25 October 2013

At the seaside

Well technically, it's the peninsula but the coastline is amazing.  Spending time with Pete is always a hoot and he and Mr John have been whiskey testing!  The weather has been pretty kind which is always a bonus in Victoria.  There's some amazing things to see and do here and it's not far from Philip Island which was hosting this weekends MotoGP.
We spent a decedent afternoon at Max's Restaurant at Redhill Estate.  I had the lamb followed by the beef and not a grain of rice in sight!  They also have their wine recommendations on the menu which you can order by the glass - a genius idea if you ask me!  A lovely birthday treat from Pete. 

And all too soon it was time to move on and yet again I didn't want to leave....but now we're off to the burbs.

23 October 2013

In the country...

Rhys & Mr John
What a time we've been having here staying with Michael, Joan and Rhys.  It's been great hanging out and seeing all the wildlife that frequents the various birdfeeders in the garden.  This visit has been enhanced with our first trip to the Yarra Valley Chocolatier - a must do if you're ever in this area of Victoria.

We had a fantastic dinner at the Healesville Hotel courtesy of Joan and got so full none of us could fit dessert in!  We had excellent coffee at the Blue Turtle cafe where Rhys served us as he works there Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings. Mr John commented he'd never had his waiter sit down and join him for coffee before.  As with our previous stop, this visit was all too short.

16 October 2013

The eagle has landed

Drew helps lay the table
We had a pretty good flight from Bangkok to Sydney, though not a lot of sleep was had.  Still, we arrived to a glorious sunny day.  We stayed in Erina, which is near Terrigal on the central coast and had a fabulous time with Sam, Andy and Drew.  The weather on Sunday was amazing - 37 degrees - but the wind was really strong.  We thought about an ice-cream on the beach but Mr John, quite rightly pointed out, it would soon have a sand coating.

Terrigal beach
I've not been to this part of New South Wales before and the area is really picturesque.  We enjoyed fish and chips near the sea on Sunday night and they were really good. Having selected Mr John for bedtime story reading on Saturday, Drew turned to me on Sunday evening and advised "it's your lucky night" as it was my turn to do the reading!

We had a fabulous time and I believe we may have put on the 5kgs we'd lost in Thailand just by the meals over the weekend.  Sam did an amazing BBQ and we were joined by Angela, Barry, Marline and Mick who provided excellent company.  A cooked breakfast was greatly appreciated too.  Our time here was all too short and we were sorry to wave goodbye on Monday, but there's plenty more places to see and people to meet.

11 October 2013

Up, up and away

As you are reading this, Mr John and I are on our way to Australia for a three week holiday.  Yesterday we headed to Bangkok and are staying at the Pullman Hotel.  Apart from the fact we really like it here, by staying on the Executive Floor, we get access to the Pullman Lounge at Bangkok airport.  This should give us some calm before the joy of flying economy to Sydney.

It's been a long term - five months to be exact - and Mr John is desperate for a break.  We will be visiting family and friends, some of whom we haven't seen for three years, and we can't wait to see everyone.  We also get to be the first overseas visitors for cousin Sam, Andy and their son Drew who emigrated to Australia at the end of March.

Whilst we've been counting sleeps until we leave, Mr John has been fantasising over food - some things which you can only get in Australia like Dim Sims and Big M (a brand that does flavoured milk) along with beers such as Coopers sparkling, James Squires and of course the wine!  He's also looking forward to great lumps of meat and lucky for us we have some extremely good cooks in the family so keeping fingers crossed for lots of barbeque's and pizza as well.

I will do my best to keep you all up to date with what's going on but can't promise the frequency of my posts.  I'm sure you'll all understand.  So if you've not signed up for email delivery, keep your eye out for our adventures down under!

And a Happy Birthday to my brother Pete for yesterday

10 October 2013

Abducted by corner shop!

Oh my! I just have to tell you about our random night out last night.  The primary school teachers we know have still been hard at lessons whilst the secondary school teachers finished their exams and marking a couple of weeks ago.  As we're all about to head off travelling to one destination or another we decided to go for a drink with some friends and we headed to La Luna and we had a lovely time sitting on the roof terrace, chatting and drinking in, what I might point out, a sensible fashion.

