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.

Here is Huan Hin reflections

In the luxurious resort called the Boathouse, we are spending the first day lazily reading, meandering along the criss-cross of pools that lead to the sea. A superb labyrinth of immaculately maintained crystal clear pools. Each house on the property has a ramp that unfolds into the pool. Impeccably blue, beautifully kept gardens sprinkled with coconut trees, palms, local trees offering colours, scents and a touch of Japanese influence. A delight to the eyes and the senses. At the end of the myriads of pools lay an infinity pool made of salt water. Warm, inviting and a view onto the ocean where the waves rhythmically break onto the small stone wall separating the pool from the sea. Idyllic indeed. All created for total well being and relaxation and big wallets.

We have been very fortunate to come here. A friend invited us to use her flat in this lovely setting. How could we refuse? The days so far have been spent just reading, eating, talking, exploring the local eateries, breathing the fresh sea air… A real change from the farm and all that it entails. Thanks to Tum!

In the end, walking around the luxurious condo, admiring the beauty of it all there is a feeling of “so what”? Doing it once or twice is fine, but the thought of doing it every day could become very quickly not only boring but sterile, even futile. One is sheltered from the outside word like in a cocoon. Yes, the blue limpid waters of the labyrinth pools are magnificent. At first there is certainly astonishment, awe, admiration in front of this super architecture, this feast of engineering and implementation. Somehow I feel a little out of my league in there.

But one thing is sure for a holiday it is just fine. Living here on an everyday basis ( the thought has crossed our mind) is definitely not our cup of tea. If everything is done for you what have you got left to do? Gossiping, spending money in shopping complexes, pedicure, manicure, hairdresser, massage, dancing, drinking, dinner parties and cocktails at someone’s place and endless chatter about nothing. Not my dream living. I would be missing the gardens, the cows, the animals and the mountains.

Everyday we taxied to Huahin to eat. So far, we discovered a great family restaurant called Deya Deli and we had the most lovely home cooking for quite a while. In between showers we get to visit the local supermarket and get a few provisions for dinner.

Deya Deli, was really nice but the waiter was too overbearing. Could not stop talking and his laugh sounded so fake with his contorted lips and and white teeth that he seems just out of a comic Thai film or some canned laughter from a sitcom. Jamie was relentless…that is what his mum called him. With is posh English accent and his perfect Thai he came straight out of boarding school into the restaurant business…not quite but almost. Spoke too much and invaded our little corner with his views of the world. Nice for a little while to exchange points of views, but he did no know where to withdraw gracefully and let us eat.

But the one thing that bothers me in this trip is the boredom. The boredom of seeing the world. It seems that I am not interested in visiting places, admiring temples, checking museums for the latest painting or work of arts, meandering down Oxford St, Sukumvit, Rue de Rivoli or the newer streets of Huahin to witness the same brand names, the same shops, the same opulence and affluence.

Down the streets of HuaHin the myriads of little shops selling the same colourful plasticky items made in China and the open drains filled with blue, yellow and white plastic bags. The cars with tinted windows splashing rain water onto the pedestrians and the little pavements full of misplaced tiles or holes. Traffic jams, clogged streets, fumes spurting out of buses, horns from impatient drivers, helicopters hovering over the town every 10 minutes, aeroplanes landing in the nearby airport, scooters two or three abreast at times race about with exhaust opened. I have a sense of deja vu. The layout of the town, the people, the smell, the buildings, I find myself in Phnom Penh. I know some of you will say: ” no way” – that does not resemble Cambodia at all. On the outer it does, but it is a fact that Khmer people are much poorer than Thais.There is not as much misery here as I have seen in my 5 years in Phnom Penh. That was many moons ago…some 15 years. But according to some friends still living there, poverty prevails at an alarming rate. I have not seen this in Thailand. But that is out a little out of my sphere right now.

One thing is certain is that in my experience the Thais that we have encountered are just lovely and easy to be with. Quite a contrast with the Vietnamese where one could feel the harshness that they have endured over the years of wars and occupation. Thailand has never been occupy by a foreign country for long. Except in the last World war briefly by the Japanese.

