Who are you listening to?

I started working as an Editor for the British publishing company Macmillan last October. I work in the English Language department and help to check everything is correct and accurate in the textbooks before they are printed. I am also involved in planning the content of the textbook: activities, pictures, design and audio. Last December I attended a recording session in London where several actors read scripts that will eventually become the CD which accompanies every copy of The Business 2.0 (this is the book I work on!). This was lots of fun and very surprising. I say surprising because, having spent roughly ten years of my life teaching English and listening to a variety of class Cds, you start to recognise a lot of the voices you hear. For example, you might be listening to an activity in Total English and you realise it’s the same actor who does a listening activity in Business one:one. It’s always the same people! So, back to the recording session – imagine my surprise when the actors start to read the scripts and I completely recognise all of their voices! It was so strange. I felt quite shy as I was talking to them – as if they were celebrities! I told them I had heard their voices on many occasions over the years and they were very nice and polite, but it seems that this kind of work isn’t their main job. Most of them star in a BBC Radio 4 drama called ‘The Archers’. This is an extremely popular radio drama with over five million listeners and the first episode was broadcast over sixty years ago! It’s funny to think the people you are listening to in your lessons are actually VERY famous in the UK!
I think ‘The Archers’ could have a blog entry all to itself so maybe I will leave that until next time. Until then, enjoy your listening activities!

Here is a link to a documentary about the making of The Archers:
YouTube – The Archers – Behind the Scenes Pt 1

Here is a link for more information about The Business 2.0:
The Business 2.0

Ed and Becca’s Farewell party @ the Clapham Inn, Ashiya

What can we say? It was an absolutely brilliant party!

A great venue, fantastic food and drink, a happy and friendly atmosphere, lovely people and an excellent time had by all!

We were so happy to see so many imagine students of the past and present and it was nice to catch up and have a chat with everyone (we were so impressed with how much English was spoken – well done!). We ate fish and chips and shepherd’s pie which was a first for many people – good English grub! We received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers each and some lovely presents and, best of all, an album filled with messages from our friends at imagine. We read them when we got home and were so touched by the kind and generous things people wrote.

I started a blog recently which is about leaving Japan and all the things I will miss. I hope it conveys my strong connection to this country and many of the people I have met while living here. One of the posts is about the Clapham Inn itself so please check it out!

nippontouk : a diary of sorts

We will miss everyone so much but we hope we will see you again the UK – the kettle will be on and the biscuits will be ready!

Take care and all the very best,

xBecca & Ed


Do you like the idea of camping? Sleeping under canvas, cooking breakfast over a camp fire, the fresh air of the outdoors revitalising your body? Sounds good, doesn’t it? But really, in all honesty wouldn’t you prefer a thick mattress, breakfast brought to you on a tray and central heating? If so, then maybe you should try glamping – a recent trend in the UK. Glamping, if you are not familiar with the term, is shorthand for ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’ or, as it is sometimes referred to, luxury or boutique camping.

Go to a typical Glampsite and you will find state-of-the-art tents, yurts and teepees all equipped with electricity and heating. No need for your old sleeping bag either; snooze in comfort on a full-size air or spring mattress. Get all the benefits of the great outdoors but in complete comfort – now that sounds REALLY good!

Unsurprisingly, glamping can be a bit more expensive than traditional camping but you get what you pay for: a fabulous combination of opulence and the open air which will keep everyone in the family happy – and that (let’s be honest) is the most important thing.
Camping will never be the same again!

This is one of my favourite glamping tents. It looks like a cosy, little UFO!

Check out these links to specialist glamping websites:
Go Glamping | Luxury camping holidays and vacations around the world
Canopy & Stars ? luxury camping and glamping holidays, from yurts to treehouses


Lots of ‘dialogue’ at our latest party

This is the first time we have held an accessories exhibition, and we were unsure how it would work in the space. However, I’m pleased to say everything looks fantastic! The necklaces are absolutely beautiful; so original and unique. Each one tells a story and has a meaning attached, so they’re more than just ‘accessories’. We were happy the artist, Marisa Zenone, could attend before she went home to Italy. It was also lovely to see many imagine* members and their friends. With a mixture of Japanese, English and Italian being spoken, it made for a truly international party with a very lively atmosphere. Check this website for information about our next exhibition, and its launch party, which will be held in March 2011.

Story time!

