Happy New Year


London fireworks, New Year 2016/17

Happy New Year, Hugo.

I hope that this post finds you well. You are going to turn nine in 2017, halfway to becoming a grown up in 2026. It is as shocking as it is unfair how quickly the time passes by, never to be repeated.

Although 2016 will go down as the year when a seemingly disproportionate number of famous people that I grew up watching in the 80s passed away and two major political occurrences, “Brexit” in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., for me it will always be associated with my not having seen you for a full five calendar years (2012-2016 inclusive). That said, whenever I see the President-elect on television, it occurs that you see more of him, albeit on the television, than you do of your own father – I well remember Reagan on the television aged as about you are now. I hope in the course of these next 5 years, as you become more independent and inquisitive of your background, this absence of contact might change. For now, though, I offer you a happy New Year. I hope that it is a year filled with accomplishment and happiness for you in all that you do.


Happy New Year

Hello Hugo

My earliest memory of London is Waterloo Station, the place where I first arrived in the city on a family visit in the 1980s.  It serves communities in the south eastern part of England and south west London.  It hasn’t changed all that much over the years. One thing that has changed is that a balcony level overlooking the concourse has recently been constructed.  I had reason to pass through the station in early December 2015 and, with no particular reason, decided to take the escalator up to the balcony.  Once I reached the top of the escalator I came across a wonderful gallery comprising of photographs of different parts of the UK.  I took photographs of the ones I liked the most and share these with you below to mark the turn of the year.  Best wishes for the year 2016.

Waterloo 1Waterloo 2Waterloo 3Waterloo 4Waterloo 5Waterloo 6Waterloo 7Waterloo 8Waterloo 9Waterloo 10Waterloo 11Waterloo 12Waterloo 13Waterloo 14Waterloo 15Waterloo 16Waterloo 17Waterloo 18Waterloo 19Waterloo 20

Happy New Year

Happy new year, Hugo – and readers of this blog.

Twenty-fourteen was a better year for abducted children in Japan.  It was the year in which the Hague Convention finally came into force in Japan.  It also saw the first actual (albeit voluntary) return of an abducted child from Japan in mid-October and the first court order for the return of a child on 19 November, the day before the third anniversary of your abduction to Japan.  I was pleased to get a letter about the issue published in the Japan Times in June.  Most importantly, I received one piece of news about you in late August.  The year 2014 also saw the 100th post on this blog, coinciding by date with your 6th birthday in November; roughly-speaking that equates to a post just over every week since the blog was set up in November 2012.

As I did around this time last year, here are some photographs of the places visited by me in the year 2014 so that you can see for yourself.  The photographs were all taken by me so please excuse the lack of skill in taking them.

All my best wishes for 2015.

Further (New Year 2015) Reading:

“In Pictures: New Year’s Eve Celebrations”, BBC News, 1 January 2015

“New Year Celebrations:  Revellers Gather in London and Across UK”, BBC News, 1 January 2015

Photographs (2014): 

Oxenholme/Kendal – December 2014

Kendal 1

Kendal 2

Kendal 3

Kendal 4

Kendal 5

Birmingham – November 2014

Birmingham Nov 2014 (3)

Birmingham Nov 2014 (2)

Birmingham Nov 2014 (1)

Venice, Italy – October 2014

Venice 1

Venice 2

Venice 3

Venice 4

Venice 5

Venice 6

Venice 7

Venice 8

Venice 9

Venice 10

Venice 11

Venice 12

Sheffield – August 2014

Sheffield 15

Sheffield 14

Sheffield 13

Sheffield 12

Sheffield 10

Sheffield 11

Sheffield 7

Sheffield 6

Sheffield 8

Sheffield 9

Sheffield 3

Sheffield 5

Sheffield 4

Sheffield 2

Sheffield 1

Durham – July 2014

Durham 2014 1

Durham 2014 2

Durham 2014 4

Durham 2014 7

Durham 2014 5

Durham 2014 8

Durham 2014 9

Durham 2014 3

Durham 2014 6

Durham 2014 10

Buxton – May 2014

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

New Year’s Day 2014: Happy New Year

Hello Hugo

Happy new year to you, my son.  A new year has begun.  Here is a collection of photographs for you, taken by me throughout the course of 2013, so as to mark the passage of another year.  I hope that they give you an insight into the UK and the places that I have been to.  I hope that 2014 might be the year when I can get to see you again but, whatever happens, I am here thinking of you in the UK and neither the passage of time, nor being 6,000 miles removed from you, will change that.


