Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

My local mall, Emporium, could NEVER be accused of making a half hearted effort. The outside picture is my favourite.

Do you think anyone would notice if I took up living in that big one for a day or two?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What I wanted to say ...

For the last three days I have sat down to blog. Sometimes I couldn’t write anything and sometimes I’ve started to write but it’s come out all wrong.

I wanted to tell you about how son left his phone in the resort and the hotel rang me (via the ticket lady) on the ferry to tell me that they’d send a man in a long-tailed boat to the ferry to give us the phone (this would cost 650 Baht, £10!). Son and I took turns waiting for the boat to come, and then while it was my watch, 9am rolled round and the ferry set off. Oh well, I thought, another phone lost by son. I went inside to join the children, then I thought to myself, hang on a sec: this is Thailand … I wonder … I went back outside.

We sailed away from Ton Sai Bay and over the horizon came a long-tailed boat. The ferry, full of passengers eager to get to Phuket, Krabi and other destinations, stopped in the middle of the sea. The man handed over Son’s phone to ticket lady, who took the money from me and gave it to him. And then the ferry set off again. Surely, only in Thailand?

I wanted to tell you about reading Human Traces by Sebastian Faulkes for Book Club, which is a novel about two ‘mad doctors’ wanting to find cures for mental illnesses and how it made me wonder if I'd lived in a different time, I might’ve been sent to an asylum for ‘melancholia’ as they called it. Almost certainly I would.

I want to tell you about being asked to do some volunteer charity work in communities in Southern Thailand in exchange for writing some articles about the company and their responsible tourism projects.

I want to tell you what I’m doing at Christmas because I’m just so excited, but it’s not confirmed yet, and I don’t want to tempt fate.

I’ve wanted to say lots of things, but I don’t seem able to get my words out. So I’m sorry if this is a bit disjointed and odd, but at least it isn’t a blank page anymore.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Life's essentials

I so want to blog about our journey home (Son and Thailand surpassed themselves) but I'm just too tired. We've spent all day at another international school watching daughter and her team mates compete against 10 other schools, and we have to be there again tomorrow morning at 6.30am...

So, after this post, I will leave you instead with this picture of the inside of my fridge:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Fun is going back to Bangkok

Today is our last day. Tomorrow at the crack of dawn we start a whole day of long tailed boat/ferry/car/airplane/taxi to get home to Bangkok and back to normal life.

I do most of the weekly parenting on my own because Husband’s job keeps him busy through many time zones. Without going into too much detail life can be stressful in the midst of school life: homework, extra-curricular activities, school paperwork blah blah blah. It doesn’t sound much written down like that, but I find it challenging. Both children are so different and need such diverse approaches that single parenting can feel like fire fighting.

But, we’ve had such a fun time here these last few days that I really feel as though I’ve had a proper break. Of course I’ve still been ‘Mum’, but most importantly, without all the pressures of homework and bedtimes, I’ve had fun with the children. It turns out that Son is very funny. I kind of knew this, but was always too … knackered Mum-ish to enjoy him and his humour. Somehow it got lost in all the difficulties of daily life. He’s come out with some corking jokes while we’ve been away. We’ve talked and watched rubbish movies in the evening, kayaked during the day on the shallow sea of our bay, and swum in the pool. Daughter and I played ‘swim under the legs’ and I’ve arrived gulping bubbles of laughter to the surface because my gigantic bottom gets caught on her and pushes her off balance.

It’s quite possible though that I’ve spent too much time with a 13 and 11 year old since I seem to have developed the sense of humour of a early teen. But really, I’m most alarmed, having been trapped in our room by the rain, to have enjoyed ‘High School Musical.’ Yikes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

God's Punishment and the Mossie Men

The Buddhists believe in Karma – that your actions will bring about inevitable results, good or bad - and the Greek Gods punished manifestation of hubris - overweening pride - so really it was only a matter of time before my smug holiday blogging caused me to be castigated: bitten on the backside by some higher power.

In my case, retribution wasn’t a single mandible to the rear end by any higher power, but about fifty thousand mosquitoes feasting on just about every part of my sweet flesh.

I am alive with tingling, prickling and plain old hurting skin. I have so many bites that I can no longer be serene about it. As I type my lower legs are humming; radiating energy of their own existence. The bites, though certainly deployed by a number of individual mossies, are somehow linked to each other. When one on my leg itches, and I scratch, it alerts the forty eight on my left arm to the existence of my nails, and they in turn begin to hum, tingle and sing for attention of my fingernails – which, since I am on holiday, are rather nice and long. They are doing significant damage to my skin.

