive super late. I popped off to the MosBurger at the station and waited for him.

Friday was Mt. Fuji day! We got the bus to the 5th station and started to climb at about 9am.

Team photo!

Around 5th station was foggy to start with and once we got up past 6th station it cleared up a lot. Sun cream was applied liberally. It was pretty fair hiking to start with but after 7th station it got rocky. Like really rocky. As in climbing near vertical. It was very tough. There would be patches of stairs but for the most part it was picking out a route to climb on a narrow path. There were lots of rest stops on the way up with benches for little stops. Sometimes we had to just move to the side and take a sit for 5 minutes though.

Right near the top, the last 1km or so was super tough. The air was thin and it was windy as hell. Wind blowing volcanic ash in your face and eyes is not fun. But we made it! Hiroshi and I got some lunch which was expensive but well needed. Then it was the long walk down, which was made tough because of the soft ash. Needless to say there was lots of slipping. My ankle twinged a lot near the bottom, but thanks to ankle taping, Hiroshi letting me use his hiking poles and some stratigically take painkillers I got down without too much issue.

At the top and the route map.

The next morning we all took the train to Shinjuku where we said goodbye to Dad and Jan. Hiroshi and I dashed off to the airport, sent our hiking stuff home on a delayed delivery and flew off to Okinawa. We were super tired and I was bemused that the airline didn't seat us together. So I barely slept even though I wanted to.

He was very tired until I got some beer in him.

Sunday was spent taking the bus to Hiroshi's friends pizza place, we got some free beer and then a drive around to some tourist points for quick photos.

Very sunny and hot.
Monday was lazy shopping in the heat followed by night-snorkelling! It was pretty cool, but the tightness of the wetsuit and goggles gave me a headache. And Tuesday was back home! This time, we were allowed to choose our seats and we snagged the last two that were next to each other. Nap time was had. Nap time is much easier when you can steal some of the space of the person next to you.

It's two days after getting back I havce finally done all the washing and got around to cleaning my boots!

Left is somewhat rinsed. Right not so much.
13 June 2016 @ 08:21 pm
(Not gonna lie, saw perkyandproud 's update and realised I should do one...)

So. Things have finally taken a turn for the better.

First up. This new school year started with a big family implosion. Nanny passed away after suffering from kidney problems and a broken heart after Grandad died last year. I'm of the opinion that she just let it take her away so that she could be with him again. So I'm glad, she had some miserable months coming to terms with her own loss. And I'm not sure she did. I'm sure she's happy now though.

But! Once I came back to Japan, things started to get a bit better.

My lovely mountain bike busted, so I went out hunting and bought a shiney new one complete with a pannier rack on the back for all my work stuff. No more sweaty back!

I met the most wonderful dork after Golden Week through Tinder. We've been daing for just over a month. He is most certainly a geek boy. Harry Potter, LotR and I've got until July to get him up to date with Star Wars for the exhibition that's coming to Osaka.

I settled in at work. I can count on one hand the trouble students. And while they make me want to rip my hair out, I can leave it to the teacher. I've raised my voice once to the first graders at JHS, but that was a bad day in general and hasn't happened again.

Anyway! My goals!

Return to upload schedule by May -  DONE
integrate yoga into daily routine - 80% ish? Had a bunch of "meh" days after work.
update MyFitnessPal daily - 75% or so. Slipping at the weekends.
reduce wardrobe by 25 items by June - DONE
complete the 30 day challenge by September - .... no progress since last time really
learn Odaiko part of Hyuga by April  - 95% but I'm gonna strike through. I REMEMBER it. I just don't have the confidence yet to play the part alone.
be able to play Niji by the end of the year - no progress
join a class before summer vacation starts - no progress as I'm finding I have zero time to pick up something new
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12 March 2016 @ 11:33 am

Wow, it's aready March 12th. That's nuts. I meant to post at the end of February or the start of March. But things got a bit busy with having to bounce back to Osaka for a party and then it being graduation time.

