Sunday, April 30, 2006

No city should be too large for a man to walk out of in a morning*

One of the things I find very hard to deal with in Manila is the almost total removal from nature and all things green…

As those of you who live in Hong Kong know…from almost any point on either the island or Kowloon it is fairly quick to get to the ‘country’….my last apartment in HKG was in Sheung Wan…within half an hour I could be up on The Peak with either a gentle hour’s stroll around the top or a number of other hikes which could take you either down to Aberdeen, to Pokfulam, into Central (actually that one’s less of a hike and more of a roll!) or along the back of HKG island…. My favourite walk was The Dragon’s Back. Hours and hours of hiking in the country… Even better of course if you live on Lantau; when I lived in DB every Sunday morning involved a two hour hike up the hills at the back of DB…just glorious; and that was from a starting point less than five minutes from my front door. When I tell people unfamiliar with HKG about the wonderful country parks and hiking, I am looked at in disbelief….HKG to the unfamiliar has only urban jungle and miles of concrete.

In Hong Kong, where almost 7 million people live in an area of little more than 1,000 km2 , some 40 percent of the land is in protected areas. This percentage is one of the highest in East Asia. Despite keen demand for land for other uses, Hong Kong has been able to maintain a large portion of its territory as well-protected areas. (complete article)

These parks incorporate hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails….the majority are easily (using public transport) and quickly accessible from the urban sprawl.Here in Manila…if you want to get out to the country it takes a few hours…and that’s with your own transportation…using public transport to do that is a little daunting, even for me! There are little pockets of green within the city of Manila, but these are not quite the same...and the Metro Manila authorities are not so good and protecting them. And to be totally honest, a stroll around a city park is just not the same as being out on a hiking trail...the size of Manila really prohibits having nature so close to everyone except those on the outskirts...if only it were easier to get to the country using public transport...

This weekend’s Financial Times carries an article about Hong Kong’s countryside.

The Hong Kong I love is the other one; the one that exists, almost unnoticed, alongside the first. This is the Hong Kong of uninhabited green hills, evening birdsong, giant spiders and five times as many varieties of butterfly as the whole of Britain.

This is not a natural wilderness untouched by man - the lakes are actually reservoirs built in the British colonial era - but by comparing the denuded hills of old photographs and the views now, you can see that the subtropical scrub and forest have recovered wonderfully since the days when wood was cut for fuel. (probably, due to continued tree planting)

I was nevertheless surprised to find that I could walk half way across the island, which has some of the most densely populated urban areas on earth, without meeting a single person. We have lived in Hong Kong for nearly three years and have not come close to walking all the trails in the territory, even in the limited space of Hong Kong Island itself.

The first walkers I encountered - I fancied they were discussing the merits of Filipina maids and tanned Australian tennis coaches - were expatriate wives from Parkview, the apartment complex made famous last year by the trial of Nancy Kissel, who drugged her husband, a Merrill Lynch banker, and clubbed him to death before rolling the body in a carpet and hiding it in a storeroom.

(reading that last paragraph one wonders if the writer had a bet on that he could tie in Nancy Kissel with an article on HKG’s nature!!!)

In case you still doubted the wonders of HKG’s countryside…here are 88 Natural Wonders of Hong Kong.

Now all Hong Kong needs is clean, fresh air in which to enjoy it all…

*Cyril Connolly


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Of Revenge and Rabbits...

What do you think of when you think of rabbits or bunnies.......

the average family pet...

Bunny girls (or the 'not average' family pet)...or this bunny girl!

and whilst we are on the subject (well sort of)....something a little more risque, courtesy of Mia!

The Easter bunny (sorry just had to get the cartoon in, laughed so much when I saw this over Easter!)

or this 'wascally wabbit'

or do you think of the bunny boiler of all bunny boilers...

Which leads me nicely to where I was actually going with this post....I do have a point and I am getting there...!


Apparently revenge is a dish best eaten cold...I wouldn't know I'm not really qualified to talk not being particularly good at taking revenge, I am a strong believer in the 'rise above it' school of thought...although if ever I need to or a friend needs to, I have a few dastardly plans up my sleeve....!! and as Hamlet said 'revenge should have no bounds' although I would qualify that with a few 'bounds'....!!

Revenge is normally something that happens when someone is wounded or frightened in whatever way....happening in the work place, between countries and more often than not between friends, family and lovers (sorry, that should probably be ex-friends and ex-lovers).

When I was a teenager, great was the intake of breath at the thought of using your recently 'ex'-boyfriend's phone to call Australia's speaking clock and leaving the phone off the hook, or that urban myth of sprinkling grass seeds in the carpet then gently watering it and then closing the front door behind you - this was only really effective if he was going to be away for some time and could return to a soft grassy carpet.

These days however with the internet and all the joys it holds...revenge can be a much stronger affair...and usually far more public....Back in June last year I posted this story about a wife who sold her husband's Lotus on ebay for 50p. Of course e-mail is a very useful tool...a well worded e-mail to a few choice people on what or who you know...could be very damaging. And here within the blogosphere, revenge could be equally easy...a few well chosen comments, unearthing someone's identity and exposing it to all or horror upon horrors...a photo...and probably not the nice one that you took the last time you went skiing when you were all wrapped up in your ski gear! Or (now only a woman could have thought of this!!) you can get your own url with your ex's nameis a; of course, if you are going to choose this have to be careful...

Of course, as well as being a useful tool in executing your revenge, the internet is a very useful tool for ideas...and if you are really stuck for could always ask Revenge Lady; she even has eleven rules - I think number seven is very true...always be creative! And for an entire site dedicated to revenge stories The Payback could be useful.