Just as we were settling up the bill, Mr John got a phone call via our friend Wicus (who is currently full of cold) that he couldn't quite make sense of but that involved the lovely Tom (our corner shop owner) and a beer.  So we headed back to the house.  Now Juls had to go to Bangkok today with her new school to get a teaching certificate and they were leaving at 4am.  By this time it was about 10pm and she very sensibly went back home to try and get some sleep before a massive trip in the school bus. 

When we saw Wicus, we understood why we couldn't get the gist of our message. He's been on the flu remedy stuff, was drifting pleasantly off to sleep when he was woken up by a very insistent Tom and his Mum Tan, who had decided we all needed to go out and have a dance!  So the rest of the family had gone on (a daughter and the daughters friend) and Tom took the three of us in his car.  We went to the bar opposite Orbit where we'd been for my birthday.  It was the most surreal night I think I'd ever had.  I felt like I'd been abducted and was having experiments conducted!

Wednesday nights there is a show and there was a really cool rock guy and about three other singers.  Now I don't mean to be rude, but a lot of Thai songs all sound the same and I think that's why I particularly liked the rock singer and he was known to the family so he came and had a chat. 

I thought he was a local person, but Mr John reliably informs me that he's very well known and is on billboards over here.  So I felt like a bit of an idiot because I'd asked him for a photo - you know, joining in with the spirit of the evening.  I was pretty mortified when I found out he was famous - what must he have thought!  There was also a transvestite singer who was pretty good and Mr John didn't realise it was a man for a couple of numbers.

So all across this huge space are long tables and chairs and when anyone likes the song that comes on they just stand up where they are and dance on the spot.  Tan is 11 years older than me and she put us all to shame.  She was like some sort of Duracell bunny (have you seen the ads?) she just did not stop.  Mind you, Wicus was "bustin a move" himself.

And all the time there's staff serving drinks, one minute you'd have taken a sip, next minute your glass has disappeared and is being refilled.  Then there's plates of food coming in - Mr John tucked into a plate of French fries and because he'd done that they ordered another plate - by the fourth plate Mr John was feeling kind of ill...  Of course he had a good excuse not to get up and dance having only just started walking without his crutches.  It all got a bit much for him eventually and he could be found with his eyes closed.  We finally got back home at 01:45.  Thankfully Mr John only has to sign in today.

09 October 2013

Doi Chaang

Just had to update you on the latest information about this place.  As you all know I really enjoy the coffee here and the cakes are also very good. In fact, I'm thinking of sending Mr John to rehab as he can't resist the toffee cake!

Ham and cheese toastie 35 baht, cappuccino 55 baht - excellent value
You might remember that we found out they did breakfast here a few months ago and it's really good, but that's not all they're good at.   They do toasties!  I found this out quite by chance as I was looking for the breakfast but they'd stopped serving it that day. 

The lovely lady at the counter suggested a ham and cheese sandwich and when I enquired if it would be hot, she said yes and here's the result.  I chose a cappuccino that morning and it was absolute bliss.  Lucky for me I was joined by my mate Juls and when she saw my plate she couldn't resist and ordered the same.  Go on, treat yourself next time you're at the lake.

07 October 2013

Vegetarian Festival

There is a ten day vegetarian festival going on at the moment (5th - 11th October) and we managed to pop out at the weekend to have a look.  We must have been a bit of a sight because we were both on the scooter and I was hanging on to both crutches for Mr John so he'd be able to get around once we'd got there.  The traffic was really quite horrendous and it would have been easier to walk as the Chinese temple is only about ten minutes from our house. 

The main street was lined with food stalls and as we walked through we clocked quite a few things.  People were also out in force but no one was in a rush so Mr John was pretty safe.

Before heading back home for a well earned rest, we picked up some spring rolls and what I can only describe as doughnut pieces. Now the photo does not do them justice at all, I can see that, but oh my goodness the taste . . . .

Spring Rolls 5 for 20 baht
Doughnut pieces 1 for 30 baht
We saw a lady cooking the doughnuts - they were round and flat, with no hole.  She was frying them on a flat griddle with oil.  We didn't know what they were at this stage, but nothing ventured!  Once she had finished a guy took the doughnut and cut it up into small triangles with a pair of scissors.  He was cutting them over this large mixing bowl which had sugar, cinnamon, crushed nuts and sesame seeds and tossed the pieces until they were fully coated and packed them up for us.  Wow, really good.

