Friday, 27 November 2015

Singapore Vlog Part 1: Dinner & Night Sights

Good Day Everyone,

When hubby and I left Japan, we did a stopover in Singapore where we had lived prior to Japan, before returning home to the UK. It was an absolute joy to be back in Singapore. It felt so familiar and comfortable, and best of all communication was easy :o). Singapore has four official languages of which English is one. Although living in Japan was an unforgettable experience, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy being back in a country where I knew my way around, could order things of a menu without having to resort to a translation app first, and use public transport with such ease that it was as natural as breathing. Oh Singapore, how I missed thee!
The Gateway Building
The Gateway looks two dimensional from certain angles
I vlogged bits of our time in Singapore so that I could share some of the sights and architecture with you. Singapore is a great place for modern, contemporary architecture and is home to some iconic structures. I love The Gateway building which you can see in the photos above. These two structures actually look two dimensional from some angles, almost as though they were made from a thin sheet of paper due to the particularly sharp angles. You can see the first of the three Singapore vlogs below.
As we arrived on the weekend, hubby and I spent some time catching up with my cousin and a couple of our friends. In this particular vlog, we headed out for dinner to the Arab Street area of Singapore where there are lots of colourful shop houses. We had some delicious Turkish food, including this vermicelli dessert that was topped with crushed pistachios and sat in a pool of ever so slightly sweetened cream - yummy! After dinner, we headed to one of Singapore's oldest tea places so that hubby could have his favourite teh tarik - a milky sweet tea made with evaporated/condensed milk that is served in a plastic bag with a straw! The elderly man at this stall has been serving teh tarik for decades and his little stall is always busy.
Vermicelli Dessert
Now no trip to Singapore is complete without a night time visit to the Marina Bay area. This part of Singapore is home to some of it's most iconic buildings and the whole place looks incredible when it is all lit up. I've always felt that Singapore looks particularly beautiful at night, and it's so much easier to enjoy when the temperature and humidity has dropped a little, although I was still a sweaty betty ;o).
Singapore Flyer (ferris wheel), Helix Bridge, ArtScience Museum (white lotus flower shape) & Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Whilst walking off the calories from dessert, we saw that there were numerous Ferrari cars parked outside the iconic Fullerton Hotel (which is a stunning building and used to be the old general post office), and naturally the boys wanted to go take a closer look.
Ferrari on Tour
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our stop off in Singapore and I hope to have the next post up soon :o).

Love Sheen xxx
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Friday, 20 November 2015

From Stables To House: We Are In!

Good Day Everyone,

I am beyond excited to type these words - we have, after almost six months of living in Cora the Caravan, finally moved into our house! We are no longer living in a space that was about the size of our bathroom in Japan. Hubby and I can now move without bumping into/stepping on each other and it feels wonderful :o).
Apologies for the poor quality photo but I've not had chance to take any recently
Whilst the sense of space feels wonderful, the reality is still some way away. The house is very much a building site. We have no internal doors, no finished rooms, nothing to sit on bar the bed but we are inside, and that is the most important thing. It has very much been the weather that has accelerated our move to the inside. The torrential rain was one thing, but coupled with the gale force winds, it was becoming increasingly difficult to sleep in Cora. Especially when we could hear the trees creaking as they swayed crazily above us. Oh the nights when we've laid awake debating the possibility of a tree coming down on us! The wind has been so severe on some days that Cora has actually rocked and swayed herself, and I've wondered if we'd wake up finding ourselves drifting in the sea in our metal home... dramatic I know, but very real in my dream let me tell you!

In an ideal world, we would have liked the renovations to be a bit further along before moving in but the temperature has dropped significantly this week, and with there being no end in sight on the rain/wind front we decided to take the plunge. Luckily the basic necessities are in place. We have heating, hot water, a working toilet, sink and bath (no shower yet), and we have a kitchen sink and hob (but no refrigerator so we continue to use the one in Cora), oh, and a bed of course.

Now that we feel a bit more sheltered from the elements, we can hopefully start to sleep a little better - once we become accustomed to all the strange noises the house itself makes ;o). It also means that we (when I say 'we' I mean hubby, for the most part) can carry on working later into the night and make some good headway in the coming weeks.

If you're facing weather conditions anything like what we have here in the UK, then I hope you manage to stay safe and dry :o).

Love Sheen xxx
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Thursday, 12 November 2015

From Stables To House: #4 General Update

Good Day Everyone,

I finally have another update on the From Stables To House renovation. If you missed the previous update then you can catch up here. I haven't done an update for a few weeks and there are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, a lot of the work has been a bit more behind the scenes (like sorting out the wiring, plumbing and reconnecting our mains water supply). Secondly, hubby and I have been finding living in a caravan a bit tough lately. We have been living in our metal tin for five months now! Five very long months! The weather has turned colder and we've had a lot more rain recently, which means we barely get any sleep on rainy nights because the raindrops make so much noise when they hit the caravan roof. Even if the rain stops, we then get water dripping from the trees above falling onto the caravan. We are also experiencing some very severe winds at the moment, and being by the coast means we are getting the worst of the crazy weather. I've spent nights wondering if the trees at the back of the house are going to come down on top of the caravan!

