Friday, 27 June 2008

A Rather Random Day.....

Every month the BWG have some kind of activity.....these are not compulsory but I often go along cause I think the plans sound interesting. Yesterday it was finger knitting....now, I'm not the worlds best knitter....I once knitted a scarf.....it took me three years to finish and then I decided that I didn't actually like it!!! I thought that perhaps finger knitting would be different and, if truth be told, I thought I might be able to wear my shawl in September when we're planning to come to Scotland (Ha....little did I know). So I was quite excited when I arrived at the Big Knit on Sukhumvit Soi 49. The shop itself is absolutely stunning - floor to ceiling shelves covered in every type and colour of wool you can imagine and there is a wee coffee shop area which does food....I was in seventh heaven!!

Anyway, we were given a pattern for a shawl, told to select our wool and then the demonstration started. OMG.....finger knitting is not easy!! My first attempt at a few rows was an absolute disaster (honestly, it looked more like a dogs dinner than the shawl it was supposed to resemble) so I ended up starting again from scratch and I am pleased to say that it started looking a bit better. I ended up doing about 15 rows and it did begin to vaguely resemble what it was supposed to (I'm hoping that I'll be able to finish it on my own....and that it won't take me three years to do it!!). Hehehe - never in a million years did I think that one day I would be sitting in a shop in Bangkok knitting a shawl!!

When I got back from the Big Knit Chris and I met up and the two of us headed along to the FCCT as they were hosting another event. I don't know if your aware of this or not but Thai politics is in upheaval again - I thought you might be interested in the history of it all and where we're at today....I'm not an expert so this is just my understanding of it....

Mr Thaksin (Pic on the right) was forced to resign as Thai PM after a coup d’etat which happened about two weeks after we arrived here. Thailand was then ruled by a military-appointed government for just over a year during which time it drafted and tabled a controversial new security law which in essence gave the Cold War era Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) a key role in internal security. Now, whilst this was going on Mr Thaksin and his family were investigated and, in some cases, charged with corruption and the military appointed government started taking flak for economic mismanagement, amongst other things, so it drafted a new Constitution which was passed and elections were held. The elections delivered a rebuff to the military and it's allies and the People Power Party (a reincarnation of Mr Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party) emerged as the single largest party and formed the current coalition government.

(Pic is of Mr Samak - Current Thai PM). Ok, so that was the history (hope it made sense) now to where we're at now - the movement that pressured Mr Thaksin to quit has returned to bring down the PPP and to get rid of the 'Thaksin regime' once and for all. Divisiveness is back, and there is a fear (Not a real actuality) of violence that could justify the army intervening again.

Last night we went to hear Panitan Wattanayagorn
speak about ISOC Bill and the history, position and mindset of the Thai military. He is a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University and has advised a series of governments on military and defence affairs, reform and conflict management and was actually involved in the drafting of the ISCO Bill. The other speaker was a man called Chris Baker who was talking about the military’s influence in politics and the development of democracy in Thailand. He is a Bangkok based writer who has authored and co-authored a number of papers and books on Thailand and is regarded as one of the keenest observers of contemporary Thailand. The two speakers were absolutely fascinating....it is going to be interesting to see what happens next!!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Never a dull moment

We were walking though Central World (Very large shopping mall) on Saturday when we saw this







There were also Thai's dressed up as Cowboys and Indians (we weren't fast enough with the camera).....we have no idea what it was all about but I'm sure it made perfect sense if you were Thai!!! (The robot is pretty cool though!!)

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Exciting Arty News....

Well, there have been some exciting developments on the art front recently!! I will be able to tell you more about it soon (and hopefully be able to direct you to the website) but through a blog friends introduction (You know who you are) I am now working with a guy in the UK illustrating his children's stories. I've done four already and next week will be working on a design that will be the front cover for all the books and will be on the website!!! Seriously, how cool is that!...can't wait to be able to tell you more!!