Alternatively, you don't need to do anything could just cast a spell or get a voodoo doll.

I would like to say that I don't really agree with any of the methods mentioned I said before I prefer to not sink to that level....however, when wounded, thinking of creative ways of revenge is one way to bring a bit of levity to the situation!

And the reason for this post....very simple...this post from Scorpy...the complete opposite of revenge....the ultimate in love....

But, boys, one last thing.....remember....'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'....!


I know I shouldn't...

But unfortunately it is now second nature for me to take the mickey out of the French….I just can’t help it….

From Dave Barry's 2005 round up....

In sports, Lance Armstrong rides down the Champs-Elysées, raising his arms in a triumphant gesture, which causes the French army to surrender instantly.
No, sorry; that was a cheap shot. One unit held out for nearly an hour.

Abroad, Western nations become increasingly suspicious that Iran is developing nuclear weapons when a giant mushroom cloud rises over the Iranian desert. The Iranian government quickly issues a statement explaining that the cloud was caused by, quote, ''mushrooms.'' As a precautionary measure, France surrenders anyway.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Scattered thoughts...

Thanks to Fred, one of my more ‘aware’ readers….we can put this article…with this news…and realize that male life expectancy levels in China could suddenly rise….

The Economist this week has a few articles on ‘New Media’…blogging is covered with ‘It’s the links, stupid’(Clinton’s election campaign line will be changed and used for many, many years to come!), the article tells us that according to Technorati a new blog is created every second, and they track on average 50,000 new posts an hour….60% of bloggers are female and under 21! One thing I notice in articles about blogging and bloggers…is that they always start with an explanation as to what they are and how the word came about. There are a lot of blogs around…but it still doesn’t seem to be main stream. On the subject of blogging, this link (via MLQ3) explains why for some people blogging has to stop..I have already sent the link to a few people I think it may be relevant to!

Also in the Economist this week a focus on the Democrats and whether they can start showing a united front and whether they can finally let America know what they are for and against…with Bush at a 30% approval rating, this would be the chance for the Democrats to possibly shine…. It all reminds me a bit of the state of the British Conservative party…. I liked the cover cartoon....

I like the way that the newspapers in the Philippines use a variety of illustrations for their front pages..

So Bush has named his new Press Secretary…..I can’t comment on the man himself (time will tell I guess!)…but I can comment on two things…firstly, I hope that Fox’s radio news show is not as awful as their TV news reporting…during the Iraq war my colleagues and I used to watch Fox for ‘entertainment’….we just couldn’t take them seriously. Secondly, watching Bush’s announcement…I can’t help feeling that the joke about ‘well he took the job anyway’ fell somewhat flat…

And finally....the other day at Starbucks I went to use the bathroom (or CR as they call it here) and as I perched on the toilet I looked straight ahead of me and saw this...

immediate panic set it as I though I was in the mens room..I have a habit of doing that! there have been many embarrassing incidents around the world involving me and men's was in HK at the Bishop Lei hotel where I came out of the cubicle and went over to where 'a person' was standing washing their was a man, he was using the urinal! I would like to point out that it is always by accident! seemed afterwards that it was a unisex toilet...but I have never got out of a toilet so quickly!!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

And yet again....

The Sinai peninsula is attacked.

It is now patently obvious that the Sinai peninsula is not as safe and secure as Egypt has maintained before and should be treated with the same caution as the rest of Egypt.


Monday, April 24, 2006

The Battle for Hong Kong...

Current reading is

the most incredible photo in the book is similar to this one...taken (I think) from the same aircraft as the one in the book...but at a slightly different time...taken 16th October 1944.

from the SCMP

It continues to amaze me how much the British government underestimated the Japanese threat to Hong Kong (and Singapore and elsewhere)...the forces defending Hong Kong from the Japanese didn't have a prayer...

Whenever I read about WWII in Hong Kong I can't help wonder what the Canadian forces felt, arriving in a totally foreign land with really no connection to them and no doubt pretty quickly realising the odds were against them. Probably a fairly similar feeling to the one the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli would have felt. 'For King and Country'.....

And this brief comment on the Japanese attack on Singapore...

'the first Japanese air raid on the installations was an instant success; everything was beautifully lit up because the man responsible for blacking out had gone off duty taking the key to the electricity power station with him.'


Things I didn't know yesterday...

One of the first designs that Norman Hartnell offered for the Queen's Coronation dress included a daffodil for Wales...instead of the real symbol for Wales...the leek..., in the end her dress sounds like a veritable flower bed

At Edward VII's coronation, they placed the crown on his head the wrong way round

Lorraine Bailey, the owner of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis TN, had a stroke and later died after seeing the shot Martin Luther King on the verandah outside his room...and died later the same day.


Laugh...I nearly choked...!

Sunday nights have suddenly picked up TV wise...from 10pm on Star TV they show two episodes of Coupling..possibly the funniest thing to come from the BBC for a long time! Unfortunately I lent all my DVDs of the series to someone and they still have not been I have to make do with the episodes on TV. Last night they showed one of my favourite episodes of the whole series...

Remember this

the first part when Patrick goes over to rescue Sally from the spider makes me laugh so hard...every time!...particularly that bit where she introduces Patrick to the guy in her bed....!!! Just classic...

If you've never watched Coupling...may I suggest you is seriously funny.

And a few quotes...

As Susan's best friend I am to you a bit like Australia: very distant, largely uninhabitable and with areas of great danger.