Aside from that, we miss being able to take baths and having a nice bathroom... actually forget bathroom, we just missing having a nice home. A home where we have a fully functioning kitchen with a decent sized refrigerator, and our personal belongings around us. Another thing that's been making me a bit unhappy is that our diet isn't as clean and healthy as it usually is. We find ourselves snacking a lot more (on the not so healthy stuff), and opting for the convenience and ease of cooking pasta or eating bread/wraps, given the kitchen limitations in the caravan. I am so carb-ed out right now that I cannot wait until we can start using our new kitchen - I'll be gorging on oven roasted vegetables, smoothies and salads :o).
We now have painted window frames
Finally, we've just had a bit of a challenging time with some of the tradesmen. We've had people accept jobs and then not turn up or turn up a week later than agreed... a whole week late! This obviously has a knock on effect on the works schedule. We've also been a bit frustrated with some workmen just being very careless when onsite. We've had several packs of tiles broken, wires have been drilled through, walls have been damage... all accidentally of course, but nonetheless it still costs us money to then put right other people's mistakes. I guess people aren't that diligent when it's not their money or home that's at stake.We are currently a month behind where we should be and that delay is purely down to people not turning up for work on time and rectifying mistakes made by others.

On a more positive note, we've had our boiler installed and being able to run the underfloor heating is a real joy as a lot of the work we are doing now is inside the house. Things are progressing as you'll see in the video above, and this is keeping hubby and I motivated to push on.
Due to the wet weather, we have been prioritising getting the gutters and drainpipes up. Restrictions from the conservation officer mean that we have had to replace all of the plastic gutters and drainpipes with cast iron ones. As these are quite expensive new, hubby has been collecting second hand ones for over a year now from ebay and various online sites. We've had to buy some new pieces, but overall, hubby's initiative of searching for these months before we actually needed them has helped to keep the cost down significantly :o). In the photo above you can see hubby cleaning up a second hand drainpipe that was painted bright green. Once the paint was removed, we painted it in a rust coloured primer for additional protection from the sea air, before painting it in our chosen colour which is lichen by Farrow and Ball. Lichen is a beautiful sage green that we've used not only on the gutters and drainpipes, but also on the window frames and external door frames. The colour looks slightly washed out on the gutters and drainpipes due to the rusty coloured primer underneath, but on the window and door frames it is a little bit darker and a bit more green. Hubby and I both love the colour and feel that it compliments the natural stone of the building really well with it being quite an earthy and muted green. 
More recently hubby and I have been busy painting the upstairs. The transformational effect of painting the walls and ceilings is quite amazing. All of a sudden we feel that the upstairs isn't too far of from being finished. Hubby has also been working on getting the family bathroom fitted and tiled. As soon as a bedroom and bathroom are ready, we can move out of the caravan and into the house, whilst we complete the rest of the work, and that will be a momentous occasion indeed :o).

Love Sheen xxx
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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

JVlog #26: Last Week In Japan - Shinjuku & Yokohama

Good Day Everyone,

This blog post is a continuation from the previous one (you can read that here) of our last week in Japan. By the time it came to our final week, hubby and I were absolutely exhausted, both physically and mentally. Moving homes is no easy feat and when you add a change of country into the mix then you're definitely taking it up a level. Our bodies and minds craved complete bed rest, but we found that we couldn't just take it easy and chill out at our hotel. We felt the need to be out and about, making the most of the limited time we had left in this amazing country, because otherwise we may regret doing nothing during our last few days. We had to make the most of the time we had left. 
Hanazono Shrine
Hanazono Shrine
On this particular day though, I did leave hubby to rest up in the hotel, as I wandered out. We were staying in a part of Shinjuku that was quite different to where we normally visit and so I took my vlogging camera and went exploring. I came across the Hanazono Shrine which I'd walked past the previous day but didn't have time to walk around then. The shrine is situated on a main road and used to form part of the Imperial Gardens. The buildings at the shrine have been redeveloped over the years to what's currently on the site today as some of them were damaged during World War II. You can see more in the vlog below, as well as the rest of our final week in Japan.

By the time I'd finished wandering around the shrine, hubby had joined me and we spent the rest of the day in the main shopping district of Shinjuku before heading back to Yokohama the next morning. 
Cruise ship at Osanbashi Pier in Yokohama
Back in Yokohama, we had to finish packing up our shipping boxes as they were being collected soon. We did, however, take a break from the packing and head down to the bay one last time. It was such a glorious day that we couldn't spend all of it indoors, especially as it was forecasted to rain on our last day in Yokohama, so you know... we had to make the most of it ;o). We headed to Rinko Park, our local park, and walked along the waterfront where we spotted a huge cruise ship at Osanbashi Pier. Naturally, we had to go take a closer look. We then went to Nihon Odori back to the Turkish restaurant that we'd been to numerous times to say goodbye to the family that run it and grab a bite to eat. 
Minato Mirai 21, Yokohama
MM21 all lit up at night
We ended the day with heavy hearts as we walked back from Nihon Odori, taking in the sights that we'd become so accustomed to, one last time. That night we'd be moving our suitcases into our final hotel near Yokohama station, and we knew that we would not be coming back to Minato Mirai 21, the place that had been our home for the past nine months, again. So we lingered around just a bit longer, taking in the sunset and watching MM21 light up at night, for the last time (and wiping a few tears as we did).
Cosmo World amusement park, Yokohama
Whilst leaving Japan was very sad, hubby and I were immensely grateful for having had the opportunity to live in one of the most unique countries we'd ever visited. It also made me glad that I'd taken the somewhat bold step (bold for me anyway) of vlogging as now we had captured memories that we could relive via my videos :o).

Once we'd boarded our flight to Singapore the next morning, the excitement of arriving to our previous home was starting to take over from the sadness of leaving our current one. I did do some vlogging whilst in Singapore and I hope to share that with you in the coming weeks.

Although this is my last Japan vlog, it is by no means the end of my Japan blog posts (or videos about Japan) for I have many things that I still want to share with you, including all the things that we bought before leaving Japan. However, all that may take a little time as we wait for our shipping boxes to arrive and try to progress with our house renovations, but I will get there :o).

Love Sheen xxx
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