Yes the lack of pay had put a dampener on any major weekend plans, but I was ready for a quiet weekend anyways. Having raced around for teh last few months, and with Golden Week and any impending travel that would bring, I thought it best to stay still this weekend, or at the very least travel at sub 120km/hour speeds.
Friday night Debs drove me and Kate Dooling to see the play 'Two' performed by two Jets, Beth and Kiwi Dave. It venue was Memory in Takada, a small bar with a stage and an atmosphere similar to the Adelphi in Hull. The play was really good, with both Beth and Dave giving great performances acting the parts of various characters.
As well as seeing teh Joetsu Jets for the first time in ages, I also got an opportunity to meet Neil's parents. They'd based themselves in Shijuku for the two weeks they stayed here and had come up to Joetsu to see Neil's apartment and school. While I resisted all attempts to embarass Neil, his Dad said he'd seen the photos on my website. So, job done.
Debs drove us back on Friday night so I had a Saturday lie-in for teh first time in weeks. It was great to wake up naturally without an alarm. I answered a few emails, chatted with James on MSN (he's planning to quite scuba diving teaching for a while and go back to the UK for a bit) and eventually decided that since it was a nice day, I had to spend it outside.
So I headed up to Nagaoka and met my friend Harumi. We went up to Yukyuzan Park where there were lots of sakura (cherry blossom) trees. Once we found somewhere to park, we walked towards the park entrance and bumped into Gina. She was having a bit of trouble with her car and was waiting for someone to come and sort it out. We waited with her, her car got sorted and we headed for the sakura.
The steps into the park took you up to a shrine, and then a row of stalls leading you to big clearing. Lots of groups of people where here enjoying 'hanami', a picnic beneath the sakura. We carried on and came to Nagaoka Castle, which looked very Japanese because it was surrounded by cherry blossoms. On the way back to the car we found some animal enclosures with various animals and birds, the favourites being the monkeys.
After the park I headed across to Joetsu for Dan's leaving do. Dan is a private ALT whose contract runs out soon so he has to leave, even though he still wants to stay. We all met round his flat before heading to Nick's bar and Nova for a night of drink and a bit of dancing.
On Sunday I met up with Keiko and we went to the cinema and saw 'Constantine'. I'm a fan of teh 'Hellblazer' comics on which teh film is based and was worried about the quality of the adaptation. To be honest, it wasn't entirely true to 'Hellblazer', but it wasn't a completely bad film. Sometimes, if you squinted, you could almost believe that Keanu was John Constantine.
So a quiet weekend, though I feel like I could do with another couple of days to relax. Good job Golden Week is soon.