Back Home at last!

After 6 weeks away wandering in Thailand, London and Paris we are back on the land and in the swing of things… and loving it. Mind you the times spent with the family were of course the best moments. I won’t go into details the fabulous food we had in London and Paris with J and G. Bangkok is in itself an exploration into some great restaurants that we thoroughly savoured with Tum and Sulma.

Towards the end of our stay in Thailand in spite of the lovely time with the family and being treated to spend some time in a superb resort by Tum, we had enough of Bangkok. We felt more assailed, besieged by the publicity everywhere. On the sky train for instance they have now erected huge televisions set on both side of the quays that blast add loudly. There is not a square inch of the train itself that is not plastered with adds and even smaller screens that do not give you a minute of respite. Even the announcement of the next station is overpowered by them. Not a minute a silence and the streets are even worse. Every wall, every post, every billboard invades you and wherever you happen to cast your eyes you are being reminded to buy this products or that. You are being reminded to look like this model, use this face whitening cream to resemble a westerner.  The cacophony of cars and the endless traffic jams was reaching saturation point. Enough of that! Let me go home now to the serenity of the land, to the songs of the birds, the bellowing of the cows and the sounds of water as it splashes in the ponds, the crowing of the rooster and the site of the newly established swamp hens in the large dam below.

As we approached the road and the farm, the air so crisp and fresh hit our nostrils and lungs. It felt invigorating. In the middle of winter that is what one would expect. Fortifying and biting. Another layer of clothes is definitely warranted during the chilly nights.The land was dry and almost brown.  The grass was very low. It is usually low in winter but this time there was nothing growing. Given the fact that the rain was scarce this summer there was very little growth that could be sustained in the leaner months of winter. The cows looked scrawny so I hurried to give them some good lucerne/hay. The one they love most. That was my first task. I took the wheelbarrow and filled with the good hay. They bellowed and I took off the electric fence and fed them. They chomped through it in no time at all. I reminded myself to give them some decent feed everyday. They need it!

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Scrawny cows

Magali and Mereki came to pick us up at the station after a sleepless night on the plane from Bangkok. What a treat to be so welcomed. She had prepared a succulent lasagna, cleaned the house and everything looked so spick and span. What a delight to be home. Elsi the dog was beside herself. It was hard to know if she was wagging her tail or her tail was wagging her whole plump body. Fripouille,  the cat looked scared and bewildered at first scampering away at the site of the car with people in it, but upon hearing my voice  he darted toward me rubbing himself against my leg and I am sure I could hear him purr.

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Fripouille

After finally a good night sleep in your own bed away from the noise and chaos of the cities, I wondered in the vegetable garden and was surprised to see so many goodies still growing. Heaps of cabbages, lettuces, carrots, peas, leeks, fennel, and sweet potatoes and much more. I hardly  bought any vegetable since we got back. What a treat! Fresh salads from the garden. roasted sweet potatoes, and I even made some Kimchi with the daikon (white radish) carrots, cabbage, ginger and turmeric and chillies, yes all from the garden!

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Sweet Potatoes and Fennel

I decided to spend some time redoing the garden beds and already I am weeding and cleaning. Out of  the 8 beds that we use I replanted the leeks and the carrots in two new ones and carried on weeding the others. What a lovely task to be in contact with the earth and the mild winter sun!

Sulma and Tum came 5 days after us from Bangkok and are spending 10days enjoying the calm and the fresh air of the countryside. Lots of good cooking and sharing some good wines and company as usual. Magali treated us to some of her delicious crepes last night and a good yarn. Mereki found a good playmate in Sulma that evening and could not believe his luck. The dishes were done and the kitchen tidied ready for the next day’s feast…..which will be lamb cutlets with fresh garden peas.

Till next time.

PS: 2 photos courtesy of Sulma. Cows and cat.

In London

In London

Heathrow airport must be the most antiquated international airport I have ever been to. Shabby, lack of character, gloomy, very complicated to get around, lifts, escalators with heavy suitcases, lack of clear signs, a car park that is old and where gusty freezing winds hit you in the face with gale force.
In other words the arrival was rather cold. And the next few days even colder with a biting freezing wind.

But after a long drive through London, with a weird taxi driver who somehow was devoid of common knowledge, we finally have been received by our son and his wife. Champagne flowed and we stayed up quite late chatting and catching up.

Next day was a trip to Oxford trip with J. We hoped we could jumpmimto the thick of this megapolis full of energy. Full of people and tourists doing the shops. All seemed fine to start with, but all of a sudden a tremendous fatigue overcomes us and we were just dragging our feet everywhere. A short lunch at Marks and Spencer which was very tasty. The English have come a long way since the days where their food were ranked the worse in Europe. Today they have beaten all the dire comments about English cooking. The best of everything could be purchased at a very reasonable price and even cheaper than in Australia for similar quality. Superb sour dough bread and pastries, fine meats and vegetables, superb cheeses and fruits. And most of it was organic and sourced from small farms. We were truly impressed. A real renaissance of quality.

