Monday reality this morning is a sigh of relief after successfully hosting nineteen kids at our house yesterday. Martha turns lucky number 7 in two day’s time, and she’s been planning her party since opening her final Christmas present.
Added to the already high intensity affair that Martha’s birthday parties tend to embody, it’s also a relief to have made it through another weekend keeping up with the slew of leaving parties that Saigon is awash with right now.
With only four weeks until school ends, local removal companies are making hay whilst the sun shines and the humidity grows even thicker.
The clammiest month of the year is also one of the most hectic. End of year dance shows, swim meets and football tournaments loom, but also end of era relationships, with transitioning ex-pats, turn the final page of their particular chapter.
Martha’s party was a hit, though. It was ‘Under the Sea’ themed, which meant that Saturday evening was spent with four willing volunteers sat on our sofas, drinking gin, tuning in to Harry and Meghan’s nuptials, and cutting out a variety of yellow, blue and green aquatic characters. Continue reading →
I double checked the meaning of Wanderlust – which turns out to be the “strong desire for, or impulse to, wander or travel and explore the world”.
Since running off to Uganda when I was 21 years old, in the absence of having any more concrete a plan for how to handle life after university, I’d say my Wanderlust levels have remained piqued ever since.
No doubt some genetic influence from my parents helped fuel my appetite for getting out and “seeing the world”. In reading Dr Suess poems to my daughters (as well as flying them off to different countries almost every school holiday) I suppose instinctively it feels appropriate to want to pass on that particular piece of DNA, connected to wandering, to them also.
Over the past five years, even without that DNA, the travel I’ve undertaken as part of my job has secured for me a schedule for which any aspiring “Wanderluster” would have been thrilled.
As someone working in international development, I can’t quite settle my mind about how conflated my footprint and actions in the world are. Choosing to direct my career into finding better ways to serve the poor, whilst simultaneously responsible for emitting more carbon in an average month than the output my entire family back in the UK manage in a year (ok, Mum and Dad are relatively guilty on the carbon too, but I wanted the analogy to sound extreme!) Continue reading →
I’m sat with a delicious Saturday morning coffee, in Naked Espresso, a funky cafe in the thick of the Vientiane backpacker area, having completed my daily ritual here of a brisk walk down the Mekong River nearby, which has presented me with picture perfect views this week of Thailand, just metres away over the water.
Since my last post about holidaying in Australia with Issy, I’ve traveled for work to Colombo, Bangkok, Singapore, and Seoul. Squeezing in a weekend of football in Manila along the way. I’m trying my best to be a good citizen of the world, but for sure I am going to carbon hell.
Vientiane represents my penultimate trip of 2015 and, fittingly, last night I kicked off the evening with some Kiwi friends, in a German owned bar, managed by a kind man called Kami from Tokyo, where we tucked into some Laotian pork rolls, washed down with a few drams of glorious Japanese whisky. Continue reading →
Monday. And, so far today, I’ve flown to Singapore and just put in six hours working out of a business lounge and still have another eight to go before I get to kip (am Colombo bound this evening for the week…)
Mustn’t grumble however as, since my last post about our summer holidaying in Europe, Issy and I have also just indulged in a trip over to Melbourne earlier this month for weddings, family birthday partying and some brief flirting with a delicious vineyard and the salty ocean road inhalations on offer down in Sorrento.
As is the form when I get back over to the UK, trips like these are extremely special and also meticulously executed, in order to maximise each and every hour with all the important things in life. In the case of this particular trip, the important things consisted of: new babies; zany nieces; legendary siblings; old school friends; and then an inevitable immersion in all of the particular shopping experiences and drinking haunts yet to reach the humid back-streets of Saigon.
We fitted it all in, and lapped it up (although, truth be told, for me to be accepted into the funky suburb of Fitzoy I’ll need to grow an exceptionally impressive beard – and this may take me a while.)
Video compilations with be forthcoming however, in the meantime, heartfelt thanks to Mark for the most spectacular day at Yabby Lake, to Phoebe for all the snippets of special laughs and larks, to Pobby for the Aga coffee and the egg and bacon pie on arrival (plus about two dozen other mouth-watering dishes enjoyed throughout the week) and to Mike for a lesson in cryptic cross-wording that I will never forget (I hope the Tuesday Latin tutorials continue to go well).
To all the other family and friends entourage, thank you for making me feel at home and for making me smile, constantly.
And to Alice and Richard Cook-Watkins. For seating me opposite the bride (I have been dining out on that since) and for laying on a seamless day of memories for us all.
So, as Mike would recommend – to anyone curious enough to ask – it is with whisky that one should finish one’s day and so, in spite of the fact that I am long off being asleep, I may just – on this one occasion – take him up on that and bid you farewell, for now…
In contemplating my work trip back to London this evening, I’ve realised that I’ve been remiss at updating this site since our summer trip back to UK (and Italian) shores…
As seems to be so often the norm, several weeks since being back home in Saigon and the vibrant memories of safari-ing at Longleat Park, crabbing in Lymington and camping in San Vincenzo can get easily eclipsed in the all too pressing realities of school runs, work trips and planning the next holiday!
I have managed, however, to keep up with my new video making enterprise, and in doing so have tried to capture some of that vacation vibrancy in these two clips:
Saigon was blustery and cold today. That’s news in itself, given earlier this year the city broke it’s own temperature record by plummeting to depths of 23 C degrees (74 F).
However, enough about the weather. It’s July. The Ashes are on. Murray is still in Wimbledon. And it’s summer holiday time. Rejoice we all must.
My efforts in that department for the next two weeks will be not to fly anywhere and to catch up on all those things I’ve put off doing since they first found themselves populating a New Year’s Resolutions list, six months back. Continue reading →
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the month in which I will celebrate my 40th birthday. I’ve not yet decided upon a suitable present to myself. Currently, it’s a close call between a new motorbike (black, with big handles, obviously) or a new sound system. A drum-kit seemed too much of a cry for help.
In reality, I’ll probably settle for a new suit-case, as my two have both recently submitted to the perils of non-stop travel these past four years, hurtling around the region. Continue reading →
We’re in the depths of the school summer vacations over here in Vietnam.
Week 5 kicked off today, with Florence embarking on a course of dance classes each morning, and Martha re-engaging with any of her mates who haven’t already flown the nest for holidaying in Europe, Australia or elsewhere around the globe.
Last week I took the kids to Koh Samed in Thailand for 4 nights. This post is mainly a simple collection of memories from the trip, for posterity…Continue reading →