Monday, April 23, 2012

Songkran Silks

During Songkran, Daughter appeared at my door looking wan and I knew immediately she'd hit a brick wall with her revision. I HAD to get her out of the apartment before she went mad. I thought for a few seconds before working out what would lure her away from her books: a tour of the stationery department and a cup of tea in Starbucks. (She's like her mother!)

THAT meant braving the outside, where people were armed and shooting water guns. It was exactly what she needed; even before we got there we were hysterical with laughter, hanging onto our taxi doors to prevent anyone from opening them and spraying us. (Oh yes, they would!)

It was serene inside Emporium Mall. Check out this lovely display of traditional Thai silk making.

How intricate is this pattern?

Gorgeous. I want these twists of silk for decoration

Or I could just lie in it...

Oh! Drawers full. Heaven.

I'm not quite sure of my facts but I think this is Chansoma's Thai silk, possibly from Suan Chitralada's Royal Folk Art and Craft Center. I apologise for any errors I have made while crediting these products.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The end of an era or the start of a new one

The days have been whizzing by disproportionately fast here at The House. I think it’s because we have exams approaching: the hours have telescoped and May is hurtling towards us whether we’re ready or not.

The giant kids will have one last week in school (from tomorrow) and then BAM! Exams. Gulp. Then Son will venture out into the world (with any luck) and Daughter will never wear school uniform again. Really, it’s the end of an era; or perhaps it’s just the start of another.

We holed up at home during Songkran (Thai new year.) The kids were (hopefully) revising. I was hiding from the inevitable street water fights in spite of the phwoar heat here at the moment. Going outside is a grim experience; it’s as though someone’s left the oven on. I do see the water fight point but I’m not going to get wet to relieve it. (I think I was a cat in a previous life. I just hate to be wet.)

On Wednesday we celebrated Son and Husband’s birthdays. Son is now an adult – at least in the eyes of the law. There’s been a lot of cake: not just for the birthday but because Daughter’s idea of relaxation is to bake! For the birthday, she made 'light chocolate cake' from Harry Eastwood’s Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache book. Every time we make it, I declare it THE BEST chocolate cake I’ve EVER tasted.

I haven’t managed to get back to jewellery class yet and that’ll have to fit in with the exam timetable and my new, secret project which starts tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Tiny Titanic Tale

Nanny Elsie

When I was little, my maternal grandparents, Nanny Elsie and Granpop, came to live in our village. Some days Sylvia, who shared pickups with my Mum, dropped me at Nanny’s little cottage after school.

I loved spending time with Nanny Elsie; I learned to dunk digestive biscuits in tea and we watched television together. Nanny reminisced a lot and at 9 or 10 I loved her stories and old fashioned photos. I didn’t realize how important they were though and I wish that I’d written them down because I can only remember a few. This is one I haven’t forgotten.

Elsie was born in 1903 and she had a younger sister, Ivy. (Later on, they had a much younger brother.) When Nanny was growing up there was a family living next door with two boys around the same age as my grandmother and her sister. They were all great friends and the two sets of parents used to joke that the two boys would marry the two girls.

Nanny told me how devastated her parents, Walter and Edith, were when they learned that their neighbours were emigrating. They obviously loved this family very much because they took Elsie and Ivy down to Southampton to see their neighbours off to their new life.

It was 1912 and Titanic was docked waiting for its maiden voyage. When Nanny’s mum, Edith, saw the other boat, the one their best friends were taking, she cried and said, ‘they’ll never get there on that little thing; why can’t they take the Titanic instead?’

(There’s a fascinating eye witness account from the last Titanic survivor courtesy of the BBC here.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

R & R

I'm a tad tightly wound at the moment. Life, in many areas, is a little bit difficult.

However, last Monday Husband and I set off for a three night break in the mountains. We left the giant children in Bangkok. (We've always had a family joke that we couldn't leave them home alone until the younger one could look after the older one...)

