Updated 15/01/14

Megumi's 1001 Nights
1.Boston Concert Club - Part 1
2.Boston Concert Club - Part 2
3.Proms at St Judes

Honoka's Treasure Island
3.Braun - Part 1
4.Braun - Part 2
5.Cello Mute

Arisa in Wonderland
2.Milk soup for One

1. Boston Concert Club Part 1

One thousand and one nights story No.1
Boston Concert Club 51st Season 2001/2002
Sam Newsom Music Centre 15 January 2002

The very first concert this year has began with violin & piano recital in Boston, Lincolnshire with Arisa and I playing Beethoven, Elgar, Takemitsu and Strauss. This sounds quite normal. BUT in fact, our trio had a lunchtime concert next day at Wellingborough (with Haydn and Debussy Trio) which is two and a half hours away from Boston (where we stayed the night after the concert) by train. After the lunchtime concert, we rushed back to Wigmore Hall where Arisa was in Taneyev Festival playing Taneyev String Quintet No.1 with Pekka Kuusisto, Rachel Roberts, Daniel Muller-Schott and Steven Isserlis which is going to be broadcast live by the BBC RADIO 3 ! What an exciting time it was!! We were very fortunate that every train we took was on time !!

Going to Boston, we took 4 trains, all through open fields where many beautiful swan couples were relaxing by the river. At one of the station, we walked to our train which was parked at far end of a long platform. Piercing cold wind was against our faces so I particularly looked forward to go into warm heated train. I could see the welcoming face of the train nearer each step I took. When we finally arrived in front of the train, it seemed very short. IT was a one-carriage train! This was our first time to travel on a one-carriage train on normal rail track with such a tremendous speed!! I can well imagine how we looked to the dreaming swans this roaring carriage cutting through the field in a flash!!

We were already settled down in our sideway seats, with our tickets inspected by a very friendly train master, admiring the beautiful scenery when we heard heavy sound of footsteps from beyond (of an carriage!) and it suddenly stopped in front of us.

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2.Boston Concert Club Part 2

We looked up nervously. It was our train master walking towards us, with something in his hand. He asked us if we knew what it was. It was 10 yen!! (Japanese coin which is about 5 pence) It was such an unexpected currency, our eyes had to stare at this coin for few seconds before we could acknowledge in our mind of this fact! We were even more surprised when he said that we could have the coin!!!
In my life time I have never have been given money from a train master before! Thinking back now, we may have been traveling through Dreamland with this high-speed one-carriage train...

We had wonderful concerts in Boston, where it is famous for the church tower "The Stump" a tower that resembles a tree stump (Honoka took an absolutely beautiful photo!- see below), and in Wellingborough, where we played the Haydn and the Debussy trios, in a lovely thatched barn. Immediately after we played in this lunchtime concert, we rushed back to London to be in time for Arisa's Wigmore Hall chamber music concert with Steven Isserlis!

3. Proms at St Judes 2002

I am now back in Japan, having a VERY HOT summer holiday!

I recall back to my exciting challenge last month (June) in England - just after Honoka's wonderful cello recital - with some feeling of unbelievableness.

The morning after the concert, when us three sisters were celebrating in London, I received a phone call asking about a possibility of playing the Tchaikovsky piano concerto in Bb!! Of course I was VERY excited!! But there was a slight catch. The performance will be in just 2 weeks!
From that day on, I practised on the keyboard during the day, and in my sleep during the night every day! At our home in the UK, we have a small grand piano and an upright piano, so Honoka and Arisa offered to play the orchestra part on the piano. Honoka on the left hand, Arisa on the right hand! This combination actually worked quite well (if you do not count the interesting!? harmonies) and it was absolutely a great help for me. I may also add it was very enjoyable too!!

With my sisters' tireless support, the day came when I was to meet the conductor for the first time. I was very nervous and very worried ...I still had few more days until the day of the concert (these few days are long span of time if you've only had 2 weeks anyway!) but the conductor was so kind and gave me so much support, that I could really look forward to the concert without any fear!!

I am full of heartfelt gratitude to be able to perform the Tchaikovsky concerto with such a wonderful conductor and the orchestra among very warm audience.

But still, unbelievable...


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Hello! I would like to show you some of my treasures!

I'll start with my computer. Its not completely mine (though I wish it was...), it's me and Arisa's. We bought it 3 years ago, in January 1999, after much debate during Christmas (convincing Arisa why we needed a computer). The main reason why we bought it was that unless we start learning the computer now, we'll never be able to keep up!
I knew nothing about computers, but with the new millennium approaching, I thought owning a computer would take us nearer to that futuristic world of 21st century I always imagined as a child.
Arisa was the only one in our family with some experience in computers. She has a GCSE in computer studies. Sounds impressive? I thought so too. But it turns out that the computer studies she did years ago, was too old fashioned! Arisa did not even know how to send an email, let alone the internet!