In short. The “final” taiko lesson with Junya-sensei was awesome, I got to play one of the huge ass drums, tore up my hands with new blisters and got epic back ache from over stretching and reaching! Then after that we got little ol' Junya-sensei drunk at dinner and then a bunch of us carried on a karaoke for about an hour. Epic fun times.

Graduation was the same as always but it was harder to feel sad this time because I'd only been at the school with those particular students for about 3 months at that point. Some of the students took photos with me, made me glad that I took a bit of effort to fo my hair different (poofy bun). But... it was a bit spoiled with a good number of them calling me the previous ALTs name even after those 3 months. It was all followed up with a jolly drinking party with the teachers, nice fuzzy-puppy-English-teacher drove me home. I'm sure all the teachers talked about that all this last week because they do like a good gossip.

And now I've had as much confirmation about my job as I'm going to get for now, mainly that I'm going back to Osaka to a similar schedule as before. But now we're in the awkward part where the schools don't know that I'm leaving. I'm trying to pack up my things at home slowly, thankfully it has warmed up a bit so I will be able to pack up more of the wintery things. Not that I have much to pack.

I have a few bits to get rid of, someone has claimed my kettle, the teacher who I have confided in that I'm leaving wants my iron. All that's really left that I MUST get rid of is the futon and washing pole.

Well, it about 2 weeks I will be home!


30 day drawing challenge (due September) - 7 pictures done so far.
Learn 大太鼓 part of Hyuuga (due April) – Getting a bit closer, not had too much time.
Tracking food (daily) – been ill a few times, so dropped a few days. Also had a few drinking parties so that got dropped too.
Yoga (daily) – same as above.

31 January 2016 @ 12:47 pm
Well January is all but over and things are ploding along.

So with regards to my goals...
30 day drawing challenge (due September) - 3 pictures done so far.
Learn 大太鼓 part of Hyuuga (due April) - went through sheet music, found parts that were different, practiced those once/twice a week for 10 minutes. Not quite committed to memory yet.
Tracking food (daily) -  done maybe 95% of the time, have odd days here and there where I've gone out and lost track of what I've eaten. Not been able to stick to my food goals but managing to be close most days.
Yoga (daily) - again, done maybe 95% of the time. Tending to do evening sessions before bed to relax and only doing a morning session at the weekend if I know that I'm gonna be busy that evening.

As expected, this year is progressing really quickly. I've got less than 2 months to go now. Probably once March hits, I'll be in the mentality of "OMG I'm going back~~"

I've already found someone who will, if needs be, take my extra stuff - futon, kettle, iron - for any newbies if no one will take them for themselves. So at least I know that those bits won't need shipping back. Less to spend on that count!
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06 January 2016 @ 12:08 am
Happy New Year one and all!
And also Merry Christmas *cough*notlateatall*cough*

So the end of 2015 was both bad and good. Bad in that I lost my voice to laryngitis but good in that for New Year I was with friends. But let's not lament about what an awful year 2015 turned out to be with work being stupid and the loss of my Grandfather.

Now it is 2016. And I have some plans.

[Where I blather on quite a bit]

From April – get my youtube channel back up and running

  • do a collab with Sloth (Don't Starve Together)

  • start a new series for Friday uploads (probably Tomb Raider: Rise of the Tomb Raider)

  • do some more “Ocha – about Japan” videos

  • GOAL: return to upload schedule by May

Start doing either morning/evening yoga

  • Add 15 minutes to my morning routine for some basic stretches

  • Add 10 minutes to my night-time routine to loosen up for bed

  • See which one works out

  • GOAL: integrate yoga into daily routine

Get back to tracking my food

  • tracking my food intake was one of the easiest ways I found to stop eating crappy food

  • try not to be too anal about it, cheat days are things that happen

  • GOAL: update myfitnesspal daily

Wear nicer clothes

  • This may sound stupid, but I have a lot of cheap clothes that within a year or so fall apart or get stained

  • rummage through closet and draws, do a big throw out, replace with nicer things

  • try to shop at places other than Uniqlo for some variety

  • GOAL: reduce wardrobe volume by 25 items by June

Draw some more

  • This can partly be related back to point 1, I have channel assets that I have floating around in my head that need to be put to paper.

