Category Archives: Sallys Blog

Nozawa-Onsen, easy-peasy kiddie ski in Japan

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It might not be 5 star, but this cute little known resort north of Nagano prefecture (80 min bullet train from Tokyo station) combines all the best that Japan has to offer for family winter fun, our hosts are keen to keep it a secret but can’t resist recommending to others.

Our group consisted of kids ranging from age 3 to pre-teens both ski & boarders, all were catered for within this extremely pretty Onsen village and up in the ‘unbelievably simple to get to’ snow park (using the short ‘free’ to use moving walkway, that even the 3 year old found a breeze – phew!)


The village, all stunning traditional wooden architecture that keeps your camera busy, has spectacular Onsen (hot bathing) choices that can make you feel like a goddess and remove any traces of muscle ache (forget massage) Choose from local or private (i.e. cleaner and without that eggy smell) Bit too hot for Sophie age 3 but Archie really got into it, don’t think he has ever been so clean, although some of the Onsen etiquette got him a bit nervous, he wasn’t so keen on displaying his bits to all so waited for a quiet moment then made a mad dash into the springs.

Onsen eggs and veggies are also available to cook in the hot springs and munch on post ski as you head back to your digs.  My kids liked the ‘idea’ of this but then didn’t actually eat any of it, found debris in their ski clothes once back in HK, nice… More fun was bathing with yuzu, supposedly to ward off any colds or flu for a year… hmmm not entirely sure that had the desired effect as have been battling with a chest infection since our return…  maybe was supposed to eat the hot yuzu rather than just bathing alongside it, who’s to know?


The village has many apres-ski options offering hot Sake and plenty of home-made grog made from local fruits & various insects to warm you up & keep the parents glowing.  A multitude of small local family picture perfect restaurants offering many types of slurpy noodles, Okonomiyaki (pancake) Teppanyaki, Sushi, Sumo & Sukiyaki Hot Pot with melt in mouth Wagyu beef and tons tons more, all perfect for kids to dip in and out. With friends to guide us through the menu’s we certainly got to try a bit of everything Japan has to offer and it was ADDICTIVE… we heard there were good steak restaurants and an Italian in the village but who needed those when the local food was this good…

On days when we were in need of something simple and a little more Western to grab for lunch we headed to the bakery in the village or on the slopes & most days just hung out at the Western family run (ski-in/ski-out) Schneider Hotel right in the snow park.  Eggs Benedict, sliders, French toast with berries, burgers and more.  The hosts were brilliant let the kids play freely throughout this large hotel enjoying the table football, games, toys and oversized bean bags and generally make tons of noise whilst waiting for bits of clothing to dry by the fire.

When done with the snowman building for the day Sophie & I would head there to wait for the others to come down the mountain.  What’s better than a roaring fire and a mulled wine in the Base Camp Bar.  Easy peasy as all ski hire came from here and as the owners of our village house were always happy to give us the odd lift back to village if starting to get dark.

 

Combined with a Tokyo stay, for us in a traditional Ryokan for fun – Kamagawa– kids adored sleeping in heavenly comfortable tatami beds on floor (duvets were divine ‘no geese bottoms were spared in the making’ forget John Lewis – so much so we tried to source & take home) Right dead centre of the cultural area that is Asakusa with temples and markets galore… and some of the nicest city dwellers we have ever come across…

 

Japan, we hope to be with you again very soon, although maybe a little later in the season for a future ski trip…

Nozawa-Onsen Snow park – the facts:
Extending from the top to the foot of Mt. Kenashi (1,650m), Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort boasts an altitude differential of 1,085 meters and a total ski slope area of 297 hectares.
Hours: 8:30 ~ 16:30 (17:00)
Night-time: ~ 20:00 (Please check schedule in advance. Need seperate ticket for Night skiing))
36 ski slopes & courses plus the snow park
Longest ski run: 10,000m (from Mt. Kenashi summit via Yamabiko Slope – Uenotaira
Slope – Paradise Slope – Forest Course – Karasawa Slope)
Altitude differential: 1,085m (Mt. Kenashi summit: 1,650m / Karasawa Slope bottom: 565m)
Advanced terrain: 30% / Intermediate terrain: 30% / Beginner terrain: 40% / Max gradient: 39° (The Challenge Wall of 39°)
Gondola lifts (2), regular ski lifts (18), moving walkway (1)
Powder Hounds Nozawa-Onsen
Note: most instructors are Western, hailing from Canada or the States and can be organised via Schneider hotel pre arrival.  No language barrier here.
Advanced skiers may prefer other resorts such as Niseko, but if its a more cultural trip for the whole family then this is the place…  Onsen Snow Monkeys and a Bicester Village type luxe retail village is also available a short drive away.

