Saturday, 24 June 2017

The HeART Project


Hello to you all and welcome back to Bangkok!
I have been looking forward to introducing you to the HeART Project.


What do you see here?
I see a crazy Little Wandering Wren, sitting on a branch, under a shady tree...
Anyone see anything different? Do let me know!


The HeART project is the brainchild of Hong Kong artist and friend
Helen Bronte Boyd. 

I have long admired the growth of Helen's business and took the opportunity to pop in and see her in her Sai Kung H Studio Gallery, on my recent Hong Kong visit. This artists hub is home to art classes, workshops, and exhibitions. 

You can click here for more info on H Studio Gallery.


The HeART Project is:

"a yearly project dedicated to creating original heARTs, 
posting them daily on social media to generate more kindness and joy!


Helen's HeARTS have gone all over the world, 
and I am very happy to be the first recipient of a HeART in Thailand. 
My HeART is number 143 and I just love it!

Just as soon as I got off the plane back in Bangkok, 
I headed straight to IKEA to grab a perfectly fitting frame. 
It was getting dark for my photo shoot, 
but I wanted to show my HeART amongst Thai artwork and elephants.
My 5th & final photo is nestled amongst the orchids in our apartment gardens.


Oopsie, I seem to have got a little carried away with my photo editing borders
it must be all that mention of the word arty!

If you would like some HeART you can contact Helen and she will post internationally for free. Just tell her a little bird sent you!

Such a lovely and generous thing to do, don't you agree?
The world needs more kindness and joy, and more people like you, Helen :)

Here's wishing you all a HeARTily lovely weekend.

Love Wren x




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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Escape To The Country ... well sort of!!

If you are a regular follower of my blog you would know how much I was looking forward to a return to my homeland to catch up with family and friends. 

White Horse Hill, Uffington - return to my childhood

With temperatures in Bangkok a scorching 34 degrees and humidity in the nineties, it was due to be a welcome change from my sweaty Betty Thailand life.

Wrong!


Imagine my surprise to find myself in the middle of a heatwave here in Great Britain, with temperatures, if not the humidity, matching Bangkok. Woo hoo, Great Britain! 


As you will remember last week we were huddled round log fires and barbequing in the rain, sheltering under umbrellas.  All change this week and the Gardens of Britain are looking glorious after a drop of rain and some sunshine. Here are some of my favourite Homes and Gardens pictures from my time here.


Celebrating its 100th year, this charming property with an unusual moat feature is worth a visit. The English Cream Teas were a hit too!


This old Hunting Lodge has magnificent views from the roof
excellent National Trust guides.



3. Buscot Park - Oxfordshire Country House 
This National Trust house currently is open for business as usual during the roof restoration project. Lavish house and beautiful gardens.

I hope you have enjoyed a little glimpse into my British Summer.
Thank you for your visit!



Sharing with thanks to all the hosts at Our World Tuesday

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Somewhere over the rainbow...

It's been quite a week here in the UK.
I seem to make a habit of being in the UK during a General Election or Brexit referendum which is always interesting, to say the least. This week's results, as on previous occasions, has resulted in an awful lot of tea being drunk trying to figure out what the British election result means. I have given up being surprised by anything in world politics these days.

Away from tea drinking, we have had a fantastic week catching up with family and friends in London, Oxfordshire, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire and Devon.

So welcome to a few of our photos which sum up our Great British summer road trip.


In a week where people are nervous of large white vans in cities - we spotted this band in a van in Brick Lane, London which made us smile, along with the giraffemu Street Art. 


As did the general vibe of the Brick Lane area of London. As you can see the sun was shining and people were generally out enjoying their weekend. This was just hours before the horrendous London Bridge terrorist attacks not far away.

We cosied up to dogs and fires where ever we went.
 Yes, we know this is a British Summer and we love all our friends who thoughtfully turned the heating up for their friends from the tropics.
No complaint's from me, I've been loving the weather.


We've also had two barbeques huddled under umbrellas. 
Nothing is going to dampen our spirits for the Great British summer BBQ!



Midweek finds us in Shropshire with friends who have bought a 16th Century Manor house. We make friends with more dogs and this little chap who greets everyone on arrival. Oh, those summer knights!


So we end the week with stormy weather and a wonky polling station sign.
It kind of summed things up!