  • Also I have the 30 day challenge saved somewhere...

  • It generally makes me happy

  • And also stops me nibbling at food out of boredom

  • GOAL: complete the 30 day challenge by September

Take my own taiko playing more seriously

  • Practise swinging more regularly (3 times a week)

  • review songs in my own time, not the hour before class

  • general fitness/physical well being improvement

  • GOAL: learn Odaiko part for Hyuga by April

Play the piano

  • My goal is to be able to play Nino's Niji by the end of the year. I made it through one page last year before I had to move.

  • Sure it's complicated as fuck but since it's a song I love to sing, I want to be able to play the accompaniment myself.

  • GOAL: be able to play Niji by the end of the year

Take lessons in SOMETHING

  • I would like to start Kyudo to be more precise, and I think I know somewhere in Yao that does lessons.

  • Get back to Yao, go along, find things out.

  • If not, could always turn this into Yoga?

  • GOAL: join a class before summer vacation starts

This may sound like a lot. And realistically 1, 4, 7 and 8 can not be done until I return to Yao in April. And with some luck, if I can get started on the other and make them habits by then, they can become my new habits? We shall see.

I'll be using habitrpg to motivate myself, I was using it before but had to go “rest in the Inn” due to illness and generally being in holiday mode.

So, in review my 8 goals are

  1. return to upload schedule by May

  2. integrate yoga into daily routine

  3. update myfitnesspal daily

  4. reduce wardrobe volume by 25 items by June

  5. complete the 30 day challenge by September

  6. learn Odaiko part for Hyuga by April

  7. be able to play Niji by the end of the year

  8. join a class before summer vacation starts

I have tried to spread out the due dates of my goals, with only two being dateless as they will hopefully be things to do everyday.

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12 November 2015 @ 03:37 pm
Okay, long time, no see.

A few things have happened.

  1. I quit my job.

  2. I got a new temp job with my old company.

  3. I have to move in a few weeks.

  4. I got tonsillitis again.

My life is CHAOS
27 October 2015 @ 12:21 am

[Spoiler (click to open)]So I woke up nice and early, 6am. Considering that I usually get up at 5:30am on the weekends for work it was a nice little lay in. Amazingly when I got on my first train at 6:55am I bumped into one of the teachers that I used to work with, we had a brief chat until her station. It’s nice when that kind of thing happens. Anyway, I sort of dozed on the train and made my transfer easy enough. Now then, at the next change I had two options, leave the station and look at the bus, or go along a few more stops and get the bus from there. I chose to get off at the first option and hunt for the bus. I found the bus stop easy enough but deciphering the time table was another matter.  After getting some help from a nice passerby I learned that the next bus was in just over 30 minutes. I didn’t fancy hanging around for 30 minutes and I’d missed the connection to go along to the next possible station. I checked google for walking, but I was over an hour away from my destination on foot. So that was out too (I’d be late). I was left with one other expensive option, take a cab. So I did. Note, cabs in Japan are clean, efficient and damned expensive. I do not recommend them unless they are a last resort.

Anyway, I got to the place, Ishibutai, early and after greeting my teacher, sat and doodled for a while.

Then it was time to be useful because my purpose for being there was being “staff”. We unpacked the drums and tidied up the stage area. Then we did a warm up out on the grass before everyone introduced themselves. There were maybe 40 people from the start, including the 15 plus Yamato members/staff. So after that it was time to do food prep. I peeled carrots and daikon, radish, before washing rice. On returning to the food tent after washing rice, I realised I was kind of loitering. I noticed that Yamato’s Matsumoto-kun was stringing lights around the tents, so I went to help him. He’s a cute little shorty. We ended up working together to deal with the lights, it was good to have something to do. After several mishaps: not realising sockets were broken, having to readjust the laterns, forgetting there was another tent to do. We finished. So we gathered up the leftover stuff and headed over to where the parade floats were.