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A new chapter… back we go to Hong Kong

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So we managed 11 months in the UK, the highlights… we got to spend time with family and friends, Sophie discovered proper sausages and Archie got to enjoy forest school but apart from that not much to write home about.
Expensive long commutes to London weekly in the pouring rain for me.  Not seeing the kids week in and week out and the idea of coming home to the Derbyshire countryside which despite being pretty (when the sun was shining) was just a little too quiet for us city types.  Oh well, we gave rural UK living a go.

So history repeats itself and we are now enjoying the time prior to HK re-location, in and around Cyprus with hopefully some Greek Island hopping.  Painting walls, planting fruit trees, enjoying time with the grandparents and friends, helping Archie to build a website, teaching Sophie to swim and eating plenty of kebabs.  Its helping to eradicate the grey of the last few months.

And so I am inspired to blog about our adventures again… I am sure moving onto a boat in HK will inspire many a comical moment well worth blogging about.   Happy holidays X

Where have the neighbours gone?

Where have the neighbours gone?

Bit of sunshine and Sophie is good for the soul...

Bit of sunshine and Sophie is good for the soul…

Lemon picking before bed

Lemon picking before bed

A New Year and some tiger training required…

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Back to work, a 12000 mile commute…

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air-miles that is (HK/London) and I thought the odd Edinburgh commute from London was a bit of a faff, but this is a whole new ball game.

Mind you though, it’s amazing what lengths we would go to as parents to get a decent night’s sleep away from those little Wawn’s and Archie’s midnight bed hopping.

The office - Claridges Hotel Mayfair

The office – Claridges Hotel Mayfair

New role with Maybourne Group (Claridges, Connaught & Berkeley) means frequent trips back and forth, mind you though the accommodation aint half bad.

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£10,000 a night suites, private elevators and butlers.  Not your usual work stay.  But this was a familiarisation visit… quite pleased to be back at work.

Not all glam though, seriously jet-lagged most of the trip and back to back meetings, finally felt normal on the last day (just in time to brave Oxford St. and fill a suitcase with M&S cheese) and it was time to head back again.  Now got to get on and make them some money, ha!

HK business venture with my friend Jane launched last week too.  www.babycationsasia.com (travelling in SE Asia with littlies in tow) still some bits to tidy up but you get the gist, please take a look at our website and spread the word.

And finally the wonderful Wildings have come to stay, it’s a bit of a squash and a squeeze but we are loving having them here… more on all of that adventure to follow X

Clearwater Bay

Clearwater Bay

Bitter lemons and all that…

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Back home for the summer, back to that lovely refreshing, lemony/jasmine Mediterranean lifestyle, whilst just as hot seems totally laid-back almost horizontal compared to busy busy HK and is a welcome break.

The kids wake up as usual with the sun, the difference here, they head out into the garden to play and soak each other with a hose before the heat of the day sets in… They have finally become little fishes we all have a dip in the pool before eleven, then begins the daily battle to get them to have an afternoon sleep so they can go out ‘in the night’ as Archie calls it.

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Ed spends ages pottering in the garden watering everything at sunset with a beer… Not sure how a very small balcony in HK with only an even smaller frangipani and bougainvillea will compare…

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The kids are enjoying the old crumbly stuff here, running up castles, poking around in old ruins, whilst we enjoy the odd brandy sour…

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Seems weird to be back at the place we got married with two little Wawn’s in tow…

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Watching the Independence Day Turkish Red Arrows (looking down to mums house)

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And enjoying playtime with grandparents and great granny

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It’s all pants…

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15 years strong

Well here we both are 15 years later… good god can’t believe that this time 15 years ago I showed up for a party at 16 Hornsey Rise and never really left.

