The Issue Of Cash


There is a problem in Singapore common amongst many expat wives and girlfriends – that of cash. It’s not so much the lack of it, per se; it’s the lack of access to it.

You see; when a lot of couples arrive in Singapore, in most cases the husband or boyfriend (or sometimes the wife or girlfriend) has instigated the move here due to a new job. This means that, until the wife or girlfriend’s Dependant’s Pass or Long Term Social Visit Pass comes through, which can take a while, the wife or girlfriend is unable to work, open a bank account, or basically do anything at all.

I, and a lot of my girlfriends, currently are or have been in this situation, and it is honestly a nightmare. Many of us have given up decent, well-paid jobs back home to move here with our partners, and until such time as we find work and then are given the correct pass, we are utterly and totally reliant on our partners for everything.

Even if you have your own money, most of the time it is kept in your partners bank account (as without a pass you cannot have your own) and thus you have to ask him / her for cash every time you want to do anything, be it doing the grocery shopping or just buying a cup of coffee (there is no surer way to make you feel eleven years old again when you have to go and ask your boyfriend for pocket money to buy chocolate!)

This is not in any way meant to sound ungrateful, I hasten to add. All the girls I have spoken to about this issue all agree; they feel incredibly lucky to be here, and very grateful to their partners for working so hard and giving them such a wonderful opportunity to live in a different country and experience a new way of life. However, unfortunately – in Singapore more than most places, as it is such an expensive city – cash is King, and being without it can signify a very real loss of independence.

I touched on this issue a few weeks ago when I was telling you about my birthday evening. To recap, after dinner we decided to go onto a club, China One.  Four of us girls – myself, Kat, Banker’s Wife and TV Girl – had got into one cab, and the boys were following us in another cab. Upon arriving there and settling down, we realised that we had forgotten to ask the boys for any cash, and as none of had bank cards we had to pool together our meagre resources and buy one drink to share until the boys arrived.

Here we are, with our one drink (the other on the table belongs to the person taking the photo!):

Cue much embarrassment and hilarity, but the point was serious – a total reliance on our boyfriends and husbands.

The fact that this issue is so widespread, especially amongst new Expats, means that things like very spur-of-the-moment plans are out: the phrase ‘I’d love to, but —- isn’t back from work yet, and I’m out of cash’ is depressingly common. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I have travelled back in time and am actually now a 1950’s housewife.

(Yes, yes, I know this is an old picture, but it illustrates the point rather well, don’t you think?)

So, I suppose what I am trying to do is gently poke you to think about a subject to which you might not have given much thought. If you are thinking of moving to Singapore, will this involve you giving up your job? Are you used to being the breadwinner? Have you mentally prepared yourself for a period, at least, where you might have to be financially dependent on your other half, and do you think you will be able to cope with this? Sudden financial, as well as emotional, dependence on your partner can cause a real shift in the dynamic of your relationship, so do give this some thought and make sure you are prepared for it.

Lots of love, and hope you are all well!

Jessy xxxxxxxxxxxx

 

PS: My week has been a bit work filled, so no real news, but I will leave you with these two pictures:

Firstly – baby ducks! In the Botanic Gardens! In a line! Awwwwww! (this one is really for you, Mummy. Don’t you think this looks really rather English?!)

And, finally, another amazing supermarket sighting. Wonder if this was a Valentine’s Day special?

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Working on Coconut Island


I have spent the past few days at work in Phuket, following our trip. Now, the really good thing about working in Thailand and living in Singapore is that Phuket is under an hour and a half’s plane journey from Singapore, and thus work trips are easy peasy lemon squeezy so I can squidge them in as often as I possibly can. I have to say – my slightly rubbish flat-based office pales in comparison to working at The Village.

View from ‘office’ in Singapore:

View from ‘office’ at The Village:

Infinitely better, don’t you think?

When we are on the Island, we usually stay in Alex’s Daddy’s villa. However, it had guests in it so the staff put me in Villa One. I was on my own in there because Alex had flown back to Singapore.

Villa One is very beautiful. It has an especially large bath in the master bedroom: many thanks to my beautiful models, Nick and The German!

Villa One is, however, absolutely huge and right at the far end of the beach…by the GRAVEYARD! Gargh! (please note: it’s not actually a graveyard – it’s a memorial garden and very nice) but being an utter wimp with a hugely overactive imagination, I spent two horrendously sleep-deprived nights there jumping at every little thing and trying to sleep with every light blazing, before I conceded defeat and ran away to invade Kat’s bed in her parents’ villa. What a fool. The next day I heard certain members of staff (who shall remain nameless at this point) constructing a dastardly plot to dress up in sheets and roam the villa at night to freak me out.

Needless to say, I was severely unimpressed.

Anyway, after a long week at work and some very sleepless nights I was feeling a bit stressed, so when the lovely Kat Brown invited me elephant trekking with her, I couldn’t in all good conscience say no.

The elephant trekking is located in Chalong, an area of Phuket about 40 minutes from Coconut Island. It is run by a company called Siam Safari, who I really rate because they rescue elephants who have spent their whole lives logging, and give them a safe and loving home, whilst also conserving their natural habitat.

We arrived at the Safari HQ and, after registering, we were taken by jeep slowly up a winding hill into the jungle! I felt like GI Jane, it was awesome.

We pulled into our destination, a safari camp about halfway up the hill, and the first thing we saw was a little wooden platform on the hillside with three beautiful baby elephants sitting alongside!

Here they are:

They were just ridiculously gorgeous! They were so sweet and obliging, and happily showed off their skills, which included painting pictures with their trunks, playing the mouth organ and even kicking a football! We then bought a couple of baskets of fruit and Kat fed them, to their immense delight.

Once the baby elephants were fed, we walked further up the hill to a cleared area with wooden huts and platforms where the adult elephants were kept. Each elephant has his or her own ‘mahout’ – a driver and carer – from the Hindi ‘mahaut’ or ‘mahavat’. The Mahout is traditionally paired with an elephant as a small boy, and they will go on to spend their lives together. Our Mahout was named Samlang, and our elephant was named Nam Sai, or น้ำใส (n̂ả s̄ı), which means ‘Clear Water’ in Thai. What a lovely name! She was 47 years old, and just gorgeous – really steady, solid and calm, which was good because she had to put up with both me and Kat Brown on her back, the poor thing!

Here we are enjoying the view:

It was a really fantastic experience and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to do something a bit different from the usual touristy thing in Phuket, and support the local environment as well. Kat, being very clever and technologically-friendly, has put some videos of us feeding the elephants up on You Tube; if you want to have a look, here is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/user/merekat82?feature=mhum#p/u

We spent the evening in Patong, but way up above the noise and ladyboy bars; at a new rooftop bar called Famous, with our friend Mini Frenchman (his Father, The Frenchman, is a good friend of Alex’s Daddy). It was really cool – a big, expansive terrace with great views over Patong, and lots of big squashy daybeds draped in canopies clustered round a glass-bottomed swimming pool with views through the bottom to a dancefloor on the floor below! Ridiculously Euro-trashy but really good fun.

