30 December 2013

Ho, ho, ho!!!

Whilst most people will, by now, be totally over the festive period we are still going strong.  I guess this is mostly because Mr John started some holidays on Friday.  The school is now closed for New Year festivities and won't re-open until next Thursday.  He's already pretty chilled out and it's so nice to see his stress and (slightly) short temper have disappeared.  Marvellous what new living arrangements can do!

Although Mr John was working, we enjoyed Christmas dinner with very good friends.  It was not very fancy - I bought some ready cooked chicken from the supermarket - but I spent Christmas eve making potato salad (a Mr John favourite) using the new camping gas ring.  Boy that thing is efficient!  For dessert we had orange jelly, vanilla pod ice-cream with smashed Maltesers sprinkled over the top.  The whole thing seemed to go down a treat and, for a school night, was quite a late evening.

I really enjoyed myself maybe because I was thinking it wouldn't be quite the same as we're used to.  I stood in our hallway mid-morning after we'd opened our presents and Mr John had left for school, wishing myself a Merry Christmas out loud.  It seemed quite sad and I've told Mr John he's not to work that day again, that he has to take a days holiday if needed.  I needn't have worried though, as I say, I really enjoyed our "soiree" and it was great to find the Muppets Christmas Carol on TV the night before.  So all in all a good day. 

Lovely to open presents from friends and family overseas as well as our own but, as always, it's the people in your life (not the stuff and things) that make high days and holidays so special.  We hope your festivities were equally enjoyable and I'll speak to you next year!!

23 December 2013

2 more sleeps!

Like thousands of people all over the world, we are gearing up for Christmas.  Our lovely, smiley postman knows we have moved and over the last week he has been delivering all sorts of lovely cards and exciting parcels to us - thanks to all our family and friends overseas.  So I've been putting up all the lovely decorations that have been sent and all the cards are "blue tacked" to the wall. 

I've tried to make it look as nice as I can and the battery lights we received were a very welcome addition.  Some people even put chocolate treats in their parcels, yay!!  We also got some lovely home made produce from our friends in Brisbane - cheese straws and rum balls.  They arrived all safe and in one piece and we're currently rationing them out to make them last as long as possible!

I've updated the Our House tab so you can get more of an idea on how we are settling in.  As I've been playing home maker, I don't have anything specific to tell you today.  Last Thursday we went out for dinner with our friend Groy to The Craze House.  We had a fabulous evening, but I can't do it justice yet as there aren't enough photos.  I'll work on that and fill you in soon.  Suffice to say that it felt like a proper grown up bar, we had great sake cocktails and Mr John spied brulee on the menu and has his sights set on that for a future visit.

Mr John has to work all this week but does have time off before new year.  I have all my lovely Christmas movies at hand and will be trying to keep the festive spirit going.

We wish you and yours a very merry Christmas / happy holiday
 and I'll let you know how our day went later this week.

18 December 2013

6 days to go!!!

I think it looks good

I'm a little late doing my blog but that's because our internet has been re-installed in the new house today - hurrah!!  We have a table facing out the back window and I'm sitting here now, looking out at a bright blue sky, with a lovely breeze coming in.  I'm feeling very fortunate and very festive though I have been seeing Facebook pictures of friends and families trees and feeling slightly jealous.

fuzzy felt rocks!
I guess that's mostly because I spent Monday afternoon putting up the few Christmas decorations we have!  Whenever we go on holiday, we buy a Christmas decoration (and you'd be surprised how easy this is no matter what time of year it is).  That way, as we decorate the tree together, we remember our lovely holidays every year.  We don't have them with us but we do have a fuzzy felt tree my niece sent me.  It's fabulous. Am I the only one who thinks there just isn't enough fuzzy felt in the world? 

It reminds me of a present I got several years ago from my other niece.  I was working away from home and complaining that what I really missed was being able to do creative things outside of work.  I promptly received a fuzzy felt underwater scene kit, complete with divers and so was able to vent my creative talents!  My nieces really get me.

I'm so cold, I'm so cold!!
I've been surprised by how many decorations I can buy in the shops - well actually, the supermarkets!  And that's where this little fella came from.  As in Australia, it's always a bit weird seeing a northern hemisphere tradition in a hot climate.  When we lived in the UK, the tree used to go up in our front room on the first weekend in December.  Every night, until Christmas, we used to have one pre-dinner cocktail (makers choice) sitting in there admiring the tree.  I do miss that tradition of ours.

the back window now has a table in front
I've put up as many lights as I can and we have an excellent run in the kitchen.  Actually, the sink is outside on the balcony which has the tap and the drain!  Inside, we are accumulating some things for our western moments.  We already have a kettle and toaster but now have an electric frying pan and a camping gas ring. 

