22 December 2012

A time to ponder

This time of year is a time to celebrate - but also a time to step back, look over the past year and those beyond it, and reflect on where we are now.

Just this afternoon, two of my friends have blogged within just minutes of each other.  One celebrating her year, so full of fun and friendship, travel and tantalising tastes, that she says she has been too busy to blog about them.  Another looking back at Christmasses past, spent with a loved one who is no longer with her in person, but clearly still very much in her heart and her mind.

Two very different blogs, two very different people, yet both have been important people in my life. 

This afternoon, they have both made me realise that this is the perfect time of year for remembering all those people who are or have been important to me.  All those who have helped shape the person I am now.  All those who have been there for me when I needed them.  All those who have contributed to my huge stash of happy memories - so many good times to look back on, from so many eras.  And all those who love me for who I am.  You know who you are.

For all of you - friends and family, past and present, I wish you the very best of Christmasses and a wonderful 2013, together with a huge thank you for being part of my life.

(And just in case you're getting worried, don't - the soppy phase will pass pretty soon, and I'll be back to my usual stiff-upper-lip British self!)

3 November 2012

"The Best Thing I've Ever Done!"

... that was Caitie's verdict on parasailing, shortly after she took to the skies under a rainbow-coloured sail for the first time.

We had gone to Penang - an island just off the north west coast of Malaysia, connected to the mainland by an impressively long bridge - and were staying at a fantastic beach resort at Batu Ferrenghi.  Which I can't help think sounds like a place from Star Trek DS9, but apparently it means foreigner's rock.

From our room we had a wonderful view of the sea, and the many colourful parasails, and it wasn't long before Caitie was asking if she could have a go.  

Alex agreed to go with her, and off they went!  They were harnessed up and clipped to the parasail, the parasail was connected to the speedboat, and within seconds of being told to run along the beach, they were airborne.

   They were in the air for five minutes or so before landing, in a slightly undignified manner, back on the beach. 

Both absolutely loved it, so much so that they went again the next day.

More from Penang in future posts :) 

21 October 2012

Monkeys, octopus attacks and a disturbing lack of bars....

Our decision to go to Ipoh was a last-minute one, spurred on by a public holiday weekend and a total lack of availability for accommodation in any of the more appealing places nearby.  In hindsight, perhaps we should have been warned by the various comments of "Ipoh?  What do you want to go there for?", and "There's nothing there!".  But we thought that as one of Malaysia's state capitals, surely there had to be something there that was worth looking at, and so we set off bright and early one Saturday morning.

By a stroke of good fortune (the only one we had that weekend!), we managed to drive in on the road that goes past the stunning limestone cliffs, some of which had temples built into the side of them.  These were really quite impressive.  Some temples seemed to be so organically entwined with the cliffs that it was almost as if it were the temples that were there first, and the cliffs had formed around them.

And of course there were the ubiquitous monkeys, fighting, lazing around, grooming each other, and looking for any opportunity to pinch some food from somewhere or someone.

We drove on and into the centre of Ipoh, checking into our hotel which, weirdly, was spread across four different blocks with a small back-street crossroads between them.  It was nothing special, but the rooms were a decent size and it was clean.

And so, a walk around Ipoh.  Well, we walked and we walked, thinking all the time that surely we must be missing something.  Had we skirted around the city centre without realising it?  Had we headed in the wrong direction?  Were the main attractions hiding just a block or two away?  No - none of those, we were in exactly the right place.  It's just that everyone had been right, there was nothing there!  A few run-of-the-mill shops were open, but many buildings had metal shutters covering their frontage.  Some may have been closed for the weekend, but some were clearly vacant.  And then there were those that obviously hadn't been occupied for some time.

We eventually stumbled upon the Tourist Information Centre, and went in, still feeling relatively optimistic that there might be something of interest to see.  But no.  We were given a couple of leaflets detailing the heritage of Ipoh, and pointing out the historic sites.  A good few of which we had been past, and looked - well, not dis-similar from the building pictured above!  