The afternoon went by quickly. Coffees, cakes, teas at Carlucci’s was a little overpriced but not bad at all.

A short supper in a Japanese restaurant was not too hot. Ordinary food, not too exiting, but one could say correct for the money. Noodles, homemade in a miso soup plus a few Gyoza. Nothing to rave about. Though it was Japanese restaurant there was not a single Japanese cook nor a single Japanese person in there.

Then, J and G, treated us to a live concert of contemporary music at Otto’s Cafe. French avant garde musician Pierre Bastien, he was a real magician. A set up of mecano driven by rubber bands, strings, papers, screws and bolts. Each function was producing a sound that blended together forming a real concert of original music. The backdrop was a screen where some old faint music representing choirs, blues and even the Russian Army choir all mixed with the tones of the ever grinding mecano strings. A feast of ingenuity. I am sure you can find him on You Tube?

By then my eyes closed readily and I was just falling off my chair. Exhausted! Yes, not slept for 24 h. Just off the plane from Bangkok and within a few hours we were catapulted into Oxford St, Soho, and Selfridges. A marathon! Then around midnight we took the train back home where we collapsed in a heap in the arms of Morpheus contented to be at last horizontal.

Public transport is so tiring when you have been living in a small village for a few years. Walking, running, catching overground trains, underground trains, suburban trains plus the interminable long connections between stations. What a contrast! something I have forgotten, and happy to have done so …Long stretches of escalators and hundreds of metres of walking to get from place to the other…a seat on a train if you were lucky! Gosh, we are getting old. But what a pleasant surprise to find Londoners so civil and gracious and so courteous!

Everyone is connected to an ear plug with long wires hanging into the pockets or a bag talking on their mobile, reading their tablets, their Ipad or their Kindle. They walk talking, waiting for the next call or fiddling around with their gadget. Glued to the screen, hypnotised,checking their phone every minute or less. Have I missed a call? Have I not heard it ringing. Would I play another game between two stations? The world of mobile phone is a world of pseudo connection. We have become obsessed with them. We are lost without them. The new drug. Worse than cigarette or cocaine. We are scared of loosing something hey! Or missing a message on Facebook!
I have forgotten what it takes to live in a big city.

What a bunch of funny humans we are! And sometimes not funny at all!

Till next time!

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On the plane to London

Reflections On the plane to London

Half way across the world…on a huge half empty Boing 747…Bangkok is far behind. The Emporium just a dream as well as Robinson’s and Paragon. These huge shopping complexes are very attractive, but are totally devoid of charm and character or warmth. Consuming is the only motto among “nice things” to look at, all pointing to elegance, money, class, envy, a bargain, an attraction that is irresistible. We are drawn to it like bees to flowers. Something is calling us to be there, to get there, to meander from shop to shop aimlessly in search of ? That is the question? What is it that we are looking for?

A state of mind drawn to desire and satisfaction in order to avoid maybe that void inside us, that emptiness that make us look for the elusive dream of belonging to that category of people that is privileged enough to spend as they please. To emulate this can be a trap of course. But before we go into that, the question we need to ask is why this emptiness exist and why are we running away from it?

What we call emptiness can be the gap that exists, happens, or manifest itself when the mind is in a state of complete rest. But there is one problem with this, the mind does not know emptiness, the mind does not know that void, hence the search to fill this gap that it haunts its thoughts. It fears it for its existence depends not on the emptiness but on being distracted from it. Having emptiness equates not being. Should it be the other way around? We fear being…not nice. Of course, i will not say that we have to be alone. We are social creatures and it is normal to be with people. That is not the aim of what I am saying at all. It is important to just see for the sake of seeing how we search for comfort externally instead of inwardly.

We are running away from this for one reason or may be many reasons. First, there is the fear of being nothing. That void is not comforting at all, we need to fill it with millions of distractions….shopping malls do the trick…for the sake of what I am talking about now, our eyes are for ever inundated with images of consumption for a perfect world. Hence like zombies we frequent them attracted to an elusive dream. Anything wrong you may ask? No, nothing. Just keep shopping if that’s what you like.

After coffees, cakes, cinema, shopping for bread and milk and lunch all under one roof, the perfect consumer, we gasp at the hot and humid air of the streets of Bangkok. Assailed by the smell of cooking oil, sautéed noodles, mangoes, fish on flames getting crisp, little tables along the pavement where men and women sit on these plastic chair enjoying their favourite food. But what is amazing is the constant flow of old decrepit buses, bikes, coloured taxis, luxurious cars and not so luxurious beeping their horns, belching smokes at times and roaring as they eat. I guess, fumes and food can be a great combinations. Normal way of life up here .