The very next day there was a rainbow, it was a magnificent sight



Here's to a great week ahead everyone!

Linking with thanks to Maggie at Mosaic Monday



Tuesday, 30 May 2017

In a hot land far away…

Dear Blog

I'm sorry for the neglect, I am waiting for my new life in a hot land far away to settle into some sort of regular pattern... and maybe to feel cool with it!


I'm not sure what my 'normal' life here in Thailand will be. Slowly each day things are starting to seem a little more familiar. I hardly notice the wires in the street, the uneven pavements, the strange smells wafting in. 



I am beginning to feel less like all is foreign and I'm less like a foreigner. Slowly I'm feeling like I belong. I am getting more adventurous, I have yet to make it in the back of a motorbike taxi, but the weird and wonderful street food is starting to be more tempting!


Of course, the Lifers can spot the newbie in town by my huge bag. I never leave home without being properly kitted out. I take my Japanese paper fan, plus my electric fan, a lady can never have enough fans in these sweaty Betty conditions. Together with a face cloth to dab my glowing brow, water to rehydrate, an umbrella for rain, but mostly for shade... I plan my days to avoid the heat.

For such is my new life, in 95% humidity where the sun has it's way all the long day. 


I am starting to make some lovely friends. We chatter and we laugh as if we've known each other for years. We have not yet run out of conversation, for the most part, we are catching up on fifty years plus of each other's lives. 


Now, where would you start? If you knew no-one and no-one knew anything about you? What would be the most important things you would mention? I smile at how many times one of the first things I talk about is the Crazy Poodle! I miss that chappy!


The ladies here have interesting stories to tell. Especially those who have been here twenty, thirty years. Back in their day, this would have been an adventurous posting. I enjoy hearing all about their lives, how they ended up being in Asia. I love that here, even after all these years, they are open to talking, their dance card is not yet completely full.

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I love all the nationalities that I am meeting. After twenty-five years out of the UK, I am slowly finding my tribe of others with British or Aussie roots with a lifetime of experiences in other countries. There are newer people than me arriving. Bangkok is an ever changing landscape.  

Meanwhile up in the sky, the moon watches quietly as the sun burns, hoping soon to get his turn.

Sometimes at the end of the week, we take ourselves off to a rooftop bar. As we watch the sun going down in our new city, we grin. So far, so good but bring on the days when the moon has her turn.


Watch out world!



This post has been inspired by Amalia Rosen who blogs at Handmade by Amalia and wrote a post 'In a cold land far away, where all the birds are sad and gray' and has kindly adapted the post for a little hot bird!!! These are her words:

In a hot land far away
the sun has its way all the long day,
the moon watches quietly as the sun burns
hoping soon to get his turn.

Thank you so much Amalia!

Linking with thanks to all the hosts at Our World Tuesday
and Maggie at Mosaic Monday

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Namaste in Bed

Ever since I arrived to live in Thailand, I've been in and out of Bangkok like a yo-yo. A combination of accompanying my husband on his business trips and a holiday to Laos has seen me amassing Airmiles like nobody's business. I'm pretty sure I'll soon have enough frequent flyer points to get me to the moon and back, possibly in a private spaceship. 

Arriving back in Bangkok last week the weather was it's usually steamy, sultry self. I find it hard to believe that our Thai summer is now officially over and hooray for this as I'm definitely not my best in these conditions. Five minutes of waiting outside for the car to arrive and I'm a puddle of a mess. Humidity is not my friend. Surprisingly Hong Kong was far less humid and all I can say is bring on the Bangkok rains which are supposed to lower the temperature... Oh, and my upcoming trip to the UK. This should sort out my desire for some cool reprieve. Bring it on.

Despite the 'oh no, I'm back in this heat', it was good to be home. Stepping back in our own apartment, I was greeted by some very exciting post from America, Canada and Australia. It was doubly exciting as I had never received any overseas mail!  


A little while ago I had participated in the Stephanie's Tea Cup and Mug Exchange and Andrea from My Everything Corner was kindly up for the challenge of sending a parcel into Thailand. Bless her, this was no easy task as Thailand post has many prohibited items, including tea! Wow, I was so impressed that Andrea's coordinated efforts of both the Canadian and Thailand Post Offices had resulted in one pristine parcel waiting for my attention.