We wandered back to the hotel, and Alex went for a massage.  Big mistake!  They used some sort of cup suction technique on him (but wrongly, as it turned out), and when he returned to the room he looked like he was the victim of some sort of giant octopus attack.  Big red circles all over his back (which took more than a week to disappear completely).  He was not happy, and so we decided to go and find a bar and have a beer.  Or two.  Or three.

Nope, no bars in Ipoh, except one that looked extremely seedy, and those in the hotels.

We ended up in the hotel restaurant, where at least the food was good, even though the choice of drink was Carlsberg, Carlsberg or Carlsberg.  Fortunately, we had found an open off licence on the way back, and so Alex made a mercy dash to the room to fetch the bottles we had bought.  Things seemed much better after a drink or two!

Until the music started at some event the hotel was hosting.  And carried on, very loudly, into the early hours.  To give you an idea of just how loud it was, we both had earplugs in (an amazing piece of foresight by Alex when he was packing), and yet the music (if you could call it that) was still keeping us awake.

Tired and fed up, we checked out at 6am, and drove home.

Not the best weekend away we've ever had, but at least we gave Ipoh a go.  And in the future, when people query why we might want to go somewhere and tell us there is nothing there, we will pay more attention to them!

8 October 2012

Out of Africa....

....and into Manchester!

Before I regale you with Will's adventures, a profuse apology for going AWOL.  Life just got in the way, as it so often does.  I'll try harder, if only for the benefit of my Mum who said somewhat plaintively last week that she keeps checking my blog for new posts but there aren't any.

So - bearing in mind that the information we receive has been somewhat thin on the ground, here's a brief resume of Will's summer.

Once his A levels were over, he headed off to Kenya for a month, with a team of 24 other students from his school plus some teachers.  While there they helped to build classrooms and the furniture to put in them, and did a lot of digging - something to do with environmental work if I remember correctly.  Which is perhaps an unfair summary of the hard work they did there, but I think it is a reasonably summary.  No doubt Will will comment and correct me if not!  

And they climbed Mount Kenya - poor Will was suffering from a decidedly dodgy stomach on the way up, and altitude-based breathing problems and chest pains on the way down, but he still made it to the top.  He clearly really enjoyed the trip - he has an altruistic outlook on life (except towards his immediate family!) and found the work to be physically demanding but very rewarding.

They also saw loads of African wildlife - elephants, giraffes, all the usual suspects - and enjoyed a couple of days off by the sea.

Here's Will slapping some varnish on some school desks (look at the drips and splashes and you'll see my choice of words is pretty accurate! )

On his travels:
At the top of Mount Kenya:
And, I think, once they got back down from the mountain:

Make the most of these photos, because the ones of the rest of his summer, while plastered all over Facebook, are not the sort of photos I want to share with my friends and family!

Suffice to say that once back in the UK, and with us back in Malaysia, he enjoyed his freedom.  He went to Reading Rock Festival, spent time with various friends including hitchiking from Cheltenham to Scotland and back (as you do!), and then on to Manchester University, where he is now studying medicine.  Freshers' Week there seems to have been one huge party, but he is now knuckling down to some serious studying.  (By the way, he did really well in his A levels - A* in physics, A in chemistry, biology and maths - very proud Mum :)  )

Coming up - why it's not really worth going to Ipoh in Malaysia unless you're particularly fond of derelict Chinese shop houses....

11 July 2012

Kampung Life

A couple of weeks ago, Caitie, Alex and I (sans Will, as he had gone on his month-long trip to Kenya) decided to check out the East coast of Malaysia, and so spent a couple of days at Tanjong Jara resort near Terengganu.

We had been planning to look around the nearest town while there, but Alex wasn't well and we were all tired after a couple of very busy weeks, so we just stayed put, lounged by the pool, ate, drank and slept.  

However, on our first day there we were lucky enough to experience the resort's version of kampung (village) life, put on to show guests some of the traditional pasttimes of Malaysia. 