Let me explain, Patrick. Here on earth there is a gap between seeing someone you like and having sex with them, that we like to call conversation.

We are men. We are different. We have only one word for soap. We do not own candles. We have never seen anything of any value in a craft shop. We do not own magazines full of photographs of celebrities with their clothes on.

Well, you know what it’s like at the start, when they’re all fiery-eyed, and eager, and they haven’t seen you naked yet. And it’s like he’s smashing at your door with his mighty battering ram. And he’s promising to ravish you forever. So you brace yourself for man overload, and throw open the doors, and what do you find standing there? An oversized toddler who wants his dinner. And before you can say 'there’s been a terrible mistake', he’s snoring on your sofa, the fridge is full of empty bottles and the whole place smells of feet.

There are three things all men should know, and it’s time you did too. You’re never going to be famous, you’re fatter than you think, and most important of all, they don’t keep wearing stockings.

When man invented fire, he didn’t say, 'hey, let’s cook', he said, 'great, now we can see naked bottoms in the dark.'


I guess it's as good an excuse as any....

lifted from The English Guy


Sunday, April 23, 2006


Having decided to treat myself to two days off, I decided to splurge the first on on being a lazy today I spent the morning in bed, curled up with Chairman Mao and reading both my books on Imelda Marcos....both (The Untold story of Imelda Marcos and the Rise and Fall of Imelda Marcos) were interesting, however a tad on the 'worshipful' side! It does seem strange that she was so intent on hiding her poor origins and the circumstances in which she grew up - one can't help think that it would have brought her even more support from the Filipinos...and although nothing can excuse her behaviour, her origins do go someway to explaining her hoarding of money, jewels...and let's not forget the shoes! Anyway, this morning's reading has piqued my interest - if anyone knows of any other books that I may find of interest on the same subject...please let me know.

After crawling out of bed...I made it to the sofa where I decided to watch a DVD I bought on my last trip to HKG...the BBC's Days that Shook the World. I watched the first two episodes...the first covering the Coronation Day and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales; the second covering the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Hitler's last day. The stretch on the Coronation had one interesting comment...they showed Prince Charles being brought out to watch the Queen being crowned...the BBC commentator said "One day he may experience this..." Tonight I will treat myself to Concorde's first uncle was part of the design board for Concorde....she was a wonderful plane...

After gathering my thoughts I decided that the morning of sloth should be made up for by some time at the gym....two hours of classes later I decided the sloth had definitely been made up for....the only challeng with going to classes at my gym is that the room overlooks the flightpath into how distracting is that....I spent most of the time looking out the window...I will take my camera in one day and knock off a few pictures....

And so...another day off has ended....but the beauty of this one is that tomorrow I don't have to go to work, instead I can go fire off a few arrows, go for a swim and generally...potter!!


Cry God for Harry, England and St George!

Today is St. George's Day...the patron saint of England (and Palestine, Moscow, Aragon...and quite a few others!).

There is much written about St. George and his many adventures...of course the best known tale is that of him killing a dragon to stop a princess/fair damsel/girl being offered to the dragon as a sacrifice...

St. George...dragon slayer, martyr and subject of many beautiful paintings..





Saturday, April 22, 2006

Get your filthy mitts off me...!

Much is being made of Hu's eventful trip to DC to see Bush...the heckling, the announcement of the 'Republic of China's' national anthem, the sleeve grabbing....but the following is one of the best pictures I have seen...and it doesn't even involve the two guys!! How much Prozac does Mrs Bush take each day...and maybe, just maybe she could share it with China's First Lady...!

from here, via Imagethief, and more from ESWN


What's out there....

Darling Mama had her 80th birthday yesterday and apparently she ain't stopping anytime soon. In Hong Kong, the national anthem was not allowed to be played at the Cathedral service...could this be why all the Brits are leaving...maybe they hadn't heard that The China Club (of all places...!) would be playing 'God Save the Queen', in case anyone had missed it at the rugby sevens!

Very worrying, is the uncovering, the other day, of an Hamas arms store on Jordanian soil...varied thoughts from the press. If Hamas continues like this, it will have no friends left....knowing how the bush telegraph in Jordan works...there will be many, many conspiracy theories on this one....

I've been to Clarksdale, trust me, I can really see how this article is true...if ever a town had a right side and a wrong side of the railway tracks...Clarksdale is it...

This weekend is the Orthodox Church's Easter. In Jordan they celebrate the Orthodox Easter, myself and my colleagues were unaware of this for our first Easter...and organised the Easter Bunny to visit on the 'wrong' Easter the time we realised our error and had to re-book, all the bunnies were we were left with the "Easter Beaver"!!

The Easter ritual of crucifixions that occur in the Philippines, is really not something I can get my head around...however, this year the news was added to by a Brit who came to the Philippines with the original intent of being crucified but at the last minute realised that he felt his "God wanted me only to pray at the foot of my cross."

Well dressed pooches of Hong Kong, beware, your Burberry coats are no longer sufficient, Japan has upped the ante!

And also from The Times, maybe all is not what it seems with Mr Uwano

Plastic surgery in Beirut, for all sorts of reasons....


Not tonight Josephine....!

In the interests of research and delving further into the depths of the Filipino psyche ….the other day I tasted Sarsi for the first time!

In my complete ignorance and not being a huge fan of soft drinks I had assumed that Sarsi was a local version of Pepsi or Coke ….at least once out of the can it looks the same. One of my colleagues was having a can of Sarsi the other day and after a little persuasion (which involved all sorts of threats!) he relinquished a wee bit for me to taste….he said it was like root beer….