Where does this leads me in terms of my own feeling in these travels? Seeing family, yes always wonderful to be with them all. Sharing thoughts, food, excursions and some precious moment together. That is definitely a big plus. And that is what we have done.

But I am not any more into sightseeing. I think we we do not have the stamina anymore. And the thing that is really hard on us is the food. So many temptations, yes yummy! But after a while we just crave some simple food. Tired of French food, or English pub food or Thai curries and soups full of MSG. Home food is best and that is what we looking for right now. I think that we are ready to go home now after all this ranting.
Till next time.

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Off we go

In anticipation for our long trip again, we are preparing like crazy. We found a good house sitter for the time we will be away,  to look after all our animals. This is the hardest part. So many things to think about and to put in place. It is so exciting and at the same time a flory of preparations.

The cows and their calves have found a new home with our next door neighbour who will take them with his herd. That is so nice of him to do so.  He will also put our cows in calf so that when we get back they will be ready to deliver the next set of babies.

Our dog has familiarised herself with her new keeper last week as she came to have lunch with us and get acquainted with everyone. The chickens are going to miss out on all the goodies that they are being served everyday. Bits of meat and left overs. Our house sitter is vegetarian, so not being bits left for them. But I am sure they will be well. I stocked up on grains for them and bought packs of dog food for our scavenging insatiable labrador. She will also be missing out on treats from time to time.

The vegie garden will have also to be looked after. But being winter here, not a great deal needs to be done. I have already planted some peas and lettuces, beans, broccoli. But Magalie will enjoy all these treats as well as all the citrus that are producing abundantly this year.

The car papers have been put in place and all insurances paid. All would have been out of registration by then. Money has been transfered to Europe and suitcases are almost done.

Then, there are all the instructions of what to do in the house. A big list is being compiled with further do’s and don’t.

Gosh! I hope I have not forgotten anything. Presents for the family are packed. Everyone had a special request. Sulma wanted some house items and tea tree oil and not to forget Vita Weats, his special crackers. In Bangkok, tho everything can be obtained some are obviously not there. Always a pleasure to do so. Jaime, will get some local coffee and maybe home made marmalade. Oh! and all the grog duty free for the others. Gee! what else?

Then, a very good friend will be taking us to the airport and some other friends will be picking us up. The airport is so far away and there is no public transport to Brisbane. It is so lucky  that we live in such fabulous community.

Our trip will take us to Bangkok, London, France and back the same way we came from. It is also very convenient that our boys are well placed. One in Thailand and the other in London, while the rest of our friends and relatives will be in South of France.

The excitement is palpable. Everyday we wonder what is that we have forgotten to pack, to write down or to mention. But even if we did, it will be too late. In the anticipation of going we have forgotten twice to roll the rubbish bins onto the road and we had to take it to the tip…a real chore. This morning early, around 5am, I hear the recycling truck roaring down the road…warm in bed I did not feel like getting up. But just a little later  around 7AM, another one passed and Peter jumped out of bed, got dressed in a hurry and ran down the drive at full speed dragging the bin. OOPS! too late, we missed it says he as he got back up puffing. I know I said. You did not run fast enough, outraged…what? I did, but too late. The neighbour told him that second truck was the rubbish truck, the recycling went by at 5AM. Haha! that was the one I did not feel like getting up for and tried to chase it down the drive….gosh 100m in the freezing cold, no way. So I chuckled. Not for me. As I had to take the car for a check up, I took a plastic bag and filled it with some recycling stuff and dumped it in the village….not on the road you may have thought…but in the bins for recycling. So at least some of it got disposed of.

That is what happens when your brain does not work in the usual way. Distraction from the routines and too much feverishness about the trip make you forget the most mundane chores. Anyway, not a big deal after all.

I just hope that everything is in place and even then if they are not, we’ll have to take as it is. Just hope that the dog won’t get too fat, the fish won’t be forgotten and the chickens will go on laying even without all the goodies that Peter provides them every day. The cows will be happy on Ron’s paddock with his herd.

Fish pond

Maybe if I feel so inclined I might write a little when we are away.

Till next time.