As we approached the make-shift kampung, it was impossible to ignore the loud "thunks" of coconuts falling from the palm trees.  And equally impossible to try not to remember the old statistic about more people being killed by falling coconuts than by shark attacks.  Fortunately, it transpired that the coconuts were not falling randomly, but were being harvested by a monkey.

This is quite common in this part of the world, and there are monkey training schools which teach the monkeys how to do the job properly.

This particular monkey didn't look that happy - maybe it thought Saturday should have been its day off, though it was more likely that it wasn't keen on having a long chain around its neck.  Nevertheless, he did what he was supposed to, twisting the coconuts around until they became loose, and then dropping them to the ground, and was rewarded when he came down with some of the coconut milk. 

Then we tried out some of the traditional games.  I had a go at Congkak, a game of wit traditionally played by women.  Well, it might have been a game of wit had I known what the rules were!  

Alex headed a rattan ball in what looked like a local version of football, sepak raga ratus.  

And we all tried our hands, or rather our feet, at the tinikling dance, which apparently hails from the Phillipines.  It's a bit like skipping but with bamboo poles rather than a rope.  The poles are banged against two other poles, placed horizontally at the end, and moved together or apart with each rhythmic bang.  The rhythm gradually gets faster, and I imagine those taking part often get bruised ankles!  There are supposed to be set steps to this dance, but I only found this out in retrospect.

 All this, to the gentle accompaniment of a traditional percussion instrument, the idiofon.

And then onto the cocktail bar.....


4 July 2012

One year on....

On July 4 last year, Caitie, Will and I left the UK and flew to Malaysia to join Alex in Kuala Lumpur.  We stumbled, bleary-eyed after a long flight, into our new apartment and started the long process of settling in.

Everything seemed so new and so different, especially for the kids. 

It was hot, humid, the traffic was scary, the food was weird, the malls were huge, the poorer areas really were poor - certainly very different from life in Cheltenham.

We spent the first few weeks arranging our belongings how we wanted them.  Alex had unpacked everything before we arrived, but putting them where WE wanted them gave us the feeling of being just a little bit in control.  And we went out and about, exploring the malls and markets and trying to work out where to find everything we needed from familar food items and pharmaceuticals to new summer clothes.  We also had a week away, to a lovely tropical island resort just off the West coast - this photo was taken there, and is the first one of us all together in Malaysia.  

 Then September rolled around, and the kids started school.  Will seemed to settle in very quickly, Caitie took much longer.  I started going out and meeting people.  It felt a bit like dating - tentatively asking, or being asked, if you'd like to meet for coffee, and afterwards deciding if you'd like to see them again or if in fact you had little in common with them.  I did a Hello KL course with the Association of British Women - that was really good, a chance to see some places I might not otherwise have found, quite a few of which I still go back to regularly.

As the months whizzed by, life became more "normal" once again.  All those things that had seemed so strange when we first arrived were now part of everyday life, and hardly noticed any more.  

Now, a year on, I suppose KL has pretty much become home, or at least a second home.  Family and friends are still very much missed, and there have been some times when being so far away has been very hard.  It goes without saying that we are very much looking forward to seeing everyone in August, when we fly back to the UK for a couple of weeks.

The excitement of being here has worn off - that can only keep going for so long! And we do complain a bit more about some of the not-so-good aspects about Malaysia, such as the atrocious plumbing and the equally atrocious traffic.  

But it is still good to be here, and I don't think we have any regrets.  Coming here means we have seen and done things that we wouldn't otherwise have experienced - not all good, but mostly.  We live opposite a global icon (the Petronas Towers), in a truly multi-cultural community.  We've been on exotic holidays, made new friends, and I've also been able to enjoy making just a little bit of difference at the girls' home. I've still not got used to the almost complete lack of seasons though!  What month is it again?!

8 June 2012

A gorgeous sunset

It strikes me that, other than telling you all about our tsunami scare, I haven't shared much else about our holiday in Phuket in April - and it's June already!  