I think they bit me in the first resort – our room was zinging with the little buggers, no matter what extermination programme we undertook.

At this second resort, at about 6pm on the first day we received a telephone call in our room saying ‘We spray Mosquito. Don’t leave your room.’ I didn’t like to ask if there was only one mosquito was it really necessary to spray the whole resort? Instead I asked ‘how long do we stay inside?’ ‘15 minutes’ is the answer, but we really had a ringside seat.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Transfer by sea

We had an exciting transfer yesterday. Lots of our transport has been interesting.

When we arrived at Phuket we were picked up and delivered to the speed boat provided by the hotel. But there was no pier at the beach of the hotel, so unless we paddled in to the dry land I couldn't work out how we'd get to the sand. (This was entirely possible, but NOT carrying my 19kg suitcase on my head! What happened was a strange floaty thing - not a boat exactly but I wasn't sure why it wasn't at the time - met us off the speed boat for the last 50 yards of the sea. All our luggage was transferred to this transport thing and we moved the last few yards to the beach, but we weren't floating, we were driving. This green floaty thing drove up and out of the water and onto the sand, and that was when I realised it wasn't really a boat, but a kind of water tractor thing.

Yesterday's transport was a long tailed boat. The green floaty tractor thing took us and our luggage to meet the boat, and we were all transferred to our new mode of transport. This first picture is from the tractor thing and the second before we got moving. I wish I could have taken a picture for you while we were moving but I was gripping on for dear life.

At our new hotel there was no tractor thing to come and meet us, so we did have to paddle the last few metres, but nice Thai man carried out luggage, thanks heavens.

Monday, October 22, 2007


This morning Husband caught the early boat back to Phuket, to catch a flight back to Bangkok. He has to fly to Hong Kong for a three day meeting, which is a bit sad because tomorrow is a bank holiday in Thailand, but clearly no-one told Hong Kong.

This resort has been lovely, but they don’t have room for us for the rest of the week, so Kids and I going, by long tailed boat, to the next bay to another resort.

One of the lovely things we’ve found about Thailand (compared to the UK) is the cheapness and abundance of flowers. (For Daughter’s birthday the year before last, I bought 50 pink roses for just over £1. The roses don’t last more than a few days, but who cares at that price?) Because it is relatively cheap to employ people, hotels think nothing of having lots of time consuming tasks undertaken, such as beautiful flower decorations everywhere. Husband and I were joking that when the trees aren’t flowering, someone climbs up a step ladder to staple flowers on for decoration!

Here are some pictures of some of the displays we’ve seen around the resort ...

... plus one we took in our bungalow. (Let me make the point now, that NO photoshopping has taken place in any of the pictures!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Weekend

On Saturday Husband and children went scuba diving. I went along for the ride on the speedboat, and for the snorkelling.

I floated about on the water and could see for metres and metres, and the longer I stayed still, the more I could see. I saw lots of barracudas, puffer fish, a big turtle, (that’s it for the technical terminology) some pretty blue and yellow fish that seemed to think I was one of them (boy, must they be stupid?) plus lots of others of all colours. There were bright blue star fish lounging on rocks and coral, and some kind of big planty thing that looked like a cobalt blue and black tarantula! Eeek. (Gosh those Latin names are just dripping from my mouth, eh?)

The landscape out in the sea was spectacular. I love those big organic shapes of rocks and islands but I see them as an artist not an adventurer - I have no wish to climb them. I want to touch their texture, look for images in them and in their negative spaces. I want to record the patterns in the rock face and the jagged edges of corrosion.
On Sunday we had no plans, apart from a booking at the spa for Husband and me in the afternoon.

Daughter wanted to go to the beach to collect litter. (I must have done something right). She dressed in a ‘Global Citizen’ t-shirt she got from a school trip and took a bag to the beach. It wasn’t the cleanest beach ever – nothing sinister was found, just detritus left behind by people who don’t seem to care enough. When she’d filled her bag she took it to reception to ask for another bag, which they gave her. Half an hour later a team of cleaners had been dispatched to the beach. (We weren’t intending to be critical but we were a bit embarrassed.)

I had a lovely facial at the spa. (Although what with this facial and birthday facial last week, I have erupted in spots, so I’m rather glad to be on a remote island, right now.) Husband had a massage. In my relaxed post facial state I managed to fling my contact lens lid into the jungle ravine next to me, never to be seen again.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the resort pool. Husband was brave enough to race Daughter, who is scarily fast, and Son went up and down the water slide.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Phi Phi Island 1

Okay, here are some pictures, then. You can see the weather isn’t perfect, not totally sunny, but for people who spend most of their time in the pollution of Bangkok, it’s pretty darn close to perfect. The gentle breeze is most welcome.