It was there that I got my first real bit of interaction with Fluffypants. We’d said hello and such, but finally we had a moment. And of course he chose to try and tease me. He said something along the lines of 「怠惰いけません」 which I had no idea what it was, after a few exhances, he must have remembered the English and he blurted out “Lazy, don’t lazy”. So I think he was trying to be playful and whatnot, but it fell flat due to language. Then it was time for lunch, but I got grabbed to help with making some displays for the Yamato performances in January. After that I finally got some lunch thanks to Midori-sensei asking me if I’d eaten yet. Which I hadn’t. So I dished up some rice for Midori-sensei, Matsumoto-kun and myself and we chowed down on some curry and rice. After lunch I kinda had a bunch of free time so I hung around the food tent and with one of the guys got the beer machine working. Of course I bought myself a beer to celebrate.

Then there was quite a lot of down time then, at least until Josh and his mum showed up. I got to “be busy” then by attempting to translate what was going on in real time for Josh’s mum. I introduced them both to Tetsuro-sensei and essentially signed Josh up for the next trial session. We sat on the grass right by the stage so that when the time came, I could essentially make sure Josh got chosen. Tetsuro-sensei was awesome considering that it was Fluffypants explaining things in a rather roundabout way, it had been Ohno-kun the first time and his voice wasn’t doing so well, and kept an eye on us. Then Josh went up to do the trial on stage and again, Tetsuro-sensei made sure that Josh knew what was going on. Then it was time to say goodbye to the two of them and let them continue their ride around the countryside of Japan.

Then there was more downtime, but I got peppered with questions about the foreigners I had been helping. Otherwise I just hung around the food tent watching what was happening on stage. There was basically a range of Japanese music… some of which was a bit weird. But one of the taiko groups that performed with Yamato backing them up was pretty awesome, we got to see Midori-sensei screw up because they were doing a different version of one of the Yamato songs.

After which Midori-sensei did what amounted to a third trial event which wasn’t planed. He called on the Yamato Juniors and any Dojo students to dash to the stage. So off we ran, as we went someone commented that we had no bachi. Thankfully we got bachi from Yamato and then we went on stage. I went over to the far side because there was lots of space. But once we were all on the stage there were still empty drums, so the Yamato members stepped in. And guess who ended up next to me. Fluffypants. Yup. Fluffypants. So I had a mini spaz and made a few mistakes because of it. I did run off the stage after though.

Yamato did one final collab with a really weird group and then we got some fireworks. After those I absolutely had to dash off to the bus stop because that was my only way back to the station in order to get home. I only stayed awake on the way home thanks to messaging my friend and then passed out at around 10pm.


[Spoiler (click to open)]This time, I didn’t have to wake up at stupid o’clock. I was able to get up at about 8am which felt glorious. I met Laura at the station and off we went. This time, we went to the 2nd station and got the bus. I think it also helped that it was later in the day and not early in the morning when we were trying to get the bus. We made good time to Ishibutai, enough time to get something to eat and slowly our classmates arrived. One of the guys had brought a sheet to sit on and we all just had a chat. Then 1pm came along and we got called over to the stage. We thought we were going to have time to practice but no, up on stage we went to perform. Needless to say we all had a bit of a panic. After our song it was time for another trial thing. We then got a break until 2:30 when a long string of taiko performances took place. We, the adult group, were 8th to go on stage. We had to practice though because our school was performing alongside another school, so things were a little different. Before we went on, I managed to have a quick chat with Futaki-kun. I asked him if he’d received the sketch I did of him.

He said he hadn’t and I explained that I had given the sketch to Midori-sensei on Thursday. He said he’d ask about it when it when he could and I showed him the photos on my phone. He seemed pleased, I hope he likes it when he actually gets it. Then we went on stage and did our song reasonably well.