We've been feeling slightly more festive the last few days as the temperature has dropped and yesterday there was a very cold wind which meant it was about 23*C.  Mr John and I donned our pyjamas (given to us on the flight over) and had a nice hot cup of tea - bliss.  Hope all your preparations are going well.

The real size of our tree LOL

16 December 2013

I can do what??

Got to tell you, the new place is amazing.  I slept for 10 hours on Friday night - unheard of either here or abroad!  I also have to tell you about the most boring but, for me, exciting discovery of the weekend.  I have to give you the background however, so please persevere.

Doesn't look like a laundrette
We usually give our washing to "Winky" * across the road.  She's Tom's sisters girlfriend (work it out) and I don't know her name - which is very poor on my part - and she has a high pitched squeaky voice.  She speaks no English, though occasionally has some form of conversation with me which I can usually figure out through hand gestures (the polite type).  Anyway, I was so thrilled washing was so cheap when I got here and she used to put everything on hangers. 
* any Harry Potter fan will know who I'm talking about

Recently though she's split up with Tom's sister and it's hard to know where to take the washing.  It seems to have got more and more expensive, bit by bit, and to top it off I got a load back the other day that hadn't been put on hangers and one of Mr Johns' white shirts had a dirty mark on the shoulder.

I was talking at to Mr John about this and mentioned his old landlady who had a washing machine that was 30 baht a load.  She's lovely and so we popped over to see her to ask if it would be ok to use it even though we don't live there.  She's always liked Mr John and her English is very good.  She said we were welcome to use the machine but there were a lot of machines just down the road (opposite the Technical College) that we might find better.  We took a short ride and I was so excited!!

It's 20 baht a load (that's roughly 40 pence, 70 AUD cents, 0.50 euro).  What a bargain.  My load only took up half a machine - and whilst I could add more, the space for drying it is a bit of an issue.  As I was whizzing home on the bike, I was wondering if I could modify our backpack and peg the clothes to it, I'm sure they'd be dry by the time I got back flapping behind me all the way!

13 December 2013

What a week!

Having had a fantastic time on Koh Chang, we arrived back on Sunday to be given the keys to our new home!  Now I know this comes a bit out of the blue, but have I got a story to tell you.  Sit back and relax, this may take some time....

When we first arrived, we coveted the apartments at the back of our house.  We met the owner, Pang, through Tom at the corner shop.  The house, given to us free by the school, was a little depressing at first (though much brighter than the first house we were let into) and we could never imagine it as home.  Pang has 15 apartments and there's a list to get in because once in, people rarely move on.  So, we asked him to let us know if one ever came free.  He's a really lovely guy and his niece married an Australian and lives there so we had a tiny bit in common and this gives him moderate English.

I've mentioned before that we have three new teachers at school this term and one is a couple.  They were put next door to us.  He is American and she comes from the Philippines.  Now, before I say anything else, let me make it clear that we have some lovely American friends who we wouldn't be without.  Next door, however, is your "a typical" American.  Very loud, very obnoxious, very self-absorbed.  We occasionally hear some entertaining statements such as the water bill being 130 baht, the neighbours aren't very worldly!  But mostly we hear a lot of noise, proper swearing (even though they are church goers) and it feels like all the happiness in our house is sucked out the minute they get back from school.  Of course Mr John also has to put up with this during the day, so pretty much 24/7 for him, and he's been getting more and more short tempered over the last six weeks.

So, one Friday morning (two weeks ago today), when Pang popped his head through our open window to tell us there was an apartment free - we pretty much bit his hand off.  It will mean some adjustments on our part now that we have to pay rent - like maybe Koh Chang every four months instead of three, but we can manage.  So let me tell you all the fun stuff.

 Firstly, it's concrete and soooo quiet!  As you can see, there's parking underneath so I won't get a burnt bum when I get on the bike.  It has a hot water shower, so Mr John is a very happy man.  Once you're up the stairs, which were a little scary at first, everything is on one floor and there's a good sized balcony at the back.   And being high set, we wont have to move any of our furniture up onto desks during the rainy season!

The minor down-side is it's not furnished, but things are cheap enough here.  Of course the up-side of this is we bought a king-sized bed which is just heavenly and much better than two singles pushed together!