Khao Yai National Park is about three hours away from Bangkok. The main attraction for me were the mountains but in the end it turned out to be our little garden that relaxed me. We arrived just after lunch and were shown to our unexpectedly upgraded villa. It took a couple of hours of pacing before I eventually managed to unwind a bit. I laid on the Chinese day bed and just listened; wind rustled through the trees and there was the sound of water trickling. So different from Bangkok.

Khao Yai has a cowboy theme from America's wild west. I think it began with the Chokchai family in 1957 when they brought a small herd of cows and a piece of land in Saraburi. The Chokchai farm is now one of the biggest tourist attractions there and they have some stand alone restaurants. (We used to frequent one of their steakhouses (and ice cream parlours, 'Umm Milk,') when we lived in our old apartment in Sukhumvit Soi 23.) Many of the hotels in the region are themed, designed like ranches or named after cowboy themes; you can ride horses, wear cowboy hats and eat steak. It's a funny old place.

It also appears to be emerging as a wine growing region. There are several vineyards and a couple of little 'Italian' shopping developments, Primo Posto and Palio.

It's so terribly easy to make cheap shots at places like these (and forgive me, I did.) In the UK, our castles are hundreds of years old and Stratford Upon Avon isn't a film set and yes, that's exactly what tourists come to the UK for but what if you don't have that? Well, one option is to build it. In the end,  Tuscanyesque didn't offend me: Husband and I discovered one of those places that give a 4D cinema experience... no, I didn't know about them either. You choose your film - 8 minutes of in our case, rollercoaster and then Jurassic experience and your seat moves along with the film and air blows in your face in tandem with the film. It was 16 minutes of huge fun and we screamed and howled with laughter like a couple of girls. Well, they do say it's the best medicine, don't they?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Sunday Photo

I missed Friday Photo because of a heavy schedule and a three day migraine so here's a Sunday photo.

I spotted this in Siam Paragon. It's nothing unusual to see a car in Siam P; one of the floors has showrooms full of top end cars and sometimes there's an exhibition in one of the lobbies decorated with 'pretties' but this one was in the wrapping paper, cards and gifts section. Perhaps that's a bit odd.

But not as odd maybe as a car having eyelashes...

Thursday, April 05, 2012

More costumes and a Zombie apocalypse

The theme on the third day was superheroes. Son went as Dr Horrible - yes, I know... has anyone heard of him? I think it's a sort of cult thing, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and some humourous, catchy songs. I managed to stay project manager on this outfit (the dressmaker actually got this right) and I enjoyed sourcing the bits and pieces. On my way to jewellery class I walked past a shop that sold white wellies; the welding goggles came from HomePro and so did the gloves which I made into gauntlets with white cotton.

The piece de resistance today, the last compulsory day at school, was a zombie apocalypse. Here's Son doing whatever it is that zombies do.

And finally, Son and partner in crime as Banana 1 and Banana 2. The last two photos are sourced from the school website.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A single banana

It's costume week at school for Son. This can mean only one thing: his school life is nearly over. It's a Patana tradition that the Year 13's last week in school, before study leave, can be spent in costumes and doing pranks!

I was asked to be involved in three costumes. Yesterday's costume required a bit of making; Son went dressed in primary school uniform and sadly we weren't able to just purchase that in the school shop (though I'm told some of the Asian girls were still (at 17/18) able to fit into real junior uniform!) I cut up an old shirt and stuck the school badge on with transfer paper. I made the shorts, the piping down the leg is the only thing that marks them out as school shorts...

The next two costumes were more difficult, requiring pattern making skills rather than the sort of slap dash approach I normally employ. I tasked myself with making banana heads - as you do but I farmed out the technical stuff to a local dressmaker. Something went dreadfully and horribly wrong. We needed two pairs of pyjamas for Son and his friend. Son's trousers didn't fit at all and neither of the shirts had large enough collars to take the banana heads I was making even though I had instructed them to make a collar size of 100 cm!

I won't go into the gory details because my blood pressure will go sky high again but suffice to say my position as project manager changed rather rapidly to costume maker. I had to remake Son's trousers from scratch and perform major surgery on both the pyjama tops.

Still, the finished job is OK; I think he looks rather spectacular - even if he hasn't got any hands...