Then, we were technically free from responsibility for the rest of the day. But, there was about 5-6 of us that stuck around to participate in the float parade. After a bit of a break it was time for the parade. First up there was some practice time, because hey, no one had much of a clue what was going on. I didn’t want to be uber fangirly, so I didn’t go to the float that Fluffypants was on, I went to the other one. But hey, I managed another chat with Futaki-kun and he teased me about Fluffypants. He said something along the lines of “You know Kato’s over there right? Shall I go get him?” to which I panicked and actually grabbed him by the wrist to stop him. Needless to say I think it’s kinda cool that the teasing stage has been reached, even if it sends me into a panic. Then there was more practice before we finally went off.

The route wasn’t too long, but as usual there were some hiccups, namely that the two floats couldn’t communicate. So the timing was off quite badly at points. The road was also super narrow in places, but Futaki-kun actually kept an eye out and would jump off the float now and then to help with the manouvering. On our float, there were two plus extra bits to carry, we actually had our lights go out repeatedly. Probably because it was all a bit haphazardly wired up. But we managed.

Back at the main area we got to floats back in their original place and it was time to settle in for the main event, Yamato’s performance. Our little group got some food to share out and as always, Yamato was awesome.

We had a nice opening song with them all, then the “fight” between the girls and boys, a little chappa diddty which Tetsuro-sensei had to do on his own for a while, we had the fun sit up song, in which the person next to Fluffypants on his left, Fukuda-kun, turned his drum the wrong way and they actually collided when they did sit ups. So they very quickly had to rotate it so that it wouldn’t be an issue in the song! Then there was another song that they “finished” with in which Matsumoto-kun managed to knock his big drum backwards into the bamboo sculpture that was around the stage and the girls had to jump up and support the drum until that section of the song was done! Then we did a call for the encore, but unfortunately the audience couldn’t quite get into the same rythmn so Imai-kun ran out to help us. We then got the final encore song, complete with a pin mike that didn’t want to work haha.

And as usual, Yamato all lingered around infront of the stage. Now me and Laura had managed to score a ride home with one of our classmates, so I was worried about the time. So I pleaded for a little time to go talk to Fluffypants. He was a little busy when I got there, so I waited. I got a few minutes with him, had a mini whine that I was cold, he then said he was warm and I got to cling to him arm in an attempt to steal some of his body heat. Then I backed off for a bit and found my classmates right there. Then one of them offered to take a photo for me, after a failed attempt at shooing everyone away I caved and asked him to take the photo. Now Fluffypants always manages to surprise me, he threw his arm around me and pulled me in close. I responded by putting my arm around his waist. Needless to say I got the warm fuzzies. But alas, the photo was a dud thanks to the stage lights. So we took another one facing the other way!

This time I managed to get a few words out, I told him that I was making him a hat for Christmas and showed him where I was with it, he made happy noises which made me happy too. Then it was time to actually head home!
30 September 2015 @ 11:13 am
So, last weekend I took the day off work to take part in what's called a "taiken" event for my taiko class. It was basically a day of mini trial classes for people who wanted to have a go at taiko. Then after each little trial, current students would do a mini performance.

Now since I'd taken the whole day off work, I'd planned to spend the whole day there and kinda just loiter around with teachers/classmates and take it easy. I'd also planned to make a cake since it's kinda rare to get a bunch of people together. So I planned my cake.

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Marshmallow fondant & A chocolate ganache (and Megan)
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Had to be left to set overnight in the frige. & Finally decorated! Bit lumpy bit good enough for a first attempt!

So I made the cake, finishing the decoration the morning of the event (after almost no sleep I might add), put the cake in a box and carried it over to the hall. Now, imagine the shock on my face when I get there and find not only my teachers and classmates there, but also Fluffypants. I'm glad I didn't just drop the cake right then and there. I think a combination of tireness and keeping  the cake in one piece stopped me from spazzing out. So in total we had two teachers - Midori and Tetsuro, and two other Yamato members - Imai-kun and Kato-kun (Fluffypants).