04 October 2013

Phliu Waterfall

Wow!  That's pretty much all I can say about this waterfall.  Due to the number of national parks around Chanthaburi, there are actually quite a lot of waterfalls and they are pretty spectacular at the moment given it's rainy season.

Thursday saw Juls and I head for breakfast at Vietnamese Food.  We had the rolls and coffee and it was a great way to start the day.  There was also no rain which is a huge bonus at this time of year.

We headed off down Highway 3, on the way to Trat.  Phliu is about 14 kilometres from Chanthaburi and it was a pretty easy trip on the bike.  To get in to the National Park costs 200 baht (roughly GBP£4 / AUD$6.70) unless you have a work permit (or presumably are a Thai national) in which case it costs 40 baht (£1 / $1.30).  Quite a difference.  As Juls had her work permit with her we tried the old "I've left mine at home" routine but, quite rightly, they weren't having any of it. 

There's quite a bit of walking involved so it's really not within Mr John's abilities at the moment.  We took it pretty slowly as I'm still getting over the cuts and bruises of last week.  You also need to be careful near the waterfalls as the ground gets very slippery.  The best thing, we found, was to take our shoes off - nothing grips like bare feet! 

The pools are full of fish and we did wonder if there was some sort of hierarchy amongst them, you know, women and children in pool three type thing.  What I couldn't believe was that these fish eat runner beans.  I know!  There are shops where you can buy them and feed them to the fish.  We saw a few people do this and the fish get a tiny bit aggressive when there's food coming.  You can swim in the pools or put your feet in for a paddle.  The fish nibble at your feet.  I really didn't like the look of this though, it reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds - only obviously a fish version.

Having wandered as far as I dared, we enjoyed an ice-cream and a chin wag when I noticed the colour of the sky.  Rain was definitely heading our way and by the look of the sky was going to set in, so no point waiting until it had passed.  So we called it a day and headed back the way we came.  The heavens just opened and riding the bike, it was like being hit by a rain of pins.  To add insult to injury, a truck went past me and dumped a load of water on me. 

About ten minutes into the ride the rain stopped but, by the time we got home, we were soaked through even though we both had rain ponchos on.  About ten minutes after getting home the heavens opened here and it carried on raining pretty much all night.  It didn't matter though as we stuck our feet up, had some peanut butter on toast and watched James Bond - Daniel Craig (and yes ladies it was the sea shot).  Fabulous day.


02 October 2013

The never ending week

So I'm writing this on my mobile at Doi Chaang, the coffee shop by the lake. Having coffee and cake with my friend Juls is a highlight of this past week. Now I don't mean that dismissively, hanging out with Juls is always really good.  I've been contemplating what to write all morning as all we've done this last week is tend to healing wounds. And then I thought, you know what, it's not always going to be glamorous and you ought to know what's going on.

After our trip to the hospital last Thursday we had to ice Mr John's foot every two hours. This might not sound complicated but it involves removing his bandage, getting him a block of ice and a cloth, his putting pain relief cream on and me putting the bandage back on. Gosh I'm exhausted just writing about it! 

The main detractor from me getting out and about was the cut on my thumb as it has prevented me gripping the throttle on the bike.  Monday saw that all change, I just stuck a plaster on it and off I went. I had broken the left wing mirror in the incident but what I hadn't realised is the right mirror has been "squished" so mostly all I can see out of that is my arse (I apologise to anyone who is sensitive to seeing body parts written down). which isn't helpful, so I must do something to rectify that soon.  Although I can now get myself around I'm no good at riding with someone on the back so poor Mr John is still effectively housebound.

I say that but he was back at school on Monday.  Thankfully all lessons have finished so the strain is off him somewhat.  There's a guy just down the road that drives a cab so he's been able to flag him down in the mornings.  What isn't great when he gets to school is the four, yes four, flights of stairs he has to use to get to his office and of course neither the toilets or the canteen are on that floor! Thankfully he mostly gets home early afternoon having done lesson plans for next term. He's back to the doctor at the hospital tomorrow and he seems to be improving which is just as well as we fly to Australia on holiday next Friday and I don't fancy having to deal with luggage on my own! 

It's made me think though, Thailand isn't really designed for people with "disabilities".  There's no lift at school, the pavements are high set (due to the volume of water) and some shopping centres don't have lifts.  Thinking about it, I've not seen a disabled person in Chan.  What does that mean?  I think I'll have a chat with Kob to find out - don't worry I'll let you know.