It seems that Filipinos have been brought up on the stuff and it serves various purposes as Coke/Pepsi/7up do elsewhere…an energy fix, a caffeine fix or a hangover cure…or I guess some do just drink it for enjoyment!

At the risk of offending everyone here….I thought it was awful….I can only describe the taste as a combination of very strong aniseed, cough mixture, pure sugar and a hint of something nasty your mother gives you as medicine to make sure you really are sick and not faking it!

At the time I did try hard not to screw up my face in horror…I obviously didn’t do that good a job as my colleagues were laughing at my grimaced smile!

Obviously Sarsi is the Philippines, what Marmite is to the average Brit!

An interesting experiment….however, not to be repeated!


Friday, April 21, 2006

That's just all wrong...

Having seen that others were working out which muppets they were I decided to see what other fun stuff was lurking around blogthings....I discovered that I was Miss Piggy, was a terrible flirt (nothing I didn't know before!), was a visionary (??!!) and various other useful things....and then finally I discovered this....

In a Past Life...

You Were: A Famous Viking.

Where You Lived: Iran.

How You Died: Typhoid fever.

And I always thought I was Mary, Queen of Scots!!!


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Who says I can't concentrate on one subject...

It has come to my attention, through frequent blog reading, that the concept of food on offer is actually almost more of a pull to sex being on offer….case in point. Here Mia has offered up freshly baked cookies, cakes and the like...

I, however, subscribe more to Jerry Hall’s point of view…

"My mother said it was simple to keep a man, you must be a maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom. I said I'd hire the other two and take care of the bedroom bit"

Or alternatively there's my philosophy which is just to sleep with the chef...that takes care of two of the issues at any rate!

So, in the interests of research...any takers...?

there was actually another quote I wanted to put in here from Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry) from Chef! but I couldn't find it...or remember the exact instead I will leave you with a few of my other favourite quotes...from the greatest TV show about one of the better professions! If you want something said can always trust a chef!!

Gareth: So please go away... and please re-arrange the contents of this plate so that someone in the latest stages of malnutrition will at least take a passing interest in it.

Gareth: Everton, let me explain things to you. In the world of cooking, I am Einstein. Lucinda is Isaac Newton. And you are a mud-dwelling unicellular bit of jelly with a predilection for consuming its own excrement.
Everton Stonehead: You don't like the way I cook?
Gareth: I feel it's important to be frank.

Gareth: You have as much chance of becoming a top chef as John Major has of becoming a stand-up comedian.

Gareth: "Let me explain the order of things for you. There's the aristocracy, the upper class, middle class, working class, dumb animals, waiters, creeping things, head lice, people who eat packet soup, and then you."

Gareth Blackstock: Now, about the chicken—
Janice (Gareth's long suffering wife): Screw the chicken, Gareth!
Gareth Blackstock: We live in a small community, Janice. People would talk.

Janice: Out?
Gareth Blackstock: Yes, out. You remember out. You go through this door, the temperature drops suddenly and the scenery changes

Gareth Blackstock: The partridge I want is one which has eaten wild food and lived a wild life, has struggled, hoped and dreamed, has sown wild oats, has tasted the bitter disappointment of middle age, and knows what it is to eyeball The Grim Reaper in the watches of the night,; the partridge sunk in the veil of years, with all the flavors of its rich eventful life captured in its texture, it’s juice, its very flesh. I do not want this callow, milk-fed, adolescent, uncouth, undeveloped wodge of protein. I don’t believe in eating virgins!


A little piece of 'hoof work'.....

After a brief discussion with someone (not a million miles away from here), we came to the conclusion that studying someone's bookshelf is a pretty good clue to the kind of person you are dealing with...

Content: of course...the books on the shelves are a fairly good indicator of who you are dealing with....if you look at my would immediately figure out what work I do, you would know that I love good wines, I am fascinated by Bill Clinton, Lawrence of Arabia, JFK, Jackie Kennedy, Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the Indian Mutiny, Tudor and Stuart England and Scotland, The Tsars, the Medicis and Arab history, politics and characters. I love Kipling, the Brontes, Jane Austen and Tennyson and a fairly healthy amount of chick-lit! I enjoy running (not really possible here!), photography and travel, have cats, am interested in most things aeronautical (as long as they have wings and engines!) obviously live in the Philippines and have a Mac and an iPod and make huge amounts of fresh juice!!! I do not have any issues with misplaced dairy products, have no problem with the planets vs. relationships and don't like Chicken Soup, I do, however, need to be reminded periodically when 'he's just not that into me'!!

Beware the person who has a few lonely titles sitting on otherwise empty shelves...particularly those titles cobbled together in order to portray an image...the hard macho type (not sure what would be on those shelves!), the soft sensitive type - am guessing this would include the likes of Mars and Venus and that ilk...

Condition of the books:
Now, anyone can go out and buy books and stick them on a shelf....anyone can even buy a book...crack the spine in a few places and then put it on the have to look for the real signs of reading...and love and attention...curled edges, browned pages, so many lines down the spine that the title is wearing away....not ideal for books...but generally a sign of love and affection...and actually reading the damn things.

Arrangement of the books: and here no doubt I will offend shelves should be haphazard because in my eyes...the booklover will know exactly where the books are placed - every time...anyone who arranges them alphabetically or (God help me!) by colour...should be introduced to Fahrenheit 451.

As Thomas Jefferson said "I cannot live without books"...