I managed to get the cake inside in the cool, and then helped out with getting everything ready. I was a bit late since I had totally misjudged how long it would take to decorate the damned cake. With Laura, I made a sign for one of the extra events, hoop toss. During such, I got some little snippets of conversations with Fluffypants. For once I actually had stuff to say. Fastforward to lunchtime and after everyone had eaten it was cake time. So as I epected, when I pulled the cake out the box my teacher wanted to take a photo, and from memory there were at least 5 other people taking a photo. Then we needed a group photo, so all but the teacher got in close and we had a quick photo. People dispersed a little bit so that there would be room to cut the cake. By some random chance, Fluffypants was the nearest Yamato member so I handed him the knife and being in Japan, people wanted another photo! I was positivly beaming because we had to hold the plate together and under the plate our hands had to be touching. Yay for a heavy cake!

Everyone! & Fluffypants and me~

Everyone tucked in, except one of the kids I think, and after lunch there was about a quater of the cake left. The day moved on and thankfully, at the end of the day after the clear up Midori wanted some more, as did Imai-kun, I then offered the last, kind big bit, to Fluffypants and he was adorable. About halfway into eating his slice, he decided that he was just going to cram the rest of it in his mouth.

So, I had a fantastic day, I got to hang out with Fluffypants when he wasn't off promoting the event (yeah, he kept getting sent walk-a-bouts with flyers) and play lots of taiko! Admittedly I both got a blister on my hand and popped it, but it was worth it.
16 September 2015 @ 01:31 pm
Woo! I finished with my Never Alone LP! So it's time for another one! This time it's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess!

This is one of my favourite Zelda games, right up there with Ocarina and Majora. I loved the visuals and the story that resolved less around the triforce as a maguffin which we were chasing after to keeping Hyrule safe from otherworldly attackers. Some of the later dungeons freaked me out, and while it's not as lighthearted as say Wind Waker, it's not as dark as Majora's Mask.

Now one of the reasons that I chose to do this Zelda, and not Ocarina or Majora is because while I know TP quite well, I played the Wii version as a kid. And this time I'm playing the GameCube version. So all the maps are flipped. Which means there is a good chance I will turn myself around and run into walls (or death) because it's not exactly how I remember it. We will see! Hopefully it will be good, albeit long, and I hope that anyone who watches enjoys it!
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06 September 2015 @ 09:10 pm
Well then,

Summer has come and gone. And as usual, life chooses to be an annoying thing. Work is going okay, having a month or so away from that JHS was really good for getting rid of the stress in my system. But then I lost my Grandad. I had some warning, my dad had called me one weekend to tell me that Grandad had had a heart attack and was recovering in the hospital. Two days later I got a call actually to my phone. Which is never a good sign. Grandad had passed away in the hopsital. Cue keeping feelings at bay and trying to get time off to fly home. Thankfully, my boss was super understanding and let me take a leave of absence. Sure no pay for those days I was missing, but it worked in my favour I guess.

I took a few extra days to spend time with family and friends. I couldn't see everyone, because not many people knew that I was even back. But I had a good time. And attending the funeral really helped me with the grieving process.

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Wine with a kimono cover, my beloved katana (the black one is real) and my baby sisters.

Anyway. Since I got back, I've got a few things in motion.

1st - I got in contact with my old company and have let them know that I'm interested in going back to them next year. They've "penciled me in" which basically means they want me back, but can't guarantee anything. So come the New Year I have to get back in touch and we'll see what happens. I've also negociated a slight payrise. Which will really help me out.

2nd - I started recording my new LP! The Never Alone LP is all recorded with only a little left to go! So after that a new series will begin! Here's the playlist! The new one is having a few video issues, but I'm hoping to sort them out!

3rd -  I'm going to try and get back into baking! I really want to challenge myself a bit with something a little different. I've looked into alternatives for fondant icing because I've not found it here. And I found a receipe for marshmallow icing! I'm looking to try and make something this month as a sort of trial run. It'll probably add up cost wise, but I think it would be worth it!

I'll keep you posted!