Wednesday, 26 September 2007

I want to be a hermit!!!

And do hermity things all day!! I want to grow the hair's on my legs to indecent lengths, eat lots of garlic, spend hours drawing and never talk to anyone ever again!! Actually.......that's not true.....I just feel like I don't want to ever speak again at this particular moment in time and in about five minutes I'll probably phone someone for a blether!! (Erm.....sorry about the hairy legs image)

It's been a frantic two days!! I was up and out again at the crack of dawn on Tuesday to go to Pakkred Orphanage - I've completed my forms and have now been assigned a little baby girl (I was slightly disappointed I didn't get Japanese Punk Boy but he's already got a volunteer). She's bright as a button and incredibly curious about everything (not to mention wriggly - I think most of her lunch ended up on me rather than in her!!). Actually, she is a lovely wee thing - very smiley (She did wipe her snotty nose on my top which I could have done without but hey ho!!). I've been told that I can now take photo's of her so I thought I would put together a scrap book........maybe paint her hands and feet and get her to put them on paper so that when she's adopted her new family will have a record of her early years. One of the other girls did something similar and I think it would be a good thing for me to do and it might help me not to get too attached (You know.....a reminder that she will eventually be part of someone's family......anyway I'm going to give it a go!!). When we got back the girls suggested that we go grab some lunch and they took me to a brilliant restaurant in the Ploenchit Centre called Beirut Restaurant. Oh my GOD it was fab......I had proper hummus (the first I've had since I've been here!!), Motabel (Aubergine purée with sesame, lemon juice and olive oil), a Lebanese mixed salad and Shawarma chicken (it only cost 150 baht which is about £2).........I was in seventh heaven!!

When I got home I had a couple of hours to have a shower and get myself organised for going back out again. I met up with Jen and the two of us headed over to Sue's house - she was hosting a Smoochie Smoochie lingerie party. Those ladies know good bra's when they see them - they had a vast array of designs, fabrics, sizes and most of the bra's came with the choice of a thong (which I can't wear cause my bum eats them!! That was a bit too much information wasn't it.......ach well you should be used to me sharing by now!!) or normal pants. I bought two beautiful bra's one is cream with a very pale purple ribbon and the other one is shocking pink with black lace!! They both fit perfectly......I've got my eye on another one as well but decided that it will have to wait till next month.

Then today I had my Welfare Team Meeting followed by a open session for people interested in volunteering. So, I was up at the crack of dawn (again) to write my Welfare Report for the month and then I went through all the mail and funding proposals we have received. It was a good meeting and the first time that we had actually totalled up how many people we have volunteering - I was gobsmacked.......I started this from scratch in April and so far we have 32 people who have actually given their time and only 4 that we've not managed to place yet. I'm pretty pleased with that!! The open session went really well too - I had 15 people in total......it was supposed to run from 12 till 2 but the last ones didn't leave till 4.40pm. I have never talked so much in my life but it paid off - some have already put their names down to jobs and others are going to mull over the information then chose what they want to do......hopefully they will all sign up!!

Tomorrow I am going to learn how to cook Indian food. There are over ten of us going and we're going to be taught by a woman called Mrs Balbier - she has her own restaurant and TV show her so is a bit of a celebrity. Oooohhhh I hope she shows us how to make Dahl......I love Dahl!!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Can you guess what it is?

Chris is just back from a conference in KL (Kualaumpa). He brought me back a present.......

It is a wooden stick with a painted bird on one end and a tiny scoop on the other.

Can you guess what it is for?

Friday, 21 September 2007

Plotter the Donut

There is a plot a foot!! (I'll get to the plot bit in a moment but figured that I should probably explain the title of my post.)

Chris often can be heard calling me a donut.......I chose to view this as a term of endearment......secretly I know that it is because sometimes I have quite spectacular scatty moments and he reckons that there is a hole where my brain should be!! When I try and organise him (and believe me, sometimes he REALLY needs organising!!) he calls me 'Plotter the Donut' hence the title. (See.....it all makes perfect sense now doesn't it.......or is this just a very scary insight into our marriage?)