Book shelves are a window to character, the soul and someone's life! Here are a few of mine....

And before anyone comments on the two copies of Bill Clinton's 'My Life' is signed by the great man himself...after fixing his blue (very!) eyes on me and smiling...! That was a good day!!!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Attack damaging to Palestinians, Jordan says don't say......

Wounded Israelis get first aid on Monday following a suicide attack at Tel Aviv's old central bus station (Reuters photo by Noam Wind)

What kind of idiots within the Palestinian administration can allow this to happen and then allow the perpetrators to say it was an 'act of self defence'....these attacks on Israel harm the Palestinian people so much and just continue to delay any possible form of peace process that is lurking in the background.

"We have noted reactions by several Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, that defend or even applaud the barbaric act of terror committed in Tel Aviv today, as we have noted [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas' quick denunciation of it," McClellan told reporters.

Abbas earlier condemned what he called an “act of terrorism,” while Palestinian group Hamas, which recently formed a new government following its January election victory, laid the blame at Israel's door, calling it a natural consequence of country's "aggression."

In Jordan, Government Spokesperson Nasser Judeh, quoted by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, condemned attacks against civilians and said the bombing would "be very damaging to the Palestinian people."

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed that Israel would react in the "necessary fashion."

Voting in Hamas was always a brave move by the Palestinians, who saw Hamas as organisers, providers of infrastructure and some semblance of a normal life within their tenuous borders. However, what seems not to have been taken into account was the international stage not wanting any dealings with Hamas..because of events such as yesterday's

Jordan Times(only lasts a week)


Tuesday thoughts....

As the more perceptive of you will have noticed I am not really writing about anything vaguely intelligent at the moment....the reason being...I don't really know.....I do know that I am suffering from some kind of mental block, I can't string a coherent sentence together at present...and that goes for verbally as well! I would say I was suffering from writers block...but that would be flattering myself so will just go for 'bloggers block'.....

there are a few posts I want to write...two are in response to two of Torn's posts, I actually have them printed off and they are being carried around with me in case the block is removed. I would also like to make some comment on his 'personal phobias' post.....but I'll save that until I see him in person!!!!

The other post I want to write is about the falling level of the Dead Sea (24 metres in 50 years)....I actually started a post about this about 6 months ago and saved the draft....and then this weekend in the Jordan Times there was another article on the same subject which reminded me I needed to finish the sat staring at an almost blank screen for half an hour or so...and then gave up!

Just to give you an idea of how unsettled I am at present...I haven't even read a book for a week....what the hell is going on....however, this morning I collected from the post office, my latest reading material

And news just in...a friend of mine (aka the blue eyed boy) apparently bought a 2 foot high chocolate bunny in J' comment..."Why?"!!!! But 2 feet of chocolate...I guess that would be self explanatory!!!

Anyway...that's enough drivel for one now off to find my Imelda books which are unatainable elsewhere...Carlos has given me a source


What not to take as reading material when paying your electricity bill..

Due to the fact that I am pretty slack at picking up my mail from my box at home (mainly because I haven't given the address to many people and get most of my mail at work), I was late collecting my electricity bill....

Once you are over the 'due date', the only way to pay the bill is to go to one of the Meralco shops to this morning (being my one day of freedom) I headed over to the Meralco place on Shaw.

On the surface it all seems pretty organised, you walk in, get your number and wait until your number is flashed up on the reader board...I had number 1015, the number on the board when I came in - 925....I figured I was in for a long matter, I had bought a magazine with I settled down on one of the chairs in the middle of the row, surrounded by people (the place was packed!) and opened my Cosmopolitan.....opening page - an article comparing women's breasts, with pictures....ok, quickly flick away from that, next page it falls open at....different sexual positions for different star signs....with page....comparisons of women's underwear being this point I was practically being suffocated in the crush of people moving in closer for a better this point I decided that reading Cosmo was a bad idea!!!

So instead, I sat and watched the 'organisation' of the people paying their most other places the number goes up and people go to the correct desk there are starff out front organising people into they will call maybe 10 people up at once and line them up behind desks....if one queue moves faster than the other...then they shuffle you around until you are at the front....then they call up the next 10....all very bizarre!

Paying the bill itself was very simple and very quick....but the queueing system definitely offended by British sensibilities!!


Monday, April 17, 2006

Bacon Sarnie anyone...?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Wouldn't kick him out of bed...

Just had an enjoyable hour watching Jon Bon Jovi on Oprah

However could have done without the screaming women in the audience....all a little bit too much...



Unfortunately last night due to work demands I had to sleep somewhere other than my normal comfy bed, surrounded by its comforting bookshelves....

Other than the normal feelings of being out of sorts when sleeping somewhere unfamiliar, this morning I walked into the bathroom and realised there was bright sunshine streaming through the windows, it was cold in the bathroom and I could hear the constant hum of traffic.....all things that I associate with my bathroom in the apartment in was the strangest feeling...I was definitely there....and yet...not quite. Stranger still was standing under the hot stream of the shower and knowing that if I stood out from under the hot water there would be cold air brushing my showers in Jordan, with the snow banked up on the windowsill....that's how it felt!


Happy Easter....

According to my mother as I was born on an Easter Sunday I am officially an Easter Bunny.....



Saturday, April 15, 2006

Words of wisdom.....words to heed....

Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.

Sir Winston Churchill


the creme de la creme

Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur

It is impossible to repent of love. The sin of love does not exist.

To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil's soul. To Miss Mackay it is a putting in of something that is not there, and that is not what I call education, I call it intrusion.

