Sunday, May 31, 2009


Sunday activity

After 3 Sundays in Thailand I had forgotten almost what hard work Sundays at home can sometimes seem.
We went to the car boot sale at Pease Pottage. It was huge - so much that one could buy and lots of it tat!
I bought books today and Bill bought bells. The bells are iron bells to be mounted on a wall and each was decorated with an item of interest - 2 have John Deere tractors.
I bought 14 Penguin books of philosophy (modern and new) for 50p. And I bought a 1940s pop up book in the Bookano series - the seller apologetically asked for £5 for this book; but I know it is worth more - the book price for a good condition one is £65 and mine is in pretty good condition.
Lots more was bought of course.
This afternoon I wrote up everything that had been bought over this weekend and some of it is stowed in a box to take to the shop tomorrow.
I have also done some ironing - the new me wants there not to be ironing piles!
There are many sorts of piles of course - and my experience tells me that some are painful.
I was always amused in Phuket when we passed a place that specialised in "boring piles".
For some reason I tidied the food cupboard. My food storage is now (since the new kitchen) in a low corner cupboard with a carousel inside and things can get chucked in there a bit untidily.
I spent some time with the photos of the next episode of the Thai blog - which follows on from this posting.
This evening I cooked Drunken Duck sausages. They were so good! They were firm and meaty and very tasty. The ingredients were duck and turkey, oats, brandy, apples, marmalade, herbs and spices.
I fell asleep on the sofa after our meal - not with The Antiques Roadshow, because that is not on just now.
I am not surprised I feel so tired. I have been working hard and waking up before 5 o'clock in the morning.
Read on now and enjoy the photos of Sunday lunch 3 weeks ago.


Sunday lunch at Nai Yang 10th May.

Today I am looking back once again to our first Sunday on Phuket.
After present time, Jamie took us and the children out. Mam felt she had a lot of ironing to catch up on and so she stayed at home this time.

First we went to the Thalang Museum which looks at Phuket history - the tin mining which brought Chinese immigrants and the first Phuket wealth and also the conflicts with the Burmese and how 2 young Thai women led the defence against the invaders and tricked them into running away. There is a monument to the 2 heroines.

Then we went to Nai Yang, a beautiful beach on the west side of the island.

We chose a great place to eat, known as Batik Seafood.

We walked amongst the flowering shrubs to reach our table in the shade by the beach.

From the beach up to the tables.

Time for a little run around on the beach whilst waiting for the food.

Contented old folks!

Contented old folks with the little Monkeys!

Naturally I was contented, with green curry to ladle over my rice.

A plate of beef, chopped nuts and cabbage with a sweet spicy sauce.

John with his food - chicken and rice.

Jessica tucks in with gusto.

After the children had finished they played in the sand by our little pavilion.

Later, of course, we all played on the sandy beach.
Pictures on the beach tomorrow.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Saturday 30th May. Ford, Littlehampton and the washing machine.

There are 2 blogs today.
This might be the best solution for some time to come. There will be the story of my day, followed by another posting with pictures telling of an episode of a Thai day.

Today has brought us back to normality.

Under clear skies we drove early to Ford. The Sussex countryside looked magnificent.
New flowers have appeared in the hedgerows and verges - the dog roses (a delicate favourite) ramble all over the hedges and bright eyed tall daisies and buttercups fill the grass, where dandelions had been before our trip to Thailand.

As the stall holders poured onto the site to set up their wares we realised that we had almost forgotten how to buy - what will do well in Dorking?
I bought china and glass - books were not to be found (at least not ones I thought suitable for selling). Bill bought one item - but it did cost £50. He has long wanted to have a large model airplane; the sort that were produced for travel agents and such like for display in their offices.
It is a lovely item - and at some point Bill assumes he will make some profit.
We also bought 3 large white bathroom towels for £1.50 and a crisp, cotton long sleeved white shirt for Bill (30p).

Then it was time to move on into Littlehampton for breakfast at the Balaton.
Our Cypriot friends greeted us warmly and wanted to know all about Thailand.
We enjoyed our "usual" - the all day breakfast, rather than the big breakfast.
Then we strolled back out along the river estuary to the beach.
The tide was far, far out leaving a huge expanse of sand.
Littlehampton beach is quite popular in the summertime.
I walked right out to the sea and paddled. The water was a bit colder than I experienced last weekend at Paradise Bay, but it was still delightful.

Here I am on the beach.
The sea is out there to the right somewhere!
Bill was not with me when I paddled - so no pictures. He stayed and took more photos amongst the people.

This part of the beach, right by the estuary is not safe for swimming. But on the broad flat beach only paddling was possible. Nevertheless 2 life guards sat up on surfboards on the roof of their buggy.

When we got home I put a load of washing on.
I played around with all the Thai photos - we have photos from 4 people and I decided I needed them all together to enable me to sort out blogs more easily. It was lovely to go back over all the days and put them all together.
Then I went to unload the washing machine and found the washing still to be wet.
We have known for a long while that the machine would not survive much longer and today the drum was not moving at all.
Bill wasn't sure if he shouldn't just get and fit new brushes. We know we should make do and mend where possible.
But this machine has lasted for very many years and we decided to waste no time in ditching it.
We went and bought a new one - a basic Indesit, just as before. We bought it home from the shop and Bill fitted it straight away.
It is now doing its first wash.
Today has been a competitive day. I took little notice of the football. I always supported Chelsea of course as a young woman - my pupils at school would have been very disappointed had I said I didn't support a team. And a little later on I knew the family of one of the Chelsea players.
So I guess I am pleased they won the Cup.
And I must hurry away to see the results of Britain's Got Talent. The final acts certainly proved that this is true.
Who will win? The little girl (Hollie) so reminds me of Jessica and her voice moved me. I love the saxophonist and one of the dance troupes were really good. The now renowned Susan Boyle belts out a song with feeling - but I am not sure she will be the winner.
The results will be well reported in the news of course.
Got that right then......... the final 3 were the saxophonist, Susan Boyle and the dance troupe - and the dancers won.


May 10th in Thailand. Presents in the morning.

It was May 10th..... time for another Christmas!

We took a few presents for everybody.

Jessica looking so grown up with her High School Musical DVD.

John and his soldiers.

"Elephant, meet soldier."

Hooray! Grown up Jessica is still happy for Nanny to read Angelina and to explore the illustrations.

Mam waves excitedly whilst modelling the new necklace.
The necklace gives us a warm feeling because we bought it with Bill's sister, Jane on the way back from Guildford, where she had been for her radiotherapy.
The Monks in Thailand wish Jane well.

Mam and Catherine Tate! Bill said we would buy it for her, but she would have to wait 3 weeks to watch it!
Bill and I acknowledge that Catherine Tate is very clever and she observes people's mannerisms very well - but the shows do get rather repetitive.

Jamie and Madness. This group was Jamie's first favourite group, when he was about 13 or 14.

Cat and Elephant were very much loved.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Finishing off from the holiday and also settling in on the first day.

There is very little to say about today - though we have been busy.
There was bag activity - bother.... why did it need 3 changes to get a bag on which didn't leak this morning?
There have been 4 loads of washing through the machine and much ironing.
Normally I say that I do very little ironing, but after 3 weeks of wearing dresses, shorts and cotton shirts then a lot needed doing. I kept a little bit up to date with it, using Mam's iron and ironing board, but today there was a lot. But I did it all and there is no mountainous pile of ironing waiting to be done.
Bill went out and did more garden tidying - and then cut the lawns. The grass and weeds had grown very long in 3 weeks. It was hard work for him.
He took the cut grass to the council dump, for there was too much to go into our composter and this time our garden rubbish will benefit the parks and gardens in the town.
We have sorted out some of the money which has come into the shop for us, which Jo had been collecting up. I don't think we shall actually get to the shop until Monday - our normal day.
I am still not yet back to normal. I have fallen asleep a couple of times during the day.
I have not eaten very wisely since Tuesday and my gut is regretting this.
Tomorrow I must push myself towards wisdom and avoid all wheat again.
And so for the first day of our time in Thailand. It was a day of settling in. It is strange that it always feels much easier to cope with the time changes and lack of sleep after our journey there. It is always coming home that takes its toll.
On our first day we went to Tesco Lotus for a few supplies of things I didn't think it was worth packing.
Mam took us for lunch to a small cafe in Phuket City, frequented by locals.
I recall a very good snack of rice noodles and prawns.

Mam and John wait for the food to arrive. I passed a notebook to John to keep him occupied for a while.
The quality of his drawing leaped forward amazingly during our stay. This was not our influence at all; he has a lovely new teacher in his new school. John joined Jessica in the English speaking school and Teacher Gemma seems to be able to bring out the best in her pupils.

On the way home I was telling Mam that I wanted my camera to record much more than just the things that we did. I wanted to look for contrasts with the UK and show some of the things that are not so attractive about Phuket.
I began with this picture from the front of the Monk pick up truck - showing another pick up truck, loaded with people; and also the ever present cables and wires along all the roads.

Jamie had been working that day and we met him at a cafe near the summit of Buddha Mountain.
We visited the Big Buddha on another day, near the end of our stay.
But here is the statue shining up there on the hill in the late afternoon sunshine, with a little Buddha shrine outside the cafe.

The view from the cafe looks down to Karon Bay. Jamie works in Karon - Sunrise Divers is not quite on the bay, but inland a couple of hundred metres and off to the left of this picture.

Sunset...... about half past six/ quarter to seven. Phuket is not very far north of The Equator and therefore the days and nights are nearly of equal lengths.

Here we are waiting for the food to arrive.

Jamie and Mam and the hands of the 2 children.

Jamie and John.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Normality creeps back & Bangkok airport arrival.

Normality is beginning to creep up on us.
We both slept reasonably well last night. And today has been a day to pick up some of the normal things we do to keep busy.
It helps that the weather is better. Yesterday was horrid and others all felt sorry for us that it was so chilly and wet. We believe that the weekend will be quite warm - though we expect an easterly wind which will prevent some exciting heat.

There are a couple of loads of washing hanging out in the garden - soon the pile of ironing will be growing.
I actually cleaned the washing line before using it - a bit grimy and covered with cobwebs.

Later we went to Lidl for a bit more shopping. We have been drinking iced lemon tea a lot in Thailand and I bought 2 litres in Lidl for 99p (about 50 Baht). Now we need the sunshine to make it the drink of choice.

This afternoon we began the long task of sorting photos - ours and also Jamie and Mam's. I shall add Thailand photos each day to this blog and recall our time there. I guess I will be doing that for weeks!
At some point, Bill will begin sorting and arranging pictures for our album.

I have also spent a little time on EBay. I had hoped to have things ready to list when we got back, but I didn't get around to more describing. But there are things which can be listed for the second time and this afternoon I put 14 items on for the bidders to find.

We have seen Frieda and Rose today. Frieda so enjoys have the important job of feeding the cats and refuses help from Rose. The cats have survived well so we should be glad. We just wish that the back door had been locked when we returned!
George cat has been a pest - having caught 2 birds since our return. Perhaps he thinks he is doing something special for us! He hasn't been bird hunting for a long time until now. Yesterday afternoon there were feathers all over the kitchen floor!

Bill is now out in the garden. There has been a lot of rain and plants have gone wild. The garden is like a jungle. The lawns (such as they are) have grown long and all the bits that are not grass (most of it) have sprung tall and flowered. Tomorrow will be grass cutting day.

I must get on soon and prepare dinner. The plans for yesterday were abandoned - we were just too tired. So tonight we will have gammon steaks in a honey sauce with Jersey Royal potatoes and some other vegetables too.

And now back to the beginning of our holiday.
We flew into the impressive new airport at Bangkok. It is about 2 and a half years old. I saw it on my last trip but Bill had not seen it. We had a just a short while to look round before flying to Phuket.
The ground covered by this 4 storey terminus is immense and quite a lot of walking is involved to get from one place to another - or running, as we had to on Tuesday!

Here are a few facts from the airport website........

130 passport control checkpoints for arrivals, 72 for departures.
26 customs control checkpoints for arrivals, 8 for departures.
22 baggage conveyor belts.
360 check-in counters. There are 100 additional counters for passengers without luggage.
107 moving walkways.
102 elevators.
83 escalators.

Some 50 dining venues dot the 25,000-square-metre airport terminal.

The airport seemed very quiet, despite the fact that Bangkok is the crossroads of the far east; planes from all over arrive and leave from Bangkok.

We were happy to arrive at the airport on Phuket to greet our family. Jessica and John didn't know it was us they were there to meet. Suddenly they turned and shouted "Nanny!" and ran to us.
But before long it was our bags on wheels that were more interesting!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Half an hour in Bangkok

I am just so tired!
Was it really only yesterday morning that I woke and showered in Phuket?
Jessica and John got ready for school and Bill and I got ready for England. It was all quite rushed - just time for a few last photographs.
We sped north from Kathu to the airport - a drive of maybe 45 minutes. Jessica had us all playing I Spy as we passed all the familiar aspects of the route.
The family came inside the airport with us for hugs and kisses - so hard not to weep; and just a few tears came to my eyes of course. How long before we are with them again? Who knows?
Right now I would give a lot for just another hug!
And then we walked through the door and out of their lives and to start the journey back to our "nest".
The plane was due to leave for Bangkok at ten to ten.
Our travel agent had sorted out this flight, assuring us that it would give us plenty of time to check into the EVA flight for London. We would have 2 hours.
And then came the announcement that our flight from Phuket would be delayed.
We took off more than half an hour later than expected.
We would have no time for relaxation within the new and stylish Bangkok airport then.
The flight should take just under an hour.
As we started the descent to land, the nose turned up and the altitude and speed of the plane were increased and we made a large circle until we could come into land. The minutes available to us were ticking away.
And then the plane repeated the large detour circle once again.
It took three attempts get a gap for a descent.
Now how long would we have to leave this plane, find the EVA desk and check in and get to the boarding gate?
As the plane came to a halt we realised that we had not much more than half an hour and we had not a clue where in this huge airport we needed to be.
We made sure we were about the first people off through the be greeted by a young man with a card asking for "Monk - EVA Airways".
He told us to go with him.... down the steps and not into the awaiting airport bus, but straight into a mini bus.
Off we went from one end of the airport to another.
Then through the doors - "Follow me" he beckoned and ran at great speed. He grabbed some of the hand luggage because he could see we were considerably less fit than him!
We rushed passed people, along corridors and moving walkways and up escalators.
He came back and grabbed our papers and passports to get them to the check in desk before it closed.
We were hurried through doorways, following our man, out towards the departure gate. He had to leave us at that point. Bill reached in his wallet for a tip - maybe 500 Baht (£10) was a bit excessive, but it was all that he had. The young man looked slightly embarrassed, bless him. But without him we would most certainly have been paying out for a hotel room and hoping that we could get on the next day's EVA plane for London. We just could not have got on that plane without him.
And so we sat down and very quickly were up in the skies for the long journey back to England. The homeward journey is longer than the outward flight - over 7,000 miles.
I watched 2 films - lightweight bits of fun that I quite enjoyed and I finished my reading book.
I envied the many others on the flight who could lean back and sleep.
The meals on the flight were excellent and we were given lots of extra drinks too.
Eventually we were flying over the River Thames and it seemed that we would land bang on the predicted time....... until, what do you know..... just as in the morning our landings were aborted and we climbed to circle back to central London. It was out third attempt that saw us safely on the ground.
We had tried not to think about luggage whilst on the flight. If we had a very short time at Bangkok, then so did our luggage. Our young man was optimistic that the luggage would be fine - it did have a Priority Label put on it at Phuket airport check in.
And very soon we were reunited with our big bags.
We walked out of the airport to the bus stop and straight onto the coach, which left just a minute later for Gatwick. No taxi could have given us such a rapid service. The M25 was quiet and gentle.
We got off the coach and hurried to the waiting No 10 local bus and were on our way within just a minute.
The catching of the local bus is just something we feel we should do. Why pay up to £20 when we can get back to the house for nothing? And last night there was no waiting and we were home almost as quickly as a taxi would have got us there.
We walked in our front door at 10 o'clock - 21 hours after we left Jamie's house.
We pottered for a while and made a cup of tea.
We had been determined that we would do no work - no unloading of bags and no cleaning up of 3 weeks worth of cats hair.
I climbed into my own familiar bed with great thanks.
I slept for a while. Why was it last night that I had to get a leak at 3 in the morning?
I didn't really sleep after that.
We both got up not much after 6 o'clock - that would be midday in Thailand.
I cooked some breakfast - not exactly a great British fry up because we had no eggs or bacon.
Bill hoovered up after the cats and I enjoyed washing up in a bowl of steaming of hot water.
Then I lay down on the sofa and slept a little bit.
We have been to Asda for some basics - I can't think straight today. I knew that I was looking forward to potatoes and was pleased to see that they had Jersey Royals for 1 pound a bag.
I dozed again after some lunch.
I woke up, not knowing where I was. I heard Bill talking out by the computer and assumed he was talking to Jamie. But no - he was on the phone to a friend who had left a message with birthday greetings.
Coming home with jet lag and missing our loved ones does lead to that feeling of not being really here or there. I can hear the children talking.
I have skyped with Jamie - and Mam.
I bless this facility, even though we only chat with type written words. Jamie's broadband is not through a telephone land line, but a local wireless connection and skype talking does not work. We use skype to phone them sometimes.
But skype does mean that I never feel too far away from my boy and his family - we are sharing news and jokes and gentle banter almost every day.
Now I must find the energy for news and banter with Ashley - haven't talked to him for 3 weeks. But at least facebook has kept me a little up to date with him and many others.
I found time sometimes to check emails from Roger whilst there - but have not yet looked at all his website entries about his Suffolk holiday at Easter.
Bill is studying websites for digital cameras. It is now my turn for a new one. I have had a problem before but now it is seems to be fatal. When I open up the camera for use I have to check every time that the flaps covering the lens open and normally have to push them open by hand. I want something very similar.
Tomorrow perhaps we will start to sort out all ours and Jamie's photos.
OK - soon be time to put the Jersey Royals on and maybe I shall go to bed very early and sleep and get myself back into routine. We have noticed before that the return journey plays havoc with our body clocks.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Time to move on

Bags are packed - just one more sleep to go.
We are tired and perhaps ready for quietly slipping back into our normal world, though the moment now feels sad as we prepare to leave our loved ones.
Today has felt flat really.
We searched in Central Mall for Jessica's birthday present with no success.
The days of a portable radio and headphones are now in the past.
Maybe the same is true in the UK, I don't know.
The modern world is so much one of throwing away last year's items and buying the latest gizmo.
Us old folks just do not fit into such a world.
Anyway we will see what we can find at home and will have to post it. Jessica maybe will just have to become au fait with Ipods or MP3 players or whatever.
Jamie and Mam bought some food in the Central supermarket - Waitrose owned. Jamie and I had to persuade Mam that Waitrose morning coffee biscuits are not worth 3 pounds.
We ate in the cheap food hall in the mall.
It does seem to have been a long succession of eating places.
We met the children from school, drove up Rang Hill for a last good view and then ate at Dairy Hut.
My gut is telling me it is time to ease off the eating.
The children have now showered and Jessica is doing her homework.
Soon I can have a little time with her. We have a present of a pretty notebook and pens and a drawing book.
I am glad that it has been decided that they can be a bit late for school tomorrow morning and will come with us to the airport. Apart from my needs I am sure it is beneficial to them to appreciate the finality of our going.
I am sure the next blog will not be until Wednesday. All being well we should be home by about 10 o'clock UK time - but remember this will feel like 4 o'clock in the morning to us after almost 22 hours from Jamie's house to our house.
Don't forget to check Jamie's blogs regularly - his weather blog and Phuket blogs are written 2 or 3 times a week and often include family pictures and snippets of news. He doesn't update his private blog very often because he runs out of time and that blog doesn't make him any money.
Hope those in the UK have enjoyed the Bank Holiday in the warm sun. I hope it lasts long enough to warm us too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Exhausting and full weekend.

Could write lots but maybe this will have to be very brief.
The trip to Krabi was not as expected and we came back the same day.
Jamie had organised rental of what appeared to be a lovely villa for one night. There would be 4 bedrooms and a swimming pool.
Simon, the pompous prat who had agreed this deal is trying to sell the house and he explained that there are 4 bedrooms - but just now he is using 2 of them for other things.
If somebody put in an offer for the house he would get a pool built.
So we had 2 bedrooms - one was nice and with air con. The other had mattresses on the floor.
Mam and I were immediately unhappy. Jamie felt he should honour his agreement and we should make the best of it.
We went out for lunch and to plan the afternoon. We found ourselves in Krabi resort and all felt uncomfortable. Lots of traffic and tourists being ripped off - perhaps they didn't know they were being ripped off and were happy; but really - simple dish of fried rice was on sale for 4 times what we are used to.
We later found a good place for lunch and we enjoyed our meal by a wide bay. I had green curry.
Then we drove around looking for the fossil beach and each time ended up in the main resort.
Jamie realised that his family were more important and swallowed his honour and said his gut feeling was that we should drive home. We left a note and some money for Simon - Mam thought too much was left.
So, 3 more hours on the road back home. We were very tired.
Today has been dry and very hot.
But there were things I wanted to do. After all we now only have one more day.
Jamie drove us up Buddha mountain. This site has changed since we first saw it. Three years ago the gigantic statue was cloaked in wooden scaffold poles. The views were and still are superb.
But now that the marble covered edifice is nearly finished the tourists are arriving in droves. And where there are tourists there are nick nack stalls.
We walked around enjoying the views of the huge white monument and the countryside beyond.
As we left we had to battle our way through a throng of Russian tourists and their guide.
It felt a little like what was once belonging to us has been handed to the money makers and visitors - but that is a little unfair, because there is a feeling of awe and reverence.

Then we drove to Paradise beach - hitting Patong for the only time this visit. The sea front seemed broader and airier than Krabi - though of course we saw very little of the Krabi area. I wouldn't want to spend time in Patong either.
Paradise beach was small and quiet, found along a steeply undulating narrow road.
I was determined to have a swim in the sea - warm of course. Then we sat in the shade, ate a little and drank lots. For the first time we have caught the sun.

I had been keen to return to Sapan Hin. Perhaps one shouldn't go back in life. It was hot and crowded and all Jessica wanted was to be bought something. When Jamie told her that the cheap plastic hand held fan was out of the question a sulk set in. Actually it wasn't that cheap.
Finally she had a very cheap necklace, a nice little wooden cat and a pair of slippers, though nobody actually wears anything on their feet indoors.
Jamie and Bill ate; I drank; Jessica sulked!
I don't really feel like eating any more today.

Our last day will be much more routine. A little shopping, packing, meet the children from school and so on.
We will buy Jessica's birthday present. She liked the suggestion of a radio and headphones.

It is very hot here again - so you UK people thinking you are experiencing a scorcher can think again!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Sapan Hin

Heavy rain and thunder during the night and as we awoke this morning.
There have been plans for an early morning trip to the Big Buddha on Buddha Mountain. Today was not the day for such things.
I suggested that maybe we could get Jessica's birthday present whilst we were in Thailand - it would save a lot on postage.
The first suggestion from Jamie and Mam was a school bag on wheels.
We couldn't find anything suitable - just as well really. Because we were told that it really wasn't a good idea.
We still haven't got anything for her, so I guess the postage will have to be paid after all.
We called in at Tesco to look for a few bits - the muscle cramp cream that I like to use and a cheap equivalent of Vick's rub.
We then went to the Central Mall. Malls remind me of my Dad - not because he was a fan, of course. But he always said something like "Why would I want to go there? They have nothing I would want to buy."
I feel like that too.
They did have one thing we looked at - a cheap novelty mobile of birds with feathers. We have one already - they wanted the equivalent of 6 pounds! No way!
We met Jamie and Mam for lunch at a Japanese restaurant. They like this one - but I still have such good memories of the other one that I was disappointed not to be there.
And I was disappointed with my meal really. The chicken was fatty and greasy. I gave most of it to Bill, who assumed he was eating pork! Maybe that explains why I didn't like it so much. The best bit was the water melon shake - wonderful.
After lunch Bill and I sat around at home whilst the children were collected from school. The school run can take a long time.
Then Jamie took us to Sapan Hin - shame not to have discovered it before. It is a lovely park and well maintained at the point where the broad canal flows out to sea.
Tonight it was specially interesting because there was fair of local crafts and foods and plants etc. People came and bought snacks of all kinds and picnicked under the trees overlooking the view. It is also a place for exercise - power walkers and joggers did circuits of the well laid path round the park.
We saw heavy rustic furniture and wood carvings and later we found the bird mobiles that we had looked at in Central. This time the price was 2 pounds. Hooray! I also bought a box, carved from a tree branch and painted with a Buddha head. Bill and Jamie had a drink of Chumpon iced coffee and both bought a packet of the coffee to take home. I had guava juice.
I could have spent all evening there and perhaps we could go back on Monday early evening.
It was a very local affair - I think we were the only foreigners.
We hurried back though because Mam had phoned to say she was cooking after all for her friends. Mam's friend, Po, is very sweet. She is married to an Australian and has 3 sons. We ate out doors.
Now we must pack a bag for our weekend away - one night in Krabi.
There will be no blog tomorrow.
Hope you have a good weekend - we read that the UK can expect a "scorcher" for the bank holiday weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Today is being a rest day..... about time too, you might say!

I left you yesterday as we prepared to go to Phuket Brewery.

We had young children with us and perhaps were the first patrons of the evening. And on a Wednesday evening the vast bar and eating area remained very underused. It is much more lively later and at weekends.
But we were there to celebrate Grandad's birthday and we dressed up a little for the occasion. Strange to see Bill and Jamie looking just a little like twins in their long trousers (first time for Bill since our journey here) and their matching new black shirts.

We ordered food.
At this point my brain must have fallen out of gear.
The menu was extensive, so why on earth did I follow Bill and Jamie and order fish and chips?
I already knew my digestion was not really well.
They thought it was very tasty - I was less sure; maybe I already knew I had made a mistake. I should stick to rice.

As we dined an oriental group of musicians played on the vast stage.
As soon as he could John left us and went and sat near the front to gaze adoringly at the musicians. He loves music and dance.
Later a competent group of musicians backed various singers and we heard both American soft rock and Thai.
Again John sat adoringly - and even stood on his chair to get a closer look. Soon the singers were talking to him.
I sat adoringly, looking at John!

Jessica seemed to enjoy the singing at first. But gradually her face showed some discontent...."They told me there would be a magic show!"
Eventually the magic began at just gone 9 o'clock.
Bless her - Jessica was amazed. As the illusionist showed more and more decks of cards appearing in his hands and best of all, the white doves, she turned to me and said "How the heck does he do that?"
I am so glad we stayed late for Jessica to see this show. No doubt she will go again some time.

We were home about 10 o'clock and the children went straight to bed and were asleep almost as soon as heads rested on pillows.

I had a bad night, digestively speaking. Time for more Immodium.

Today has been hot and humid and there is now thunder in the air - almost 4 o'clock.

We have relaxed at home, enjoying a little breakfast outdoors on the new table.

Later Jamie and Mam took us out to lunch. The restaurant is owned by a friend, Nung. She has been married to Charlie for 20 years. He works for a mining company and a short while back took a new job which took him to The Gambia. He was promptly put under house arrest for 9 months, mainly it seems for the apparent 'crimes' of previous managers of that company.
The restaurant is called Lakeside - and is, indeed, by a lake. It was pleasant and calm.
I enjoyed Pad Thai - rice noodles and prawns in a very mild sauce. I also sampled the deep fried tofu in tamarind sauce. The duck curry was also good.

Bill and I are now chilling out at home, leaving Jamie and Mam to collect the children alone today. They'll be back in about half an hour.
This evening I think Bill and Jamie will eat sandwiches and I will make some egg mayonnaise to have with rice cakes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Temples, shirts and Phuket Brewery

I will start my blog now, but may have to finish later.
We are going out to celebrate Bill's birthday in about half an hour.

This morning saw the delivery of a table and chairs in teak to be used outside under the main awning by the front door.
Then Jamie took us out to visit 2 temples. Buddhist temples include many of the same features and the styles are very similar and yet they each have something individual and unique of their own.
The first had a reclining big golden Buddha on the roof - a flat roof, which we could walk up to.
The second was more of a centre of pilgrimage and the Buddha statue was half buried (so it is said) and based on a folk tale of long ago.
This temple welcomed visitors inside to pray and meditate and light candles, incense sticks and add gold leaf to any of the other holy statues. Each statue represented a holy person who concentrated on each day of the week. The gifts that one might receive by praying at the feet of that holy one were outlined in Thai and English. I chose Friday because it was the day of my birth. I will have to see the photo to remember just what I can hope for, but I know it included long life.
Then we went to a museum of Thai/Chinese life which included all sorts of household effects even very up to date things like electrical goods and phones.
A notice specifically forbade photography and we were closely attended by a museum employee - so none were taken.
There was much Chinese pottery - Chinese in style that is.
I looked at some and commented that it wouldn't surprise me to see Johnson Bros, England on the bottom.
Jamie bent down and craned his neck to look through the glass shelf - and lo and behold those were the very words he saw!
So 1950s British!
There were also blue and white willow pattern plates such as we would sell cheaply in the shop!
We called in at home and picked up Mam. We ate at the noodle shop that we we were in on Sunday. Great bowl of noodles and pork with a drink cost 45 Baht, just a little less than a pound.
We drove on into Phuket City to an indoor sort of market - little units by the dozen, selling shirts, shoes, bags etc.
Jamie and Mam discovered one the other day where really good looking shirts were on sale for 100 Baht (2 pounds). Bill bought 3 of them and I bought one and Jamie bought at least one more.
I then bought a present for Ekatarina. Jamie and Mam cannot believe it is perfect for her - I will say no more than black and goth!
Then we picked the children up from school. We were a bit early for John so had a drink in Leelawadee, right next door. Then the heavens opened and we couldn't budge for a while.
We spent a short while in the library again.
I am not sure what time we will get out - Mam's friend has come round. Jamie and I tried to help Jacob, the son, with his science homework. Jacob is 9 and Jamie and I were stumped - but it might have helped if Jacob had remembered to bring home the science text book. It was all about the parts of individual living cells. I photographed his work book to show the science teachers back home.
Soon we will be off to Phuket Brewery. They do actually brew some house beer there. It is a restaurant with shows going on. The children are looking forward to the magic show. There will be dancing too.
This is Bill's birthday treat. He has been using his present from me of course since we got here - the camera he bought.
Tell you all about the evening tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009



It was a good day.
But this evening I began to feel really off. Shame! It was just after a delicious meal prepared by Mam.
I hunt for reasons, but it most certainly wasn't Mam's food.
I have been short of sleep as I itch and burn from mosquito bites. I am naturally doing too much - I grab life's experiences whilst I have the chance. And today I have been in the sun for a while.
But most likely it is just my own fragile body - and life, the universe and everything.

Bill and I drove to the north of the island. We explored on the east side first. The east side is basic living, with little influence from tourism. Where we stopped there were long fishing nets stretched out to sea, but no sign of life.
Then we went to the west side - past the luxurious Marriott's hotel resort.
We parked up way past the hotel close to a couple of little shops. We ate rice and drank pineapple shake - pineapple and ice cubes whizzed up in a food processor. Its delicious.
We walked on the beach - a long, long expanse of golden sand edging the deep blue sea and crashing white caves.

When we got back I went with Jamie and Mam to collect the children from school. John finishes before Jessica and we waited in the library. Teachers - prepare to be amazed at the facilities in the library. I took lots of photos.

And now it is evening. My eyelids are drooping and I will be in bed early.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Rain, rain go away and don't come back for a week.

Changes of plans again - forced upon us by the weather.
Jamie decided to get on with some chores that he needed to do in Phuket City.
Bill and I drove up Rang Hill, very close to the centre of the town.
Its a steep and zig-zag road to the top.
We sat in the car for a while; we would have got soaked getting out.
Then we walked to the viewpoint and on down a steep stairway to a restaurant on stilts on the side of the hill.
We sat enjoying the view with our iced tea and iced coffee.
From there it is possible to see both of the southern capes - Panwa and Rawai, where we have been already this holiday.
Some of the city was spread below us.
We could look across to Chalong with its long jetty and to the jungle clad hills beyond.
The weather was obviously closing again on the high hills and soon the greyness of the torrential rain over there was so black that the hills were completely obscured.
As we walked back up to the car the rain began gently again and by the time we were opening the car doors it was pouring down.
This was not the weather for strolling in the park.
We thought we would drive over to Siray island - a short bridge away from Phuket City.
We stopped the car by the the little pavilions, housing the dining tables, and saw the rain driving in. Surely it wouldn't be comfortable dining there at the water's edge.
So we gave up.
At some point we knew we would go to the Central Mall, and today seemed a good day to do it.
We dined at a Japanese restaurant on Japanese noodles with, in my case, sea food.
We bought a couple of silk scarves to take home to Frieda and Rose the cat feeders. I tried car boot sale tactics and walked away when told the price...... very soon the man ran after us and had knocked off about one third. So we bought the scarves.
We went into the smart food supermarket - the Thai equivalent of Waitrose! And in fact it is part of the Waitrose group. I bought rice cakes and houmus - very expensive. But Bill persuaded me that if my gut responds so well to a wheat free diet it is certainly worth pursuing, especially whilst away from home. And once again my digestive problems are almost zero on a Thai diet. Bill bought a cake and tasty looking brown bread roll for his breakfast tomorrow.
We came home again and I had a shower - again. Showers can happen 2 or 3 times a day. I was eager to cool my legs in particular which have been burning with itchiness from all the mosquito bites.
Tonight the evening meal was taken at Dairy Hut, which sounds like a 1950s milk bar. But it is a good cheap (ish) restaurant air conditioned and clean. John fell asleep whilst we were there. School can be very tiring - and particularly when he does not go to bed until 11 o'clock.
Plans for tomorrow are tentative - depends on the weather.
But one plan is to go to a shop where Jamie bought a couple of very good shirts today for 100 Baht each (2 pounds). Bill will have a look - seems like I will get the other 2 he bought in Tescos which are not exactly too small for him but are not quite roomy enough.
Highlights of the cricket are on now - well done England lads!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The island of adventure and monks.

The weather is still unreliable - but still hot, of course.
We went out this morning with hope for some rain free hours.
The first task was to find somewhere for the children to eat some breakfast. But on Sunday cafes don't open as early and the favourite cheaper places had not yet opened for business.
We stopped, finally at a place at Chalong, quite close to the long jetty, which was always a favourite.
It is being tarted up - and up have gone the prices. And maybe quality has gone down. The children's breakfast was not too good - even Jessica who can shovel down most things was not keen. Bill and I had iced tea and watched a couple of birds on the shore. They were a little like herons in shape but much smaller.

We continued down the tip of the west side cape -to the small town of Raiwai.
It still looked like it might rain.
Mam negotiated a price for a longtail boat and driver to two islands.
We climbed aboard - well, somehow I hauled myself in and had menfolk helping me to stand up and find the seat at the back of the boat.
We have seen the island from the viewpoint of Promthep. A golden Buddha is visible from the mainland.
We landed on the sandy beach under grey skies and drizzle fell.
But we explored the many religious sites of meditation, including the big golden Buddha.
The coast line was rocky and waves crashed over them.
Light rain fell. We began to feel very hot and sticky as we climbed up and down,
We were the only visitors.
Some monks live there of course.
One had asked if he might travel back with us - this rather depended on our visit to the second island.
But it was felt that everybody had done enough and there was no point going to the island with a beach, for sitting and playing on the beach in the rain was not likely to be much fun.
So our monk joined The Monks. It would seem he had all his worldly possessions with him and was leaving the island for good.
We had all got very wet climbing in and out of the boat with the swell of the sea reaching well above our knees, so we drove home.
The children seemed to be very tired.
Bill and Jamie and I changed our clothes and then went out. We stopped at one of the noodle cafes we had hoped to call at earlier. We had a bowl of very tasty noodles and pork and egg in a soup for about 70p. We declined to include the pig's organ! Actually the picture of the meal wouls suggest that this referred to liver...... so stop smirking!
Bill and I would happily eat that bowl of noodles again and again.
Then we attacked Tescos. It was hard to get into the car park. Just as at home, shopping is the favourite hobby and what better could folks do on a rainy afternoon?
And there was a stage mounted in the car park and some sort of dance troupe competition going on.
We bought basic foodstuffs, drinks and some goodies. Bill and I have bought more antihistamine tablets. Everybody here seems to be a bit snotty, except me. Maybe the antihistamines are protecting me. And they might also help with insect bites - a big ant got me on the foot twice whilst on the island this morning.
It is now gone 5 o'clock and I don't know what the rest of the day will bring.
I hear there is food on the table for the children.
We can make a snack very easily a bit later on if that is suitable. Or maybe Jamie will go out and get some take away.
I shall enjoy a quiet time with my Maeve Binchy book - I bought the latest one for 50p before we came away.
Hope you have had a good Sunday.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


A disappointment and a party

We got up before the others - did a few chores, including a load of washing.
We were not sure what the day would bring.
Jamie was keen to do very little.
Bill and I started to plan a little jaunt.
But in the end it was decided that we would all go to the Beach Bar, after all we had seen it was open last Tuesday.
But, woe is us! Since Tuesday the Beach Bar has closed for the low season.
The children were hungry and we drove back to the old stand by, Leelawaddee. This is a cafe right by the school, indeed we parked in the school car park.
There are gardens in front of the cafe - but the place is not relaxing and chilled out like the Beach Bar.
Then we came home.
Bill went to have his hair cut with Jamie.
I spent a long while in our bedroom with Jessica. We talked and played noughts and crosses and I taught her Boxes - we all used to play that a lot at school when I was young. To encourage her I did allow her to win the first games we played, but she soon got the hang of trying to prevent me from drawing the last side of a square.
Jessica and I love these quiet times together.
Then suddenly we were all ready to go to Giuliana's party.
It was lovely, though of course we didn't really fit in with all the children and adults. We took some pictures and watched and enjoyed the atmosphere.
Julie's parents are Diego and Ann (Italian and Thai). Diego is truly one of the nicest men I have met and it is always a little treat to catch up with him.
They live in a small house in a long narrow street of small houses. Diego has extended, but it is essentially very much a terraced house. The party was a street party - children belonging to friends - European fathers, with Thai wives, and local children playing happily. Bikes and scooters whizzed up and down the street.
There was barbecued food and birthday cake. Cakes are all shop bought here because nobody has an oven for baking cakes.
We got home about 9 o'clock.
Time for a cup of tea. I bought a good supply of decaff teabags - but am now interspersing them with Jamie's teabags. Tea - the very cheap and easy option. No wonder we drink so much of it. Sometimes, when out, I have been drinking iced lemon tea. Lidl sell lemon tea so I guess I might buy more when we get back home.
Tomorrow there is talk of a boat trip to an island off the south of Phuket Island. Apart from my struggle to get on the boat and sit down on the very low seats it will feel very special. Oh and getting off the swaying boat is a nightmare too!
But, just as at home, the weather could play its part.
Jessica is trying to explain the intricacies of High School Musical to her parents right now!
Good night.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Exploring and eating

This has been a day of 3 parts.
Bill and I went off for the morning and I can't tell you where.
We headed in a north westerly direction and found small towns/villages with some of the original character of Thai life.
We stopped in one and walked up and down, with cameras at the ready.
The fishmonger had called with his bike and side cart. He sat at the road side and gutted and chopped the desired fish.
A woman sat close by on the floor with a bowl and the dirty dishes.
We took pictures of stalls, but also included the less photogenic places like smart elegant shops.
There was a lovely nursery with masses of flowers and garden ornaments.
We bought 2 orchids. One is for Jamie and Mam and the other we will take to our hosts at a child's birthday party tomorrow evening.
In the other town we stopped in, we walked round the temple buildings and admired a statue of the 2 heroines, mentioned earlier in the week.
There were more photos and we stopped for a drink, chatting with a young woman and her child.
We bought a large sausage on a stick to munch on as we walked back to the car,
We might have eaten out for lunch but we were not really hungry.
I did some noodles in a packet - rather like I buy at home.
We spent the afternoon reading quietly in our air conned room.
I looked at the computer and Jamie skyped me from work.
I could have been 6,000 miles away, just as in our normal lives.
He gave me the web site of the place we will stay in Krabi next weekend. It is a 4 bedroomed villa with a swimming pool. Jamie negotiated a very good price with a promise to give a good write up on his blog.
I went with Mam later to collect the children from school. Utter chaos! Every parent in Phuket seemed to be determined to get into the school site with their pick up trucks and 4x4s - the Chelsea tractor brigade.
The wide road outside was clogged.
We eventually parked on the grass beside the road.
This evening we met some old friends of Jamie and Mam. We also had met Ian (from New Zealand) before - he runs a couple of bungee jump centres. One is here and the other is 1000 miles to the north in Chang Mai.
We ate at a cafe owned by another friend who we have met before. She caters a lot for players at the golf course and has a wide European type menu as well as Thai. The men folk tucked into huge burgers and chips.
It was a happy evening.
Sleep beckons soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Much needed quieter day

Tonight's ramblings will be quite short.
I am tired and have much less to write about.
In fact this afternoon my body let me know that it was time to rest. Tomorrow will be an easy day too I think.
There was less activity for a couple of reasons - firstly we had the use of the car only up until 3 o'clock. We had a leisurely morning as Jamie and Mam took the children to school without us.
And today has been rainy and quite grey.