I've had a rather interesting day (actually I've had a lovely day - I had lunch with a friend (Marina) at her gorgeous new apartment and then had afternoon tea with Jen and another friend (Debbie) I'd not seen for ages). Anyhooo....You may remember my dog drawing disaster a few months ago when I wasn't convinced that they actually looked like dogs (I think ball on sticks may have been mentioned) well Jen persuaded me that they did look like dogs and that I shouldn't just bin them. I didn't really know what to do with them so after much deliberation I decided that I would donate them to Soi Cat and Dog (SCAD) Bangkok which is the charity we got Gai and Lugs from. I am completely rubbish and have only just got round to actually handing them in (See.....your all now thinking ahhhh.....that's why he calls her a donut). I got a phone call today from Claire who works at SCAD.....she has asked me to do another three so that they can be turned into a set of six cards isn't that cool!!! aaaannnnd they might even put them on T-shirts!! She then asked me if I would be willing to design a cat that they could use on their website......she said that they would double their normal fee (which is 0) and I decided that with such a generous offer I couldn't say no!!

And then another exciting thing happened.......(So really there are two plots a foot).......I have been saying for a wee while that I would love to try doing some illustration stuff since I find words very inspiring. Jen and I were going to do something together (We've got the idea and everything!!) but she's in the process of writing her first novel so it's had to go on the back burner (You can read about how she is getting on here.....you can also read about bottom's but I'm not going to go into that). She's joined something called The Novel Racers and through her I've started reading a few of the other blogs (Some I comment on and on others I just lurk......not confident enough to add my waffles) and I regularly read Jen's (aarrgggg too many Jen's so maybe I need to start referring to Jen in Bangkok as JJ like she does on her blog and the other Jen as Jen......is anyone else confused or is it just me?) blog Spiral Skies. It looks like we are going to collaborate on a project......I'm not going to say too much about it at the moment because we're in the process of trying to work out exactly what that project is going to be

I'm very excited and she is striding across hills waving her arms about!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Scaring Babies and Small Children

(Actually I think it was more a case of them scaring me - as most of you know I'm not really sure what to do when it comes to small people!!)

Carolyn, who is my partner in crime when it comes to Welfare stuff, had asked me if I would make up the numbers to go on a visit to Pakkred Orphanage. (Her daughter Louise had gone once a week whilst she was here and had been visiting a little boy who she had seen blossom over the summer. She didn't want him to regress so had asked if someone would continue visiting him which was why Carolyn was trying to arrange a trip). How could I say no - They will only put a bus on if there are more than four people visiting so I reluctantly agreed to be the fifth person.

So I was up at the crack of dawn this morning (Well, 6am - which is the crack of dawn for me!!) and, with strong coffee in hand, headed up to Soi 3 to meet up with everyone. It can take anything from 30 minutes to an hour to get there depending on the traffic which wasn't great for me......the longer it took the more nervous I got........I don't really do babies and I think I amused the others greatly when I said 'If it cries your going to have to tell me what to do!! ' followed by 'There is no way I am changing a nappy!!'


I'm not really sure what I was expecting (I think perhaps I've seen too many documentaries which show footage of kids living in hideous conditions with no toys) but the orphanage was lovely!! They have about 200 kids there ranging between 1 month old and about 3 years old and it had such a lovely feel to it. The kids were clean, well dressed as they get a lot of clothes donated, there was a big play area for them with swings and a shoot and they even had a toy library which I thought was brilliant. The downside is that there are enough staff to take care of the kids basic needs but not to give them the attention and stimulation that they really need in order to develop properly. When we arrived we were taken to one of the baby areas - there must have been about 14 babies lying on fluffy mats with their milk bottles propped up on pillows so that they could feed themselves - there were only two adults there to supervise!! (The amazing thing was that not one of them made a peep - if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I would never have believed that there were 14 babies in that room). (We were not allowed to take photo's of the babies but I found this one on a website about Pakkred)

Carolyn was handed the 1 month old little girl she has been assigned to (she is beautiful but does looks a little bit like a frog!!), Abbie has taken over the care of the boy that Louise was visiting so she went and got him and Jill, Allyson and I were given a baby each to look after.