We sat at a table and had some lovely cocktails, and the boys enjoyed some very nice cigars courtesy of The Serbian Tennis Player, an incredible character who owns one of the Villas on Coconut Island.

Here they are (not sure why this came out a funny colour, think I might accidentally have done something funny with the camera settings!):

We had a gorgeous evening, and spent the next day on the beach at Koh Rang, a beautiful island just over the bay from Coconut Island. It’s a lovely island, with a pearl farm too!

Here’s the view:

Sadly, yesterday morning we had to fly back to Singapore for work. Valentine’s night was rather a wash-out, I’m afraid – I desperately tried to stay awake, but a very early start to catch our plane in Phuket and a long day meant that by the time Alex got back from work at 2.30am this morning, I was passed out snoring on the sofa, ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ playing in the background on the iPlayer. Not the best romantic welcome home.

What has made coming back to Singapore rather fun is the arrival of some more birthday presents from England! I got the most gorgeous box of treats from my sister Abs (who is amazingly clever and spends her time doing brilliant and cunning things at Cambridge University) so thank you Abs! After making the mistake of opening Abs’ box publicly, in Starbucks no less, and immediately bursting into tears upon reading her letter, I opened Mummy and Daddy’s box at home. This was wise because I cried again – moving to Asia clearly erodes the British stiff upper lip. In amongst the goodies was a big bar of Dairy Milk (which I am polishing off now, FYI) and a DVD of the brilliant first series of ‘Miranda’ – amazing!

My wonderful Mummy also knitted me a replica of Jessica Rabbit! I think it is extremely like the real Jessica, don’t you?

Real Jessica Rabbit:

Knitted Jessica Rabbit:

Basically one and the same.

Anyhoo, I am rambling again, and do not wish to waste your time further, so I will depart to eat the rest of the Dairy Milk. Lots of love – hope everyone is well, and I shall leave you with this amazing titbit I saw in the supermarket today.

Can of sweat, anyone? As my darling Kitty put it – “what is a Pocari, and why on earth would anyone want to drink its sweat?!”

Asia: where even supermarket shopping is a revelatory experience.

Love,

Jessy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Birthday In Paradise


‘Seven days, six islands, five dives and a lot of beer’ was how our friend Stu described our recent mini-holiday. I can’t really think of a better way to put it!

So, from the beginning. My first birthday living in Asia – and it was magical.

I woke up on the morning of February the 2nd, my birthday, and hauled myself out of bed only to find that Alex had got up very early (major Brownie points for this, as he doesn’t finish work until 2.00am) and bought me some beautiful Orchids, and was proceeding to cook me breakfast!

What a wonderful way to wake up:

We sat on the balcony and ate breakfast and drank coffee and I opened some cards, and then Alex headed off to the office and I took myself to Orchard Road, to find myself a new dress to wear to my birthday party that evening.

After a bit of browsing, I found the perfect dress – the dress of my dreams! It was exactly what I had in mind, and I fell in love with it instantly. Unfortunately, it was in rather an expensive shop, and upon looking at the price tag, I quickly realised that it was more than four times my budget (eek!) so I very quickly put it down in horror and moved to leave the shop before I could have a Pretty-Woman style shame moment. Before I could do so, the Sales Assistant stopped me and asked if I would like to try on the dress, as she had noticed me admiring it. I explained that unfortunately it was out of my budget, but she was very sweet and we got chatting and the fact that it was my birthday came up in conversation.

After a bit more chatting, I excused myself as I really had to get on and find something to wear. However, the Sales Assistant asked me to wait for a moment whilst she spoke to the Manager.  I didn’t really want to, as I was in a bit of a rush, but she had been very sweet so I reluctantly agreed and spent the next few minutes toe-tapping at the front of the shop, looking at my watch.

Upon her return, the Sales Assistant was holding the dress I had fallen in love with draped over her arm. “Come on” she said, “Let’s try this on”.

I was beginning to feel a bit irritated by this point. “Look, it’s really very kind of you, but it’s hugely over my budget, so there’s really no point in me trying it on”.

She grinned. “I have spoken to my Manager. We only have one left in this size. If it fits you, you can have it – for whatever you can afford. It is your birthday, you must have the dress you want.”

I was speechless! I followed her into the changing rooms and tried the dress on – and oh my goodness, it was a perfect fit! Convinced that this was all a big joke, I took it off and slunk out of the changing room, clutching the dress gingerly in my hands.

“Did it fit?” she asked. I nodded.

“Right, then. It is yours.”

I wobbled “But…but I only have this much to spend!” and held out my hand. She smiled, looked at my hand, then took what was in it, removed a ten dollar bill, and put it back in my hand. “You need to keep this to get a taxi home” she smiled. “You cannot walk in this heat, with this dress”.

So, dear friends – I left the shop on my birthday with the dress of my dreams, feeling like the luckiest girl alive (whilst thanking them so much they virtually had to push me out of the door). This is the second time that something like this has happened to me here (the first being my Singapore Airlines Angel) and I am so grateful. She asked me not to name the shop, so I will not, but I can show you the dress. Here it is; I do hope you like it!

That evening, I put on my beautiful new dress and headed to the trusty Wine Connection at Robertson Quay, where we met up with the Banker, the Banker’s Wife, TV Girl, the Recruiter, Nick and his sister Kat – one of my best friends from back home – who had landed in Singapore at 6.30pm that evening! I was so excited! It was wonderful to see her, and we all had a lovely time catching up over some delicious prosecco and tapas.

Kat also bought with her a huge great bag of birthday presents from England! Amongst other things, I got a whole raft of British cosmetics (and two big bottles of Fairy Liquid!) from Kat, an incredible glass vase from Nick, King of Birthday Glassware, and a beautiful laptop case from my best friend Kitty which I adore! Isn’t it amazing?

We then moved onto a fun club at Clarke Quay called China One – they have good music and pool tables.

There was a slightly embarrassing moment when we got there – us four girls had gone ahead in a cab before the boys to get a table and, upon sitting down, realised that the boys had all the cash! After a frantic scramble through our bags, we collected enough to buy one drink, which we then sat down and shared between the four of us. (It was also, I must point out, a very tiny drink). A passing man took a photo of us, and after a very embarrassing comment about ‘waiting for the men to come and buy you a drink’ we were very grateful when the boys turned up to rescue us from further mortification.

The rest of the evening was lovely, and feeling rather rotten as we had not got to bed until 5.00am, Alex and I hauled ourselves up at 8.00am to get to the airport and on a plane to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia!

After a two-hour stop-over in KL (marred somewhat by Air Asia’s ridiculous baggage policy – our hand luggage allowance was 7KG, and ours weighed 7.2KG so OF COURSE we had to go all the way back through security, queue again and check-in again and check the damn thing which cost us the best part of an hour – argh!!) we were finally through to departures and on a plane to Langkawi.

Langkawi is very beautiful – officially named ‘the Jewel of Kedah’ in Malay, it technically comprises an archipelago of 99 islands, separated from mainland Malaysia by the Straits of Malacca. The main island of Langkawi, which we flew into, is beautiful; quite dusty and mountainous, but with gorgeous vegetation and surrounded by stunning turquoise-blue sea.