Hey, my good news doesn't stop there!!! In addition to that, I have sold another three pictures AND have had a piece commissioned.....Woooo Hooooo!!! I'm really looking forward to starting it.....I've got loads of information about the family - stuff like where they went on their honeymoon, what's important to them, where they are from, where they met, favourite holiday's, what they like doing in their spare time, favourite books, children's birthdays etc and I'm going to create something that will subtly incorporate all of that (I've got loads of ideas already). They saw the one that I did for my Mum and wanted something similar (unfortunately my scanner isn't big enough to get the whole image on but if you click on the picture it will be enlarged and you can get a better view of it)

Hmmm, blogging might be a bit sporadic but I will definately keep you up-to-date with what's going on!!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Can you imagine how sore your feet would be.......

If you had been out wearing a pair of these little beauties!!!! They are rather incredible aren't they......





















These were brought to you courtesy of the lovely Mel from Thai Village Life.....I think it might have been a case of 'saw these and thought of you'......

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Gran you would have been so proud!!!

I spent eight hours last Tuesday with my friend Jane working on a Power Point Presentation for the Queen's Birthday coffee morning!! We got photo's of the Queen from when she was a wee lass to now and put them together in a kind of celebration of her life (I'm not too sure how I ended up doing it since I'm not a huge fan but hey ho!!). The coffee was on Thursday last week and the apartment it was being held in was all decorated in red, white and blue - it looked great!! About 60 ladies turned up and we used a projector to put the presentation on one of the walls so that everyone could see. It went down a storm and we actually had people asking if they could buy a copy of it so I think we will probably sell some and try and make a bit more money for the welfare pot!!

Leanne from Operation Smile came along and we presented her with a cheque for......wait for it.....500,000 baht!! That's how much we raised from the Combined Women's Lunch....isn't that fab!!! To do one operation costs roughly 10,000 baht (The doctors give their time for free so the costs are the medication, the hospital stay, speech therapy etc) so that money will enable 500 kids to have a new start in life....a job well done I think!!

Since it was the Queen's Birthday coffee there was also Pimms and wine......it all got a bit messy in the end and Jane ended up back here singing Karaoke with me!!!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Mini Me - Check up

Before I tell you my wee story I just want to let you know that I'm fine - Mini Me is still there but is no bigger :-).

Now, when I was first diagnosed with Mini Me my Doc told me that, due to the amount of blood vessels going to her, she had the capacity to change.....in my mind that meant that the nature of the tumour could change aka the cells could become cancerous at some point in the future. So every time I go for a check up I find them incredibly stressful - I keep waiting for them to say that she has become cancerous!! Chris and I talked about it and we decided that we would discuss with my Doctor the possibility of just having her taken out. I am so so so glad we made that decision.....after my check up we got to meet with the specialist liver surgeon of the hospital (I know....how amazing is that!!) who told me that I could have her out if I really really wanted to but that the type of tumour she is means that she will probably not grow significantly in the next 20 years and that there is no way she will ever turn cancerous!!! When the other Doc said capacity to change what he meant was capacity to get bigger......ah the subtleties of language!!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Our Weekend Away

Well, I have now spent three days surrounded by Chris's work colleagues - they are lovely lovely people but I have never in all my life seen a group of people that can eat so much!! AND they are still thin.....it's not fair you know....not fair at all!!!

Anyway, 30 double decker bus loads of us left from in front of Chris's office building last Friday morning to go to Pranburi which about a three hour drive from Bangkok. We had just taken our seats when Roong, one of the girls from Chris's department, handed us both a very large bag that was completely stuffed full of Thai snacks. Now, I love Thai food but some of the snacks are just bizarre and there were two things that had me scratching my head in a 'but why would you want to eat that' kind of way - the first was Teriyaki flavour crisps....'that doesn't sound so bad' I hear you say....well, the crisps were not actually flavoured....the crisps were plain and you poured the Teriyaki sauce over the top of them....hmm.....soggy crisps anyone?? The second was fish sticks.....these are not like crisps with fish flavour these are bits of really stinky fish that have been flattened (Steamrollered perhaps) and then cut into stips. They might be delicious.....to be honest I've not tried them.....I have never been able to get past the smell!! There was also a snack made from green peas and one from fried Yam - We kept all our snacks and gave them to Moon when we got back (her wee face lit up and she's been munching her way through them ever since!!). We stopped in Hua Hin for lunch at a fantastic seafood restaurant next to the beach where we had all kinds of yummy fish things and we managed to completely astound the Thai's at our table who were gobsmacked to learn that we liked spicy food!!