Muriel Spark has died, the author of one of my favourite books, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'.


Mix and Match.....

Still feeling a bit flat at the moment…and can’t quite get to grips with writing anything substantial….so the following are a few random thoughts that I have had whilst roaming the corridors at work…

Easter in the Philippines: I will write a little more about this later…however, I can safely say that Manila is deserted…I came out the house today and could not see a living soul, (a dead rat), until I got down to Shaw, where after about 10 minutes a lone taxi appeared on the horizon (it was that bad…I was expecting tumbleweed to start blowing past me…and I could hear the theme tune from A fistful of Dollars playing in my head)..Manila is a one horse town! Anyway, after the taxi driver agreed to take me to work – with the meter on – he then turned and said “Quiet today, perfect for joyriding”…not on my peso, mate! The hold the Catholic church has on people here is quite incredible…one of my colleagues…a bit of a ‘jack the lad’/ladies man (although married with kids) told me today that he would happily stay later tonight as he couldn’t “‘do anything’, if you know what I mean”….as it was Easter……this is a guy who swears like a trouper, needs to work overseas regularly as he has slept his way through the Manila female population, smokes, drinks and generally does not give the impression of being of a God-fearing Christian….however, this weekend he can’t get laid because it’s Easter….Go Figure?!

Relationships: Do we all have a tried and tested method for a ‘snaring’ a partner/date/shag…I realize The Game is probably taking it a little too far…however in real life do we have set ‘chat up lines’, set ‘relationship lines’ that we churn out each and every time, or is every relationship a clean sheet on which to draw something new and completely different; on the other side – if we are trotting out these tried and tested lines and quirks – do we know we are doing it or is it something we are totally unaware of..…..not ever having been in the position to compare notes…..I don’t know if I have been on the receiving end of a set pattern….I know I don’t (at least wittingly) use a set pattern…

Odd conversations at work over the last two days:

“I had a sick customer yesterday”
Me: “Was that the one that died?” (Knowing that one of her customers died yesterday)
Colleague: “No, that one’s dead already, this one’s sick”

The Boss: “Here’s an Easter Egg for you”
Me: in front of a group of colleagues “And…here’s one I laid earlier….said the actress to the Bishop”
Everyone else: …..silence……

Whilst discussing the Philippine ritual of crucifixions that take place each Good Friday

Me: “So has anyone ever died from being crucified?”
Colleague: “Yes, Jesus”
Me: ……!!!!!

Online Dating: for my birthday last week a friend decided that she would sign me up for three months on an online dating site (what kind of friends do I really have??!!! However, she may have her reasons - see below!) , I see that Mia is also doing the same…fortunately for Mia, hers was a conscious choice and she doesn’t have a friend hounding her every day to ensure that all details are completed…photo added etc…. Anyway, I was amazed at the photos that people put up….some guys have women draped over them, some pictures have obviously had a woman photoshopped out of them – either obvious because there is a big white hole, but at the bottom are feet in high sandals with a fringe of a skirt, or just the big white hole or the hole has a hand sticking out which is clasped in the guys hand…..some photos are obviously so unflattering I cannot fathom why anybody would use them!

Dating in general: After a discussion the other day I realized that I have never actually ‘dated’ or been in the position where I have been ‘actively looking’… odd is that? Any person I have had a relationship with has been someone I met through friends/work whatever, we clicked at the first meeting and it went from there….in between times I have never looked, been fixed up with anyone, blind date…whatever….I wonder if this is a whole area of life that I have missed out on….?

“I’m just a girl who can’t say no” - most people who know me now would class me as being fairly tough with nary a hint of softness, kindness whatever….however, it wasn’t always like that….my school friends always knew me as either the girl who couldn’t say no (and not because of ‘that’ you filthy minded reader!) usually because when ever we had a school outing whereby a packed lunch was involved…I always gave mine to a tramp..always, without fail, so much so that if I hadn’t found a tramp by the time it came to leave I would hold everyone up looking for one…it got so that my friends would find one as soon as we arrived at out destination in order to speed up the process….the same now seems to be applying for this online dating lark….I seem to be getting into correspondence with guys who I know are not my type…but I feel sorry for them, and just can’t brush them off….


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lots of things I never knew...

Happy (belated) Birthday - to the union flag


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

And there goes the day......

Having one day off a week I try to pack as much as possible into it….the plan yesterday was my archery lesson in the morning, an hour or so catching up on e-mails…then hot foot it Intramuros to join another of Carlos’ walks…and then to join friends for alcoholic sustenance in the evening…

After dragging myself out of bed and punishing my archery instructor with what must have been the worst hour ever….(at one point an arrow rebounded off the target pad and out the sodding window) I decided that attempting the rest of the plan was daft…I did go and settle at Starbucks at Robinsons Galleria (first time I’ve been in that mall – quite nice actually) and after about an hour or so felt so grotty that I crawled home to bed..from where I didn’t surface until about 9pm…at which point the only thing that would make me feel better was a couple of hours of Simon Schama’s History of Britain…

Victorian England…although I have watched it many times before, each time throws up a new fact that amazes me….this time…the Great Exhibition of London attracted 6 million visitors….fairly impressive for that time…. I have to say that Victoria as a person has never fascinated me as Elizabeth I or Henry VIII has (I always think that her relationship with Albert had a very high ‘ick’ factor!) and I think her attitude to the progression of women was appalling...'fairer sex' arse.. , however the era that she ruled over is one of the most amazing of British history.

