Merry effing Christmas!

Dear valued readers, lets take a look back at what I was doing this time last year. I fondly remember spending most of it trying not to panic about this trip and in the company of a wonderful person (you know who you are). We spent Xmas wandering round, eating and drinking and spending generally a lot of quality downtime together. At the time I was probably boring this person a lot with the constant chat of how I have been giving up working, the plan and so on and so fourth.

I sometimes think about the year that has passed and have to pinch myself. Looking at where I am now both physically and mentally they sort of feel like two separate people. The person I was a year ago was not a horrible person but they are not the person I am today if that makes any sense whatsoever. Okay I admit it, I’m rambling, not filling in time but really unsure new to put things in my head into words.

All in all I feel so grateful. Grateful that I finally kicked myself (with help from others) up the arse and got myself out to experience what I have. I have planned many times to put a thank you list together but I never have because reading (and hearing) them I think are incredibly dull. If at any point you have encouraged me to take this trip on, do something about my depression, find myself or given me any sort of encouragement I’d like to thank you if I have not already. This is usually where I get tearful because I realise on just how much I have missed out before now and how sometimes I was so introverted I would let nobody in because I was so afraid of being hurt or having no energy left for me. I also realise just how amazing the people are that care about me and have supported me in my decision in following a dream I have had for at least 7 years, thank you.

So with that aside let me just say hello from Nozawa Onsen where I will be spending the month WWOOFing in a pension. Nozawa has 13 Onsen’s (hot springs) in town and they are virtually all free. The water I guess is a toasty 40+ °C and takes some getting used to but is full of nutrients for the body no doubt. Pension Tannenhof is up in the snow covered hills of Nozawa and they get a fair bit of snow up here that I can tell you. I have yet to go up to the top of the hill but the view from a high point in the town is beautiful.

Nozawa panorama

The work (at the moment) is not physical, things like changing beds, pressing sheets, helping out in the dining room and things like that. There is a hell of a lot to remember, what cutlery goes where, what certain bits of crookery are called in Japanese, what rubbish goes in what bit and so on. Of course this is all compounded by the woman of the house, we call her “Okasan” meaning mother. She feeds us well but being distinctly Japanese of course she has that strive for perfection within her and demands such things from her WWOOFers. I have come to expect this from the Japanese, it’s endearing and at times frustrating. Her children are of course all grown up and expert Ski instructors, in fact ski instructors come to them to be taught. It’s not that festive here unless you count all of the snow but I must admit even as a person who does not really enjoy the commercial concept of Christmas Okasan knows how to make decorations. She is a whizz with some origami, just take a look at this.

Origami Christmas

Yes these are all made out of paper, impressive huh. So yeah I am surrounded by snow, skiing , snowboarding and the like for the next month. I have enquired how much it’s going to cost me to hire things to learn more about this sport and was not happy with thew price. Boots alone are ¥1,500 a day (about £9), per day, okay I could probably afford to do it for a few days and I probably should do it but really that sort of price stops me. I am in miser mode, spending only on what I gain benefit from. As much as I would like to try snowboarding it can wait until I go to a place with money that I can spend on it. On top of that I have no insurance, which if I bail hard then that would be a pretty big issue.

The other WWOOFers here are from Taiwan and Hong Kong, they speak some English, some Japanese but mostly Mandarin so I get left out of most of the conversations and activities they do together. You may think that this is horrible but actually I don’t mind, they chatter around me and I drift off into a world of my own. I get a lot of time to myself to write, read, think and learn. Seriously this is one of the best experiences I have ever had, I feel so lucky to be here. Over the last few days I have put together a little video all who read this, all who know me and all who don’t. Merry Christmas one and all.

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