That’s right, I put down that can of beer, finished that bottle of Taylor’s Port, and picked up my rather cool hat and a pair of skis last weekend for fun in the snow. As with most things in life, I thought skiing would be a piece of piste. How wrong I was. After me and Georgina slotted our feet into the damn things, we had trouble just staying still. Sliding backwards is nothing however compared to crashing forwards into innocent bystanders as you attempt to do anything other than stay where you are. I perservered with typical Martin grit and determination, and as a result almost received the second sporting injury in the family at the moment (speedy recovery Dad). My “skiing” basically comprised of taking the skis off, walking up a mild slope, putting them on, and sliding now the slope crying “yayyy!!” before falling over. I did this about 7 times, and it was great fun. Please refer to the action shot to the left somewhere. As the day wore on I grew bolder, despite still not being able to walk in the skis. So I took the ski lift up the hilly thing, which if you ask me is worth the admission fee alone. At the top I realised I’d actually die if I let myself fly down that slope, so it was with a mixture of sliding on my feet and on my skis that I made my way down. Still, all in all it was a great new thing to do, and I’ll definately try it again- though maybe next year.

After a day on the piste me, Georgina and Yukiko headed to Matsue, on the north coast of Japan. Matsue is a quiet, pleasant place, with nice food and some interesting sights. We got there in the evening after the skiing, and went to a restaurant for tempura, a few drinks and one of Matsue’s specialities, shijimi miso shoyu…oishii! The hotel we stayed in was great- a really chilled bar and incredibly cheap rooms.

The next day we woke up early (well, I thought it was early) to visit Izumo Taisha, the second most important Shintou shrine in Japan. It contained some really big ropes and lots of kegs of sake. Also there was an incredibly cool statue of the Sun God. I got my New Years fortunes (I’d previously got them in Fushiimi-Inari Taisha in Kyoto back in November), and was once again greeted by bad luck. Damn Shintou gods. After Izumo we headed to the coast and explored a small town with a nice shrine and lighthouse. It was very cool to have gone coast to coast in a weekend- the Sea of Japan feels a lot more like a sea than the Inland Sea does. Before leaving I had some strange creatures as a snack- delicious barbequed squid, and some weird thing in a shell. Back in Matsue we visited the castle and some of the other sights around town.