Our first task was to take some anti mosquito spray back to the pharmacy - no spray came out of it. So, a bit late for our bitten limbs, we have a spray that works.

We decided to briefly explore the north east coast.
Firstly we stopped at Yamu, where we had never been, at the end of a road through the jungle and over looking the coast. There was a small jetty and we chatted to somebody who had a long tail boat, no doubt hoping for some trade out to the islands.
Yamu still has the air of a sleepy back water.
Po Bay, however, has changed.
We were there first 5 years ago and enjoyed the rickety wooden jetty and small boats. We had eaten cheaply and basically there.
Last time we discovered a new long concrete jetty.
Now that jetty is fully operational with long tails and small cruisers.
There are more solid buildings.
Hotels and apartments are springing up at either end of the bay - many not yet complete because the money has run out.
We ate at a new cafe - just basic rice and masses of drink.

We got home in time for Mam to pick up the children and I slept.

I must add a note to yesterday's ramblings. I talked of the abundance of cables everywhere and they do tend to spoil the look of the old town of Phuket City. Jamie read yesterday evening that this Friday work will begin to get the cables of that part underground.
I also said that Muslim women didn't wear veils - today we have seen quite a few. The young lass who served us our food at lunchtime was pretty under a pink veil.

We might watch a film now - wonder if I will stay awake.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Wednesday Magic in Phuket

Hello again,
I am writing earlier today - maybe we will be a bit more sociable this evening!
Today has been one of those magical days, when plans, that might have seemed set and planned, suddenly turned and created something special.
But to begin at the beginning.
Up early and off to school with John.
There were a few more photographs of John and then some of Jessica in her class, looking coy and embarrassed "Oh no, my grandmother is taking pictures in my classroom!"
We took Jamie to work and then drove to Phuket City - the main town on the east side of the island; and in times past was the only town of any size. It is a port and was the centre of the tin mining industry.
It was the original, old part that we wanted to see - and this time we were armed with more information.
We parked easily in Thalang Road. This road is full of Muslim shops selling fabrics, sarongs, scarves etc. They are very colourful.
Muslim women here do not wear veils of any kind - many do wear a simple hat.
We looked in an art shop - lined with bright pictures showing traditional designs and some more erotic fantasies! The artist was busy on the floor with a more mundane commission; he was painting a huge banner for somebody - mostly words.
We turned into Phang Nga Road and quickly found the alleyway leading to the Chinese temple that Jamie has written about on his blog - The Temple of Serene Light.
We admired and photographed, enjoying the peaceful oasis tucked away within the busy streets.
The light actually looked quite threatening whilst we were there.
It began to rain as we left..... and my, didn't it rain!
For a while we sheltered under the awning of a shop and then dashed across the road to some sort of food hall.
We bought cold lemon teas and watched the rain bouncing on the road and the many motor cyclists in bright coloured plastic capes ploughing through the water.
At last the rain seemed to ease and we continued on our way, pointing cameras at old windows - always covered with thick heavy cables. Cables and poles line every street in Thailand.
Our next stop was the museum - but not before chatting with an individual who greeted us with the normal "Sawadee Ka" - a strange voice I thought and walked a little way into the shop or workshop to be greeted again by a mynah bird.
The museum is housed in an early Chinese influence building, which in its early days had been a school. Admission was free.
The history of the City is told and all its influences in many spheres of life explored.
Their large colour photographs of the older buildings were good and we photographed some of them for our own use.
It was then time for lunch. " Good local food" said the young man at the museum "on the corner". But which corner?
Just by the nearest corner we did indeed find the sort of exceedingly unpretentious place that Thailand abound in. Inside the floor is concrete and the painted concrete walls are peeling; at the back and up some stairs is living accommodation.
A young woman, hardly more than a girl was busy; she deftly turned items in the wok over a high flame, served rice and created other dishes. We ordered noodles with chicken (Bill pork) and all sorts of other things in a spicy soup. I couldn't resist more spicy prawns as well. We both had drinks of course and as much water as we wanted. The bill came to 140 Baht - 2 pound eighty.
Back in Thalang Road we turned down a narrow side street, which is most attractive from where we could see a Buddhist Temple. We walked round the outside of the Buddhist temple, admiring the decoration.
Our plan then was to walk back up Soi Romanee (the narrow side street), photograph some of the fabric shops and then drive up Rang Hill for a good coffee and tea.
On our way we paused to watch a man creating a mosaic doorstep for his cafe. "You want tea?" he asked. Well, we were set on Rang Hill....... but after taking some photographs of his step we went in and ordered tea and coffee.
The place was a delight.... called Glasnost, and was a jazz cafe.
The tea was good, with little cakes and followed by another hot tea in a glass.
We chuckled to each other that our cups of tea would cost more than our lunch!
But, whatever... it was worth it for the decor, friendliness of the people and the ambiance of the place...... and the sound of Ella Fitzgerald in the background.
I told our host that we had seen Ella in concert when we were much younger..... "Ah!" he purred "there will never be another like her!".
And so we sat and talked for well over an hour. Our man's colleague had a restaurant at Nai Hang she told us... "be sure to visit" she said.
Then we learned of the monthly jazz weekends held there - anybody who performed, well or badly, could eat and drink for free.
He told me of his friend who was the lead player with a band called Caravan. This band would play in December when it was the king's birthday. I learned that the king began playing jazz aged 15 and he loves Dixieland.
Soon our host was writing information in his notebook and I was telling him that Jamie would come some time and put Glasnost on his Phuket blog.
We had not performed, either well or badly. but we were told that the drinks were a treat for us.
When a gift comes from nowhere we should rejoice and remember to pass on another gift to people we meet.
By this time Rang Hill was well forgotten!
We left with Ella still singing.
We were home before the family. We have showered and changed.
I think Bill and I might eat out tonight. This might make it easier to establish the routine of getting the children in bed earlier on school nights.
But anything else might crop up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Tuesday pottering in the south of the island.

I have just read a Thomas the Tank Engine story and an Angelina Ballerina story.
The children were quiet and attentive and it was good. Now, of course, they are playing up and don't want to go to bed.
John is actually exhausted after sleeping late and having had 2 long days at school.

The day began with John.
Mam had taken Jessica to school for quarter to eight and Jamie and we took John for half past eight.
We stayed a short while as one of the staff led all the children in chanting and singing.
John is in K2 Butterfly.
The English speaking school is structured but seems to have a good notion of being colourful and interesting.

We left him in the "assembly" and drove with Jamie to his office.
He was the only one in and there was not much to do - as low season rolls in then many fewer people are making contact.
But he did find time to update his weather blog and his Phuket blog. One of them shows the beautiful beach we went to on Sunday.

Before leaving Karon I bought some cheap sandals because I had opted for looking like a grandmother rather than a tourist, at the school and my neat sandals were not suitable for time on the beach.

We went to a small beach at the southern tip of the island - hardly known by foreigners maybe.
It is completely undeveloped with not a shop or kiosk in sight. There are rocks and sand and shells and we enjoyed a stroll and a paddle. I had been there before, 2 years ago.

We called in at the new Tescos (more like a Tesco Express) at Chalong to get Jamie some coffee and we bought a few other things.

We decided to go to the viewpoint on another prong of southern Phuket. Both of us were there 3 years ago.
First we ate at a cafe overlooking the whole of Chalong Bay, where I think I have eaten twice before.
I wrote down some words - a sort of a poem, as Bill dozed after our meal.
I'll maybe blog it when I do photos.

It was a good and peaceful time. But I was disappointed when we drove past the track down to The Beach Bar to find it was open and we could have gone there instead.
Maybe we will all go at the weekend.

The views from the viewpoint were a little hazy but we could see much of the southern part of the island - central plains are built up and what remained seemed to be very scarred by red earth and construction.
But the hills remain magnificent.
The viewpoint has impressive tower up many steps.
We came down and I couldn't resist a peep at a tiny puppy being petted by the owner and her friend. We got into conversation and before long 3 month old little Nendo was in my arms.

We could have opted for a drink at the viewpoint car park - just one little place and hard stone seats. I suggested we called in at the Tescos complex and have ice cream in Svensons. Svensons is an American chain selling really good ice creams - but in fact we neither of us that. I had apple and cranberry sorbet, with pineapple on the top and Bill had a long tall iced cappuccino with cream.

Bill had been talking about perhaps getting more T shirts - the sort with collars (do they have a special name? I forget). He bought 2. I found some white trainers/pumps. They felt so comfortable on my wide and sensitive feet - sandals are fine, but even the most comfortable are not good on my feet for too long.

We were home before anybody else. We showered and changed and put a load of washing on.
Bill cleaned out the car.
We made a cup of tea and ate rambutans - juicy and sweet white fruit in a large case of reddish soft spikes.

We felt a little in limbo this evening. Jamie had said earlier that after work he would eat left over masaman curry and that if we wanted we could go to Big Chicken.
We decided we didn't need another cafe meal and a good snack would do. We bought a small tin of salmon, boiled an egg, cooked some sausages that I bought a packet of a couple of days ago - small pop into boiling water type sausages. Turned out there was lots of curry and rice to eat and Jamie had thought we would want something superior. I did add some rice to our picnic style meal.
Mam and her sister went into the garden to eat something that we were told would be strong smelling.

Evening here is rather like it might be at home. I am tapping away and the others are watching a film on the TV - one with Ricky Gervais who can get on my nerves but can be observantly funny.
At home I would be in a room away from the TV.

I hope the children are tired enough to sleep. The peaceful story time should have been enough.
But life is upside down for them at the moment.
John has actually seemed to be a little unwell, could be running a slight temperature. So there is some talk that he will miss school tomorrow.

But if the morning routine is as yesterday then we will do much the same as today - take John to school and Jamie to work.
And if John doesn't go then we will have a very early start so that we leave with Jessica.
After dropping them off the first plan is to visit the shrine of serene light.

And just as usual I will say that I am looking forward to a cup of tea.
Good night.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Monday in the jungle

Wow! We are exhausted!
This is partly due to another bad night of sleep, but mostly because of activity.

Bill and I took Jamie's car northwards towards the Sarasin bridge which connects Phuket to the mainland.
Before we reached the bridge we called in at Gateway to Phuket another Phuket investment that has not hit the spot.
It is all columns and sculpture and described history and culture of the island. The gardens are lovely.
And how many other visitors do you think were there? Correct, if you guessed 'none.

The world feels a little different once on the mainland. Phuket has beauty and life but its present affluence depends on the rather unreal world of tourism.
There are many tourist attractions on the mainland too of course and Phang Nga is magnificent.

We were going to a temple - they all have much about them which is the same, but obviously individual features too.
One feature at this temple, or 'wat' is that it was built by a cave - a huge cave. Inside there is a reclining gold Buddha.
Some tourist trips are taken there.
And, like many tourist traps, can be a bit tacky.
A circle of food and drink sellers accosted us.... "you want ice-cream?", "you want bananas, cold drinks etc etc?"
Well, we were thirsty but explored the cave first - with masses of monkeys keen to catch the tourist pickings. Great joy for those who could find a water bottle with some left in it.
Beyond the Buddha the cave system was impressive with high vaulted ceilings and interesting rock formations.
Outside we did buy a bottle of drink - from one who had not called out to us.

Then we drove up in to the tropical jungle covered hills.
Our destination was Raman waterfall.
The country road was lovely, far removed from our own British fair land.
We stopped in a nature reserve, with neat flowers and shrubs and trees labelled with their names.
There was a little cafe - just a shack many would say.
The people didn't speak English but had a list of some of what they could prepare, in English.
We had spicy prawns in rice with a plainer egg fried rice, served with cooling cucumber and lime.

Then we set off for the waterfall - or series of waterfalls.
The little map at the start informed us that it was a 2 Km trek to the top. That is not very far - but up steep paths and steps through tropical jungle in tropical heat we decided to stop at a point that was about two thirds the way up.
Many didn't go as far as us - they stopped to bathe in the deeper pools.

Once back down we were so happy to sit down at the cafe with more drink.

Then we headed back for home, stopping at the local huge Tescos close to the house.

We have eaten well at home.
I need more drink and want an early night and hope for sleep. I have taken an antihistamine, bought at Tescos earlier.

We will have an early start tomorrow because we will take Jamie and John to their day's activities. Mam will take Jessica to school - she starts half an hour earlier than John. Then she is going to visit a friend in hospital who has just had a baby. Bill and I must sort out what we will do.
John, by the way, seemed to relish his first day at school. I am not so sure that Jessica was pleased to be back. They each came home with a report written by their teacher about their day at school. Reports every day?

OK, Time for goodnight.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Sunday sunshine in Thailand

It is now Sunday evening.
It hardly seems possible that it is still less than 72 hours ago that we left home.

Yesterday evening we all met Jamie after he left work at a cafe close to the Big Buddha on what has become known Buddha Mountain. We feel we have seen Big Buddha rise to a point of being close to completion - a huge white marble monument, seen for miles. We will go to the Buddha for a proper visit later on.
The cafe was friendly and with tremendous views to the sunset over Karon Bay - where Jamie works.
Tourists to the mountain are still few - but this will surely change and I fear coach parties from Patong and the greed of the money makers.
So there were no other diners - and the other half of the ceiling of the barn like cafe was being painted. Well, this is the low season.
The food was of course good and tasty.

I had a good night's sleep - much needed after 2 poor nights.

Today Jamie and Jessica and John took us out for the day. Mam stayed for a day doing things on her own - mainly making sure all laundry was done for the start of school tomorrow.

The sun has shone all day from a brilliant blue sky - and yes it is hot. But I seem to thrive. Bill is Ok - but gets sweaty, but then so does Jamie.

We took a lovely road through the tropical jungle covered hills.

We stopped at the Phuket Museum, well set out and cool, showing the history of this island. There were more details about the heroines 0f 1785. These 2 women formed a small army and managed to trick the Burmese invading army that had taken over, that their army was huge and the ensuing battle saw the Burmese retreat. There is a famous statue of the heroines at a main road junction.

We had driven north - close to the airport. But we turned off to Nai Yang - a long sweeping bay with fishing boats and a certain amount of tourism, for those that want somewhere peaceful and free from resort attractions.
Jamie knows somebody who runs a kite surfing business - but Willy was not in today and the cafe he had suggested was not open.

The cafe we chose, though, was just a great choice. There were little wooden "sala" - raised wooden small pagoda like huts for each table, right on the beach.
Food cost twice as much of course in such a prime location, but was really good. We had beef with garlic, chicken green Thai curry and chicken satay with loads of rice - this for the 3 adults tucking into each dish.
We sat for ages enjoying the view and then played on the beach - walking, paddling, digging in the sand, drawing on the sand and taking loads of photographs. Sorry you will have to wait to see those, though Jamie has downloaded his. But he has not done anything with them yet.

We came home to enjoy more wonderful food that Mam prepared - so tasty, without being at all overpowering. Thank you Mam!
This evening there is battle in the house. After 2 months of holiday the children ought to sleep early in readiness for an early start an long day at school.
Jessica starts at quarter to eight and John just a little later. They don't finish until 4 o'clock - and then have homework.
But do they want to go to bed? Not likely!

Bill and I will go out quite early too. We plan to leave the island and visit a waterfall and a see a big reclining Buddha in a cave temple - and anything else we might find.
Bill has just seen the end of the Spanish Grand Prix!
It has been a very happy Sunday.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

About 23 hours after I last wrote we walked into Jamie's house.

The journey had been as easy really as it could be.

EVA Airways looked after us well. They didn't have to do anything extra because there were no wee accidents, thank goodness.

Both Bill and I enjoyed the creens in the back of the seat in front with a variety of options to watch. Mostly we played around with an interactive google earth sort of thing which was both map and a chance to plot our own journey - so many towns down below, that would mean so much to their inhabitants, but we had never heard of. I promised myself I would at least learn the names of the capitals of all those ex USSR states ending in "stan". But of course I don't remember them now.