So today I sat for two hours attempting to amuse a three month old little boy who looked like a small Japanese punk!! (He had jet black hair which stood straight up and had a small slant to his eyes which made him look more Japanese than Thai). Once I had got over my 'Oh my GOD it's a baby......what the hell do I do with it??' thing I decided that he was rather lovely. He was totally fascinated by me (probably thinking 'Who the hell is this weird pale lady with the funny hair??') - he lay there staring at me for ages and when I stuck my tongue out at him (well I didn't know what else to do....he was staring at me......I had to do something!!) he did it back......very funny!!!

Now, I want to say this before any of you start getting any funny ideas.....NO it did not make me want to have one of my own so you can stop getting excited/scared at the prospect!! A combination of Chris and I would not be a good idea - the hair alone would have people running for the hills screaming!!

These kids are all up for adoption (No......we're not going to adopt either!!) so it's really important that they are used to being handled, get some stimulation and get used to seeing white faces since most of the adoptions are to foreign couples. I'm going to go back and I have to say that my reaction surprised me.....I really thought I would hate it but when you see their wee faces......there is nothing else for it.......and I don't like kids!!!

For those of you that are interested - You have to be serious about going and visit at least once a week (obviously if you're going away you let them know in advance) and there are forms which you will need to complete. You will need to take a copy of your passport, your visa and provide three passport sized photo's of yourself - once you have done that you will then be assigned a particular child, given a visitors badge and all your information will be kept on file (and if you are looking to adopt and have come across this blog there is a webpage here that has some information - I have no idea if it will be helpful or not but I've put the link in anyway)

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

I've been thinking.....

Now this phrase usually has Chris running for cover whilst muttering 'Oh God!!'. Sadie uses it all the time.....I have tried to find an alternative (I usually start my sentence with 'So....' and then share my words of wisdom.....you can stop laughing at the idea I may have words of wisdom!!) but I think 'So' wouldn't really work as a blog title.
I seem to have digressed a bit.

Anyway, our lovely friend Alex e-mailed me over the weekend and in her e-mail she said 'I do hope that you and Chris haven't picked up any of the local accents!!' and it got me thinking.....Now before this sends any of you into a blind panic neither of us actually sound Thai but I have actually picked up a Thaiism (Is that the right word?) - I should explain.

The Thai's have a word/noise which sounds a bit like oooooooooeeeeeeeee (think ooooo as in loo) which can be used to cover a multitude of situations - a short ooeee could be used to express shock, a ooooowheeeee to express exasperation, an ooooooooooooeee to express pain - I'm sure you are now getting the picture. Well I have picked up this delightful little expression and I have discovered that I now use it on a regular basis (I have even stopped swearing.....shhhh......don't tell my Gran I ever swore!!). I hadn't really thought about it till Alex's e-mail and was shocked to discover that there are other things

I now find eating with a knife and fork a bit odd. Normally you eat Thai food either with your fingers (such as spring rolls) or with a fork and spoon (Thai food is a bit like Chinese in that it's usually bite size). If I have something on my plate which needs to be cut up I either cut it with the edge of my spoon or, if I really have to, my knife and then eat it with my fork and spoon!!

I no longer like ordering a plate of food just for me. It feels wrong (rude almost) not to order something and then put it in the middle of the table for everyone to share. (I love this way of eating....I no longer suffer from food envy!!). Recently Chris and I went to an Italian restaurant - we ordered pizza and pasta and then had to ask for two extra plates so that we could put everything in the middle and share it.

When did this happen and why didn't anyone tell me about it?

Monday, 17 September 2007

Phuket Plane Crash

A One-Two-Go Passenger jet with 130 people on board has crashed whilst trying to land in bad weather at Phuket Airport. It's reported that 90 people have died and many of the survivors are in hospital. I've just been onto the Bangkok Post website and am very thankful to say that no-one I know was on that plane (I have friends who were heading there this weekend).

Our thoughts go to anyone who has been, or knows someone who has been, affected by this tragedy.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

I just had to share this with you

Last night we went out to Cheap Charlies for a drink before grabbing some dinner. We met an American guy called Clayton who comes to Thailand once a year for the big Jewellery fair that's held here. Now......don't ask me how the hell we got onto the topic (he was very interesting....I learned all about fish tongues but won't go into that!!) but he ended up telling us a very funny true story (well we laughed in between eeeuuuwwws)....

