月別アーカイブ: 2015年12月



Tim’s Blog – Christmas Films


I think that most of you have realised by now how much we at Kensington like Christmas. One of my favourite parts of Christmas is watching Christmas-themed or Christmas-set films.

This year I am planning to spend the festive season watching a selection of such films together with the non-Christmas related Star Wars Episodes IV,V and VI in an effort to initiate my daughter to the Star Wars universe so she may agree to watch Episode VII in the cinema with me. Never was a crazy Star Wars fan but I can remember how fascinated I was when I watched the earlier films when I was a young boy. If I could recreate a small part of that magic for my daughter, that would make me a very happy dad indeed.

Following are some of my favourite Christmas films. They are all related to Christmas with the exception of “The Great Escape” which is neither Christmas-themed nor Christmas-set but is very usually aired at Christmas in the UK.

The reviews are taken from “The Rotten Tomatoes”

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
The holiday classic to define all holiday classics, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of a handful of films worth an annual viewing.

Elf (2003)
A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell’s funny and charming performance as one of Santa’s biggest helpers.

About a Boy (2002)
A winning comedy that benefits from Hugh Grant’s boyish charms.

A Christmas Carol (1963)
A great and eternally heart-warming film that can stand an appreciative viewing every year through every decade.

The Great Escape (1963)
With its impeccably slow-building story and a cast for the ages, The Great Escape is an all-time action classic.

Merry Christmas to everyone!!


Jaimie’s Blog – Christmas Eve!


The big day is almost upon us. I have a few nice memories of Christmas from when I was a child. My mother is quite inventive with the truth sometimes and she fooled me into believing that on the day of a firstborn child’s birth the mother is handed the secret number to Santa Clauses’ phone and she can use it to phone him at any time during the year to tell him to cancel Christmas gifts for bad children such as myself. This number is known to all mothers and kept a fierce secret between them. This shocked me to my core and I suddenly looked at my mother and all my friends’ mums in a new and mysterious light.

We also had a fireplace in my house and used to leave some things out for Santa and his reindeer, these included mince pies and brandy for Santa, carrots and other vegetables for the reindeer and a stocking to be filled for me and my brother (despite being bad all year round). In the morning, surprise surprise everything would be gone, the stockings would be filled, and just to add to the drama there would be a big pair of boot prints in the ash below the mantlepiece.

This final touch blew my young innocent mind and also terrified me half to death, Santa being basically a housebreaker who comes in the middle of the night and sits in your living room drinking and eating while you are asleep. The image always unnerved me slightly.

Bad kids in the U.K receive nothing more than a piece of coal in their stocking. Here is a little more information on what Christmas eve means around the world.

Christmas Eve has many of its own customs and traditions. The most widely practised one that still exists today is going to a Midnight Mass Church Service. In many countries, especially Catholic ones such as Spain, Mexico, Poland and Italy, this is the most important Church service of the Christmas season. People might fast during Christmas Eve (not eat any meat or fish usually) and then the main Christmas meal is often eaten after the Midnight Mass Service in these countries. In some other countries, such as Belgium, Finland, Lithuania and Denmark the meal is eaten in the evening and you might go to a Midnight Service afterwards!
クリスマス・イブには独自の習慣や伝統がたくさんあります。今日もなおもっとも広く行われているものといえば、真夜中に教会で行われるミサでしょう。多くの国、特にスペイン・メキシコ・ポーランド・イタリアといったカトリックの国々では、このミサがクリスマスの時季、教会での一番大事な儀式です。こういう国々では、イブには断食 (肉・魚を一切口にしないのが通例)をすることもあるでしょう。そして、クリスマス・ディナーは、真夜中のミサの後にいただくというということがよくあります。ベルギー・フィンランド・リトアニア・デンマークといった他の国々では、クリスマス・ディナーは夕方・夜にいただき、それから真夜中のミサに出かけるということもあるでしょう!

The Midnight Mass Communion Service (or ‘Christ-Mas’) was a very special one as it was the only one that was allowed to start after sunset (and before sunrise the next day), so it was held at Midnight!

Christmas Eve is also the day when people in some countries, like Germany, Sweden and Portugal exchange their presents. I think Santa must have those countries on his extra early list! Christmas Eve is also Santa’s busiest day of the year when he has to travel over 220 million miles (355 million km) to get to every house on earth! You can see where Santa’s got to on www.santaupdate.com
クリスマス・イブは、ドイツ・スウェーデン・ポルトガルといった国々では、プレゼントを交換し合う日になっています。サンタは、この国々のために特別に早めのプレゼントのリストを作っているに違いない、と私は思います!クリスマス・イブはサンタにとっても1年で一番忙しい日で、2億2千万マイル(3億5千5百万キロ)を移動して地球上の1軒1軒を訪ねなければなりません!サンタの位置は www.santaupdate.com から確認できます。

In many european countries including Germany, Serbia and Slovakia, Christmas Eve is the day when the Christmas Tree is brought into the house and decorated.