Am a bit concerned that I met a sporty bloke with a fun job and seem to have ended up with a grumpy scientist?? ha ha, well I did say for better or for worse…

As usual any excuse for a new dress and a night out.  We thought we should mark the occasion with half a cow in Wooloo and a set of our mates blues band, at The Wanch.

Wooloomooloo Wanchai

Am pleased to say that 15 years on and things are a little less messy in the Wawn household.  A few of you might remember in those early days, Ed jetting off for a stag do and I spent one of my first weekends at the flat in Hornsey Rise giving it a good scrub… my god that flat had seen some parties…

How things have changed since those days, Ed has proclaimed that his life has reached its pinnacle (having our helper) he wakes up to freshly ironed shirts and even his pants are folded and ironed, he’s in shock, don’t think his pants have ever seen such treatment. Certainly wouldn’t be getting any of that from me, as some of you know I am allergic to ironing…

We roll on to the end of our first year in Hong Kong, not sure where the time has gone (one thing about this place you never seem to get time to get bored) it’s been a roller-coaster ride and in some ways I am happy to be putting that first year behind us.

Archie’s godmother Nic & my aunt came to visit us in time for Archie’s 4th Birthday, was so good to catch up, we rabbited so much, we even got told off by a grumpy Brit on the 962 for chatting too loudly & disturbing other passengers… hmmm not sure he’s noticed that most Cantonese is shouted rather than spoken and the locals couldn’t give a fig..

Wooloomoloo Wanchai roof bar

We have found the perfect place to take the kids on a hot and steamy summers day… The Hong Kong Museum of Heritage.  Just brilliant, a mix of Design Museum & V&A for kids, they even let you write on the windows…

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Heritage museum hong kong

 

 

 

Sophie continues her quest to eat anything and everything, last week the boys went for lunch at HK Football Club and I took Sophie for her first Dim Sum… all very grown up suddenly!

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She also had her first meze, HK style.   Where our Turkish friends introduced her to baclava, if she is anything like mummy she won’t be able to get enough of it.

Istanbul Express, TST

Istanbul Express, TST

Gotta go, Archie is licking his bike again… X

 

 

Alien school & shark swimming…

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Hello all, thought it was about time I send you an update, I have been told that I am becoming a lazy blogger!

Unfortunately I haven’t been sunning myself on a beach or stuffing may face full of dim sum with the girls, I have been busy setting up my company which launches on the 17th of June (more on that in June once we’ve launched) trying to get my head around business setup in HK and dealing with the red tape that goes with it.  Fun Fun Fun!

We are also moving down to the beach and marina, looking forward to that but a move again! aaaargh!

Plus all the other stuff that goes on, Archie had to go to school today dressed as his fave book character, tried to cajole him into dressing as Stick Man (nice and easy eh!) but no he wanted to be Nogel the furry friendly alien from the book Alien School…

alien school

Alien school

Bit worried about the fact that currently its 31 degrees but the real feel with 100% humidity is 39 degrees, Archie may just wilt…
Sophie as Tinkerbell… easy… although the fairy look is slightly ruined by a big ‘mosquito off’ patch on the hem…

This week I have Ed and Archie birthday.   Party for Ed tonight, no worries his fave roof bar and restaurant should do the trick for him… Archie on the other hand wants a pirate party, complete with dressing up, pirate games, wig wam up and treasure chests full of food, yippee! bring it on…

I have taken to working in the middle of the night, its quiet, cool and UK is awake… otherwise god knows how you get peace to work from home when the kids are around and all their dressing up, party, after school playdates, Taekwondo & football activities needs attention.

Stumbled across a few brilliant things here in Hong Kong, firstly for crafters (and the need to make pirate/alien getup) the existence of Sham Shui Po near Kowloon, every street has a different theme.

bead street

Bead Street

homemade nexcklace

Modelling homemade 80p necklace

There is also a fur street, fashion st. material st. neon light st. lock st. and it goes on…

And at the end of it all, Michelin starred Dim Sum (truly awesome may I add) and for 77HKD for 2 (£7) what’s not to like… had to take the photo in the hope of finding it again, god only knows what the sign says (in need of Google goggles!)