It was a hot, summer’s day and I made my way to the Foreign Buyer’s Club on Rokko Island. My job was to tell stories to children using books produced by Oxford University Press. I wasn’t sure what to expect so felt a little bit nervous. However, as soon as I arrived I was made to feel very welcome by the OUP and FBC staff. There were some other teachers from another school who were really friendly too – I began to relax! Then the children arrived – about 30 I think. We had fun looking through the story books and speaking lots of English together. I was worried the children might be really shy and quiet but if anything, it was the complete opposite – they were so energetic and confident! Children don’t worry about making mistakes so much. They become so involved in the story, they seem to forget they are speaking a different language – great eh? Anyway, it was a lovely day and I hope I can do it again sometime in the future. Forget computer games and iPhone Apps, story time is the best!

‘skirt’ exhibition launch party 13 June 2010

It was a rainy day and we were worried people would decide not to come – but they did! In fact, we had a great turnout. People seemed to be very interested in our new exhibition by Rui Nakai. What a great idea: designs for skirts based on the artist’s travel experiences. There are a variety of images for example, flamingos in a river in Berlin, marching soldiers in Copenhagen and (my personal favourite) city lights in Amsterdam. I think the pieces appealed to all ages; some of our younger members told me they liked the bright colours and pretty designs.

As well as fantastic art we had tasty food too (a party essential!). A friend of the artist, from Itsuki Bakery, very kindly supplied us with delicious home-baked bread and homemade marmalade – we hope he will come again! It was a great afternoon and we all had a really nice time chatting with friends and meeting new people, surrounded by Rui’s inventive and refreshing exhibition. Another successful party!

Choosing a name

It’s very difficult choosing a name for your baby; it’s a big responsibility! A British newspaper published the top ten baby names in England and Wales for last year. Can you guess what they were? Any ideas? They were………… Olivia for girls and Jack for boys. I really like them both, but you can imagine in a few years time every classroom will have several Jacks and Olivias – a tricky problem for the teacher, I’m sure.

After a lot of discussion, my husband and I decided to call our baby Henry David. Henry was a name we liked very much and it’s NOT in the top ten list – hooray! In the UK most people have a middle name. Sometimes it’s the name of someone else in the family, e.g. a father’s or a grandmother’s first name, and sometimes it just makes a nice combination with the first name, like Rebecca Jane ;-) . We chose David for both reasons and fortunately, our family and friends approved of our choice – phew! Check out the article for yourself:

Olivia and Jack are most popular baby names | Society | The Guardian

Which name would you choose?

A magical part of Japan

In April my mother and aunty came to Japan for a holiday. They went to many places including Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, Hakone and Takayama. Luckily, I was able to join them on one of their trips. We went to a place which was different from anywhere else I had previously visited in Japan: Koyasan, the home of Japanese Buddhism.

After taking the local train and then a cable car high up into the mountains, we arrived in this extremely beautiful location and then took a bus to our Shukubo. The monks at our Temple lodging were really friendly and helpful and they prepared a simple but tasty vegetarian meal for us in the evening and, in the morning, we were invited to attend the morning meditation ceremony – a very interesting experience!

Koyasan is such a quiet and relaxing place, it was nice just to walk around the area and see the temples and cemetery, and take in the fantastic scenery and fresh air. We only stayed for one night but I think we all felt a positive effect from the place so, if you haven’t already been, I’d definitely recommend a visit to this unusual but magical part of Japan.

The Eurovision Song Contest

This is a popular competition in Europe, which takes place in spring every year. Each European country performs a song, and then they vote for the best one. It’s Europe’s version of the Red & White Music Festival(紅白歌合戦). It started in 1956 and is always hosted in the country of the previous year’s winner. This year the lucky country is Russia!

To be honest, most of the songs are pretty bad, but it’s a lot of fun and there are many ‘interesting’ songs and costumes. Probably the most famous act to win Eurovision is Abba. They won in 1974 with their song “Waterloo”, and after that they became popular all over the world. My favourite Eurovision song is called “Making your mind up” by Bucks Fizz – it won in 1981 (representing the UK – yay!), and is a perfect example of a catchy, Eurovision pop song!

Check it out:
1981 UK: Bucks Fizz – Making your mind up (1st place at Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin)

For more information about this year’s contest in Moscow, go to:
Eurovision Song Contest


One of my favourite trips in Japan was to Naoshima, a beautiful island in the Seto Inland Sea. We travelled by car to Takamatsu and then took a ferry to the island. I remember seeing a huge black and red pumpkin on the pier waiting to greet us as we arrived.

This was one of many pieces of contemporary art on display, some in museums and some on the beach! We stayed in a fantastic hotel designed by Tadao Ando, and ate a gorgeous dinner there later that evening. We were on the island for less than twenty-four hours, but it felt a lot longer. The combination of fresh sea air, amazing art, tasty food and the beauty of the location resulted in an unforgettable trip; I’ve been recommending Naoshima ever since!

For more information about Naoshima: