Sunday, October 31, 2010


Last day in Bangor and back home.

Where to start after a lovely few days in Wales with so much happening?

I will begin with the exciting event just a short while after we got home.
Well, I thought it was exciting - and I hope our Ecky thinks so too.
We made a cup of tea and watched the Teacher of the Year awards......
and Ecky's class teacher won that main award - Teacher of the Year.
Now, Ecky doesn't really like school - she prefers her own world. I do hope that Mr Davies is good enough to inspire her to some confidence amongst her peers.
My impression generally is that it is a very good school indeed.
Well done Cae Top!

And some time, some day, the family may live closer to the school. That is the plan.
They really liked the house they viewed on Saturday and will return for a second viewing. Purchase (or at least offer) may depend on the height of the loft that they would want to convert into a room.
They will look at 2 other houses tomorrow. One of them is in a superb position, very close to open country and views to the mountains. It is a little further out - but not too far. It is more expensive than the one seen on Saturday.
We shall see.
But it does seem that the next time we go to Bangor it will be to help as much as we are able with the move.

After 2 days of trips out - and a super relaxing evening with Pete and Jean,
yesterday (Saturday) was time to work.
My first job took me to the really odd Bangor car boot sale - odd, because it isn't a car boot sale. It is in ware house and all the stalls are set up permanently and most of the stalls are laden with tat - or overpriced items.
Except one - it was the one I planned to visit. Though I discovered it wasn't actually run by the woman I thought it was.
I had been hoping to meet Anglesey Allsorts once again.
I am sure that people would enjoy seeing her blog - full of charm, country crafts, converting junk into useful and beautiful things etc.
I met her in the summer and talked of her with the woman who ran the shop I had visited the day before.
Instead I met Rosie and bought from her.
I am making dealer/friend contacts in North Wales you see.

Time then, to view the house. Bill and I haven't seen inside - but on paper it looks lovely and the situation is good - on a bus route and only 10 minutes walk from school.

Then it was time to visit B & Q. Ashley and Liz had a list of things that perhaps it was wise to get to make their house look in just a bit better condition.
It probably doesn't matter too much - because it would be 99% certain that it will be bought by an investor to convert into student accomodation.
Now, for once I enjoyed a visit to B &Q!
Ecky and I wandered off to view the Christmas department.
We were both quite excited that black is an available colour this year for Christmas decorations and we discussed the fun of creating a Goth tree.
We both bought a black lantern shape to make a start on the idea.
And then we found some silly toys that made us laugh lots and lots.
These fluffy hamsters could listen to what you said or noises you made and repeat it back to you.
We played with the 4 in the front row - such fun to have them all repeating the same silly things we said and then picking up our own giggles and repeating the laughter back.
We even got them all blowing loud raspberries!

Then we went to Argos to get another shelf for Ecky's room.

And then to Tescos for food.

And then home for some lunch and a rest.

But soon we were all working.
Ashley brought down boxes from the loft. It is time for a clear out.
Already 900 books have been sent to the charity shop or disposed of through Freegle (for those that don't know, that's a web site where you can just offer to give things away to people who might need them - you can of course also get things for nothing sometimes too).
So the boxes were emptied - years of bank statements, lecture notes from university, sermons Ashley has given - all destined for the paper recycling.
But Ashley's first school books - no, no no; they are treasured and we all enjoyed his 6 and 7 year old news and stories. My goodness he could write so much and so well, even at that age.

I left them to it and went off to attack the bathroom.
How I would have loved all the assistants that the women have who do "How Clean is Your House?" on TV.
I would have been so pleased to complete the job.
Bill took the new loo seat to the upstairs toilet and fitted that. Ashley has some new vinyl flooring to put down in there too.
Liz and I worked together to get a roast dinner prepared - which pretty well filled us up!
In the evening Liz sorted out the flat packed shelves for Ecky's room and I did a bit more to the bathroom.

I gather that during today the clearing out has continued.
I loved doing that when we had the new kitchen and new lounge carpet.
It is all too easy to find cliches like "You can't move on to the next chapter in life if you are still living too much with the past chapter's things"
But, as with many cliches, there is a simple truth in it - and I found it very liberating.
I am sure that all this activity - tiring, exciting, scary and stressful will work out to feel very liberating for Ashley and Liz and Ecky in the end.

The journey back was a long one - seven and a half hours, with only a short stop.
There was so much traffic on the road.
But at least we missed the shed load of vegetable oil and the cow who had run amok on the motorway!
And, I have to say I enjoyed 300 miles of the most superb autumn trees. Even without much sunshine, the oranges and gold that surrounded us were quite uplifting.

Time for some rest now.
Why on earth are the public still voting for Ann Widdecombe in Strictly Come Dancing?
We must get up early and get organised for a shop day tomorrow - my new stock is not ready to take in yet.

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Friday, October 29, 2010


Avoid Anglesey sea zoo.

Something quick.
The best part of the day, for me, came before what was supposed to be the main attraction.
Found a super shop, selling old kitchenalia and country furniture in the small town of Menai Bridge. Spent £80.

Anglesey sea zoo is, to be honest, a load of cr......... - no I am a polite person, so I will tell you it was a poor attraction and definitely not worth the money (loads o' money).

I could find only one thing it had in common with Phuket aquarium and that was the length of time it took a grand daughter to choose something from the gift shop.

Weather is wild - exceedingly windy. Wonder if that woman and child in Holyhead have gor to Ireland yet!
The sea looked very exciting at Aberffraw.
But we didn't stop there.

Had some lunch and then came home.

Now about to go out and enjoy the gentle warm atmosphere of Pete and Jean's home a meal cooked by an expert.

Have a good weekend folks.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Being blown off the end of our world. South Stack Holyhead.

Hello from Wales.
Wild and windy Wales!

Yesterday we had the best journey ever to get here in exactly 6 hours - and this included a stop for a while in Costa Coffee for a bite to eat, a drink and time in the relaxing, peaceful warm with the newspapers.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and shopping for food and all sorts.
Bill bought wooden coat hangers and paperclips and devised a system for me to hang the wee night bag on - having left the normal one at home.
What an adaptable engineer he is!

Today we have been to the end of Great Britain - Holyhead.
Next stop Ireland.
Indeed our phones accused us of roaming and warned us that the charge for calls would be higher from overseas!

We went to the glorious hills. cliffs and seascapes around South Stack lighthouse.
It was very, very windy.
There are 140 steps down to the lighthouse - not actually open today - and we set off.
Bill and Ashley got all the way down.
Ecky soon needed shelter from the wind. I continued down a little way, but realised that I was close to being blown over.
Ecky and I felt like if the wind got us we would be blown all the way to Ireland!
Bill reported that it was really hard climbing up those 140 steps in the fierce wind.

The men came and found us sheltering in the RSPB cafe.
We ordered a large pot of warming tea.
We chatted with the RSPB person - not about birds really.
He heard that we came from Sussex and asked where.
Amazingly he was from Crawley too - he had attended the school that I had first taught at and went on to Thomas Bennett. Matthew Baldwin is a bit older than Jamie and Ashley and has a bad memory for names - and we failed to pinpoint any people that we both knew.

After an exciting time on that terrain - photos some time next week, I guess, we went into Holyhead for some lunch.
The weather was still wild and windy.
We walked over a fascinating modern bridge to the harbour. No boats were on the move - indeed sailings had been cancelled for the next foreseeable hours.
We felt so sorry for the young woman sitting there with a huge suitcase and a small toddler girl in a push chair.
I wanted to invite her home with us and suggest she try again tomorrow!

Wonderful day really - leaving us tired out.
Lots of bracing fresh air and exercise.

Bed time will be most welcome.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Time for another trip.

Truly a day to consider hibernation!

The sunshine and blue skies disappeared; maybe the temperature was a little higher under the clouds, but it didn't feel warmer to me.
It has rained and felt very dreary.

Hardly a time to pack our bags.
Tomorrow morning early we shall drive to North Wales.

But, despite feeling run down, I should be able to carry on with a spring in my step.
The hospital doctor was able to tell me that the results of my most recent CT scan are good.
There has been no change to my body since the previous scan.
I will go through all the checks in about a year's time and then see the urology team once again.
I have to acknowledge that I am a very fortunate person.
Thank you world for giving me such good doctors and a body that was able to fight.

There might be brief blog postings during the next few days - or not.
I will get back to normal next week.
We still have some wonderful Thailand episodes and hopefully there will be some special Welsh ones to add to the list.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Great nephew Caleb. Health. Cold shop.

At any moment I feel I might topple over the brink and land in the nasty world of coughs, colds and bugs.
As long as it's nothing worse I really have nothing to be bothered about of course. But.....not happy!
There might also be some anxiety deep in my subconscious this evening.
Tomorrow I see the urology team. I assume that this will be no more than a routine appointment.....but there will be results from a recent CT scan to be considered.
Subconscious can't quite avoid thinking that there must be a reason for headaches, nausea and exhaustion.
My conscious brain reminds me at this stage there should be nothing to fear.
But I can't help looking back at past fears.
This week is the 3rd anniversary of that precious gift I was given - my stoma. It has given life to me.

It can't help feelings of well being to be feeling cold today.
It was a lovely sunny day in Dorking, but chilly.
The temperature in the part of the shop where my area is had reached the dizzy heights of 10 degrees centigrade this morning.
Despite improvements to the heating - and the fact that we had taken in an extra heater from home, we never got the place above 15 degrees.
Cold tenses my body.
We both sold things today and we were both pleased with the sales of the week.

Caleb was in fine form yesterday afternoon. He is a great nephew, now 14 months old, son of our niece, Fiona.
Fiona and Caleb had come visiting for a few days.
He is a charmer!
A charmer cutting teeth.

He was feeling the need for a chew on his fingers.
That was when he wasn't walking round with a huge grape in his mouth.
It was a novelty to him that good food could be found just lying around in the fruit bowl!

With his Uncle Antony - Fiona's brother.