But I have jumped too far ahead.... a potential disaster was spotted on the Number 10 bus to Gatwick. Bill realised he had failed to pick his camera up from the work top in the kitchen. I had an initial niggle "Why, oh why had he not already put it in his hand luggage?" But I knew that a holiday without a camera was not really an option for Bill. So first suggested he would be able to borrow one from Jamie and then suggested he buy a small back up camera.

But small and back up didn't seem to fit the description of what Bill chose to look at.

He bought a Panasonic one which takes interchangeable lenses before we left Heathrow.

So a disaster was turned into an early birthday present for him.

We tried to sleep on the plane through the night - I envied those who succeeded.

My sleep was marred by cramp - lots of cramp, both feet and all up my legs. How fortunate we were that we had lots of space for me to massage my limbs. We had 2 seats in the middle section of the plane and the 2 seats in the central band remained empty.

The attacks of cramp continued long after the flight - our first night in Thailand was spoiled by it all. I have come to the conclusion that it might have been made worse by the medical, pressure long socks I opted to wear. They did what I hoped for in that I have not arrived with swollen ankles, but I think they exerted too much pressure on my toes and muscles.

We arrived in Bangkok and strolled around the new airport for a while. Bill had not see it before. I say strolled that was after the long route march to get from the incoming plane to the point where we checked for the plane to Phuket.

Checking in seemed awkward - we got the new boy. After a while I said to Bill that I saw some worried looks of doubt on the lad's face. "I can't find your reservation" he said. With some help from a girl and Bill showing him a copy of their own web site with our names on it, he persevered. Help - I thought, our luggage will arrive in Phuket - and we won't!

Eventually we had our boarding cards and felt secure.

The flight down to Phuket is just over an hour and we were glad that all imigration details, including filling forms about swine flu were dodn in Bangkok.

At Phuket we waited for our luggage, with fingers crossed, and then were very quickly through to be greeted by Jamie, Mam, Jessica and John. What a surprise for the children - they had not been told that we were coming! So lots of hugs and kisses. Jessica and John took our hand luggage cases on wheels and strutted around proudly.

It had been raining hard, but the storm had passed over.

We pottered and talked, feeling exhausted for a while. Mam went out to Tescos and called in at a roadside cafe with some fried rice for us.

And so to bed - to deal with multiple cramp and a major thunderstorm.

We were woken this morning by the loud plaintiff mewing of a cat adopted by the family, or maybe the cat adopted them. Pussy now gets fed outside the front door. It is thought that pussy might be expecting kittens now - I wonder who gets to deal with them!

By the time we got organised it was quite late.

The children were ready for lunch, We went into Phuket City for a good snack/meal.

I had noodles (rice noodles) with vegetables and crab - very tasty and iced lemon tea to drink.
Excellent meal for one pound twenty five.

We had a little list of items that we need to buy and although Tescos was very crowded on this Saturday afternoon we descided to get it all done and then chill out until Jamie finishes work.
But we got nothing done becaues I noticed a wee problem; fortunately I noticed before it affected my skirt.
So it was home again home again to deal with things.
So now we are chilling out now - and Tescos can be visited again a bit later, when it might be less crowded and cooler. Tescos is cool inside because there is good air con.

I am not sure what we will do this evening. Jamie has mentioned a new place he visited with a friend which does drinks, food and entertainment. There could be a magic show which enthralls Jessica.

Tomorow is Jamie's day off and I don't know what is planned.

We will back off early on Monday when school starts after the long holiday - Mam can't wait! Jessica starts a new class and for John it is the first day in the English speaking school.

Bill and I have plans for next week on our own.

So here we are in Thailand.

Sawadee kah.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Bags are packed and ready to go

Like most mornings we woke up and Bill pottered downstairs and made a cup of tea. I sat with my tea and the cross word book (Daily Telegraph cryptic).
We showered and breakfasted and thought of the day ahead.
"What shall we do today?"
The weather looked a bit unfriendly - cloudy, windy and seemed rather chilly.
"I know" I said, "Lets go to Thailand!"
And that is what we are about to do.
But of course you knew that already.
Right up to this minute we are part of our cosy little world and all seems normal.
I am chatting with Jamie as I write.
The kettle will go on for a cup of tea when Bill comes downstairs.
Just like any ordinary day.
But it is not ordinary of course. In 45 minutes we will get our luggage to the bus stop and go to Gatwick. Shame our plane doesn't leave from there. We then get the coach to Heathrow.
We then will have to hang around for the necessary 3 hours.
Then, at last, 12 hours on the plane to Bangkok.
Change planes and just over an hour to Phuket.
Meet the family at the airport.
We will get to Jamie's house about 22 hours after leaving our house if all goes well.
I shall blog almost every day - so keep a look out for our news.
Right, time to grab my bags (all of them wee bags too of course!), my book and my crosswords and time to go.
Back late May 26th.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Wisteria Day

This time tomorrow we should perhaps be close to the time of boarding the plane.
We won’t actually leave home until about 4 o’clock. So it will be a long day of feeling like there is nothing to do – except pass the time.
I don’t really feel nervous – after all, we are merely going to visit our son and his family. Our friends do that sort of thing frequently. But 6,000 miles is a long way to travel.
And I do feel that my body is reacting to nerves perhaps – a headache and some disturbance in the gut area.

When I was a child, the journey to camp on the South Downs was a major journey. It was perhaps 30 miles. We hired a lorry for all that we would need to set up home on the side of Beddingham Hill for three weeks – we had our bikes and even had the cat with us.
If only we could take George and Harry tomorrow. I feel guilty at abandoning them.
The very first time we left a cat when we went on holiday, I cried. Jasper was booked in at a cattery for a week.
I hate goodbyes and weep very readily at partings.

That was then – and this is now…….6,000 miles to loved ones, warmth and new things to explore. It is both routine and yet I have a feeling of unreality.

It seems kind of impossible that today is a normal day here in Monkland UK (safe in our nest) and tomorrow we jet off to Monkland Thailand, where we will be cherished and safe in somebody else’s nest
Back to my childhood for a moment……. I had a stamp album (didn’t we all?) and I was fascinated by all sorts of stamps. I remember the plainish square stamps in lovely colours with the fresh faced portrait of the young king of Siam (as it was then known by us). How amazing that his head is still on stamps – old and frail he is now.
Siam seemed to be such a place of mystery – certainly not to be experienced by an ordinary girl from Sussex.

It has indeed been a normal day for us. Bill has cut the lawns for us and the neighbours.
This afternoon we walked at Nymans and we have later dealt with photos of the wisteria and other beauties – pictures below.

We then spent rather longer than we planned with Marion and Robin (no, not Robin Hood and Maid Marion!). Bill must have felt sort of out of things with no dramatic health issues. Marion and I both wear bags and Robin sat there with his stump on display. He had his leg amputated just below the knee and just now his artificial leg is causing problems.
But it wasn't just a health convention - there was lots of other chat too.

We got home with just enough time to cook a roast dinner as I planned – chicken breasts wrapped in bacon and lovely roast potatoes. I would not want to boast about anything really – but I do make exceedingly good roast potatoes!

Well, I think The Apprentice is on tonight so I will go and watch the silly young upstarts trying to impress.

I will write a brief blog tomorrow during the day – there will be little to say except to report that time is passing!

And now for the wisteria.......

This picture shows the pathway to the woods in the valley beyond Nymans Garden. Next time we visit we will explore.

This next picture is, I believe, a work of art from Bill. He called is Screen of Many Colours. Enlarge it and see it in all its glory!

Slender branch of the "handkerchief" tree.
Close up we can see the flowers but from a distance the tree seems to be filled with white handkerchiefs hung out to dry.

And now three pictures from a garden very close to home - ours.
Bill took them whilst out mowing lawns this morning.

When I first saw this one I wondered why Bill hadn't cropped off the top bit of the picture.
But we need all the reminders we can get of "our" field and "our" trees.

The peonies are just starting to open. Good - we feared we might miss seeing them this year.
The peonies are important flowers because these plants had been Bill's mother's and Bill dug them up after his father died and the Monks would leave that house forever.
I have some lily of the valley in the back garden that had been in my Granny and Grandad's garden in Bexhill.
These are more than just flowers - they bloom with the spirit of their previous owners.

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