Hello and welcome back to hazelldean.net and life at Dean Towers.
Those of you following on Facebook will know that we have suffer a pretty catastrophic meltdown of all things technical, leaving the poor webmaster up the proverbial creek without an i-Paddle!
……but now we are back! The blog starts where we were expecting the website to be back up and running, November 2014,
with photos and chat from my trip to Japan with the very lovely Rick Astley on the “Together Forever” tour, where I had the most fantastic time.
Will make sure that we post monthly blogs to keep you updated with news from me…..the next blog will be after my visit to South Africa on the REWIND tour.
Also, don’t forget to sponsor me on The Marsden March, raising money with Team Dean for cancer care and research. We will be walking on 22nd March – Please sponsor me!!!!
Obviously we would like to raise as much money as possible so I would be so grateful if you would sponsor me and/or my daughter, Stevie Dean either via the“Just Giving” links below:
Or text with a donation to sponsor me –
Here’s how its done.
• Texts to:70070
• Message: HDHD84 then the amount you want to give. You can sponsor any amount. £1, £2, £3, £4, £5, £10, £15, £20……..anything you want!
• Example: HDHD84 £3
• Done. Simple!
Please help Team Dean raise as much money as possible.
Well, this months blog has to be dominated by my trip to Japan with Mr Astley.
I never got the chance to go back in the 80’s so it was a bit of a shock when back in Sept my co-pilot read an email and said “Hazell, do you fancy going to Japan with Rick Astley?”
It was a bit of a no brainer really. There was a flurry of emails trying to get it all sorbted, not to mention various forms to be completed for certificates of eligibility to get visa’s, plus 2 trips to the Japanese Consulate in London before we could go. The webmaster pulled together a video to be used on the big screens at the venues, and Pete Ware and I spent a day putting my show together. It was pretty hectic.
Mostly I was nervous. I had never performed in Japan and had never met Rick, despite our shared history and the bizarre twist of living in the same village.
It was a little out of my comfort zone – I really didn’t know what to expect but Japan and Rick did not disappoint: I love both!!!!!
Off we went on 10th November, Air France to Paris before joining the flight to Tokyo Narita.
Why do the air crew leave it until 10 minutes before you arrive to hand out landing cards?
Seriously, you’ve been on a plane for 10+ hours and could have filled it in at your leisure in that time, but no, you get 10 minutes when you are knackered, have no idea what your passport number is, nor your flight number and address/phone number of your hotel??? WHY!!!
We arrived (landing cards completed in a hurry) and where whisked by Kyodo Productions to our tour van for the drive to Tokyo
First impression of Tokyo was – bloody hell, its massive. The most densely populated city in the world is sprawling and we were treated to a 3.5 earthquake on the day of our first show.
Seriously, my room on the 36th floor shuddered and shook. Pretty scary when you aren’t expecting it, so we went out for a walk, feeling safer in the open spaces of Shinjuku Park, where we found this great sign.
Im guessing its “No loud music/singing/whistling in the park”??
The morning passed in a blur, a tense nervous blur with the prospect of the evenings show, my first in Japan, looming large.
Leaving for Bunkamura (Orchard Hall) I was met in the hotel lobby by a group of lovely fans and spent a while signing postcards, CD covers and having photos taken. All super polite and all very excited about the
show that evening. A massive thank you to a guy called Jun, who got up at 5am that morning to travel to Tokyo for the show, who waited in the hotel lobby to meet me and to deliver a present for Miss Dean Junior.
She says “Thanks Jun!” and loves the Hello Kitty hat and gloves : )
Arriving at Bunkamura and more people waiting for photos and autographs.
The venue was impressive. A huge hall usually used for classical concerts…… At soundcheck my nerves really started to jangle. I met Rick for the first time, very briefly as he finished his soundcheck and as I started mine.
Backstage was REALLY quiet, unnervingly quiet
When you get this nervous there is nothing anyone can do to help. Its a bit like knowing you are going to be thrown to the lions – terrifying.
I dressed, put on my make – up and paced until showtime.
All too soon it was showtime, and standing alone in the wings I thought my heart was going to burst through my chest it was thumping so hard.
I have done this a million times before, but the prospect of an audience I didn’t know in a country I had never been to before was terrifying.
I needn’t have worried. I walked on stage, and the audience were instantly engaged, smiling happy faces, clapping and ready to have fun. Nervous? Me? Nah!!!!
