tokyo_mb: (Default)
Thanks to an invite from [personal profile] lilitufire I am now at Dreamwidth as [personal profile] tokyo_mb. Don't know how much I will use it, but it seems like all the cool kids are now getting Dreamwidth accounts so didn't want to be left out.

All of my LJ Friends have been given access using OpenID. If you have a Dreamwidth account you can add me to your circle (or whatever).
tokyo_mb: (Default)

Originally posted at and all 275 (!) photos link back to there.

Lisa and I went to Australia in (northern hemisphere) summer 2008 on an independent tour we arranged with the help of Wilderness Australia - who offer "tailor made safaris" and tailored us this combination of cities, resorts and wilderness.  This was a holiday of a lifetime and I wanted to get these photos and the links up so others can benefit from our experiences if they are planning a trip "down under". Our itinerary was as follows:

  • 25 July: Travel from Tokyo to Sydney overnight.
  • 26-27 July: Sydney sightseeing including catching up with friends Jane Riley and Megan Wakeley, and a visit to Sydney Zoo. Stayed at the Blue Hotel. [Photos 1 to 17]
  • 28 July: Travel to Melbourne, stayed at The Langham Hotel.
  • 29-30 July: Melbourne sightseeing, including catching up with Anna Chua and great dining at The Press Club and at MoVida Melbourne. [Photos 18 to 32]
  • 31 July: Depart Melbourne driving along the Great Ocean Road, viewed the Twelve Apostles, stayed at Oscars Waterfront Boutique Hotel and dined at The Merrijig Inn where we had the best meal of our whole holiday. [Photos 33 to 51]
  • 1 August: Drive from Port Fairy to Robe in some pretty inclement weather, stayed at Ann's Place in Robe.
  • 2 August: Drive from Robe to Adelaide Airport and take a flight to Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, from where we are collected by Mandy Brown from Seascape at Emu Bay where we thoroughly enjoy the next two nights. [Photos 52 and 53]
  • 3 August: Touring Kangaroo Island by Landrover Discovery with Escape Tours of Kangaroo Island. [Photos 54 to 73]
  • 4 August: Touring Kangaroo Island followed by flight back to Adelaide and stayed at the Hyatt Regency Adelaide. [Photos 74 to 96]
  • 5 August: Day tour of the Barossa with Mary Anne Kennedy of Taste of South Australia, including tastings at Henschke and Torbreck, where we had the chance to chat with winemaker David Powell, and lunch at Maggie Beer's. [Photos 97 and 98]
  • 6 August: Depart Adelaide to Yulara via Alice Springs. Collected from Yulara airport by Longitude 131 and taken to Uluru for sunset at Kantju Gorge. [Photos 99 to 111]
  • 7 August: Sunrise tour to Kata Tjuta & Walpa Gorge followed by me taking the optional Kata Tjuta - Valley of the Winds
    hike and Lisa spending some time at the Cultural Centre. We end the day dining under the stars at Table 131. [Photos 112 to 142]
  • 8 August: Sunrise walk around Uluru followed by transfer to Yulara for our flight to Darwin via Alice Springs. Stayed at the Mantra Pandanas in Darwin. [Photos 143 to 147]
  • 9 August: Collected from our hotel by Ben Humphries of NT Immersions (and a member of Savannah Guides) for three days in the Kakadu National Park. We saw our first crocs on the East Alligator River, watched sun set over the landscape and then stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort Gagudju Crocodile. [Photos 148 to 173]
  • 10 August: Start the day with an aerial tour and then further touring with Ben, including Aboriginal rock paintings and a sunset cruise on Yellow Water billabong. [Photos 174 to 229]
  • 11 August: Further touring with Ben, including giant termite mounds and a walk at Maguk / Barramundie Gorge. Return to Darwin and the Mantra Pandanas. [Photos 230 to 245]
  • 12 August: Flight from Darwin to Cairns and transfer to Thala Beach Lodge, an idyllic eco lodge south of Port Douglas.
  • 13 August: Full day tour to the Great Barrier Reef on Calypso. A first experience of snorkelling in the ocean for both Lisa and me. [Photos 246 and 247]
  • 14 August: Full day touring with David Armbrust of Australian Natural History Safari. David is an excellent guide and a genial host. The day, particularly at Thylogale - his private wildlife sanctuary, provided some amazing photo opportunities. [Photos 248 to 265]
  • 15 August: At leisure at Thala Beach Lodge. [Photos 266 to 275]
  • 16 August: Transfer to Cairns airport and return flight to Tokyo.
If you only look at two photos from the whole trip, try this one - a Red-legged Pademelon (Thylogale stigmatica) tucking into a piece of sweet potato - and this one - an innocent (?) crocodile.