The setting is Alabama. All the neighbourhood kids congregate at one house as they always do because the woman who lives there is not just Mom to her two kids but acts as a sort of Mom to all the kids. Their house is the biggest on the street and their garden backs onto the forest - at the house the boys are allowed to play with their catapults, climb trees etc. Well, one morning the Mom spots one of the boys munching away on something - She has lemonade and sandwiches for the kids but has not called them in for lunch yet so she goes over
'Whatcha eating?' she asks
'Dog Chocolate' he responds
'What on earth is Dog Chocolate?' she asks
and the little boy points to the ground where there is a dried up dog poo and says
'Dog Chocolate'

Eeeeeeeuuuuuuwwwwww - apparently that boy is now in his mid 30's is married with kids and works as a fireman and everytime the Mom see's him she points him out to whoever she is standing next to and quietly says 'That's the Dog Chocolate boy'


The truth is stranger than fiction!!!

Friday, 14 September 2007

Chris is chuffed to bits.......

Those of you that know Chris will know that he is an avid reader of The Fortean Times and has been for some years (We have a big green box which is full of past issues). Well, when we visited Kanchanaburi with Sadie and Margaret we visited a cave at Wampo wooden Viaduct which had been used as a hospital (You can read about our trip here). Most people that were treated in that cave didn't make it back out again - It's a very odd place!!. Whilst we were there Chris spotted a spiders web that really looked like a skull and he took a photograph of it (It's a bit creepy isn't it!!).

For ages he's been talking about sending it into The Fortean Times and on Tuesday he finally got round to it. It's now on their website - you can see it by clicking here

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Busy couple of days....

Yesterday I got a phone call from my friend Gabrielle who is launching a new lingerie company here called Smoochie Smoochie (It's is going to be bliss to actually be able to buy a bra that fits!!!) asking if I would donate one of my pictures for a door prize at their launch - of course I said yes. I then met my friend Jen for lunch and we went and collected her drawing from the framers (She bought one of my originals!! Happy wiggle in chair) and dropped off another print to be framed. I then hot footed it over to Pandora's to collect two framed drawings that I had said I would was deliver to my friend Steph (I was seeing her on Thursday anyway so it saved her a trip) got home and did some marketing stuff for Gabrielle. It was a busy day!!

Today there was a BWG coffee morning at the Neilson Hayes Library over in Silom. The Library was founded in 1869 as a way of serving Bangkok's large English speaking community and it's the oldest non-profit in the kingdom of Thailand. I had never been before and I have to say that the building is stunning. It's got a huge dome which they use to exhibit different artists work, all the shelving inside is original and they have a wee tunnel that runs round the back of all the book shelves which serves as an old fashioned form of air-conditioning - it was fascinating. I ended up having a chat with one of the board members who is responsible for putting on the art exhibitions (It looks like I may be having another one!! So watch this space........). I grabbed some lunch with Louise and Julie, spoke with Allyson about becoming a vendor (I will now be selling my art work at the November and December BWG lunches so will have to get cracking on some new stuff), spoke to a Tailors about getting a dress made for the St. Andrews ball and then headed home to get ready to go to the Smoochie Smoochie launch.

The launch was really good (I bought a very cool necklace) and Chris was a happy camper as he got to see lots of women in their bra's and knickers.....We didn't stay long enough for me to get the chance to buy some of the lingerie but my friend Sue is going to host a party at her house at the end of the month so I will get some then!!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Ceramic Touch Programme

I've mentioned before that I am helping put together 'Touch Tours' for Bangkok's National Museum so that blind tourists (There is another working party putting something together for blind Thai's) can still appreciate the art and culture of Thailand. (You can read about it here.)

Well yesterday our working group went back to the ceramic museum to try out their learning by touch programme - The idea was that it would give us a better understanding of what we need to be considering for our tours. It was absolutely brilliant. We were taught how to identify three different types of ceramics -

Chinese - this is usually quite fine and has a glaze over the entire surface including the base (In the photo on your right you can see Chinese and Sisatchanalai)

Sukhothai - the base is very roughly cut and has no glaze on. Often you can find four or five small indents inside the dish this is because when they are being fired they are stacked one on top of the other with a little stand between them and it's the feet on the stand which make the indents. (If you look carefully you can see the dents in this one)

Sisatchanalai
- the base is smooth and the glaze comes right down over the edge of it. When this type of pottery is fired it sits on top of a little chimney which forms a small circle inside the base and when you touch it you can feel the ring inside it . The other give a way is that the clay usually has some kind of design carved into it.