Great Uncle Bill looks a bit grumpy in this shot - shame, for that is not how he really was. He enjoyed a chat and a game.

Snuggling up with Uncle A.

Bill's sister, Pam - proud of course of her grandson.

And here is a picture of one of Pam's orchids - I was attracted because it was just beautiful.
It became a family gathering when we joined by Bill's sister, Lesley and husband Peter.
It was nice to meet up with them all again.
Now to bed - sleep might provide the power to fight any hovering bugs.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010


Sam Chong Seafood Restaurant.

Sam Chong.
Part 1 of 4 sections of our Phang Nga Bay day, Monday 27th September.

We drove north from the Monk home in Kathu and over the Sarasin Bridge to the mainland.
Our route took us to a delta area on the west side of Phang Nga Bay.
We would have lunch at Sam Chong Seafood - a delightful floating restaurant in a tiny hamlet, seemingly miles from anywhere.

View from the restaurant.
Look at those weird colours! It is almost like a water colour painting.
I had my camera set wrongly that day. The men folk will chuckle at this - they couldn't quite understand how I could alter the settings without realising!

A long tail boat comes across the water, laden with tree trunks.

Across the water was a small village.
Perhaps it is only reached by water - long tail boats were back and forth with people (shoppers, school children, workmen etc) and goods.

A wide view from the restaurant.

Mam is happy to have holiday time in beautiful places away from the madding crowd.

Lunch time.

Jessica serves out some rice.

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Phang Nga Bay

Long tail boat in Phang Nga Bay.
Part 2 of 4 sections of the day Monday 27th September.

I guess all the sea and islands to the north of the larger islands would be thought of as Phang Nga Bay.
The map will enlarge with a right click on the mouse .
Then use your back arrow on the computer to return to the main page.

After lunch Mam sorted out a boat and boatman for our trip.
We all much prefer the independence of making our own arrangements than piling into a bigger boat with lots of other people with a time schedule.
We hired the boat and man for as long as we needed it and to go where we asked to go.

We set off from Sam Chong.

Getting speed up through the mangroves.

Typical Phang Nga Bay scenery in the distance.

Simon sits at the front of the boat.
Shove over - that's my spot!
Or at least it was in 2007.
That had been a very meaningful trip on Jamie's birthday.
It was at a time when I was unsure about the future - with treatment for cancer due to start as soon as I got home.
Still wearing that hat!

Self portrait.

We were able to pass slowly through the tunnel - where rock had been eroded by the sea to form a cave under the gigantic mountainous rocks.

Now scroll down to see our trips to 2 islands in Phang Nga Bay - first Koh Panyee and to James Bond Island.

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Koh Panyee

Koh Panyee.
Part 3 of 4 sections of the day Monday 27th September.

Koh Panhee is an island (Koh means island).
Most of the solid ground of the island is uninhabitable - look below and see the village as we chug in.
The solid ground is nearly vertical rock.
The village is built on stilts.

Koh Panyee attracts many tourists - one would say coachloads, but of course no wheeled transport reaches the place.
Tourist boats stop off at the big restaurants, organised to feed large numbers quickly. Close by the eating places are the normal nick nack shops.
To be honest one of my prized possessions came from Panyee in 2002.
It is an ornamental piece of wood, shaped like the Phang Nga Bay scenery. It was very cheap. So nick nack shops can do well for us.

By this time of day - with lunch time over - there were not many tourists to be seen; especially in the parts of the island we visited.

The tourist traps are at the other end of the island.
We pulled in at a jetty at the working end.

Bill was the last to leave the boat.
We were all ready with cameras to capture the essence of the place.
This is just a small selection of pictures - and not many are mine of course, because of the wrong camera settings.
Now for some views of the village.

I love windows - peering through them or imagining what is through them.
Notice the woven straw wall.

It was mid afternoon - time for the end of school.

The school puts it plea for donations in English - we would not be the only tourists off the beaten track.

Colourful classroom with all the equipment of a modern school.
There are computers of course.

The biggest open space on the island - the school playground.

Lovely picture (Simon's)
Smiling school boy at the window.

Thai people love their birds.
Caged birds are to be seen everywhere.

Wild birds.
We also saw some sea eagles circling overhead.
We foolishly drifted too close to the tourist area and we got caught!
Before we knew it, the monkeys were on us and of course we quickly took photographs.
They were quite expensive photographs!

Jamie intends to pass the photos on to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Trust; at least one of these animals is a protected species.

Back to working Panyee. Mending nets.
But of course making a living out of tourism is a recognisable pursuit and followed throughout the world.
Panyee people need an income - tourists provide it.

Just like anywhere - straight out of school to buy snacks and sweets to sustain the children for their journey home!
Nobody could have lived more than a quarter of a mile from the school.

"A little sweetie" said Bill......she knows that already!

Old woman.
Many Moslem women cover their heads with knitted or crocheted hats.

Jamie and Mam walk back to assemble the family for the next part of our day.
Scroll down to see our trip to James Bond Island.
Change that - you'll have to scroll back up and find the list of recent posts (its on the left) and click on James Bond Island.

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