Last week was Golden Week, a string of 4 public holidays in the space of a week. It's my favourite holiday time in Japan because of the weather; usually warm, sunny and great for being outside, unlike hot-and-humid summer holidays or cold-and-snowy winter ones.
This year though, we didn't really do much. We met up with several friends - a barbecue in the park one day with Cian, Yoshi and gang, visited the Oyamas in their 'new' house (which was finished at least a year ago but it was the first time we got around to going there) and met up with the Kuchitas yesterday for lunch at a new child-friendly restaurant. H has spent 3 days out in the garden staining the fence (nearly finished now!), and we had the one month ceremony and photo shoot for T. Actually, when I write it all down, it seems like quite a lot!
Anyway, I don't mind if we didn't do that much, because we will have lots more days like that this year. H is taking extended paternity leave, a very unusual thing among employed Japanese men! The rules at his office have changed since K was born; previously, a man could only take extended paternity leave if his partner was working, but now anyone can take up to a year off even if their partner is at home. I think that many men are still put off by the idea that they will be inconveniencing their colleagues and may be considered lazy (not to mention the substantial drop in pay, gulp), but H's boss reassured him that he is entitled to take this leave and he should go ahead and do it. H works hard but he also always takes all his holiday each year and generally comes home on time; definitely a work-to-live rather than live-to-work kind of guy!
So, as of Monday, H is on paternity leave and, throwing in summer holiday and annual leave too, he'll be off until the end of September! One of the reasons he's doing it (apart from the simple fact that he can) is so that we can all take a long trip to the UK together. When K was a few months old I took him to the UK for 2 months in the summer but there's no way I could manage the trip with K and T without another adult. It's the only time that H will be able to make a long trip, probably until he retires!
We've got T's British birth certificate, his passport should be ready next week and the plane tickets have been bought. We leave here on May 31st (in 3 weeks time!) and come back again on August 31st, making the most of that 3 month ticket... So if you are in the UK and would like to meet up over the summer, let me know! I'm now, very slowly, getting in touch with friends and trying to organise some get-togethers. I know that, unless I take action, even 3 whole months in the UK could easily pass in a blur of lounging on the sofa eating salt and vinegar crisps and watching The Weakest Link...