The first picture is the view from the spa over the resort and out to sea.

The second picture is early this morning on our way to the dive centre for scuba diving (Husband, Son and Daughter) and snorkelling (me). It was among the best snorkelling I’ve done.

The third one is the other end of the beach.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Blogging from Paradise

I'm writing this from Paradise (Phi Phi Island, Krabi Province, Thailand) on the Blackberry. Unfortunately Paradise has a distinctly sub-standard internet service. (Honestly, am I never satisfied?)

I have some concerns about blogging about here. You might all hate me for being in Paradise and never visit my blog again.

What do you think?

Should I be grateful (but keep my mouth shut and my fingers still) or should I blog?
Sent via BlackBerry® from AIS

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Armed and Dangerous

Today is the start of half term. Hurrah. We have two extra days tacked on: more hurrahs.

Tomorrow we’re off to the beach: we’re going to Koh Phi Phi. This means we’re actually going to The Beach. I suppose, strictly speaking, we’re going to this The Beach, because we're going to where it was filmed.

Sorry, has this all got a bit confusing?

I think I might be a walking cliche, because I'm thinking of going to buy the novel. I might have to wrap it in a brown paper cover...

I could say ‘I’m taking a break from blogging’ but I’m not. I have every intention of going fully tooled up: laptop, Blackberry and digital camera.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Beam me up, Scotty

I’m feeling a bit homesick at the moment. I’ve been feeling like this for some time now, so I can’t entirely blame my birthday yesterday, though having messages from everyone has perhaps made my homesickness a bit worse.

Consequently, today, I feel a small pain.

It feels like my lover is missing; my heart hurts a bit (Note: my lover isn’t missing – he’s here, and he’s who you think he is I’m just trying to say how it feels!)


I’d like to be beamed up, please. For a whole weekend if you can manage it.

I’d arrange for my extended family members, on both sides, and my chosen family all to be staying at my folks. It’d be a bit of a squeeze, and very loud, but I think it would be worth it. We could all cook (can you imagine all those cooks in one OV kitchen?)

I’d make Larb Moo, a Thai spicy pork mince salad - fresh mint from the herb garden.
MJ would make veggie.
L could make that artichoke thing for the veggies too.
S or MJ would make yummy salad dressing.
L&A would be in charge of puddings (sugar free one for M&D please)
B wouldn’t cook because he can’t stand sharing a kitchen!
V&I would take control of the alcohol.
V could make dahl.
Granddad could do the meat and bring in new potatoes from the garden (yes, I know it’s October, but this is a dream, right?)
On that note, the weather would be perfect, so we’d eat outside. The children would have a lovely time and not fight and let the adults talk.

I can almost feel myself there.

Monday, October 15, 2007

21st century birthday

I am having a very twenty first century birthday in keeping with my technology addicted life.

I am posting this to tea-stains with my very exciting birthday present, my new Blackberry, courtesy of Husband after much whispering in his ear while he was asleep and sending subliminal emails, with barely seeable text saying 'buy JJ a blackberry'.

I've had lots of birthday wishes from blog friends, an email from my sister, my brother and my two sister in laws. And I've just watched my gorgeous god-daughters and their Dad, singing a beautiful rendition of happy birthday to me on a podcast on our closed blog 'The Bull's Horn.'

I've only had real cards from Bangkok people, but all those cyber wishes have made my day: thank you.

Happy birthday to blogger Lane and her daughter too!

Sent via BlackBerry® from AIS

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Night Strop

I am feeling a bit stroppy. Alright, more than a bit stroppy: bloody stroppy.

I feel a bit like I’ve left my homework to the last minute.

No, no, that’s not right. I did my homework.

First of all, nobody told me I had homework. Then I start to get copied in on emails that suggested people were waiting on me to complete homework NO-ONE had asked me to do.

I had to go and ask ‘Is someone waiting for something from me?’

Then I had to nag for the brief. Some of the information came; some of it was wrong.

I followed the brief using the information supplied, and then when I handed it in, I was told: ‘Oh…mmmm…I wouldn’t have done it that way. Oh look that bit of information is wrong. I would’ve put that bit there … I don’t think you should put that bit in at all.’

Whose homework was this?

I said I’d go away and do it again. Carol offered to help (it was joint homework really.) I said ‘thank you, but I’ll do it during the weekend.’