We bought several magazines and books, and studied them during the Christmas 1998, and we decided to buy the computer at .... Tescos supermarket!(They had the PC of our dreams within our budget!). Our local Tesco did not stock PC at that time, so we went by train. We couldn't wait for it to be delivered, so we took it with us on the train, just the two of us with a 15inch CRTmonitor and and a rather large mini-tower! (ie 2 enormous boxes!).

After getting home, we unpacked it, and set the PC up following the nice set-up guide provided. At last, our wait was over, and with great anticipation, we switched it on. We could hear the motor, but nothing came up in the monitor. We couldn't believe it. We thought the PC was broken...We turned the PC off (Very unwise.One should never turn off the PC before it has finished loading!). We checked the set-up manual again. It turned out that someone forgot to plug the power for the monitor...I think it was Arisa, but she thinks it's me. We only bought one computer. Why are there two plugs? Everything went fine afterwards...almost! We just needed it to be able to write in Japanese...

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Another of my treasures is my (OK, so it's me and Arisa's...) Cassiopeia! Cassiopeia is a small palm-size WindowsCE computer by Casio. I'm writing this on the Cassiopeia, as Arisa's using the main computer looking for travel guides of Loire, France on the internet (we are going there next month for our triple concerto concerts!).
We bought Cassiopeia back in 2000, and since then, hardly a day goes by without switching this thing on!
We always take this with us for concerts, and since this has a simple digital camera, we take photos, and sometimes send them with email while we are out and about via mobile phone! I think this is one of the most versatile gadgets around.

It is not only a photo-taking emailing calculator, I can write essays like I am doing now, read books (I'm reading Return to the Native by Thomas Hardy), and on long train journeys, we three can play games! There is a golf game which we play. We have great difficulty withholding our laughter, as the ball goes into the bunker! (Note: we never played real golf, though it really feels like we did. Arisa's record swing of 286yards was impressive). Of course, if one of us is sleepy, there's chess for the two of us, or the usual freecell or solitaire to pass the time if alone.
We can install other software from the internet, and there are loads! I've installed a dictionary, a metronome, and a tuning fork.
With the camera, it can also record short clips of video, so we've pointed the camera in front of Megumi's husband, and asked him to say something on the spot! He was very professional, and did a very good speech saying good luck for our concerts. Megumi loves playing it before our concerts! (It's been 2 years. Maybe it's time to get another speech from him? Megumi's husband - be prepared!)

P.S. Incase you might be wondering from last week, I think there are 2 ways of writing Japanese on an English Windows PC. One way is to download Global IME from Microsoft (free). Once you install this, you can read & write Japanese emails, and read Japanese web sites, and if you have Word2000 or later, you can write documents in Japanese. Second way is to buy and install Japanese Windows. We did both ways. We still have both. We divided the hard disk into 2, and one side has English Windows98, and the other side Japanese Windows98. Both works fine, except for occasional glitches!

3.Braun - Part 1

Now, to my next treasure, our electric tooth brush - Braun 3D. You might be thinking "What? A toothbrush? There couldn't be more boring treasure than that! I think Honoka's run out of treasures now, I knew that title was over-ambitious!" and you may be right! What can I possibly write about this that can be interesting to you? Well it depends. Do you have a Braun 3D electric toothbrush? If you do, then you might find the following a bit interesting. As I bought ours in the UK, whenever we go back to Japan, we need a voltage transformer. But since we have the voltage transformer in another room, we usually recharge our toothbrush every 3 or 4 days. Which means, we keep the toothbrush on the sink. I have to say, if you do this, one needs to keep it dry, because if you don't, the water slowly seep inside, and eventually, the machine will cease to work. It unfortunately happened to our toothbrush... We thought that was the end of our unfortunate machine. There wasn't a way to repair it ourselves, since it didn't seem to have any openings, so we thought. Looking sadly at the charger, I noticed a word "recycling" written at the base. It had a diagram of how to dismantle. At first I thought that it meant that the plastic could be recycled once the toothbrush is dismantled. It probably still means that! With nothing to lose, and after consulting my trusted partner Arisa, I proceeded to dismantling the unit. After a little twist, it popped open. Inside was very soggy. We decided to leave it to dry for 24 hours.

To be continued....