As a special birthday treat, Alex had arranged for the two of us to stay at a beautiful resort on Langkawi, called the Langkawi Lagoon, for the evening before joining the boat at the marina the next day. Upon arrival, we checked in and then went directly to the beach and soaked up the views because they were simply stunning!

Here are some pictures (and yes: I took them all myself this time!)

After a lovely dinner at an Italian bistro on the beach comprising of some utterly perfect seafood pasta and some really hideous pizza – weird – we headed to bed.

The next morning we got up and breakfasted at the resort before jumping in a taxi and heading to the marina at Langkawi, where Alex’s Daddy was meeting us on their boat, Chrysalis. I must take a moment to say here that, although I am clearly biased, Chrysalis is actually the most beautiful boat in the entire world. Here she is:

They arrived and whilst the boat was refuelling, we headed across the harbour and had lunch in a glorious Spanish restaurant overlooking the waterfront, ran by a local expat. The food was sublime – wonderful big, juicy mussels, fresh slabs of bread, crispy squid, big fat prawns and Paella, and a free jug of Sangria from the proprietor to perk everyone up a bit! We had intended to stock up with some wine whilst we were there, as Langkawi is a duty-free port, but unfortunately we had forgotten that it was still Chinese New Year and so all the shops were shut. Duty-free Fail.

Post-lunch, and after some refuelling, we set sail! The party on the boat was made up of Alex and myself, Alex’s daddy, his girlfriend, our friend Stu, the Skipper Ollie and Chrysalis’ lovely new hostess, Joy.

I shan’t describe our trip in too much detail, as it will take up huge acres of space and I can’t possibly fit everything in. However, there were some highlights.

We spend a day and a night at Koh Lipe, a tiny island in the Adang-Rawi Archipelago in the Satun Province of Thailand. I actually spent my last birthday here, too:

And this is Lipe:

It is really, truly beautiful here – Alex’s Daddy remarked that it is what Koh Phi Phi was like twenty years ago (Phi Phi is another island a couple of hours away from the Village which is very gorgeous but a bit tourist central).

All along the beachfront on Lipe are dotted lots of little local restaurants selling whatever was caught that day. We found one that had some nice looking squid laid out on the table and sat down to eat.

Here’s the front of the restaurant (apologies for the picture quality)

The food was perfect; fresh, simple, delicious, and wonderfully cheap. Here’s what we got:

We then got back on the rib and went back to Chrysalis for a decent night’s sleep.

The rest of the holiday was spent sailing, eating, drinking and exploring. The sunsets were magical, and we were incredibly lucky with the weather!

Here is a pink sunset in the Andaman Sea:

Here is Alex and I enjoying cocktail hour (“must….breathe….in….!”)

 

And here is Stu getting ready for a dive:

The diving was possible because the boat has just had a dive system installed, so the boys – but not me or Chris’ girlfriend, as we do not have our PADI qualifications – went out a lot. One particularly memorable incident happened just off Koh Phi Phi – the boys were on a dive, and Ollie the Skipper and I were sitting on the back of the boat waiting for the bright orange funnel to surface to let us know that they had finished their dive and wanted to be picked up.

We settled down and, after half an hour or so, started to wonder where they had got to. After forty minutes, Ollie (a wonderfully dour Scotsman) straightened up, cracked his knuckles, lit a cigarette, and growled “Och, that’s it; they’ve had it. They’ve roon out of air”.

I completely freaked out – visions of having to call in and report them all dead – but Ollie was just having me on. Their air had run out but, of course, they had just surfaced – the only reason we couldn’t see them was because they had simply floated round the corner of the island. Ollie steered the boat round and there they were – I think they were a little bemused upon finding me so overjoyed to see them.

The boys took Chris’ girlfriend and I for a wonderful snorkelling session amongst the coral in a beautiful sheltered bay, to make up for the fact that we could not dive. The water was crystal-clear, and we saw multitudes of rainbow-coloured fish, shoals of silvery slippery things flitting past as quick as lightening. We also saw a Moray Eel, and two huge blue-lipped clams that creaked shut like wrinkly old mouths when you put your hand near them.

We spent our last afternoon on the beach at Koh Phi Phi – we parked ourselves in a lovely restaurant on the beach and had Tom Yam, Pad Thai and Green Curry for lunch. Yum!

We were then all treated to a wonderful massage on the beach – bliss! – and then I settled down with my book whilst the boys played Patonque on the beach.

We set sail from Phi Phi at around 6.00pm, and arrived back at Koh Rang – the island opposite the Village – to moor the boat at about eight thirty. The waters were quite busy by this point, as the Phuket Regatta is being held at the Village over the next two days, and lots of yachts had started to come in by this point. We took the rib over to the Village, showered (which was bliss in itself – after nearly a week of ten-second cold showers to conserve water on the boat, a hot shower was SUCH a luxury!) and then wandered down to the beachfront bar for dinner.  We spent a lovely evening – Kat and Nick were there with their parents, and our friend Benjy’s lovely parents were staying on the Island too so they were also there.  It was wonderful to hear about England and catch up a bit.

After an early night, Alex was up first thing this morning to fly back to Singapore to go back to work, and I am currently writing this from a very hot, sticky office on the Island.

So, that brings us to the end of our Birthday Adventure – perhaps when I’m fifty I will be touring Outer Space for my birthday trip (it does no harm to hope!)

All my love,

Jessy xxxx

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Making Friends and The Year Of The Rabbit


One of the best things about being in Singapore is that we get to celebrate the New Year not once, but twice – once on the 31st of January, and once on the 2nd of February, which is when Chinese New Year’s eve falls this year. Chinese New Year, or as it is written here, is an amazing celebration of the lunar New Year and, as you would expect, a huge celebration in Singapore!

(courtesy of www.thenanyangmba.com and www.newshopper.sulekha.com respectively)

This year is the Year of the Rabbit, which apparently means that we have a calm and peaceful year to look forward to after the previous Year of the Tiger (sounds pretty good to me!) In practice, this also involves huge pink bunnies adorning many public spaces and massive rabbits looming over you in the supermarket whilst you shop. It’s like having a permanent reminder of Jessica Rabbit wherever I go! This New Year, Singapore’s illustrious PM, Lee Hsien Loong, has publicly urged Singaporeans to breed like rabbits and have more babies, as “additional children would bring ‘more joy’ to families.” (read the full story here ) I’d love to see David Cameron try that! Amazing.

This New Year’s Eve will be spent having dinner with some friends, and hopefully some dancing, as it is actually also my birthday today! We shan’t stay up too late, though, as first thing tomorrow we are getting on a plane and flying to Kuala Lumpur, and after a 2-hour stopover (no direct flights left as everyone wants to get away over New Year!) onto Langkawi, at the top of Malaysia.