It was also traditional to bring the Yule Log into the house and light it on Christmas Eve. It was lit using a piece of the previous years log and then would burnt non-stop until Twelfth Night (6th January). Tradition also said that any greenery such as Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe should only be taken into the house on Christmas Eve.

It’s also the time that the wonderful book ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens is set and that going out Carol singing was and still is very popular. In the past, if you weren’t carol singing, in parts of the UK, you might go out wassailing or mumming.

There were lots of superstitions in the UK that said girls could find out the initials, or even have visions, of the person they would marry on Christmas Eve! This was often done by cooking a special cake called a ‘dumb cake’. You were supposed to make the cake in silence and prick your initials into the top. When you went to bed, you left the cake by the fire hearth and your true love was supposed to coming in at midnight and prick his initials next to yours!

Other Christmas Eve superstitions included that farm and wild animals would kneel at midnight in honor of Jesus being born or that they could even talk!


Tim’s Best of the Year


Everyone that knows me knows that I love making lists and with the end of the year coming, it’s a perfect time for a “Best of the Year” list.

Best Film I watched this Year
Truth is that I couldn’t really watch many films this year and most of the films that I could watch needed to be family friendly to protect my daughter from any possible traumatic experiences. I did manage to watch a few good films though some of which were “Mad Max”, “Inside Out”, “Whiplash”, “Birdman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” but the best film I watched in 2015 was “Interstellar”, a gripping, incredibly ambitious Science Fiction film that I think will be regarded as a masterpiece for decades to come.
実のところ、今年はそれほどたくさん映画を見られず、見たものはほとんど、娘が怖い思いをしないようにと、家族向けのものにならざるを得ませんでした。しかしながら、いいものも何とか数本は見ることができました。『マッド・マックス』 『インサイド・ヘッド』『セッション』『バードマン あるいは無知がもたらす予期せぬ奇跡』『ガーディアンズ・オブ・ギャラクシー』などです。でも2015年で一番よかったのは『インターステラー』。心をわしづかみにする、非常に野心的なSF映画で、今後数十年にわたって、名作とされることでしょう。

Best Album I listened to this Year
Unfortunately I couldn’t really listen to much new music either this year, though I was able to revisit some classic albums I hadn’t heard for ages such as Miles Davis “Sketches of Spain” and John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”.  In regards to new music I listened to this year there was one album that really stood out, and that was D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah”.

Best Book of the Year
This one is pretty hard. I always try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction and I’ve read some wonderful books in both categories so far this year. The best non-fiction book I read was the “Steve Jobs” biography by Walter Isaacson and the runner-ups were “Creativity, Inc” by Ed Catmull, a book about how Pixar cultivates and sustains an environment of creativity, and “The War that ended Peace” by Margaret MacMillan, a book about how Europe stumbled onto the First World War.
これはかなり難しいですね。いつもフィクションとノンフィクションをとり混ぜて読むようにしていまして、今年はこれまでにどちらのいい本も読みました。一番よかったノンフィクションは、ウォルター・アイザックソンによる伝記 『スティーブ・ジョブズ』、次によかったのは、エドウィン・キャットマル『ピクサー流 想像するちからー小さな可能性から大きな価値を生み出す方法』、それと、マーガレット・マクミラン『平和を終わらせた戦争』、これは、ヨーロッパの、第一次世界大戦によるつまずきを描いたものです。
As for fiction the best book I read this year was “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, an almost 1000 page novel exploring themes of loss, grief, friendship and the timelessness of art. I absolutely loved every page of it. Runner up is “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht.

Best Food of the Year
Food. I love good food. And Japan is a paradise for good food. This year I ate some marvellous Vietnamese food in our hotel in Vietnam, I ate great food at reasonable prices at my favourite Italian near my house, enjoyed eating at various of Fukuoka’s great restaurants, a number of delicious hotpot dishes at home but the undisputed champion of this category is the Kaiseki restaurant we went to in Shiga. The best place I have eaten in my life. Every single dish was delicious. This is the websitehttp://kiyomoto.to.

How about you? What were your best of the year? Please feel free to share with us at Kensington as our last classes for the year are approaching.