The resort we were staying at, Evason Hideaway Resort, was absolutely stunning and the room we had was about a two min walk from the beach, the pool, the restaurant and the bar (One thing that did make us chortle was the fact that the resort had two bars and two restaurants - the bars were called The Bar and The Other Bar....I kid you not and I bet that you can now guess what the restaurants were called....yep....The Restaurant and The Other Restaurant!!). We got checked in and then went and sat by the pool and had a couple of drinks (well, it would have been rude not to!!!) till it was time to get back onto our bus to be taken to another seafood restaurant by the sea. The food was just amazing and there was tons of it!! I caused much amusement at our table cause I had to be shown how to get into my crab (I wasn't very good at it and did manage to ping a bit of shell off my plate but I don't think anyone noticed!!) but it was well worth it - the meat inside was so tender and succulent that my mouth is watering at the moment just thinking about it!! Then we headed back to our hotel where we collapsed in our room and opened a bottle of wine that we had brought with us.

We had the whole of Saturday to ourselves so after breakfast we went for a walk along the beach, then sat by the pool reading, then had some lunch, then did some exploring around the resort till it was time to go to that evenings planned activity......I know....hard life eh!!! Now, I have to say that I was really not sure what to expect - I had been told that some of the staff from the firm would be providing the evenings entertainment so it was with some fear and trepidation that I got on the bus that was taking us to the event. There is no way on this earth that I would want to get up on stage in front of my bosses and over 1,000 colleagues and sing and dance but that's exactly what they did and they were fantastic!!! There were four dance acts (A mixture of traditional Thai and modern dancing), a fashion show and an absolutely hilarious show which featured a game of ping pong. It was very clever - there were about four guys on stage dressed completely in black (Including balaclava.....they must have been boiling!!) and the back of the stage was covered in black fabric then two guys came on both wearing tracksuits but the legs of the tracksuits dangled free. One of the guys dressed in black had a pingpong ball on the end of a stick so it looked like it was moving from one player to the other and the other guys moved the legs of the tracksuits so it looked like the players were flying through the air to get the shots. It was very very funny to watch!! We had a great night although I still have absolutely no idea what the hell we were eating.....the menu was, very helpfully, written in Thai and we had no Thai's at our table to translate it for us. Dishes and dishes of food just kept arriving at the table (I think there were about 10 courses) all of which featured unspecified meat substances!!

We had decided on Saturday that, if we could, we would try and get up in time to watch the sun rise over the sea and I am very pleased to say that we did indeed manage to get up!! So at the ungodly hour of 5.30am the alarm went off and the two of us dragged ourselves out of bed and went to watch the sunrise - OMG it was spectacular and very romantic!!! We then grabbed some breakfast and decided that the only really sensible thing to do was to go back to bed!! We then packed up our stuff, grabbed some lunch and then piled back onto the bus and back to Bangkok where we were greeted by two very excited Splats!!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Two Lovely Surprises

Every month the entire BWG Committee get together to discuss the events of the past month and to organise events for the upcoming months. Everyone has their proper job to report on but we all pitch in and help out doing all sorts of things. JJ and I are the unofficial weird artistic types and in that capacity are usually asked to put together posters, powerpoint presentations, do the writing on very large cheques (Physically large).....basically anything that involves being weird and arty. (JJ is the weird one......what do you mean you couldn't tell??).

Well, after the main Committee meeting, we were presented with these - Julie and Louise had the posters we put together for the last two big events framed and the logo that we designed for the BWG embroidered onto a towel. It was such a nice surprise - neither of us had any clue that this had been planned. I am ridiculously pleased with them - Thanks guys!!