The second episode that I watched focused on the Indian Mutiny, a period of history that has long fascinated me, whether it is the stupidity of the Empire or romanticism of the period, I don’t know…but a quote that I think sums up the British attitude at that time comes from Viceroy Lytton…

‘The further east you go, the greater the importance of a bit of bunting’…

On Monday night I traipsed down to Greenbelt to see Tristan & Isolde, I kind of wish I hadn’t….I am hard pushed to find something good to say about the movie….the scenery is spectacular, the battle scenes are unfortunately (granted, that's a personal opinion) very, very graphic….and there I run out of good things…on the not so good side…I thought the acting was wooden, the historical accuracy of the English castle was way out, and as for the use of the John Donne poem – give me strength…surely in this day and age of movie making they could have come up with something a little more accurate – the legend of Tristan and Isolde is from the 5th or 6th Century.. Tristan was actually one of the Knights of the Round Table, John Donne lived and wrote about 1000 years later...and as for the wedding ceremony…don’t get me started….! subject (do I ever stay 'on' subject?)...this post is hysterical....move over the HKG police force and make way for "Asia's NEW finest".....


Monday, April 10, 2006

And now for something completely different.....

Marvelous Dreamy Minx Conferring Hot Indulgence and Arousing, Naughty Gratification

via Mia

unfortunately the site would not accept a name longer than 10 letters...but I think that description will suffice for now...

sensible and profound programming will resume tomorrow....


That's life Jim...but not as we know it.

Israeli soldiers prepare to reload a mobile artillery piece as it fires towards the Gaza Strip, near the southern Israeli kibbutz Nahal Oz (AP photo by Ariel Schalit)

from today's Jordan Times, picture taken on Sunday 9th April 2006.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

A day of valour....only one?

In the Philippines, the 9th April is a public holiday...marking 'Valour Day' or 'Bataan Day'.

On the 9th April 1942 the some 75,000 Filipino and American forces defending the Bataan Peninusla surrendered to the Japanese invaders. The surrender came some four months after the Battle for Bataan peninsula started. The following day the Bataan Death March began.

Sitting in my local Starbucks and trying to imagine the horrors that occured during this time in the Philippines (not forgetting the rest of the world) is very hard. Added to this seems to be a total lack of recognition for the brave people who gave their lives in defence of their country.

My local colleagues were hard pushed to explain the reasoning behind today being a public holiday....'something to do with the War' was the closest I got - is this the recognition that the war veterans fought for? Or are they just happy to see their children and grand-children growing up in a freer society with no imminent threat of invasion?

The other thing that strikes me as strange is that each year there is a 'Bataan Memorial Death March'....this takes place in New Mexico USA. I can understand the American connection (obviously)...but surely something like this, at least on the big anniversaries, should be held where it actually happened?

Further reading from some excellent links from MLQ3


My, my, my Delilah...'s Sunday so it's Tom Jones's like living ground hog day....but only on a Sunday.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Blog Dating

Within this little blogosphere that we inhabit (actually, not so last count there were a lot of bloggers roaming the planet) there are always new friendships being formed sometimes through cyberspace and other times they translate into real life friendships. These friendships can develop into a lot more...the most recent case I am aware of is that of Petite Anglaise who met someone through the comments he left on her site...unfortunately, it did not all end happily ever after for Petite...but as 'they' say, everything happens for a reason.

A female friend of mine who blogs very sporadically says that she originally set up her blog to meet men, I had to tell her that she needs to be a little more 'out there' if she wants to grab someone's fancy...added to the fact that she doesn't really comment or link anywhere...fairly half-hearted dating doubt she will learn! Another female friend admitted that she blogs for the same 'to meet someone' reason...her tactics seem a little better than my other friend, any day now I expect to read good news!

Using an online dating site is nothing new and as more and more people use online dating services there is less of a stigma attached to know - the 'too sad to meet someone in real life' stigma; now it seems to be more practical, particularly in the world we live in where long working hours are the norm, extended travelling the norm and sitting behind ones computer for hours a day are also unfortunately quite standard. However dating another blogger is slightly different...first you need to meet them....then there's the explanation of how you met.

If you are setting up a blog in order to meet someone, or you do meet someone through your blogs...there is a little 'help' section within blogger to deal with just that event...with useful tips on 'deleting posts'...presumably for when you have blogged after a night out on the town without your blogging lover but which did include a huge amount of alcohol and that rather charming new guy from 'emerging markets'.... Personally just thinking about reading what someone else has written about a date (or worse/better!) gives me the screaming heebie jeebies...However, going back to Blogger, I am glad to see that we have guidelines and that the Nanny State is alive and well in the's almost like living in Singapore! I guess if it does all go pear shaped...these policies would be good to follow.

And no...before any of you ask, I am not shacking up with a fellow blogger or anyone who has left comments....inspiration for this post came from Shakey's link to an article which in its roughest terms is about blogging to get laid.


Friday, April 07, 2006

I guess the only way is up.....

A little bit of archery, a little bit of reading, a little bit of walking....and a fair amount of Imelda how one spends a Thursday in Manila!

Archery is improving in that I did not hit anyone yesterday and the target is looking a little healthier...still at 10m and still haven't managed to nail the cross completely.....but apparently next month is some beginners competition that I am told I should enter for practice - should be entertaining! the only draw back of my archery lessons is that there is no a/c and it is inside so I come out wringing wet....!

Since I have been in Manila I have scanned the dates of the walks of Carlos and never matched the date with my day off...yesterday I was lucky. Yesterday afternoon I was treated to the joys of 'Living La Vida Imelda".

