Well it started well, dawn again and the shops still weren't open. Told the girls to go for their lives and wear any clothes they wanted to (a gardening/ rice paddy weekend I usually veto anything new, white or dresses) and they did. Meg wore a bright yellow dress covered in rainbow dolphins. I think it's supposed to be ankle length and baggy but it didn't look that bad with a fitted bodice and just below knee length. She accessorised with a pink hair band and a yellow Hamutaro bag (hankie, tissues, hair tie, hair clip and a wet face washer in a ziplock bag- that's my girl!) and yellow crocs. She was very proud when I pointed out that she matched 'I thought about that when I chose everything!'
Amy now...... my dear sartorially challenged Amy.... she grabbed a pair of rainbow leggings she's had since she was two. Two! They have made the trip to the bin and back on numerous occasions but she loves them... I talked her out of the leggings and she swapped for yellow knicker-hider pants. No problem. Under a skirt or dress that is. On their own with a t-shirt? Ummmmmm...... After going through every pair of pants she has in her cupboard to vigorous head shaking I clicked on the one sure thing that would get her to change-
"Do you want to borrow something from Meg?"
"Sure. That's ok isn't it Meg?"
"I don't mind."
Meg is so easygoing sometimes I have to be careful I don't take advantage of her good heart.
So, dressed (finally!) we headed into the city. Well, only Matsumoto but that is city enough for me. Now, I tolerate driving. Don't hate it but definitely don't love it. Accept it as a necessary evil to live the life I do in the place I do. That's driving in the country though. Driving in the city is surely the seventh level of hell. Stop, start, stop, start. Lane changes and right hand turns and traffic lights and cyclists running the lights and all those people and all those cars and arghhhhhh!!! So I had pre-planned our route for: least congested approach, best (spacious, free) parking and planned attack on walkable shops- with appropriate rest/ refreshment/ bribery stops. This plan was pure genius! Seriously great planning. Only two small oversights:
the sun and
The sun wasn't the one in the sky but the one on NHK. The morning drama. Ohisama. It's set in this area. It's watched by millions of retirees with a sacredness verging on the religious. The morning drama has a reputation for turning random spots in Japan into the latest silver set must see tourist attraction. Dang it, the roads were chokka block with cars from prefectures in every direction. At last 2/3 of them plastered with senior driver stickers. Gahhhhhh!!!! Hate senior drivers anyway but out of towner senior drivers doing drive-by tourism are the pits.
The 1000 yen? Well this Sunday just happens to be the last day of the sweet government discount deal on the toll roads. No more 1000 yen all you can drive deals. Seems a few people decided they would make one last trip. And hey honey, how about Matsumoto? We could check out the locations for ohisama and swing by the castle at the same time?
My ingenious route took us past two sides of the castle. That would be the side with the car park and the side with the secondary carpark. Both of which were full. Full with lines waiting to get in. I know I've mentioned that peculiarity of castle towns- the narrow and winding roads? Yeah, not really conducive to overtaking parked cars....
Now Amy shares my lack of passion for driving only in her case it's being driven. As soon as the car stopped despite the light being green she started telling me 'green means go'. When I pointed out that I couldn't as the car in front of me hadn't gone yet she wanted me to beep the horn. Oops. Don't think she learnt that one from daddy.....
In an effort to distract her I pointed out the Chevrolet next to us with a backseat tv monitor bigger than our home tv. Bad idea. Monumental discussion on all the things wrong with our car and why I should add a left hand drive Chevvy to the shopping list. The fact they aren't available in Matsumoto wasn't a good excuse apparently.
Finally arrived in the huge, ginormous parking lot. So big it has all 12 of the Chinese Zodiac signs there up on signs to help you find your car. I have never been there when it's more than half full.
I have never been there on a weekend either.
Now I have ticked off both!
It was full. 100% full. Full with cars trawling around looking for people who might be getting ready to leave. Oh happy day, my favourite parking environment!
Finally parked and got both girls safely across the acres of carpark to the mall. phew. Felt like I was playing frogger with two random tadpoles! We hadn't got 100m though when Amy complained her shoes hurt. She was wearing cute little strappy leather shoes. Without socks. A size too small.... dang it, forgot the Amy shoe check. Necessary on all outings to make sure Amy is wearing shoes at all (not necessarily a given) and that they are purpose and season appropriate.
Ahhhhh loving today already!
After that a break ridden walk to starbucks and losing one then the other then the first one then the other again in the attached bookshop was a breeze! Ended up forgetting to use my gift card afterall but hey- that's not a minus it's a plus. I will just have to go again. Alone next time. On a weekday!
Walked back to the mall with even more mini breaks for Amy's fetto search out Lego people. Nothing. Zilch. I guess Matsumoto kids are more into pink character goods (two rows) or hero character goods (two rows) than Lego (one row end and half duplo)
Meg was disappointed.
Amy was missing.
Panicky 5 minutes searching and calling out and looking over and under masses of people and ruing Amy changing from hot yellow hot pants to run of the mill grey spats and I found her on the floor looking at a dolls house.
"I was looking for you! I was worried!!"
"Hnnn? I was here."
Turned around and realised I'd lost Meg.
Oh happy day! I really don't enjoy shopping under any circumstances. With these two in tow? Aghhhh!
With Amy's hand in a vice grip tracked Meg down (in the pink character aisle. She was just checking Amy wasn't there. You know, hiding behind a pink pencil case or under a pink drink bottle or something you know...
Had enough shopping we headed to the M shop for a happy meal.
Good lord!!! The line was out the shop and around the corner.
"Whoa... look at all these people. They'll be waiting ages for their lunch.... Hey guys! Let's go and have an anpanman lunch at Gusto instead!"
So we joined the hoards lining up for a hamburger, fries and the latest faddy toy. Seems we had arrived on day two of the new toy and a special wifi link up, too. Hence the hoardes...
Oh well, the girls loved their hamburgers and carefully put their pokemon plastic products in their bags.
The rest of the shopping trip was supposed to be a trip to the park on the other side of the city. But I had a headache, I was tired, I wanted to go home and eat a vegetable- any vegetable- and I really wasn't up to more traffic so I did some mummy magic/ bribery and bought two water squirters and waited for them to suggest we went home to try them out. Hehehe... Cunning as a fox, eh?
Got home, changed into my gardening pants, grabbed the wading pool and filled it up and breathed in the silence, the green, the fresh air, the nature, the lack of hustle and bustle and the peace that is our front yard. Ahhhhhh Sunday is getting better already!