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And then I came onto the blog and discovered that I had been given a Beautiful Heart award by the lovely Debs from The Lehners in France. If you've not visited her blog then I think you should....she is a very funny lady and her posts regularly make me laugh out loud!!

I would like to pass this award onto everyone in my 'I read these' section......there is a good reason that I read those blogs and I think every single one of their writers has a beautiful heart!!

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

The FCCT (Foreign Correspondence Club Thailand) is a brilliant place to go if your here in Bangkok. You don't need to be a member and it's not just for journalists - anyone can go along (They even let me in, so, you know.....they are not too fussy!!). Every month they hold a host of different events - from politicians giving a talk with a question and answer session at the end to book launches to showcasing the best of foreign films (These are usually sponsored by the country's Embassy so when we went to see an Argentinian film recently we got served proper Argentinian beef and wine which was just divine!!). Sorry....I've digressed....Yann Arthus-Bertrand was speaking there last week (just in case you don't know - he's the guy that takes all those absolutely stunning aerial photographs of the earth and then produces books of them for people to buy) and we decided to go along.

What an amazing and interesting man!! He started his career doing animal photography in Africa and, in order to capture the animals from above, he would photograph them from a hot air balloon. It was whilst doing this that he discovered the beauty of the world as seen from above and he began experimenting with aerial photography. He was fascinating to listen to and I had to laugh when he told us that he regularly drops his assistant off in odd places so that he can show the scale of what is being photographed - he then showed us a photo of a massive iceberg with a wee figure in the middle of it.....poor bugger.....wouldn't want his job....can you imagine how insecure you would be if you'd had a fight with him?? Anyway, I was seriously impressed - not only is he interested in photography but he's also set up an organisation called GoodPlanet.org which is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of sustainable development. He told us that over the years he has actually witnessed first hand the destruction we are causing and that has motivated him to try and do something about it. He announced that he is teaming up with Luc Besson (Amazing film director who made Leon) and they are going to make a film called 'Home', based on his photographs over the years, which shows the damage - we were the first people ever to see the trailer. It looks absolutely stunning!! He went on to tell us that they are not going to be charging people to see the movie as they hope that it will help to change mindsets....pretty amazing guy!!

You can download his photo's for free here

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Tea Tag

I've been tagged by the lovely Debs over at The Lehners in France to share my tea cups with you. Soooooo, I am throwing caution to the wind......here are my tea cups -

This set is very special to me....I absolutely love it!! I used to work for a not-for-profit and part of my role was providing support to 50 volunteers who used their time to try and improve the health care system for patients in Salford and Trafford. Most of our volunteers didn't have very much money but when Chris and I got married they all clubbed together and bought us this tea set as a wedding present. (I had to try very hard not to cry when they gave us it!!)

This is a tea cup and pot combo (The pot is on the top) and is absolutely perfect for when you fancy a couple of cups of tea but can't be bothered going back to the kitchen to make a second one (Lazy Moi......never!!). When we lived in Manchester I used to fill her up and then sit glued to Saturday Kitchen.....ahhh those where the days!!

Here is another tea cup and pot combo....actually it's more of a tea mug and pot combo and was given to me by my lovely friend Claire for Christmas. I love the colour of it, the design on it and the pot makes the perfect amount of tea for the mug!!

Now, those of you that know me well will know that no kitchen of mine would be complete without something relating to shoes - and here it is!!! This fab tea set was given to us by Chris's Aunt Dot and Uncle Steve - I absolutely adore it (It even came packaged in a shoe box!!) and it just goes to show that you can never have too many shoes!!!

We also like coffee!!


And I couldn't resist showing you this cause I think it's a bit bonkers!! It's a rice wine pot.... and if you look closely you will notice that it has no lid. 'How do you fill it then?' I hear you ask......well, you fill it from the bottom. There is a tube in the middle that stops the liquid from leaking out when you turn it back round the right way.......Ingenious eh!!!

So there you have it......I have now exposed the inside of my kitchen cupboards to you and I tag JJ at Tea Stains, Jen at Spiral Skies and Caroline at In Search Of Adam as I think they will all have rather fab tea cups!!!