So, just a quick post today, to share with you one of the photos I took of the absolutely glorious sunsets.  This was taken from the hotel's beachside bar during happy hour (hic!).  It was wonderful to sit there sipping a cocktail or two, chatting, and watching the sun go down.  

29 May 2012

The best £25 I've ever spent

It's amazing just how much joy a relatively small amount of money can give to a small group of children.  A simple trip to a bird park, with lunch and an ice-cream thrown in, produced so many smiles, so much fun, joy and laughter - and lots of memories for us all to treasure.

As some of you know, I volunteer once a week at a local girls' home.  The girls there all have troubled backgrounds of one sort or another - some of their stories are absolutely heart-wrenching.  But the home offers them stability, love and caring, as well as encouraging them with their education and teaching them useful life skills.

We usually teach a small handful of girls for an hour or so each Monday morning, and then play games with them and do some crafting or cooking.  They love it - and so do we.

This week it is Malaysian school holidays, and so we decided to treat all the girls, including the ones who are usually at school when we are at the home, to a trip to Kuala Lumpur Bird Park.  

I wish I could share some of the photos with you so you could see their faces.  They were so excited from the moment we got there.  One of the older girls insisted on writing down all the birds' names so she could remember what they were called.  The youngest decided she was chief navigator, using the map on the leaflets we were handed to show me regularly where we were, where we had been and where we were going.  Another was fiercely focussed on seeing the flamingoes, as flamingoes feature in our weekly ABC phonics song.  Much fuss was made of the brilliantly coloured plumage, and the big owls and eagles were admired with awe.  Feeding the emus was a little scary because they snatched with their big beaks, and close their third eyelid, making them look very spooky - but still good fun, especially laughing at everyone's reactions.

Ice-creams were readily devoured - Cornettos were the clear choice of the day.  The playground was a hoot (pun intended!) - lots of slides and swings to play with, and a sharing of playground games such as rock paper scissors and hand-clapping songs.  Plus lots more laughter.

Even lunch, which was a very simple fried rice and chicken wing, was seen as a huge treat, with every morsel wolfed down. 

To finish on a high (not that we needed to, I think the whole morning had been one big high) we gave the girls ten ringgits each to spend in the gift shop.  What to buy - splurge the whole lot on a set of plastic binoculars, or eke it out with careful purchase of two or three cheaper items?  Both options proved popular.

It really was a fantastic day out.  The girls are so polite and well-behaved, and also so friendly and affectionate.  I barely had my hands free all the way round - they were being held tightly :)  They had such fun, and yet even though they had enjoyed themselves so much there was not so much as a whimper when it was time to go back - just goodbye hugs, and more smiles.

Definitely, without doubt, the best £25 I have ever spent :)

PS  - We're holding a charity coffee morning a week on Friday to raise funds for the home (they run on a very limited budget, and rely largely on one-off donations at Christmas and Chinese New Year to see them through the year).  I have been making greetings cards on an almost industrial scale, and hope to sell them all.  Plus we have a lady selling hand-made mini albums (all decorated, just add photos!) and another hand-made jewellery.  If any of my KL friends would like to come, let me know and I'll send you the details. 

29 April 2012

Interesting times

There is a phrase, often said to be a Chinese curse:  "May you live in interesting times."  And April has certainly been interesting in many respects, including some that you really wouldn't want to experience.