There, Alex and I are staying in a beautiful resort for the evening before we head to the marina on Friday morning and join Alex’s daddy on the boat. We’ll then spend the next few days sailing from Langkawi to Phuket, taking in some beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean in on the way. Have just read that bit and oh my goodness I sounds horribly smug, and I am truly sorry – I’m not at all, I’m just really, really excited and it is the best birthday present EVER!

Anyhoo , before I go out this evening, just a quick run-down of the past week. The weather here has been utterly dreadful for a while, very rainy and grey, so we were very pleased to get away from the rain and esconce ourselves in a restaurant called Our Village – in my humble opinion Singapore’s best Indian restaurant – with some new friends we have made.

Our Village is simply GORGEOUS! We have been there a few times before – it is a really beautiful, tucked-away restaurant on the top floor of an old building right on Boat Quay. The walls are all stuccoed and painted white, and embedded with tiny silver mirrors, the ceiling is all twinkly with silver stars and softly lit lanterns, and really it’s just heavenly!

Our Village is set on the 5th and 6th floors of the house, and whilst the 5th is a beautiful indoor dining room, the 6th is a stunning outdoor rooftop terrace with an incredible panoramic view of Singapore.  The place is small and intimate, and I know I’m gushing but it really is just gorgeous! Here’s a picture of the rooftop courtesy of www.guidegecko.com as yet again I forgot to take a picture)

Despite our choosing a bad night to go (the rainy weather meant that the covers were up on the roof, so the magical view was a bit obscured) it was still wonderful. As Time Out says: ‘the staff is so protective of its recipes, you’d almost think their secret ingredient was opium — and you’ll be floating so high after tasting the food that it might as well be”. It is truly stunning food; flavoursome, consistent, all cooked to order, and utterly delicious.

Our new friends – the Banker’s Wife (because this is what she is) and TV Girl (because this is what she does), and their respective partners, the Banker and the Recruiter – loved it as much as we did, I think.

After our meal, we all went out for some drinks together, and Alex and the Recruiter loved the live band at the venue so much, they decided to go and dance on the stage.

Evidence:

A beautiful bonding moment there, I think you’ll agree.

On Sunday, Alex and I headed up to Orchard Road, (the Oxford Street of Singapore, only much much bigger and much much better!) I was initially extremely confused because of Alex’s utter lack of reluctance to remain in Orchard Road once our errands had been completed – however, this was quickly resolved when I realised that the tennis was on and he wanted to sit and watch it in a bar whilst I shopped. So I did – here is a rather rainy Orchard Road:

So I toddled around the shops for a bit, then headed back to watch some tennis with him. We were in a really pretty Moroccan place which did great hummous (and I’ve utterly forgotten the name of the place – I’ll pop it on here when I remember!) but here are some pictures:

When we got home, in a fit of longing for home, we went to Cold Storage and bought the ingredients for Spaghetti Bolognaise.

Alex wheeled the trolley all the way back from the supermarket, into our apartment complex, up in the lift and into our apartment, bless him: I told him that this wasn’t how you are supposed to do it, but he didn’t listen.

We then cooked and ate it and watched a vintage James Bond (From Russia With Love – epic). A perfect Sunday night!

So – next time I speak to you will be after my birthday trip! I’ll take lots of decent photographs, I promise (Alex has now furnished me with an iPhone, so hopefully the standard and quantity of my pictures might go up a few notches from now on)

 

Loads of love to you all – and a very happy Chinese New Year!

Jessy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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…and here’s the Happiness!


Firstly – apologies once again for the recent depression-fest masquerading as a blog post. This one will be better, you have my word.

Before I start, I’d like to share an adorable picture that was sent to me by a lovely lady called sha21 (I do not think this is her real name). She made me into a cartoon! I am very flattered. My cartoon is much better looking than the real-life version, I hasten to add. I particularly love the addition of ice-skates for skating around frozen London!

Cartoon Jessy:

Amazing.

Anyhoo – to the weekend!  It was really lovely because Alex’s daddy came to stay. He had some meetings in Singapore on Monday so thought he’d spend the weekend here.

He landed on Friday evening, and we went to meet him in Boat Quay for a glass or two, then headed to a place called Loof. Loof is fun – it’s a rooftop bar, just opposite Raffles Hotel. It’s very relaxed and though it’s only on the fourth floor, it feels a lot higher because there is lots of space and the views are great!

This is Loof (courtesy of their website, www.loof.com.sg, as I have no decent picture of the place. Must. Get. New. Camera)

We ordered some food because by this point it was midnight or so, and none of us had had supper. However, after an hour, no food had arrived, and we realised that they had forgotten our order. Such a shame – a really great bar but let down a bit by the service.

So, we packed it in and headed to Geylang.

Geylang is actually Singapore’s red light district, but if you ignore all that it’s worth a trip there for the fabulous food! Basically there are tons of local restaurants crowding every corner, and every inch of pavement is covered in plastic chairs and tables. But don’t be fooled by appearances – the food here just might be some of the best and most authentic you’ll get in Singapore (and certainly some of the cheapest!)

Here is Geylang:

(photo courtesy of Alphonsus Chem for the Straits Times)

We had a beer each, and beautiful piles of freshly made, pillowy dim sum, rice, chicken wings and a big plate of stir-fried Baby Kai Lan with Oyster sauce – a delicious leafy cabbage-like green vegetable. The food was superb, and the bill less than you would pay for a lunch for two at any Pret or Eat in London. This is really one of the best things about Singapore – the ability to go out at any hour of the day and eat amazing food for less than the price of a pint).

The following day, the weather was a bit rubbish and rainy. It definitely wasn’t beach weather, so we decided to be horribly touristy and check out [drumroll, please]….UNIVERSAL STUDIOS!

We had seen Universal lots of times, as it is just over the bridge from the mainland on Sentosa, and we pass it every time we go to the beach. We had never been, however, and so we were accordingly very excited!

We stopped at a modern ‘British pub’ on the way for lunch; a place called The Queen and Mangosteen just across the water from Sentosa, by Vivo City shopping centre. My Fish & Chips were good (though not a patch on my Friday night childhood fish and chips back in Kent) but Alex’s dad, Alex, and Alex’s dad’s girlfriend all plumped for mussels, which were superb…cue major food envy from me.

Suitably filled up, we jumped on the Sentosa Express (a really fun little monorail train which zips you across the water to Sentosa in no time at all) and jumped off at Universal Studios!

As soon as we got there, however, we were informed that two of the main rides were out of action. Damnation! Duelling Dragons, the main attraction, has been out of action due to ‘safety concerns’ for the last six months or so. Obviously this is reassuring – very little in Singapore is taken more seriously than public safety, and clearly it should not be open if it was unsafe. However, we did think it a little rubbish that the park was still charging full price for tickets (about $70.00 each!) despite two of the main attractions being closed. Despite this, we were reassured that there was still lots to do, so we went in.