Snow in London, January 2013:  


(NB:  Through the gloom, you can just about make out the BT Tower in the background (right in the centre); my late grandfather designed the old-style satellite dishes that were recently removed from it; you can read another article about it here). 




Chartwell House, Kent (Winston Churchill’s home), May 2013:

Chartwell May 2013 (4)

Chartwell May 2013 (1)

Chartwell May 2013 (2)

Chartwell May 2013 (3)

Chartwell May 2013 (5)

Chartwell May 2013 (6)

(NB:  Churchill stood on these stepping stones and fed his goldfish whilst prosecuting the Second World War).  


Hastings, East Sussex, June 2013:  

Hastings June 2013 (1)

Hastings June 2013 (2)


River Thames and “Emirates Air Line“, East London, June 2013:

Thames June 2013 (2)

Thames June 2013 (1)

Thames June 2013 (3)

Thames June 2013 (4)


(NB:  The last time that I took a trip in a cable car was at Miyajima, just down the road from where you are living in Japan).  

Thames June 2013 (6)

Thames June 2013 (5)


Everton and surrounds, Hampshire (my childhood home area), August 2013:

Everton (3)

Everton (1)

Everton (2)

(NB:  View from my childhood bedroom window).

Everton (5)

Everton (4)

Everton (6)


Lincoln, August 2013:

Lincoln Aug 2013 (3)

Lincoln Aug 2013 (2)

Lincoln Aug 2013 (1)


Bradford, September 2013:

Bradford Sep 2013 (6)

Bradford Sep 2013 (1)

Bradford Sep 2013 (2)

Bradford Sep 2013 (5)

Bradford Sep 2013 (3)

(NB:  Posting a letter to you whilst in Bradford).

Bradford Sep 2013 (4)


Nottingham, September 2013:

Nottingham Oct 2013 (1)


Blackpool, Lancashire, October 2013:

Blackpool (1)

Blackpool (2)

Blackpool (3)

Blackpool (4)

Blackpool (6)

Blackpool (7)

Blackpool (8)

Blackpool (9)

Blackpool (11)

Blackpool (12)


York, November 2013:  








Birmingham, December 2013:  

Birmingham 1

Birmingham 3

Birmingham 4

Birmingham 5

Birmingham 6

Birmingham 2


Fog in North London, December 2013:

London Fog 3

London Fog 2

London Fog 1

New Year’s Eve 2013: another year over, and a ray of hope

This, below, is a photograph of my son, Hugo. It was emailed to me by his mother, totally out of the blue, at about noon on Christmas Day. It was said to have been taken in his nursery in Japan on the 28th of last month, the date of his 5th birthday. This is the first time I have ‘seen’ Hugo since he left the UK in November 2011, a period of some 766 days as at 25 December. The brief covering email reported that he is ‘well and thriving’ and thanked me for the ‘gift’ that I sent – presumably the one sent for his birthday as the Christmas ones might have still been in transit; this was the first news about him, and the very first acknowledgement of anything that I have sent to him, since the consular visit in March this year about which I have posted before. There was no further information provided.

Twenty-thirteen therefore ends on an unexpectedly positive note when compared with the situation of no information at all that existed throughout the whole of 2012. The development, however, falls far short of my being allowed to be part of Hugo’s childhood, and it is not clear if the provision of photographs, let alone nursery reports and other basic information, will now be regular or occasional occurrence or whether this was just a one-off. Still, I am happy to see what my son looks like and know that he is well.

Hugo looks much as he did when he left the UK in 2011 save perhaps that he seems to have a greater resemblance to his father than before. At that time, without knowing that I would not see him again, I took about a dozen photos of him. I was going to post them on this blog on the 2nd anniversary of his departure from the UK last month but, ironically as it turned out, elected to wait as these were the only ‘recent’ photos that I had of him and felt that I should wait longer before sharing them, not knowing then that I would receive a more up to date photo of him (and, yes, it was just the one) just over a month later. I will now share those 2011 photos at an appropriate juncture.

I read accounts on the internet of left behind parents not being able to see their sons/daughters in Japan at all for upwards of 10 years.  I am, therefore, fortunate and I hope this post gives some hope to those readers of this blog caught up in this unbearable and unacceptable situation.

Happy new year.

Note to Hugo: It was very nice to receive the photo of you. To receive it was the second best thing that happened this year; the best thing was the consular report in March as I was able to learn something about your life from that. Before receiving the photograph, I had already draft-prepared a new year message for you but will post that on New Year’s Day tomorrow instead of today, as I had planned, owing to this development.