So now it’s Sunday evening and I still haven’t done it. I’ve opened Photoshop up several times, and looked at it. Sometimes I’ve moved a bit around, and then I’ve lost the will to live and closed Photoshop up again.

I’ve done this homework once already.

And tomorrow is my birthday and it’s due tomorrow, and anyway, I don’t want to do it on my birthday. So I have to do it now … on Sunday evening.

So that’s why I’m feeling bloody stroppy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'm building an Ark

It rained for an hour and a half this morning. I risked life and limb (not to mention Weil's Disease) in my flip flops to bring you this report:

This is my soi this morning.

I'm going to build an ark.

I am planning what to take with me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bugger, a damn good result

I posted this in my sidebar thing yesterday, but it clashes with the orange and I don’t like the advert at the bottom, so I’m moving it to a post.

I can’t remember where I saw this ‘give your blog a certification’ originally, but I thought I’d take the test.

I don’t like to think of my blog as being totally safe for children, I’m sorry, but too clean isn’t really me. Nor would I like to think of it as containing the vernacular of a sailor – though I have to confess to liking a good cuss, so I reckon PG is a pretty damn good result.


JustSayHi - A Free Dating Website

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Follow up

I am afraid I have a follow up story to ‘Husband buys GIGANTIC trainers for Son.’ The need to buy trainers was precipitated by the loss of Son’s PE kit at school. I waited a whole week for PE kit to re-emerge. It didn’t.

This is an excerpt of an email from Husband to his sister. It is stolen and reproduced without any permission whatsoever. (I was copied in on it – I didn’t steal shamelessly from his inbox!)

"The last time I bought him trainers they were kiddie sizes, now he needs 10s+. So as a good dad doing my switched-on in-touch-with-the-youth-of-today type thing, I took him off to the store for a new pair...Now, a bit of history here - that I'm sure you don't need reminding. Our dad was a little on the practical side, and fashion or branding was not as high a priority as hardwearing and cost. And trainers was one area where I suffered a little, Adidas was not cool in 1980, but Adidas was all I could have. I promised myself, many moons ago, that I would remember that brand of trainer does matter, and that sometimes you just need to put social acceptance over sensibility.

And so there was I, standing in the middle of this big sports department, surrounded by Nike, Reebok, Sketchers, Adidas, etc and I said to Son, I said "Son (arh)" I said "Son - you can have any trainer you want in this shop, what is the coolest, hippest, in-trainer today? What is the ‘must have’ sports look at school? I don't care how much it costs, coz sometimes it is important to buy the right brand, and I understand that - Son - I am on your wavelength man, I am in touch with the youth of today" and I did that fist thing, where you punch each other's fist in midair. (Son didn't punch my fist, and looked a little embarrassed to be seen out in public with me).

Ok, so maybe the fist thing, and the wavelength reference might be a bit sad, but I assumed he got the point. This was his opportunity to shine, to be ‘in’, to not be tittered at for wearing GOLA, etc, etc.

And do you know what he said. He said "I don't really care about brands, I don't mind, I just want a pair that are comfortable, and not too expensive". Oh my god, OH MY GOD, what have I done, where is my son, who has swapped him for this reasonable, sensible impostor? Anyway I made him try on all the Nikes and eventually ended up forcing him to have a reasonably expensive pair".

And guess what? Not only am I irritated at the ruination of my careful training of Son to see through things like brands and what’s ‘in’ but after a week the original PE kit, complete with perfectly good, old (and cheap) trainers has turned up at school.


Monday, October 08, 2007

I got there!

I got to my office this morning and I put together my fan (how hard can it be? I thought. The instructions were in THAI, so when it said 'remove the plastic protector sleevy thing', I didn't know I had to do that. Eventually, I worked out that that bit was too fat for that bit, so something had to change, and I got there in the end.)

Then I rushed off to my appointment at 12.

I got back to my office at 2pm, armed with lunch: Dim Sum and fresh orange juice, both bought on the street - (total cost £1.50ish)

And a full two hours to write. I was a bit slow getting into it because I haven't written for a week, but I got going in the end, and wrote 1200 words. My 'sick children' week was a blessing in the end, because last week I was really nervous of the pressure of the 'Office' but all of that worry had evaporated in the desperate need to get down there and write. HURRAH.
Thanks to everyone for their well wishing. xxx

Sunday, October 07, 2007

No more sickness of any kind...

On Friday night we went out as a family to eat steak. We had a really lovely meal but I was stuffed full, TTT, (tummy touching table) and should have walked home, but was wearing silly shoes so we had to take a taxi.