Once in, it became apparent that the Universal Studios in Singapore is, at the moment, still on a very small scale. We only went on one actual ride – a rollercoaster themed around the film ‘the Mummy’ which is all inside, and in pitch darkness. It was rather fun. The other two things we did were not rides, but ‘3D experiences’. One was a very realistic mock-up of a Category 5 Hurricane in New York – actually quite frightening! We were shepherded into a mocked-up sound stage, where the set was dressed up to look like a boathouse with the Manhattan skyline visible out of the windows. Half of the set was water, and there were lots of props everywhere to make it seem even more real. When the thing got going, strong winds buffeted the room, waves appeared on the water, and various objects appeared to fall from the sky – it was very well done and I did feel as if I had experienced a hurricane at the end of it!

The second ‘experience’ was a 3-D screening of a Shrek spin-off story, screened in a cinema with moving seats, so that you truly felt you were part of the action. ‘Highlights’ included 3-D spiders flying through the air towards us, and then little mechanisms below our seats wriggling around on the floor, so that it felt that we were really being attacked by spiders. Nice. Alex’s daddy’s poor Thai girlfriend did not like this bit AT ALL and kept her feet up on the seats for the rest of the screening.

Fun as this was, I have to say that I was quite disappointed by Universal Studios, and don’t think that with the current attractions and ridiculous queuing times it was worth the entrance fee. The log flume, for example, had a queue time of an hour – none of us were prepared to stand in line for an hour on a very hot, humid Singapore afternoon to experience a ride lasting about three minutes.

So, in summary, a nice afternoon, but I shan’t be going back to Universal Studios for a while!

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing. We spent Saturday evening at Indochine, on the water at Robertson Quay – a lovely restaurant and bar with an open air terrace. The founder of the chain had invited Alex’s daddy for drinks and dinner, so we went along and met him and his lovely girlfriend. Let’s call her the Russian Doll because she is Russian, and looks like a doll.

The food was wonderful; lots of big fresh prawns, salmon sashimi, oysters, and some hot dishes as well – we were all stuffed by the end of the meal!

The place itself was lovely – right on the water, with lots of tables all lit up and glowing.

See:

Also, this is my attempt at an atmospheric table shot, but it didn’t work. Sadly, I think I must accept that photography is clearly not a strength of mine…

The rest of the weekend was lovely and relaxing, and after some meetings on Monday Alex’s daddy and his girlfriend flew back to Phuket.  That evening, I went to the cinema the Russian Doll. We went to see Season of the Witch with Nicholas Cage.

Before I begin, it ought to be noted that the cinema here is rather different from back home – everything has Chinese subtitles, and the cinema’s are FREEZING! Seriously, it’s the same in Phuket; I think they are trying to make sure it doesn’t get too warm in there, but a proper tip for any pending cinema trips in South-East Asia; take a cardigan. Or blanket. Or gloves. Or all of the above.

The subtitles were actually not too distracting, as subtitles go. Once, Alex and I went to the cinema in Malaysia, and were dismayed upon settling down to watch the film that there were subtitles in Chinese AND Malay, both sets huge and flickering and obscuring most of the picture! (don’t get me wrong; I expected subtitled…I had just hoped to be able to see something of the picture, is all)

Anyhoo, the cinema provided a perfect example of why, in Asia, I am fast learning that you need to double-check everything. It had been quite a long day at work and all I had eaten was cereal, so I was very hungry when we got there and decided to treat myself to a large box of popcorn. I ordered the biggest box of sweet popcorn they had, and a huge cup of iced water. Once in the cinema and starting to much, I swiftly discovered that I had been given a huge box of inedibly salty popcorn, and a massive bucket of some sort of hugely sugary fizzy Sprite-like drink. Fail.

The Russian Doll laughed and informed me that it’s best to check everything twice – a lot of the cultures in Asia, Thailand especially, will not tell you if they do not understand your request or they do not have something available, because it is a loss of face. Hence why if you are in a restaurant and order something they have run out of, a lot of the time they will not tell you and you only find out half an hour later when something utterly different arrives at your table.

The film itself I was really looking forward to. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am quite a bit fan of Nicholas Cage – I think it is because he looks like a Basset Hound, and also he does lots of action films which I love. I was introduced to the cinematic epic that is Con-Air at school by a friend, and have never looked back since – best film of all time.

Season of The Witch, as it turned out, was actually pretty scary – there were a few scenes that had Russian Doll and I clutching each other’s arms in genuine fear – but it was made much less scary by the absolutely amazing lack of historical accuracy and the utterly hilarious accents throughout. Good for a giggle, anyway.

I think that’s pretty much it! I have tried to refrain from even a sniff of doom and gloom – hope I succeeded.

Speak soon!

Lots of love,

Jessy xxxxxxxxxx

 

PS: Saw the most AMAZING sign on a van – made me giggle. ‘Have Ice Will Revel’ – best slogan I have seen yet (but if you have a better one, please do send it to me!)

PPS: I got some new shoes as an early birthday present! I am very proud of them…now must practice walking in them.

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Happiness and Homesickness


There is a nasty little bug that has reared its head recently (and no, it’s not the giant cockroach that invaded my bath last week). I keep on trying to banish it, but it comes back again with a vengeance. I know a lot of people here suffer from it, but they don’t like to talk about it. No, it’s not the ‘flu or some weird ‘downstairs’ affliction – its homesickness.

The thing is – we are living the dream, aren’t we? From the outside in, our lives are supposed to look like this:

We wake up every day (well, mostly!) to sunshine and blue skies. We spend our weekends on the beach, or travelling to new places. The breeze is warm, the food is good, life is just easier. Or is it?

The problem is, it’s really hard to talk about homesickness because you feel really dreadful for complaining! I mean, we are so incredibly lucky to be living here, doing what we are doing, and also it was our decision to take this opportunity and move, so it just feels…well, ungrateful to say out loud that you are finding things difficult, or missing home.

My best friend Kitty said something very wise to me once which I have never forgotten. She spent some time living in Spain when she was younger, and when I told her how lucky she was, she said “well, the thing is, that everyone wants to get away from the nine-to-five, the routine of their everyday lives. But what you don’t realise until you do get away from it all is that the nine-to-five is the same everywhere. It’s still your life; you are just living it in a different place, only without your family and friends”.

How right she was!

Little things tend to set me off. Take yesterday – I was in a great mood, then suddenly a song by Anthony and The Johnsons popped onto the iTunes, and I had this sudden almost physical jolt of homesickness – my parents bought me the album a few years back because I mentioned once in passing that I liked one of their songs. When I make a pot of tea after finishing work, I automatically reach for two cups (yes kitty, still!) then remember it’s just me.  I make in-jokes to people here and then stop cackling with laughter when I realise they don’t get the joke and just think I’m weird. I do stupid things like paying $5.00 for a tin of Waitrose essential chopped tomatoes from Cold Storage even though a $0.80 local branded tin is exactly the fricking same. I could go on.

My point, I suppose, is that I think it’s ok to feel homesick – just as long as you temper it by being grateful for where you are, and remembering that you can just fly home if it gets really dreadful. So, in an effort to turn my introspection into something vaguely productive, please find below Jessy’s Magical Patented Anti-Homesickness Remedies.

Jessy’s Magical Patented anti-homesickness Remedies!