4.Braun - Part 2

Next day it worked! And our toothbrush worked happily ever after until last week... The motor decided not to vibrate... The sound changed to something very high pitched, and the brush head ceased brushing...
I opened it up again, and found the motor was still working, but needed something to vibrate against. Did something fall off at the back of the motor? Or has it just worn out? This time, I cut a small piece of clear hard plastic sheet (the sort which comes as a packaging of glues), placed it behind the motor and stuck it tightly with sticky vinyl tape. On the first try, the plastic was too big, and I had a really hard time pushing the inside back in the case. The motor came on while I was trying to close it. Arisa came and said what's going on? With the toothbrush upside-down, stuck to the charger, I' m frantically trying to push it back, with the whole thing vibrating, loudly since the inside was not completely in, and charger resonating, all I could say was, take the plug out, I'm taking this downstairs. Now a bit calmer, I got it unstuck from the charger, and with the inside of the unit out again, I stopped the motor, and this time, put a smaller piece of plastic, and re-assembled the unit. To our disappointment, it did not work. It just went for few seconds tiredly, and stopped. We recharged it overnight, and still no luck. I opened it up the third time. It moves OK when it is opened, but I noticed that the motor got scorching hot. Arisa came, and touched the machine, and said, "This is very hot. I think you should stop fiddling with it, I'm not going to put THAT in my mouth - what if it explodes?". So there ended my adventure (- or misadventure?).
Now we are back with our good old "manual" toothbrush. It's not that bad actually, just that on some sleepy mornings, I put the brush in my mouth doing nothing expecting the thing to brush on its own!


5.Cello Mute

My next treasure is my cello mute. Not the most interesting item you might think, and yes, it is just a normal rubber mute you can get from any shop!
I remember seeing my first cello teacher Una O'Sullivan having some round black thing on her string. Not knowing what it was, I tried to read what was inscribed on it. To my eyes, it read "TOVRTE"(Tourte). I couldn't see how it could be pronounced, so in my mind, it was "Tov R.T.E." (whatever that is).
When the exciting moment came when my teacher said I should get a "mute" I was overjoyed! I remember telling my mother to get one with this exact inscription "TOVRTE" on it! Just having it dangling on the strings made me feel like a pro!
Over the years, it's had some more inscriptions - or engavings as I like to call it. Just before I entered Junior Guildhall, I thought, with many cellists, one mute will look exactly the same as another. I should write my name on it. Since it was made of rubber, I decided to "engrave" my name with a safety-pin. Engraving with a safety-pin can be very tricky. Fortunately, from the distance, my defacement of my beloved mute is inperceptible! But soon after enrolling to the Junior Guildhall, I had an occasion to lend my mute to my fellow cellist. I can't remember who it was, but I remeber the cellist noticing my name scratched on this mute, and said "Did you do this when you were small?"and I replyed coolly, "Oh yes, long time ago" when in fact it was just months before! Teenagers and their pride...
I still use that mute, I haven't misplaced it yet - unlike some other violinist I know (!), I probably shouldn't mention her name, but her name starts and ends with an A...

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Finally! Welcome to MY section! Last but not least!
I would like to share with you some of the things I am interested in at the moment about everyday-life things.

Today, I think I will talk about.......coffee! (Although I don't drink it myself..!)
Recently, there has been a boom in coffee houses in the UK, and as Megumi loves coffee, we sometimes go to these coffee shops for a nice cup of coffee with fluffy milk sprinkled with chocolate. (Honoka & I would drink Hot Chocolate). After many of these visits, I wanted to make one of these posh coffees myself, so we bought a caffetiere and a milk frother for Megumi's birthday. It WAS such a fun making cappuccinos! But recently (after making many many cups of normal coffee), I decided to make something unusual, and came up with...."Cafetrio"!!! This is how I made it!

Cafetrio for 1

Step 1: Put 1 tablespoon full of ground coffee into the cafetiere, and pour boiling water.
Step 2: Microwave 100ml milk on high for 1 minute.
Step 3: Take out the milk from the microwave and froth the milk vigorously (!) until double the size.
Step 4: Pour the milk straight to a clear glass coffee mug.
Step 5: Gently, plunge down the cafetiere, and pour the coffee into the glass mug slowly down the side of the mug. (Trying not to disturb the frothy top.)
Finished! It should look like a 3 layered coffee, with milk at the bottom, coffee in the middle and the frothy milk on the top. You can finish with a sprinkle of chocolate powder on the top!

2.Milk soup for One

In our house, the size of the milk carton we buy changes every so often. It ranges from a litre bottle to a large 2.272litres (4pints). The reason this happens is, whenever Megumi comes over from Japan, she likes to do a lot of tea-time so we make quite a few cups of coffee which uses a lot of milk for the frothy top, and..., yes, a change from 2 people to 3 people would inevitably require more milk for our breakfast cereals!

Sometimes, after Megumi has gone back to Japan, she leaves quite a bit of milk behind in our small fridge. In order to use up the milk before it goes off, I've decided to make a.....soup! An "easy- to- make" soup!!

Milk soup for 1

Step 1: Pour milk (I use semi-skimmed milk) onto a soup bowl (the amount you would like as the end result).
Step 2: Empty the milk from your soup bowl into a saucepan and turn the heat on. (Do not boil!)
Step 3: Gently heat the milk, while you put in a handful of frozen sweet corn and a tablespoon of finely chopped spring onions.
Step 4: Dissolve 1 tablespoon of margarine and stir until the frozen corn has warmed up!
Step 5: Season with a pinch of salt and a lot of freshly ground pepper and finished!!!



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