Miyazaki dreaming in Niseko

Exterior-03-loresThere’s a gorgeous house nestled amongst birch trees in the foothills of Mt Annupuri, Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan. In winter there is sixteen metres of powdery snow each year, in summer and autumn the wind rustles the leaves and the red farmhouse rooves glow in landscapes you’ll know from Miyazaki films. Totoro is around every corner. No matter what time of year it is, the food is amazing.

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Luckily for us we now own this house, we’ve started Japanese lessons and are looking forward to spending a lot more time in Japan over the next few years. But we can’t be there all the time.

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If you think you might enjoy a holiday in rural Japan, either to explore the eight local ski resorts, cycle the Niseko Classic route, hike in the forests or raft on the rivers, then signing up for our newsletter will make sure you always know what’s going on in Niseko. We’re not planning on sending out heaps of newsletters, we’re hoping to be too busy actually being in Niseko to send out news about it, but occasionally we’ll send you a reminder of what’s going on, just in case you want to factor renting our house into your holidays. You can find more details about the house here or like our Facebook page if you’re that way inclined.

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Twilight Market

Our local primary school is having their annual Twilight Market tomorrow, Friday November 21st. Kicking off from 3:30 and running until 8pm the market has become the annual opportunity for the school to share with neighbours and local community, while also raising funds.

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Its only once you become a parent and your kids head off to school that you realise just how little of your child’s education is paid for by the government. Teacher’s salaries? Well, yes. Building maintenance? Rarely. Vegetable gardens, art classes, educators, books,materials, furniture, ovals, playgrounds, bike sheds … the list goes on but never is always the answer.

Parents often look for a school with good facilities without thinking about how a particular school got them, now what it might mean for them.  The shade cloth above the playground, the vegetable garden, the playground, they’re all there because there were parents at the school who thought they were important enough to either build them themselves, working around their day jobs, or because there were families able to invest the time required for fund raising.

Which is all a really long-winded way (it must be the scent of an election in the air) of saying that if you’re around in Brunswick Friday afternoon, maybe on your way home, consider dropping in for a drink, a bite to eat and some fun. Thunder Road will be there, we’ve made the best homemade lemonade in the universe, there’ll be coffee from Padre, all the food is homemade and we’re throwing a pig (or most of it) into the pizza oven to make Vietnamese pulled-pork buns. There’ll be rides, craft, music, raffles, silent auctions, apple bobbing, awesome cocktails, plants, second hand stalls and more.

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My personal favourites (and I may be biased) are the Bike N Blend stall where you can pedal up a smoothie and Brunswick Cycling Club‘s vintage rollers. Last time Brunswick Cycling Club bought these rollers along our kids wore their volunteers out and I’m betting that will be happening again.

If you do come down, bring your own crockery and cutlery if you can. Brunswick East Primary School is on the cnr of Nicholson and Stewart Sts, Brunswick and the Twilight Market is from 3:30-8pm

Going Dutch

I love hearing from people who’ve been to the Netherlands, especially when its a visit to one of my favourite towns, Utrecht. In this week’s programme on 3CR Val and I were joined by Melbourne City Cr Cathy Oke. Cathy was recently on a study tour of the Netherlands, along with a dozen other Australians influential in policy and practice around urban mobility.

10387347_10153323019413696_6482181441335686047_nBased in Utrecht and visiting cities all over the country, the tour participants not only met local experts and heard about the role of cycling in urban transport but also got out on the streets on two wheels to see everything in practice.  If you missed the show live you can tune in to the podcast here:

The tour was organised by the CPF in conjunction with the Netherlands Consulate. You can read Craig Woolridge’s (Department of Transport WA) report here.