(i)                  When you get homesick, go to Cold Storage. Go and stroke tins of Waitrose canned vegetables (or Kraft reconstituted cheese products if you are American. Or bottles of Beaujolais or something if you are French. You get my drift). You might get some really weird looks, but trust me – nothing beats a mini-bout of homesickness than being surrounded by familiar mundane objects.*

(ii)                Don’t comfort eat (at least not to excess). It never works. Always makes you feel much, much worse afterwards (you ought to know that I am telling you this after inhaling an entire bag of fifteen treat-sized Cadbury Dairy Milk bars. And yes, I feel DREADFUL)

(iii)               Get Skype! If you have it already (which you probably do) use it more often. Set up ‘Skype Dates’ in advance with your friends for the following week, so that you will have their undivided attention for an hour on Sunday evening to look forward to. Yes, I know that the time difference is a bugger; but, really, with a little forward planning it doesn’t have to be too much of an issue. So settle yourself on the sofa with a pot of tea and a bit of cake and gabble to your best friend / parent / whatever for an hour; trust me, you’ll feel a squillion times better afterwards!

(iv)              Keep busy. You know those evenings when you know you really ought to go out but you just want to curl up on the sofa with a packet of digestives and an old BBC Period adaptation box set? This is fine once in a while, but if you are succumbing to the call of the sofa every night, you need to shake yourself out of it. Make a point of accepting every invitation that comes your way for a week, even to stuff you don’t really want to do; I bet you’ll be surprised by how much fun you have, and you actually won’t have time to feel homesick.

(v)                Get your favourite magazines from home delivered to your apartment here. Yes, it might be expensive, yes it’s horribly self-indulgent, but a long bath and a flick-through a proper magazine from home can work wonders.

(vi)              Ask your friends to send you lists of reasons why you shouldn’t be missing home at this precise moment in time. Really, it only takes a few emails beginning with ‘it’s minus three degrees and I have a two-hour commute to work’, ‘I haven’t seen my house in daylight for three weeks’ or ‘the Tube drivers are on strike again’ to make you think, “actually, it’s not that bad here after all”.

(vii)             If you do all of the above and still feel homesick, download and read this year’s budget come March.  If that does not impart enough doom and gloom to make you want to stay away from the UK for a while, I cannot be of any further assistance to you at this point in time.

 

*do exercise caution here – window shop, do not buy. You do not want end up sitting on your kitchen floor weeping because you have just blown your entire weekly housekeeping budget on horrifically expensive bottles of imported pink Fairy Liquid

Ok – end of self-indulgent waffle.  So now I have made you read the whole Homesickness part – terribly sorry, but the Happiness comes tomorrow morning! (I am tired now, and in far too much of a weepy, dreary, Victorian lady-style mood to actually write much worth reading, and I do not want to waste your time any further)

Sorry for the dreadful post. D-minus – will do better tomorrow.

Lots of love!

Jessy xxxxxxxx

 

PS: Just for funsies, here is a picture of the giant bath-invading cockroach, for your viewing pleasure. I was far too scared to take an actual picture at the time; but rest assured, this is an entirely accurate depiction of the creature in question.

 

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A Weekend of Food….Yum Yum!


So – I’ll cut to the chase. This past weekend was pretty much all about FOOD!

Most of my friends seem to be on detoxes post-Christmas. Whether it’s cutting down on the booze or existing solely on a diet of Edamame beans, tuna and strawberries (this is an actual thing, by the way, I didn’t even make it up) pretty much EVERYONE seems to be cutting down on something.

Well – not me. In preparation for my first birthday away from my beloved family and some of my  friends (I am a quarter of a century old on the 2nd of February!) I am racketing up the food intake to provide me with a cushion of happiness against being lonely on my birthday. Actually, that is all an utter lie – the gorgeous Kat Brown will be here to celebrate with, and I basically just like to eat and was just trying to formulate an excuse for doing it to excess.

Thus – this past weekend was spent guzzling!

Alex and I began by trotting over to Great World City – as I might have mentioned before, home of the SHUTTL bus, and my most favourite of favourite shopping centres in Singapore (as an aside: you can begin to get an idea of just how many shopping centres this tiny island has when I have a favourite!)

After strolling around Cold Storage and buying some wine, we thought we ought to get something to wash the lunchtime wine down with. As we had this thought, we simultaneously looked behind us and realised that we were standing next to an indoor fish market which also happened to sell….SUSHI! So, we decided to give it a shot.

The first thing we noticed about this place was the totally un-Eco advertising – amazing. On a huge banner, the place proudly proclaimed that ‘Our Fish Flown Fresh From Japan 3++ Times Week’.

Now, in England, this would SO not be a selling point – in the country where local is trendy and food miles are the new buzz word, flying your fish in from another country just because it tastes better is clearly not going to make your customers happy. I can just hear the foodies at Borough Market weeping over the food miles. But oh, my word, food miles be damned because the sushi was sublime!

Also, the ordering system was so cool – do you remember the Pick ‘n’ Mix counters they used to have in Woolworths, where you got your own little paper bag and you helped yourself to all the little sweets until you had a bag full of your tailor-made selection? (the jelly snakes were definately the best) Well, this was kind of the same – except with sushi!

I got a little plastic tub which held either 6, 8, 10 or 12 pieces (I chose 10: self indulgent but not monstrously lacking in restraint, was my reasoning) and then all the sushi was just laid out, freshly made and wrapped in tiny little cellophane parcels, for you to pick! There was an open kitchen with incredible sushi  men making new sushi to replenish the stock. The selection was amazing, I didn’t even know what most if it was.

So we filled our little tubs and went to the till apprehensively clutching our raw fish– where our total bill (including a bottle of soy sauce) came to about ten pounds. That, my friends, is value.

So – we picked our sushi and took it home and ate it. And it was out of this world. Seriously. I took some pictures for you but only thought of it half way through – so here is some half eaten sushi. However, from these you can get an idea of how much we got for our money!

 

Mmmm…sushi!

However, as we sat down to eat, dear old Nick Brown turned up. He didn’t get sushi, as I was far too selfish to share, so we made him a sandwich. A ham sandwich. Forgetting that he doesn’t actually like ham. My God I am such a bad friend (he ate it, though, with a rather baleful expression on his face)

Anyhoo…after all that Sushi, we headed into town and spent the evening chilling out with a glass or two of lovely vino courtesy of The Wine Connection. Mmm.

The next day, seeing a spark of sunshine, we duly swimsuited-up and got a taxi to the Singapore fine-weather stalwart – Sentosa. Now, I know I have mentioned Sentosa before, but for those of you who have not been to Singapore, Sentosa is pretty much Singapore typified.

‘Oh, it’s hot? And we don’t have a beach resort? No problem, we’ll build one’. And build they did!

Sentosa is an entirely man-made playground of beautiful beaches (complete, in some cases, with polystyrene rocks) beach shops, theme parks, spas, and bars. There’s even a marina. Some of it is hideous, some actually quite nice.

Our favourite thing to do on a nice weekend is to head to Azzura, a slightly tacky (in a rather wonderful way) beach bar / club on a lovely strip of beach, with good food, pitchers of Corona and lime, and lots of lovely big squashy day-beds and sun loungers to lie on, and just soak up the sun and the atmosphere. Bliss.