It was like Christmas opening the beautiful package, starting with the beautiful hand written note and delving deep into the layer-upon-layer of turquoise tissue paper to find the treasures below. Oh gosh Andrea, your generosity was so touching. 

First of all, there was a pretty box containing a porcelain mug, with the words 'Namaste in Bed Today.' Isn't it gorgeous and perfect for my new life where I am trying to become Zen Wren? In fact, a 'stay in bed day' would be perfect! 


I wish you could smell the amazing scent that was everywhere as I'm rummaging through the box,  the next opening was what Andrea describes as her favourite soap, the rosewater aroma fills the room.

I open a long, thin box containing pretty pink beaded silver necklace, which I later find out Andrea has made herself! How special is that? The thought of all the effort that Andrea has gone to, sending a perfect stranger this present on the other side of the world leaves me feeling pretty amazed. There is a matching smaller box with a cute silver leaf broach. 

Everything I open is a 'wow, look at that!' moment. This was my first participation in Stephanie's Tea Cup and Mug Exchange and I had no idea what to expect. You can check out what I had sent to Lily in Malaysia, and the other exchanges here

Thank you, Andrea, for your kindness and also a massive thank you to Stephanie, who careful plans this event. You are both some amazing women and I feel very grateful that the blogging world has brought us together in this way.

Namaste!

Linking with thanks to all at Our World Tuesday
and Maggie at Mosaic Monday 



Monday, 8 May 2017

Alms Giving - Luang Prabang, Laos




As it's Sunday, I thought I would share photos from the 

Buddhist alms giving ceremony that we participated in this week in the 

UNESCO World heritage city of Luang Prabang.




Laos is an amazing holiday destination and we frequently asked ourselves
why it has taken us so long to get here? 


1. Laos is Authentic: it's real, it's raw. It's is one of the world's least developed countries where you appreciate the simple pleasures, whether it is a stunning landscape or walking through streets and villages where time seems to have stopped still.

We were invited to take part in the alms giving ceremony by our hotel the Sofitel in Luang Prabang, who every day at dawn provides food for the monks outside their sister hotel the 3 Nagas.

Having witnessed the schmozzle of badly behaved tourists at Mandalay in Myanmar last year, I was a bit nervous about the cultural appropriateness of this. This had degenerated into a weird push and shove and some very unspiritual words being exchanged.

Luang Prabang was very different possibly because we are in low season and tourist numbers are low. But it felt genuine.

We got up at 5 am to hand out hot steamy, sticky rice to around 200 monks. The hotel briefs us about what to expect, how to behave and help us dress in a silk sash, the women and men wearing them on opposite sides. Custom dictates that women must be appropriately and respectfully dressed, must kneel and must not make eye contact with the monks. 

A quick peek at the saffron robes however and you can't help but notice how young some monks were. Speaking to our various tour Lao tour guides they all credit their excellent English to their studies during time spent at the Monasteries.

Our 3 Nagas hotel provided the rice for our offering, they have one of the best restaurants in town. The monks seemed appreciative of the culinary excellence and rice donation. It felt very special to take part in this colourful ceremony.

2. Laos felt undiscovered. Where is everyone? Granted we were there in low season, it's stinking hot, too hot and humid to even sit by a swimming pool some days. But it's a long time since we've had the pleasure to have a country virtually to ourselves. We've hardly seen other tourists and we've enjoyed private dining in some restaurants. We felt quite the intrepid explorers!

3. Laos is unspoilt: We did not have people hassling us to buy things or trying to rip us off by overcharging us for a taxi or tuk-tuks. You travel on bumpy roads and in shaky boats along the Mekong. You can stop at a roadside market and see no end of weird and not so wonderful things for sale. We spotted a dead squirrel wrapped in a banana leaf, and a deep-fried mother mongoose and her pups flattened on skewers. It's confronting, yet it's a life that has not been sanitised for the tourists.

4. Lao people are warm, kind and slightly shy people who seem genuinely pleased to see you. One of the best bits has been talking with the locals. Those whose English is good, all have a story to tell. In a communist country with rudimentary education, they speak warmly of their sponsors and benefactors who have donated either their time or money to provide an education. 