tokyo_mb: (Default)
This has to rank as one of the most amazing sailing feats, ever - albeit enabled by some favourable weather. For Francis Joyon to take fourteen days off the single handed round the world record previously set by Dame Ellen MacArthur is quite incredible.

I can still remember the tension as we waited to see whether Ellen could beat the record when she set the previous mark by a few hours!

Key facts (from
Ellen MacArthur and Francis Joyon are the only twosailors to have completed a WSSRC-ratified non-stop solocircumnavigation aboard a multihull.

IDEC (Francis Joyon) 2004
Line crossing in Brest: February 3
Elapsed time: 72d 22h 54 min 22 sec
Record stood for 370 days

B&Q (Ellen MacArthur) 2005
Line crossing at Ushant: February 7
Elapsed time: 71d 14h 18 min 33 sec
Record stood for 712 days (1 year, 11 months and 13 days)

IDEC (Francis Joyon) 2007
Line crossing in Brest: January 20
Elapsed time: 57 d, 13 h, 34 min 6 seconds
26,400 miles at an average speed of 19.09 knots
Beating Ellen’s record by 14 days, 44 minutes and 27 seconds
tokyo_mb: (Smiling man)
A fascinating read over at Film Noir Buff on the British and their ties (as viewed by an American):

A Nation's Standards - Part 1

I'm not sure I know enough to agree or disagree with his historical references, but an interesting read nonetheless.
tokyo_mb: (Default)
This was news to me that the UK universities have come to the conclusion that our much loved degree classifications (1st, 2:i, 2:ii, 3rd etc) could be phased out and replaced, over time, by a system of "credits".

Press release from Leicester University which discusses the same.

Original report from the Burgess Committee which I cannot actually find the recommendation in due to the jargon it contains!

I understand that higher education is changing, but I'm not sure I understand the need to do away with something that is currently well understood. Anybody have any insights on this?

ETA: Found a few insights from the QAA website

Libre RIP

Sep. 29th, 2007 05:04 pm
tokyo_mb: (Libre)
Today we said a final goodbye to Libre.

More details... )

Libre as we will remember him (picture) )
tokyo_mb: (Default)
This is quite interesting (I don't recall seeing it on LiveJournal before - but feel free to ignore me if it is a repost!)

A recent research project based at University College London (UCL) has investigated the distribution of surnames in Great Britain, both current and historic, in order to understand patterns of regional economic development, population movement and cultural identity. This website allows users to search the databases that we have created, and to trace the geography and history of their family names.

e.g. the distribution of Bolton's in 1881 and 1998 )

Do your own search here:
(There's lots more information there - the maps are just an example...)
tokyo_mb: (Default)
Just a quick note to the world - Gmail (googlemail in the UK) works admirably as a spam filter.

I have a couple of my own domains and was drowning in spam (junk) email. So far I have been forwarding all of my email through gmail and then back to myself for a fortnight. Statistics so far are approximately (it's the false negatives that are approximate as I have not been labelling them as such to keep count of them):

1,248 Total emails received
210 Good emails received
1,038 Spam emails received (vast majority being identified by Gmail as spam - see below)

2 False positives (i.e. good emails inappropriately marked by Gmail as spam - both were circulars (one Japanese, one English), but ones I wanted)
~25 False negatives (i.e. spam emails not appropriately identified - mainly delivery failure messages where the spoofed from address was at my domain)

This includes email (spam and valid) in both Japanese and English, so I do not think these results are too bad.