This is the bit of beach by Azzura:

And these are the big squishy beds, possibly one of the greatest inventions of all time (second only to Diet Coke. And maybe the vacuum cleaner)

So, anyeway – as my English teacher used to say, I digress – we toddled off to Sentosa and grabbed some sunbeds at Azzura. After vague thoughts of going for some sort of salad, I ditched that idea and ordered the Azzura Burger, a thigh-busting combination of huge great big beefburger, cheese bacon, lettuce, onion, mayo and ketcup, all in a bun….mmm. And a vanilla milkshake to wash it down. Delicious.

Then, to aid digestion, the boys went and played with the bubbles in the Jacuzzi:

I just lay on my sun lounger and soaked up the view.

We left Azzura early evening and headed home, whereupon – against all logic – Alex and I decided to go out to dinner. We headed to a local stalwart, Spize – this place is stuffed to the rafters with locals every night, and if you turn up and they are full they just grab a plastic table and chairs from a pile and place it somewhere in the general vicinity of the restaurant. When we turned up they were very full, so we ended up eating in the doorway of a 7-11!

This place serves the most ridiculously-sized portions of food ever – every single drink, for a start, come in pints. Alex ordered chicken wings and an incredible-looking local curry which was too spicy for me by half. I had a Murtabak or مطبق as it was listed which was a sort of huge great thin chapati-like bread, stuffed with paneer and a sort of muttony-thing, then fried and put on your plate in one big slab.

It was epic. So huge I couldn’t finish it, and I had terrible stomach pains the next morning, but I didn’t care. Murtabak, you may now be added to my list of food friends.

So, in summary – this weekend I gained four pounds (which I don’t think is too bad, considering the circumstances) tried some totally new food, spent proportionally very little, and discovered that my digestion cannot handle that amount of food. Monday was painful, but oh! so worth it.

I hope you all had lovely weekends, and speak to you soon!

All my love,

Jessy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

PS: This is for Kitty.

Kitty – saw this in the supermarket. Thought instantly of you! x

 

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A Happy New Year…With A Mini Setback


I cannot BELIEVE it is 2011 already! That’s basically the future! Seriously – IT’S 2011. Surely we ought to have habitual moon holidays, robot housekeepers and hovercraft by now? Perhaps next year. I shall wait with bated breath.

At least the actual evening lived up to expectations! We saw in the New Year at The Village in Phuket, with Alex’s father and brother and various friends, and a lot of guests who were staying at the resort. We had been out boating during the day, and as the sun started to set we arrived back at the Island only to find it looking like something out of a film set!

There were about a hundred tables covering the beach, with white tablecloths flapping in the breeze and candles glowing everywhere. There was a mini stage set up for the evening’s entertainment – traditional Thai dancers, a Thai band, and our friend Ben DJ-ing! – and oh my goodness – the most incredible buffet. I’m not even exaggerating. There were mountains of fresh seafood – lobster, oysters – you name it, they had it. A great big roast suckling pig, piles of beautifully cooked local Thai food, a huge selection of cheese and meats and salami and things, and a table absolutely groaning with little pastries and puddings.

So, obviously, we all stuffed ourselves silly before settling down to watch the evening’s entertainment! The Thai dancers were great – I tried to get some photo’s but unfortunately they came out dreadfully as I forgot to put the flash on. The Thai band were fun, and our friend Ben did a great job DJ-ing, despite never having done it before – we all had a great time!

Here are the boys at the beach bar enjoying their drinks – from L-R; Tom, Stu, Brun and Alex.

When midnight came, Alex and I walked out to the beach and watched all the different fireworks being set off on the various nearby islands in Pang Nga Bay – idyllic. I managed to speak very briefly to my lovely parents (thank you, Nick Brown, for the use of your Blackberry; forever obliged!) and then we had a little dance and before I knew it, it was 6.00am, getting light, and definitely time to go to bed….I had even somehow acquired a golden mask.

See:

All in all a wonderful New Year.

I then spent the next few days in Phuket whilst Alex flew back to Singapore to work. All was fine and dandy until I got a call from him a few days later explaining very gently that – for reasons that are far too boring and numerous to list here – we were unable to move into our own flat on the 22nd of January, as we had hoped, but would have to remain in serviced accommodation for the next three months.

Needless to say I wasn’t particularly happy about it and threw a bit of a wobbly (to be exact: I called Benjy in such a state of hysterics that he literally dropped everything and sprinted from the office to our villa because he thought I was being attacked or something)

Anyhoo, when I came to my senses and stopped being such a spoiled brat I remembered that when life deals you lemons, you are supposed to make lemonade, or some such equally saccharine thing.

 

So, here is my lemonade list:

(i)                  The new flat is bigger than the old flat. It’s still not big – only one bedroom, so we can’t have my parents to stay as I had        hoped – but at least it has more than one room!

(ii)                We are now in a completely different area, near Orchard Road, so it is interesting to explore a new bit of Singapore;

(iii)               The kitchen is no longer also my bedroom. The importance of this fact simply cannot be underestimated.

(iv)              The bed is bigger so we can both fit in it without elbowing each other in the face constantly;

(v)                There are three swimming pools! Three!

(vi)              We are now exactly 4 and a half minutes walk (I timed it) from my absolute favourite shopping centre in Singapore – Great World City.

Here is Great World City:


I love it because not only does it have a Cold Storage with one of the best cheese collections in the Eastern World (at about a squillion pounds an ounce I cannot justify buying it but my God I can look at it) – it also has a place in my heart because it spent huge amounts of money on a brand new fleet of shuttles and then spelt shuttle wrong on all of them.

See?

Love it. Love it love it love it. It’s written one the sides, too.

So,ahem, as well as all that good stuff, I am also very happy in our new place because…[drumroll please]

All our things have finally arrived from England!!!

Yes, that’s right – after about twelve weeks, lots of very complicated communication and a whole lot of bad dreams about piles of broken china – our things have finally arrived.

I think the delivery men thought I was mad – they all sort of piled in, about eight of them, with all our boxes, and I was running around cackling and clapping with glee as they tried to put them down on the floor.

Here was the sight I had waited so long to see!

Oh, beautiful boxes.

Sadly, we didn’t manage to avoid breakages – I lost some rather nice things, including a beautiful Spode bowl, an antique china lamp and a very pretty pair of glass candle holders – but to be honest, it was my own silly fault for packing them in the first place, they weren’t exactly essentials.

Mmmm, I love unwrapping a big parcel of SHARDS.

However there were, of course,  plenty of things that remained unbroken and as soon as I have the place sorted out I shall take a photo so that you can see all our London things in a new setting. It’s very odd, but has made me feel so much more at home here. Isn’t it strange how ‘stuff’ can be so comforting?

Anyway – I have just realised how long this post is and thus what a horrible chunk of your time I have taken up, so I apologise and will now leave you to doubtless more fruitful pursuits.