When we removed the blindfolds I discovered that the bowl I had was from an actual Shipwreck and was made in the 15th Century!! (OMG!!!.....put the bowl down and move slowly away from the table). We then went into their actual Museum area - it has been designed to resemble a Thai kiln so you walk through a long tunnel before getting into actual body of it......they had some beautiful pieces of pottery!!. I spoke with Dr Roxanna Brown and she has given me permission to go back to draw some of the pieces (Some of the designs were absolutely out of this world!!) - she has even said that they will open up the cases so that I can take photographs for reference. How cool is that!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Pricing

You know....it's not easy putting a price on something that you have created (If it was up to me I would be giving the drawings away - probably just as well it's not up to me then eh!!). Anyway, I had a chat with my pricing guru Georgie and explained to her that I was feeling a little uncomfortable (I'm just chuffed to bits that people actually like them and want to buy them) and she said that what mattered most was that I was happy and so we have agreed to drop the price of the prints (She refused point blank to let me drop the price of the originals so don't get too excited!!).

The prints are now available framed for 2,600 baht and unframed for 2,000 baht (which works out at £30 unframed and £40 framed)

I am feeling a lot happier now!!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

I am so glad it's over!!!

I was so nervous yesterday.....I woke up at 4.15am and, after trying to get back to sleep for an hour, I finally gave up and got up. It was kinda cool watching the sun rise over Bangkok but not as cool as it would have been had I actually managed to stay asleep!! Anyway, I spent some time sending e-mails and played with the cats then at about 8.30 decided that I might try and get my head down for another hour or so - I woke up at 11.15 which was lovely apart from the fact that I had left my phone and make-up in Liss's car on Friday and was meeting her at 11.30 to get them back (There was no way I was going to the exhibition with no make-up on!!!). I don't know how but I made it (I think I got there just after 11.30) - Liss asked how I was doing and I replied 'I'm not sure......I was asleep 15 minutes ago and I can't quite believe that I am up and out and here'.

Nothing ever goes according to plan - I was going to dye my hair to cover the grey bits, get it straightened and get my nails done so that I was looking my best but by the time Chris and I had been to Crepes and Co for lunch, I had bought the hair dye and had my nails done it was 4pm (where the hell had the day gone!!) and we had to leave the house at 5!! I came home, ran around like a looney, attempted (and failed) to tame my curls (proving to me once and for all that my hair really does have a mind of it's own), flung some make-up on and then Chris had to shove me out the door.

I really didn't want to go and at one point I had Moon on one side and Chris on the other to make sure that I didn't do a runner. We were the first to arrive which was great as it gave me the chance to set up the easels the way I wanted them and that kept me occupied till people started arriving then it was too late to run away!!!

I think it went well despite the fact that a fuse blew half way through the evening (it blew with a huge bang).......Carree's Jewellery was beautiful (I bought one of her necklaces) and I didn't hear anyone say anything unkind about my pictures although it's not likely people will come up to me and tell me they hate them!! I have no idea how many I sold - I know that all the wine charms I taught Moon how to make went (which is great because that money will go into Fa and Dawan's school and university fund), I definately sold three framed prints (Jen told me that I was supposed to be cool, calm and collected when I started doing my happy dance!!) but have no idea whether anything else went or not. A lot of people said that they were going to come back because they couldn't make up their minds which one they wanted to buy, some said they wanted to come back with their husbands and a couple of people said that they were going to browse the pics online and choose from there. We had about 100 people show up (and there was rugby on so we thought that was a really good turn out!!), the wine and nibbles provided by La Villa were great, Chris was brilliant and supportive as usual, Jen's daughter was absolutely fantastic (She listened to me tell someone what my inspiration was and then went round selling things on my behalf!!), my friends Carolyn and Alyson sold raffle tickets, Kay (who wasn't meant to be doing it) held the actual raffle for us which was absolutely brilliant of her because I am not sure what we would have done otherwise and the food in Red's was absolutely fantastic. (Thanks for all the help guys!!).

I think we have raised about 7,000 baht for charity so far which is not bad going!!