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Award winning Dim Sum Restaurant

The existence of a Covent Garden type area in Central called Star Street.  There is also Moon St.  & Sun St.
Brilliant little eateries and eclectic gift shops and clothes designers has added to my love of everything (well almost everything…)HK

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Tapas on Moon street

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Awesome bars

Moon St.

Bit of French

Ed has taken to swimming around large bits of Hong Kong in shark infested waters to get away from the hullabaloo at home… bit drastic but I am actually thinking of joining him… only joking 😉 as you know I am allergic to physical exercise.

plover cove swimathon

Sunday Plover Cove Swimathon

80’s SoHo for one night only

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With a street name like Staunton Street, SoHo you would be forgiven for thinking I am back in London…

The Varga Lounge was the venue for my friends 40th party. Myself and her hubby had almost successfully managed to plan and pull off a surprise 80’s party in the VIP room.

We ladies had surprise Mani/Pedi at The Feel Good Factor in Wyndham St. Getting glammed up in 80’s garb whilst swigging Prosecco and having a good old natter.

Arriving at the venue with a happy birthday girl in tow, we found that the cabling to the sound system in the VIP room had broken… Damn damn what’s an 80’s party without the music…

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We were totally blown away by the efforts all the guests had gone to to dress up & surprise Charmian. Her hubby had adorned the walls with some fab 80’s shots of her looking gorgeous, brilliant!

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The music issue was fixed (her hubby had to DJ from the main bar downstairs) much to the delight of the usual gay clientele who were squeeling everytime another fab 80’s track was played. My fave a lovely Italian man called Angel who was raving about this DJ the best he had danced to in ages (think Nick should give up the day job…)

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We partied hard till the wee hours, ate 80’s snacks (well those I could find in HK) and baffled the locals. Lots of young HK girls asking me where I buy my clothes (not sure they realised I was dressed as a Desperately Seeking Susan/Madonna) think they thought it was my usual Saturday night garb and they loved it!

They were in shock when I told them the pretty cool Boy George DJ worked in banking… and most of the other guests were mums and dads from Discovery Bay!
Not much difference in levels of partying then from our twenties! one to make the young un’s downstairs jealous, one guy even asked me how he could gate crash THAT awesome party upstairs ha ha!

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Hope we did Charmian proud, a damn good party with a great group of her friends… Happy memories… Lets do it again sometime soon xx

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ps. of course as you all (you guys in UK) know, Ed, 80’s man, as he has always been known didn’t need to dress up just slung on a Duffer jacket that he & Will shared in the 80’s god knows how and why it got shipped to HK – the legend of that jacket lives on in Asia!

Jungle Wawn’s

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In complete contrast to the hectic pace of Hong Kong, the Wawn’s have escaped to Khao Lak, Thailand.
Very sleepy jungle village set along a white sand beach where yesterday the head count was one other person & the cicadas are the noisiest thing around…
Exactly what is needed to recover from the effects of motorway number 9!

After a rather tense first day… Only 4 hours sleep due to a very late arrival and an early alarm call from the over excited kids.

2nd day has been a bit more successful. An early morning elephant trek followed by swimming, lunch led to finally after 3 hrs of trying… Both kids fell asleep for a couple of hours! Brilliant. We both had a massage a siesta and generally weren’t sure what to do with our free time.

If we manage to choreograph a daily siesta with both kids in sync then this really could prove to be the rejuvenating holiday that we needed. Watch this space… Not even sure Thailand can work that level of magic.

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Haadson Resort is definitely one for babycationsasia… Little 2 or 4 bedroom villas, football pitch size garden out front, two seconds to the beach, two seconds to the spa or Sala (if you prefer a quick cheapie massage outdoors)
Not pricey with a pool that Archie and Sophie can walk about in…

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So you see this has been a business trip! Shame I can’t write it off as one (Jane!!) x
Unfortunately all that lovely siesta’ing has its downside kids were up at 5!

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Yes very funny Soph!

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