Lots of love to you all!

xxxxxxxxx

 

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Beware the Poison Medicine of Doom


Just a quick post now to alert you to a rather retrospectively hilarious situation which at the time was not so hilarious.

So –upon arriving into Singapore from the UK after Christmas, I spent the night at the flat and then work up the next morning and started re-packing as I was due to fly to Phuket for New Year’s Eve.

However, I wasn’t feeling very well – I had been feeling a bit rough the night before but put it down to too much fudge on the plane. The morning came, though, and I felt worse, so I went to the doctor.

I must take a moment here to explain – I do not usually run to the doctor at the first sign of a cold. However, I did in this situation, because:

(i)                  My little sister who had been at home in England with me had been unwell whilst I was there, and subsequently diagnosed with swine’ flu, and;

(ii)                I was flying to Phuket later that day and didn’t want to get on yet another plane and infect lots of other people if I had a bug like that.

So, off to the doctor I trotted. After examining me, he told me that I was fine –I didn’t have the ‘flu, it was just a minor bug, and he gave me some pills to take. I asked them what they were, and he explained that they would just help my sore throat and get my temperature down.

I should have realised there was an issue when I got back and opened the box containing one of the medicines he gave me, a cough lictus, only to find it labelled ‘poison’!

 

Hee hee hee! Love it.

Anyway – I took all the medicines the doctor gave me, packed my stuff, and got on the plane to Thailand.

Once there I made my way to the Island, where Alex picked me up in the rib and we went straight to the boat, where we would all be staying for the next few days. It was a quick trip, as it was moored just across the bay by an island called Koh Rang, but I rapidly began to feel worse and worse. That evening, I struggled to eat, and went to bed early, where I quickly developed a really high temperature despite feeling FREEZING cold, and was sweating and shaking. The next morning I felt worse, so Alex took me to the local hospital, Bangkok International.

It was there that I saw a very nice young doctor, who examined me and was at a loss as to what was wrong with me. He then asked if I was taking any medicine. I reached into my bag and took out the pills the doctor in Singapore had given me, and he took one look at them and started shaking his head, crossly, and told me he knew what was wrong with me.

Worried, I asked him what it was (I was feeling so dreadful at this point, I was convinced it must be some sort of dreadful ‘flu-like lurgey, and death must be imminent). Still clearly angry, he picked up one of the packets of pills that the doctor in Singapore had given me, and gently explained that they should never have been given to me. They were, in fact, pills which were prescribed to car crash victims to help halt severe internal bleeding!

In other words – THEY were what had been making me feel so ill. Darnation.

He gave me another set of pills to counteract the effect of the bad drugs and let me go. Within a day, I was completely better.

So – the moral of the story – never, ever take any pills from a  doctor who is not your usual GP unless you understand what they are, what they are for, and only if you really need them.

Love from a much better Jessica xxxxxxx

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Christmas at Home and the Macaroni Necklace Awards


Hello everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted in ages, there has been lots happening which I will relay to you in a very long and boring fashion shortly. Lucky you. But – before I begin, a little message:

HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all and welcome to 2011!

That above is Bernie from The Village dressed as Father Christmas. It’s not actually Father Christmas. I called him but he was too busy to come to the Island.

So – first up – the winner of the snow picture! Remember I asked you all to send me some snow pictures so I didn’t have to make my own DIY ones any more? And to bribe you to do this for me I offered a macaroni necklace for the best picture? Well, I got some gorgeous pictures through so thank you very much, but the very best of all has to be by Sally Gordon in Emsworth for this beautiful picture (it wasn’t actually Sally who sent it in but she took it so she wins).

See how pretty it is!

Aaaah, Christmassy.

Anyway, my word is my bond, so here is the patented macaroni necklace as promised: (sorry for the slightly dark photo, it didn’t come out that well)

I hope you like it. It is the best I can do. I have fat fingers so threading things is a long and arduous task.

So, now that’s out of the way – how were your Christmasses? Ours was lovely! I flew home to England on the 15th of December, leaving poor old Alex in Singapore (awww!) and when I landed at Heathrow at 5.00am realised straight away that my mother’s panicked emails to me pre-flight (“It’s really cold! You have to wear LOTS of clothes! Just to recap….it’s really, REALLY cold!”) were not an exaggeration –it was really, really cold. Thankfully, I had the foresight to steal my blanket and flight socks from the plane, thank you very much BA.

So, looking like a rather bulky tramp, I waddled off into central London garbed in an ankle length striped t-shirt, three cardigans, my trusty dog hat, one glove, a pair of flight socks, flip flops, and a stolen plane blanket. I got some strange looks on the tube.

When I got into London, I considerately went and woke up my friend Kitty, ostensibly because I missed her and couldn’t wait any longer to see her, but also because it was 7.00am, cold and dark, I was inadequately dressed and in dreadful need of tea. She pretended, very sweetly, to be pleased to see me, and lent me some more suitable attire. I then went to meet my Daddy for coffee and breakfast, and then got on the train back home to Kent.

The next few days were gorgeous – not having had to struggle through the snow for the past couple of weeks, I did not share everyone else’s irritation at the weather and instead spent much of Christmas in a state of maddened glee.

Luckily for me, also, the well-publicised problems at Heathrow commenced the day after I landed, and were fixed the day before I flew back, so my flights were not disrupted at all. An incredible stroke of luck, and one I was most grateful for, because lots and lots of poor people had to spend Christmas sleeping on the floor at Heathrow and not with their loved ones, which I imagine was severely rubbish for them.

When Christmas Day came, my family and I tucked into a lovely big turkey, roast beef, a ham and all the trimmings – rather impressive, in my humble opinion, given that there are only five of us, plus my sister is vegetarian so had nut roast instead. My diet fell by the wayside again, but, honestly – who apart from models and other such professional beautiful people diet at Christmas? Ridiculous. At Christmas, huge turkeys ought to be consumed with gusto. Like this turkey:

Mmmm, huge turkey…

Then the whole day went sad as I had to leave for the airport. I hated flying on Christmas Day, and it was really rubbishly inconvenient for my poor, long suffering Daddy who, due to a chronic lack of public transport on Christmas Day in the UK, had to drive me all the way to the airport. Thank you again, Daddy!

The flight was fine, though very turbulent, and I flew with Alex’s brother Tommy who was coming out to spend New Year’s in Thailand with us. This was good because Tommy has a BA Executive card thingy, so we got to go into the cool BA lounge at Heathrow and eat free food and load up on treats and water for the plane journey. We also ate a massive block of delicious fudge on the plane that Father Christmas gave me in my stocking – I truly didn’t mean to eat the whole thing, I think I must just have fallen asleep on the fudge with my mouth open, because when I woke up the fudge was gone and I didn’t feel so good.

When we arrived in Singapore, we spent the night at our tiny flat before flying to Thailand the next day, where we spent New Year! But I will tell you about that in another post, because:

(i)                  This post is quite long already and I do not want you to hurt your eyes, and;

(ii)                It is now lunchtime here, and my growling stomach is prohibiting me from typing any more at this precise moment in time.

Lots and lots of love,

 

Jessy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

 

 

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