What a great show and what a great audience – Loving show No 1.
Once again the audience rising to the occasion and would you believe Pogo-ing to Rick Astley!
Leaving the venue that night there were more fans at the stage door. Lots more autographs and photos.
Back to the hotel for a night of CSI and movies – jet lag in Asia is absolute killer, but I went to bed happy and relaxed.
The next day, nerves gone, we decided to enjoy ourselves, so heading off to Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine, Senso-ji, in Asakusa.
I stopped at the cleansing station where you can dip into a communal water tank and purify your hands before offering up a pray, we lit candles and soaked up the atmosphere.
It was a real treat to be able to spend the morning wandering around the temples and the surrounding streets before I had to get back to the hotel and prepare for the 2nd show at Bunkamura.
The prospect of the 2nd show was far less daunting, so had chance to chat with Rick and his lovely band before the show. Its amazing how you all bond like a family under these circumstances.
Such a nice bunch of people. Backstage was much more relaxed for show no 2.
The audience were once again ready to party, and up on their feet dancing (who said the Japanese audience is restrained??!)
I had a few “I LOVE YOU HAZELL!” yelled from the crowd, which is always nice, but Rick beat me with the very random shout of “ICELAND LOVES YOU!” bellowed from the audience – not something you expect to hear
in downtown Tokyo : )
Once again more fans at the stage door when leaving the show. I have signed a LOT of CD covers, postcards and had my photo taken, all really lovely and so nice to meet people: Arigato to all of you – It was an absolute pleasure to meet you in Tokyo!
Back to the hotel…..happy and exhausted again. Loving show No 2.
The next day, after a leisurely breakfast and walk around Shinjuku Park, we headed off to catch the bullet train to Osaka with Mr & Mrs Astley.
Much to Ricks amusement, my co-pilot and Mrs Astley spent the first half of the drive through Tokyo discussing the best way to get to the Bakerloo line platforms at Waterloo Station, almost as random as “ICELAND LOVES YOU!”
Trains in Japan are fabulous. The average delay being 16 seconds!!! Can you believe it???
The journey from Tokyo to Osaka was approx 3 and a half hours, and it literally flew by (at great speed!) giving us a fleeting glimpse of Kyoto and wonderful view of the beautiful Mount Fuji with her snow capped peak, cloaked in cloud, exactly as you expect it to look.
What a treat!!!! I wanted to stay on the train and go to Hiroshima………maybe next time?
Okasa is the home to the tallest building in Japan….and that building just happened to be our hotel! Unlucky for Rick, who has a real fear of heights (and had been put in the penthouse suite!)
But OMG what spectacular views of the city we had!!! My room had 2 floor to ceiling glass walls, so I could lie in the bath, or snuggle in bed and watch the city light up as night fell.
Rick had a particularly scary toilet – glass walls on 3 sides. Not ideal for a man who hates heights.
Went out for dinner with the band and crew in a traditional pancake house: delicious! I am still puzzled by the plastic food in windows though???!!
Had a TERRIBLE nights sleep, but thankfully had a long lie in before a late brunch and heading off to Kobe International Hall for soundcheck. WOW, what a beautiful venue.
Had my usual bout of pre show nerves, but needn’t have worried the Kobe audience were equally as warm and welcoming as Tokyo. Loving show 3.
It was great fun to join Rick on stage to close the show, making an already wonderful experience even more special.
I shall wear my Rick Astley: Together Forever Tour T-shirt with much affection!
I left Japan feeling all warm and fuzzy. I had the best time. I was looked after so well by Kyodo the Japanese production team. Had a lovely time with the band, and am looking forward to seeing
Mr & Mrs Astley on their return for the Australian leg of the tour. Crazy that we live in the same village but had to travel half way around the world to meet.
So, here I am back in Dean Towers with a huge pile of washing to deal with and very happy memories of my first visit to Japan. Heres hoping I get to visit again……
Next stop for me is at D2 in Lancaster on 28th November, then the Eagle Bar Manchester on 1st December for World AIDS Day, after that, its a little break for me until February when Mr Astley and I will be together (forever) again for
“Legends of Pop” at Butlins Bognor Regis, and then on to Durban & Cape Town for South Africa REWIND! Im looking forward it!!!
But finally, before I sign off, Miss Dean Junior wants to say a personal thank you to Jun for his very kind gift……..THANK YOU JUN!!! XXXX
Always Hazell xxxx
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