On Saturday we went shopping. Husband bought GIGANTIC trainers for Son. Son is 13 years old and is wearing sized 10 trainers, and we both felt a bit sick. Last time Husband bought trainers for Son he was a child sized 10. Daughter was bought her first something that I shouldn’t discuss here, for sensitivity reasons, and now between the two of them, I feel about 74. Husband bought me my birthday present (a week early) which made me a bit sick with excitement. (I am neither 74 nor 75 on this upcoming birthday!)

On Saturday night we met friends at the Londoner pub for the rugby. Oh my, sick with anticipation, but so as not to offend my Australian readership, I shall be calm and gracious (- but we always get beaten, so it was fab…)

On our way to Sunday lunch, I issued a pronouncement.

‘No more sick children. I want to go to my office this week’.

And that is what I shall do.

Friday, October 05, 2007

I want more

I’ve been banging on here, here and here about my new ‘how to’ book being the most useful yet. One of the things that I love about it is that they use several novels to illustrate each of the points they are making.

The only drawback is that unfortunately I hadn’t read any of them - though the tome that is ‘Tom Jones’ has been on my TBR pile for about three years. I haven’t found that this has detracted from the (mostly) intelligent information being conveyed though because enough explanation is given each time.

What it has accomplished is to whet my appetite for some of the books. (The books they use are Madame Bovary, Tom Jones, The Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl, From Here to Eternity, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.) In my school days some of these books were English O and A level texts – but they were never ones I came across.

I wonder did I let that put me off? I said in my book meme last week how much I loved the texts that I did at school – a combination of fabulous writing, wonderful teaching (see here and here for Mrs D worship) and enthusiastic readers all around me.

So having found Structuring Your Novel so helpful, I started reading some of the books. Last week I read John Steinbeck’s The Pearl and this week I read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. (This was also on someone’s book meme but I can’t remember whose!)

OH MY GOD, how can I have reached 40 and never read To Kill a Mockingbird? I loved it, I loved it so much. I want to start back at the beginning and read it again. I loved Atticus, and Calpurnia and Scout. I want more.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On boring you all to death

Today Son is in school. Daughter is Not. Swappsies.

Daughter had the cold first and insisted, after Monday off, to return on Tuesday and Wednesday. I knew I should’ve said no, but I was ‘ineffective mother.’ When your child is saying ‘I really want to go to school’ how can you say no? Well, like that I guess: No. (Who’s in charge here?) But I didn’t, she went and now she’s off school again. She’s quite poorly and I am cross with myself for letting her persuade me she was okay. She wasn’t.

So today I had to cancel breakfast with husband and send my apologies to my meeting.

However, I am going to write from home. My wee pink office will wait. I have an article for my friend in the UK to do and then maybe I will write some novel.

And just to prove that I'm not trying to bore my blog friends to death, have a little look at this a funny story about Thai food, from the BBC.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

...of mice and men...

I have a key to pale pink room, sublet from lovely lingerie ladies at Smoochie Smoochie.

I have purchased a fan (I have no air con!) and a tiny kettle with an orange handle.

I have installed my new orange (of course) beanbag.

I have borrowed a desk and a chair from Andrew Computer and his lovely wife.

And, I’m the proud owner of a sick Son who is at home and not at school.

So no office today.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Scaredy Cat

Oh god.

Look what I’ve got.

I’m rather scared.

It feels a bit like a last chance …

Here you are – here’s the time, here’s a room, here’s the hardware, the support. Go and do it now.

If I don’t write now, here, with no distractions, then perhaps I really don’t want to do it all that much.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Odds and Ands

The first of the month always has me thinking of fresh starts. I like opening up a new document (in today’s case, it’s called ‘October’) inside my ‘Postings’ folder, inside my ‘Blog’ folder inside … How tragic that sounds, and yet I feel you will know what I mean.

And October is my favourite month because it’s autumn: gold, orange, red, yellow and brown. (Actually, in Bangkok, it’s just hot and humid still, so I have to dream about the autumnal colours.)

And October is my birthday. Hurrah. And (again) although it means I am another year older I still get unfeasibly excited about my birthday. Husband is very good at presents (no pressure, dear) but I have been whispering in his ear while he is asleep and sending subliminal messages about what I would like this year.

Tomorrow I go and pick up the keys to my ‘office’ - how excited am I? (After one month the office and furniture will turn into a pumpkin and a fleet of little mice if I don’t produce words and that will be an end to my having a special place to write. So I have to work hard to justify it.)

And now I’m going to write.