The month appeared to start well, with a trip to Phuket in the second week.  And while we did, on the whole, have a good holiday, it is fair to say that the tsunami scare while we were there wasn't quite my idea of a relaxing time.  It is easy now to look back and say well, at least it didn't happen and it wasn't that bad really.  But at the time it was frightening.  We had just arrived in Patong, planning to trawl the beachfront market stalls and shops before going to Simon Cabaret, a show largely notable for the transvestites and transexuals that are included in the global-themed musical pieces.  We were browsing in the first shop we came upon, and were asked to leave.  It wasn't hard to guess why, given that the owner had already expressed concern over feeling an earthquake a little earlier, and that everyone was very clearly heading for the hills - literally.  We walked - quickly! - for a while, eventually finding shelter on the first floor of a food market/mall, but although we may well have been safe there in the event of a tsunami, I still didn't feel safe, and so we went back into the throng, making our way through the back streets, and then up a muddy and slippy hillside to the top of what must have been a recently cleared and soon to be built on site.  There everyone looked out to sea regularly, told stories of where they had been - in one case, checking out of the hotel and about to fly back home - phoned home and checked the latest news on their phones.  An hour or so later, we went back down the hill to a largely deserted (other than the traffic that was still stuck on the road running along the back of the town) Patong.  This all sounds very calm and orderly, and to be fair there didn't seem to be any panic.  But I found it very frightening, and it was hard not to recall all the stories read about the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which killed so many people - and which hit Patong very hard.

Anyway, all was well that ended well, and although the holiday continued to have a watery theme (including the Thai New Year water festival and a huge downpour just as the celebratory al fresco buffet was starting), we did enjoy it.  And in case you're in danger of feeling that bit too sorry for us, here is a picture of the view from our room.

The day after we got home, we had another interesting day.  Alex wasn't feeling well to start with, and then shut the door over his toe.  He sat, in some pain, on the side of the bath, and I, being a good wife, started to put a plaster on his toe.  And then he fainted.  And cracked his head on the tiles behind him.  And knocked himself out.  For several minutes.  Really - not good.  Very scary - not for him, of course, but certainly for me and the kids!  We called an ambulance, and they took him off to hospital - at this point he was conscious again, but still clearly pretty dazed and unable to stand.  He was checked over, given a brain scan, and within an hour or so was declared well enough to go home.

Since then things have, fortunately, been somewhat less interesting!  Although Kuala Lumpur made it into the international news yesterday with a rally,  allegedly not a political one though held by the political opposition, calling for fair elections.  It started peacefully enough, but when the demonstrators broke through the barriers to Merdeka Square (where they had wanted to hold the rally but were banned from doing so, it being of historical importance), the police retaliated with tear gas and water cannons.  

Over 330 people were arrested, apparently, all released now, and the post mortems on the event have already begun, with the blame dependent on which newspaper you read.

So there you have it, a quick catch-up post.  Which will probably make better reading than the forthcoming "April in photos" post, because I have been really rather negligent with that this month - some days have photos, but a lot of them don't!  Maybe I'll do better next month....

1 April 2012

More of the little things of life

I did it - I managed to keep going with my photos for another month!  So, as promised, here they are - all those little day to day things that made up March 2012 for the Ford family.
Please note that you won't be able to see two of the images properly - I have started volunteering once a week at a children's home, and while I want to document this in my scrapbooks, I need to keep the details off my blog.