5. Lao offers a diversity of landscapes, people and wildlife. We have enjoyed the temples, the mountains, tubing and kayaking on the rivers, caving and finding many Buddha's hidden deep in the earth away. We have hiked up hills and biked to Blue lagoons, or cruising on the Mekong. We have seen water buffalo, and elephants bathing, kids brushing their teeth in murky waters, we've braked for cows on roads and been greeted by village kids, dogs, goats, chickens and piglets as we've hiked into remote villages. We have witnessed extreme poverty and seen opulence and eaten at wonderful restaurants.

There is something for everyone in Laos and everyone loves Laos!

Linking with thanks to Darren at Photalife
and Tricky and Carly at FAST for Five On Friday - thanks for hosting!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Anzac Day: Lest we forget

Today Australian and New Zealand communities all
over the world join together for ANZAC Day.

In 2015 we joined the ANZAC DAY dawn service at Kranji War Cemetery.
Two years later to the day we find ourselves back in Singapore.
Today is a work day and not a holiday here
so I am reposting as I join in saying
'Lest we forget'


Our service was held at the Kranji War Memorial Cemetery, Singapore,
 hosted by the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners.

We weren't alone, we left our hotel at 5.30am,
 and arrive in a steady convoy of taxis, 
it's way too early for the trains!

We walk in silence.

The 4,500 gravestones at Kranji, 
emerge from the shadows
in silent observation of events.


Once there, it is a well organised, dignified affair.
Public to the left and right,
official guests and dignitaries, straight up the middle.

The Anzac Day dawn service is the same the world over;
a military order, school children and scouts,
national anthems, wreath layers from all walks of life
and usually a slightly dodgy bugler or bagpipe players,
and despite the former, a haunting last post.
Followed by an uplifting Gunfire Breakfast.


We love the familiarity.
Even though we are new Australian citizens,
the ANZAC dawn service is now something we do!

Last year Hong Kong, this year Singapore,
I whisper to my husband
'Let's make sure 2016 is somewhere good too!'

We know our service here in Singapore 
will mirror services already held in Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland. 
The same words will be spoken for the 10,000 people 
who have made the journey over to Gallipoli, Turkey
in this the centenary year.


By 5.45 am it is standing room only.
No-one complains.
 A warm, muggy Singapore day breaks,
Whilst the School choir launch into 'Always Remember', 
the birds chirp their own loud dawn chorus from in the trees.
Swifts stretch their wings,
swooping and diving as if excited to see us.


So what is this day that we are celebrating 
and why do we celebrate 
what the BBC describes as a military disaster?!

Anzac Day is one of those days that our friends from far off lands 
often know very little about. 
But for Aussies and Kiwis it is an important 
national day of remembrance, 
a day in which the ANZAC spirit was forged.


ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day 
is the anniversary of the landing of troops from Australia and New Zealand 
on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, in World War I on April 25, 1915. 
The bravery of all military personnel who participated in this campaign 
and the lives of those who died in all military actions are remembered.

ANZAC day is celebrated Australia-wide,
we even get a day's holiday in Victoria,
provided April 25th does not fall on a weekend.



We stand side by side with war veterans, 
with current servicemen and women,
with families remembering their lost ones
Parents take their children to learn, to experience,
to join an important commemoration from the Homeland.
Not to be missed.


We all reflect on the tragedy, 
the sacrifice and waste of war.
This seems particularly poignant in 2015,
the centenary of Anzac Day.


Away from all the action as the chairs are being tidied away
a small gecko suns himself on the top of a tombstone.
He carries his own war wound, his tail damaged.

I sit with him and wonder if the world is learning.
In recent days, 
we see news headlines of an alleged terrorist plot to attack 
Anzac Day proceedings in my home city, Melbourne.

Our Premier Daniel Andrews urged Victorians
to join in the ANZAC Dawn Services.
To commemorate ANZAC Day and sacrifices made,
 so that we can live a free life.


We listened, we turned out in record numbers this year across the globe.
We pay tribute to all those who have served.
Lest we forget

If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy Anzac Day 2014 in Hong Kong




What do we remember on Anzac Day?
This is a potential question on the Australian citizenship test
  • A) The landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove
  • B) The arrival of the first free settlers from Great Britain
  • C) The landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli, Turkey
Answer: C)