Thanks to [ profile] cairmen for initially making the post that put me on to this. I've not seen him post his promised results, but hope others find the above useful.
tokyo_mb: (Rocks)
[ profile] lilitufire and I finally got around to attending a classical concert here last night at Suntory Hall which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Thanks to British Airways, from whom I won the tickets in a promotion for their frequent fliers, we had tickets to a piano recital by Mitsuko Uchida. Uchida-san is a 58 year old female pianist based in London (of all places) and performs all around the world.

The programme for the evening followed the content of one of her more recent recordings (February 2006) (actually made in the concert hall at Snape on the Suffolk coast - a part of the world I know and love). The works being Beethoven's last three Piano Sonata's; 30 in E major(Opus 109) 1820, 31 in A flat major (Opus 110) 1821, and 32 in C minor (Opus 111) 1822.

While neither of us was feeling particularly sharp before we went into the concert, we both delighted in the performance - enjoying not only the music but appreciating the difficulty of the pieces, the great acoustics of Suntory Hall (the first purpose built concert hall in Japan) and the obvious enjoyment of the almost entirely Japanese packed house.

I'm no music reviewer, but I can agree with the NY Times review of a couple of years ago which talked about her performance of "this titanic trilogy ... explosions of fierce, raw power, with sharp rhythmic edges and a tone that bristled with steely and sometimes even strident energy." [Not generally adjectives you might ordinarily think of applying to a Japanese female performer.]
tokyo_mb: (Rocks)
I've finally updated with:

  1. Photos of our wedding and reception on 20 May 2006

  2. Some more photos of our house and the flash presentation of it on the architect's website

Photos of the legal wedding are still to come.

Oh, and I've also decided on a style change for my LJ too.
tokyo_mb: (Default)
Lisa and I are eating at the Tapas Molecular Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Nihombashi (map) on Tuesday night at 2030 (I think! Subject to confirmation from 'the Boss' - Now confirmed!). Think El Bulli or The Fat Duck for the nature of the food.

Spoilers... )

Will have more to say once I've eaten there, and [ profile] lilitufire can, of course, compare with her Fat Duck experience.
tokyo_mb: (Kyoto)
It's been a busy 8 days! I'm sure [ profile] lilitufire will write in more detail in due course.

Saturday - Married at St Alban's Church, reception at home (catered by Citabria)
Sunday - Sightseeing in Tokyo with Adrian and Cathy followed by shinkansen to Kyoto
Monday - The major shrines in Tokyo (+some) followed by kaiseki-ryori by the river at Umemura
Tuesday - It rained! Leisurely time in Kyoto, dinner and futon at Tawaraya (俵屋旅館) ryokan...
Wednesday - Nara, more shrines and deer, dinner and futon at Kikusuirou (菊水楼) ryokan
Thursday - Himeji castle, followed by train to Kanazawa
Friday - Kanazawa, mainly the Kenrokuen garden, geisha and samurai districts, followed by dinner at a very fine fish restaurant
Saturday - By bus, first to Shirakawago, and then to Takayama where we stayed at Wanosato (倭乃里)...
Sunday - Leisurely breakfast and check out, followed by train and shinkansen back to Tokyo.


Apr. 8th, 2006 03:37 pm
tokyo_mb: (Default)
Call me a sheep. Baaaa!

Meme: Go to Wikipedia and look up your birth day (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births, and one death in your journal, including the year.

336 - Pope Marcus ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1769 - English explorer, Captain Cook, discovers New Zealand.
1982 - Cats opens on Broadway and runs for nearly 18 years before closing on September 10, 2000.