1.      An interesting challenge – no tap in the kitchen! Hope the plumber manages to find a new one and the time to fit it tomorrow.  (NB He didn’t, but he did the following day.)
2.      Hock Choon, our local supermarket.  The aisles are ridiculously narrow, but the food choice is excellent and the staff are very helpful.
3.      Caitie and Ella made candy floss!
4.      My new 70’s tv bag –images include Camberwick Green!
5.      KLCC mosque.  We can hear the five daily calls to prayer from our apartment.
6.      Parents’ evening. Caitie got excellent reports, and showed me a much faster way home! Smart girl!
7.      Wendy, looking very pleased with her new rice basher and idli pan that we found in Little India!
8.       Our new, very ethnic sideboard, delivered today.
9.      Alex was very chuffed to have found this horseshoe crab shell on the beach by the Golden Palms resort!
10.   Caitie on our balcony at Golden Palms, as the sun was setting.
11.   Alex chilling out before we hit the road back to Kuala Lumpur.  That evening, he flew to Delhi for a few days.
12.   My first photography club outing included Chow Kit market and Tatt Khalsa gurdwara. The Sikhs’ Holy Book, treated with great reverence, is under the cloth.
13.   My usual view of the school bus! We’re so lucky to have this service – without it I’d be spending around 3 hours on the school run each day!
14.   My bumper pack of scrapping goodies from Jennifer McGuire came today! A huge pile of papers, stamps, inks and embellishments – I think these stamps are my favourites.
15.   I had to wear this blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. Results were fine, BP a bit high, but nothing that a very low dose of meds won’t help J
16.   It was international day at school. Caitie painted the cross of St George on her nails!
17.   Alex made me a HUGE Pina Colada, served in a pineapple.
18.   Happy Henry, a cute little sock monster made for me by Caitie for Mother’s Day J
19.   I started volunteering at the girls’ home today.  Nice to be able to do something worthwhile.  I’ll be going every Monday.
20.   My small IKEA craft storage drawers are gradually being decorated. This is my favourite so far – Totoro, done by Caitie.
21.    Vegetarian Indian food for lunch, in Little India with Wendy and Noopur.
22.   The Formula 1 exhibit and sales points at the Suria mall were very popular.
23.   Alex just loved wearing this classy T-shirt to work today – not!
24.   Alex and I spent a pleasant, if hot, couple of hours at the Lake Gardens.
25.   I made more cards to sell at the school Spring Fair, to raise funds for the Kenya trip.
26.   Making cup cakes with the girls at the home – they loved it!
27.   Roast chicken for dinner last night.  Unfortunately, I had to get rid of these gross (and attached!) feet first.  Ewww!
28.   My collection of Opi nail varnishes!  Not quite as bad as it looks, as most of them are miniatures.
29.   One of the five rings I wear all the time.  This was my Nana’s, bought when she was little and the perfect fit for my little finger.  It has her initials on it – EB for Elsie Bottomley.
30.   A lovely (apart from the baby octopus!) Taiwanese lunch with Alex at the Suria mall.
31.   Alex’s huge new Lego Star Wars model, bought today at the Tropicana City Mall.  It will be about 4 feet long when complete.

13 March 2012

Dried fish and cow head for dinner, dear?

Food markets in Asia, it has to be said, are somewhat different from those in the UK.  Louder, messier and with a much higher yuck factor - a real assault on the senses.  Yesterday, as part of an outing with a photography club, I was at Chow Kit market, a traditional "wet" market.  (Wet as in the floor is wet, though you wouldn't want to know with what, and hopefully because it can also be hosed clean.)

 The usual and somewhat more unusual fruit and veg were there in abundance.  

As were dried fish.  Whole dried fish, tiny and much larger; bits of dried fish, huge slit-vertically-head-to-toe-from-the-belly-then-flattened-out fish.  There were a few very lively fish too, splashing about in pitifully shallow water, trying to ensure they got some cover.

Chickens were plentiful too.  Some with heads on, some without.  Virtually all with feet - after all, chicken's feet are quite the delicacy here. The most grim sights were those of the cow meat though - big chucks of anonymous looking beef, next to hairy hooves in buckets or on hooks.  And on one particularly aromatic stall, a row of cow heads. 

But in many ways, the market was also surprisingly similar to that in my home town of Leicester.  Cheery stall-holders presenting their wares as best they could (an interesting challenge in some cases!), and bantering with customers.  People hunting for fresh, cheap food to feed their families.  And, on the whole, an overall feeling of bon homie.  Of course, Leicester market might not be like that any more, but it's how I like to remember it! 

As for how I'd like to remember Chow Kit market, while the sight of the cows' heads will undoubtedly stay with me for a good while, I hope I remember the people there for much longer.  They were so friendly, asking where we were from, welcoming us to Malaysia, and volunteering either themselves or their workmates for photos.  The photo below, despite being out of focus, is my favourite for the sheer character and humour of the stall holder.

1 March 2012

Documenting the little things in life

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things."  Robert Brault.

