Summer times

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:

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Com Tam Time

Streetfood has remained a permanently exciting and indulgent fixture in my daily comings and goings around Saigon.

I have expressed a few thoughts on this blog in the past about pho, the staple Vietnamese noodles (increasingly popular and available in the UK now, I noticed last month) and which we usually eat two or three times a week.  There are some moments when noodles just hit the mark.  Fiery chili heat combined with leaves, bamboo shoots, raw steak and delicate broth.

There are some moments – for me, this is currently every day, hence capturing this for future posterity – when only Com Tam will do.

Com Tam translates as “broken rice” and is a special type of rice, shorter, slightly more al denté than normal rice, and typically accompanied with chopped cucumber, chives, bbq pork (or other types of meat) sweet honey sauce, chili and, should you desire, a fried egg on top.


Feast your eyes, and your stomach...
Feast your eyes, and your stomach…

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November journal: my new bike; and our entertaining children

Recently, I have been over-run with plenty of work travels, and so it’s great to have been back in Saigon for the past couple of weeks.  I love working in this part of the city (in the western corner of District 3) for all the local quirkiness of what’s on offer, as well as the daily hilarity of what goes on in our office…

I went downstairs earlier this afternoon for coffee, only to be confronted by a large brown eel writhing around on the reception floor.  It would seem our lunch this week was trying to make a break for it, and had leapt out of the plastic jerry-can it was sharing with its mate by the front door!  Eel hot-pot to look forward to tomorrow then….

Saigon is quickly gearing up for Christmas, and we are excited about being here again during the glitziest time of the year, when it is customary for a high proportion of the public (mainly young chain-smoking men) to dress up – really badly – as Santa Claus, whilst everyone else spray paints their shops in festive colours (we had a white spray-painted Christmas tree last year, photo here, and are hoping to outdo this with something even more kitsch next month.) Continue reading

Ode to the Kids*

*in homage to my wife, and with apologies to John Keats…

My beautiful, bouncing baby girls,
How I ache with sorrow when not with you.

Your daydreaming smiles,
Innocent questions about
Living thing, thought and action,
Fill me with pride.

(especially now, as my flight taxis the runway and I head 2,000 miles away)

Such envy I hold watching you find
So much life and interest in the
Humdrum of things.

A lonely, curled up leaf on the pavement.
A fridge magnet.
Your own feet.

Your energetic dancing.
Your breathless monologues.
Your spillages!
I will miss them all.

Instead, in this hushed cabin,
33,000ft above the world,
Uninterrupted iPod listening must I endure.
. Children’s tears nearby belong not to me.

With melancholic ponder I sip my drink.
Dine alone.
My dishes cleared by others.
Counting the hours until am home again.

 But, first, I close my eyes.

My beautiful, bouncing baby girls,
How I ache with sorrow when not with you.

October journal

Lou has started a photography course (some first creations to be found below) and is fast becoming our family expert in everything you ever needed to know about digital SLR cameras but were afraid to ask.

I am delighted at the prospect of future blog posts now being adorned with colourful photos of Vietnam, providing readers with the more preferable option of not having to read my accompanying narrative…

Anyway, in the previous and more general updates about life out in SE Asia, the tone of things has been a combination of first impressions, acclimatising and adjusting to new routines, and ultimately making sense of it all.

We’re now about to start month 9 and are feeling really settled on all fronts.  I have been travelling heaps over the past 2 months and Lou has been juggling a variety of things (including keeping the children fed, watered and happy) and generally performing Super Mum impersonations in the meantime. Continue reading