The lovely Tom helped to move the heavy stuff when Mr John came home on one of his extended breaks.  He lent us their trolley and I'd done a couple of loads before the big stuff was moved.  How to move house Thai style!  It was a pretty hot day but we managed to get all the key things in.  There's only the internet left to move, which our friend Kob is helping us with, so I'm writing this sat at the table in the old house with nothing much around me. 

Though we weren't impressed when we first arrived, it is sad leaving this house.  We managed to turn it into a home and who knows, we might have turned Pang down had we had different neighbours (somehow, I'm not sure they'll be here that long though).

I haven't yet put the Christmas decorations up at the new house, but a big thank you to those who've sent care parcels with some fabulous things - I'm especially looking forward to putting up the fuzzy felt tree!  And don't worry if you've posted something in the last week - the postman already knows we've moved and where to find us.  I'll update the "Our House" page when the internet has been installed so you can see it furnished.

11 December 2013

Koh Chang

As you'll know, it was the Kings Birthday on Thursday.  This meant that it was a national holiday.  Mr John decided to take Friday off as well and so we went off to Whitesands resort on Koh Chang for three heavenly nights.  The ferry ports on both the mainland (Trat) and the island are really pretty with the colour of the water and beautiful blue skies.

We stayed again at the KC Grande as we'd had such a good time there in September for my birthday.   It was great to see all the Christmas decorations up in reception.

We had a good sized room and it was very handy to the restaurant for breakfast.  Last time we stayed, we were in the building across the road with the roof top pool and we made use of the pool again as the main one was a little busy.

One of the best things for us going here is the food that you can get and some of the bars in the area.  We especially like La Dolce Vita Italian.  The owner is from Milan and the food is excellent.  Not only that but the house wine is not at all bad.  Mr John really enjoyed the Tiramisu!!  We also like having a quiet drink at the 15 Palms because you can sit in beanbags and look out to sea, including some lovely moonlight reflecting on the water - dead romantic!

We had a fantastic time and Mr John also had Tuesday off as it's Constitution Day here.  Speaking of which, the Kings birthday brought some welcome relief to the protests in Bangkok and the Prime Minister has said there will be an election as soon as possible. 

04 December 2013

the Kings birthday

I went to school with Mr John this morning as there was to be a ceremony for the Kings birthday celebrations.  The actual day is tomorrow and it is a national holiday.  Interestingly, bars will be closed as it's not considered appropriate to drink on this day. 

Last term all the foreign teachers were measured up and you can see the outcome.  Fortunately, it's quite cool today as the shirts are made from very thick material.  It also features the flags of the 10 ASEAN countries. 

For those that don't know, ASEAN is an economic community, much like the European Union (EU) and consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.  See if you can name the flags on Mr John's shirt!!  What a lovely detail to a fabulous garment.  Anyway, back to this morning.

There was the usual raising of the Thai flag - which happens everyday at 8am and it's taken down everyday at 6pm - during which time the national anthem is played.  I think I also heard the school song but, as everything is in Thai , it's hard to know!  I did hear the school name several times hence the educated guess.

The birthday was marked by the Director making an offering and a speech.  Everyone was well behaved and paid suitable attention - including the teachers.  Speaking of which, because they are civil servants, Thai teachers have a military type uniform with very senior staff wearing white. They also have medals but unfortunately we don't know how you get them.  Is it for filing under duress? Who knows!

I must say it was a different way of spending the morning though I'm not in a rush to do it again - it was so early and with the wind, dare I say, cold.  Which reminds me, the last few days we've not even had the fan on as the breeze can be quite chilly. 

Yep, definitely winter at only 20 degrees of an evening!!

02 December 2013

Where does the time go?

Wow, I've been doing this blog now for six months and I thought it was about time to check out what you're all thinking.  It is difficult sometimes when you sit down to write a post and you wonder whether anyone is actually going to read it.  I seem to have attracted readers from all areas of the globe - United States, Canada, Philippines, Pakistan, Holland, Australia and the United Kingdom (to name but a few) - and I'm very grateful to everyone who has checked in on us.

Anyway, I thought it was time to get feedback and as they say, well apparently Kenneth H Blanchard says, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions".  So clearly whilst you can take the girl out of the office, you can't take the office out of the girl.  Here are some questions for you.  I've tried to keep it simple, not that I'm assuming you are simple, but so that it won't take too much time out of your day to get back to me. 

If you're shy about using the comments area, then please feedback via the contact form on your left.  I'd appreciate a response to each question - even if it's neutral. So you can agree, disagree or have no opinion!

Thanks everyone
  1. Posts are just the right length
  2. Posts are just the right frequency
  3. Posts about places to go are very helpful
  4. I prefer reading posts about daily life