Wise advice that is well worth following.  Sometimes, however, even us scrapbookers forget and focus instead of layouts about the big things - holidays, birthdays, Christmas, etc.  So when I found out about an iPhone app called Project 365, which reminds you to take a photo each day and handily composes them into one big round-up of the month, I decided to give it a go.  At first, I was still somewhat taken up with the idea that the little things were boring, but then realised that no, actually, they were just as important as the big things.  Looking back at the layouts I produce with this app will probably produce far more memories, conversation and laughter, than those showing a gorgeous beach somewhere.

And as I typed up the journaling notes from each day - for the stories behind the photos are just as important as the pictures themselves - it occured to me that the month's events would be worth sharing on here.  So here you are - the often small and insignificant things that have happened to us this month.  If you don't want to read about the excitement of our new kettle (!) or why I was so chuffed after going to the dentist, skip this post - maybe the next one will be about something bigger.  But if you'd like a snapshot into life in KL, read on.....

Oh, and although I am still enthusiastic about this project, and fully intending to keep it going all year, it might not happen that way.  I might be getting on with life and just enjoying the big and the little things without stopping to document them ;-)

1.      Alex with one of the 147 United Buddy Bears – the UK one of course! – outside the Pavilion mall.

2.      I’m trying to walk and/or run 5k five or six times a week as I need to shed a few pounds.  Listening to audio books helps to relieve the boredom – a little.

3.      A new kettle.  The old one was threatening to burst into flames this morning, the plug was smoking and melting!

4.      Dish upon dish of cooked meats – curries? – on sale in the market near Masjid Jamek today.  We thought it best not to indulge...

5.      Even on a holiday weekend Sunday, there is still – always! – masses of laundry to wash, dry, sort and put away.  Thank goodness I don’t have to iron it as well!

6.      A trip to KL Tower, including lunch in the revolving restaurant and a close encounter with a hair-eating parrot!

7.      Raffles Hotel, Singapore.  Lots of colonial types hanging out in the bar, and very good – and very expensive – Singapore Slings.  Hic!

8.       View from the riverside cafe in Singapore where we had our dinner.

9.      At the end of a day in Singapore packed with exhibitions, shopping and the night safari, some yummy milkshakes.

10.   Our plane, immediately after landing in KL from Singapore.

11.   Spending far too much time playing Jewel Quest at the moment!

12.   A scrappy day!  Two nostalgic, summery layouts :-)

13.   Will struggles to wake up without an early fix of Red Bull – his equivalent of a strong coffee!  Not easy to find in KL though, so if I ever spot a tray full I’ll snap it up!

14.   A long drive to Alice Smith School and back, with a dull parents’ meeting in between, turned a slight headache into a migraine :-(

15.   Searching for somewhere to go on holiday in the summer! (Note – we ended up deciding to wait till November.)

16.   “Super duper clean.  I am quite jealous lah!”  That was the dental nurse’s verdict on my teeth today, the dentist was also very complimentary.  That is the first time I have ever had someone say they were jealous of my teeth!

17.   Trying to get used to Will’s new haircut!

18.   The Maxis Annual Dinner, theme Fairy Tales.  Alex went as a knight and won second prize!  I went as an Indian princess.

19.   I’m cheating and using another photo from yesterday!  Alex on stage last night.

20.   My Fit Flops rarely leave my feet!  They are soooo comfy!

21.    A clean craft desk – a rare sight!  Only because Beth & Dave were coming to stay, and the craft room had to become the guest room!

22.   This tiny Batman (about 2” tall) gets hidden in all sorts of places by me and Will!  We take it in turns, the only rule is that he always has to be visible.  This new tradition started last year shortly before moving to KL, but I can’t remember why!

23.   Clearly the tube of superglue wasn’t entirely glue-free!

24.   Storms this afternoon.  It was really windy just before they hit!

25.   Eating in China Town with Alex, Beth and Dave.

26.   That third green light, for the internet, is very important in this household.  Unfortunately it was missing for most of the day.

27.   Beth and Dave at Batu Caves.

28.   Took Beth & Dave to Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary – they declared it the highlight of their trip!

29.   The first loaf from the new bread machine!  It was OK, but I need to tweak the recipe a bit.