1697 - Canaletto, Italian artist (d. 1768)
1885 - Niels Bohr, Danish physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d.1962)

1903 - Rudolf Lipschitz, German mathematician (b. 1832)
tokyo_mb: (Default)
Waved goodbye (again) to [ profile] lilitufire this morning, at least until next Monday when I am back in the UK and we get to do the "meet the parents" thing with mine. 

Last night we had a lovely (if pricey) teppanyaki meal at Seryna Mon Cher Ton Ton on the 52nd floor of the Sumitomo Building in Shinjuku.  Unfortunately the view wasn't as clear as in these pictures, but it was still nice to be up so high.

It was a dinner of some notable firsts - first time eating real caviar, also abalone and Kobe beef - washed down with a nice Aussie Merlot.  Verdict on those eating firsts:
  • Caviar (Osetra) - served on blini, with creme fraiche, cooked egg yolk and raw onion to taste. Pleasant, but not sure it's worth the fuss. As Lisa commented, lumpfish would probably do just as well, and be a lot more environmentally friendly!.
  • Abalone - cooked on the teppan grill, served with a choice of garlic butter or vinegar based sauce.  A firm fleshed shellfish, described by Lisa as being much like a very large snail in taste.  The liver was definitely the tastiest bit.  My reaction, I'd probably go with the lobster option on the menu on a future occasion.
  • Kobe beef - cooked rare on the teppan grill, served with a choice of salt, almond sauce or onion sauce.  Definitely up there with the other premium Japanese beef, but whether this is the best of the lot, I am not sure.  Lovely melt in the mouth meat as a result of the fat marbling. Very good!
tokyo_mb: (Default)
As plugged by [ profile] lilitufire on her journal (after we found last night), I'd like to put plugs in for the following sites, in the hope that the Labour government is kept honest over the next five years: (which has replaced and updated to include councillors and MEPs)
tokyo_mb: (Default)
While I was not unhappy to see that the labour majority in my home constituency was much reduced, more concerning was reading the Respect manifesto (pdf) - where most of the votes had gone - particularly when you get to the 'economics' (I use the term advisedly) page at the end.

It is somewhat frightening that anyone can believe in these economic policies sufficiently to actually elect an MP from this party:
A massive cut in military spending. Disband Britain's weapons of mass destruction, scrap nuclear weapons, decommission Trident
Transfer resources from military to useful production, nationalise the arms industry
Abolish VAT, as an indirect tax, and replace it with increased direct taxation
Raise the top rate of income tax
Raise the tax threshold to ensure that no one on the minimum wage pays income tax
A big increase in corporation tax, with an additional tax on the super-profits profits of the oil companies and the banks
A turnover tax on multinationals doing businesses in Britain
Raise the top rate of inheritance tax whilst putting higher duties on other transfers of wealth and financial transaction
Increased stamp duty on stocks and shares
A crack down on tax evasion by big companies and action against offshore tax havens
Abolish the ceiling on National Insurance contributions
Oh well, at least they stood no chance of forming a government - I'll be thankful for small mercies!
tokyo_mb: (Default)
Use Google to search for images of the things in this list and post to your LJ.

  • Home Town

  • Place you now live

  • Name

  • Favourite Food

  • Favourite Drink

  • Favourite Band

  • Favourite Smell

  • Favourite style of Shoes

And the pictures... )
tokyo_mb: (Default)
I'm be-googled! My photos of Japan, particularly those of Matsumoto and Takayama, on my homepage have now been hit by people searching Google in the following countries:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Latvia, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, United States (possibly... .com)

...and that's only this month.  For what are basically 'holiday snaps' I find this quite surprising.

ObUpdate: Work continues to be crazy - but hopefully an 'end' (albeit brief) is in sight soon.  And then [ profile] lilitufire is coming to visit for Golden Week, so I might actually write something about Japan! Maybe.
tokyo_mb: (Mark)
A small gallery of photos posted here

Sample under here )
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