The guided walk takes you into the Cultural Centre of the Philippines, past the Folk Art theatre and into the Coconut Palace. All the time accompanied by the totally irrereverant and very funny commentary of Carlos! I am a fairly low profile creature by nature and although I am fairly good at acting the idiot amongst safe public, being low profile is the aim.....walking through the CCP area following a tape recorder playing disco music is really not my idea of low matter - it sets the scene!

The CCP is a monstrosity....I can think of no other word for it.....I am not a great fan of concrete...precast or otherwise and find little to love in buildings such as the CCP, however, through Carlos' eyes one can appreciate what Imelda was trying to achieve and what in a fairly limited way she did achieve. The one thing that did impress was the staircase in the main foyer... - unfortunately no photos as no cameras are allowed inside....seems bizarre to stop photos in what is supposed to be a public building.

The Coconut Palace is lovely...and incredibly well maintained. The floors are so highly polished that I was skidding all over the place....a pair of socks and an empty corridor could make for hours of fun! The Coconut Palace was built as another of Imelda's ideas to promote all things Filipino, as you can guess by the name everything in the Palace is made out of coconut or some other local material, flooring from coconut wood, furniture from coconut wood, bed covers from coconut or pineapple fibre. The setting is lovely, overlooking Manila Bay although I think when it was first built the bay was probably in better nick than it is now. Imelda originally built the Coconut Palace as a guest house for visiting of whom was supposed to be the Pope...he refused to stay there...either because he has to stay (by Vatican law) at the Vatican's embassy equivalent....or because he felt that the money for the Coconut Palace could have been put to better use....possibly feeding and housing the poor....either way it seems that the only visiting dignatories who stayed there were Brooke Shields, George Hamilton and the Marcoses themselves!


Ferdinand Marcos' four poster bath....

and sketches inside the Coconut Palace are lovely...if anyone knows where I can find something similar in Manila...I would be very grateful.

Imelda gets a fairly bad rap and is portrayed internationally as a bit of a fruitcake with a penchant for brother called half way through the walk and when I told him what I was doing...his comment was "Surely just a quick wander through some shoe shops would suffice!", however scraping off the fruitcake icing and looking a little deeper - is it at all remotely possible that some of her ideas and theories were right and she did have the best interests of the Philippines at, clothes and jars of mayonnaise not withstanding.

What ever you may think of Imelda, Carlos' patter was a laugh a minute...actual facts and figures may be missing but I came away from my two and a half hours, laughing and with a greater interest in Imelda and a greater appreciation of the concrete monstrosities that dominate that area of Manila bay. the anecdotes that Carlos passes on..heavily emphasised with "they say..." do make everyone feel as if they are in the 'know'...

Carlos quotes readily from two books about Imelda which I then tried to get from Fully Booked....a raised eyebrow and a 'No, we don't hold those books" makes me wonder if Philippine family politics is involved?!

Speaking of Fully Booked...what they hell have they done to their Rockwell store....just as I was getting to understand everything, they move it all around, take away all those interesting nooks and crannies and make the place look like an airport departure lounge....I was very rattled and for the first time in my life I left a book store without buying anything...those that know me well will understand how not buying a book is a fairly dramatic thing for me!

More about Carlos' little adventures here


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

And after the high….comes the low…..really low…

There is always the danger when one has too good a time, that the landing will be hard. And mine has been….leaving HKG was very hard this time…too many friends to leave behind and too many moments that made me realize how lucky I am…

Friends who give me unexpected gifts which a lot of thought has gone into, friends who check on me and ensure I’m ok, friends that according to one person are ‘very protective of me’…..

Many years ago I had a partner in crime in HKG, we chased around Wanchai together, downed vast quantities of alcohol and generally raised merry hell…she also had three wonderful children who I loved spending time with ….to cut a long story short I guess time and distance caused us to be not such great friends…this weekend I spent both Saturday and Sunday with her and her brood at the sevens…it was wonderful. That was one of the best things that happened this weekend…

Other great parts of the weekend included the amount of time I managed to spend with the blue-eyed boy..also great company and the final touch – some freshly baked banana cake for the flight…, time with other friends just catching up, sitting on the Star Ferry and enjoying the view…

It’s been a hard landing and the next few days may be a bit tough but I guess there’s always next time…


Monday, April 03, 2006

And it's all over....

So that was the '06 sevens...Another great weekend, not enough rugby, too much alcohol and lots of friends!

I was fairly let down this year as one by one each of my teams were knocked out...Hong Kong, Canada, Scotland....finally I was left with no choice but to support the Kiwis...and look where that got me!! (many years ago the Kiwis were our team of choice due to needing to make sure we got as many looks as possible at Dallas Seymour!!)

Best headline of the Sevens media...covering the article of HKG beating the US...unfortunately I didn't get the full title but it was along the lines of "The joy of spanking the yanks"!!!

I have no real pictures of HKG this time around as most of my time was spent at the stadium..unfortunately pictures from the sevens are not is misbehaving and no, it's not operator error...the camera has behaved much better before when I have consumed more alcohol than this weekend!

Anyway, here they are....

The English show the Samoans what eating lots of marmite and baked beans can do for one's rugby!

The French do have a sense of humour....well, I guess they'd need one as they eventually were beaten by Kenya!!

Can't imagine what the sports sections of the papers in China will report today....'Our sevens team beat...nobody"....

God Save the the moment the only time I ever sing the National Anthem is when England get to the finals at the sevens....

England wins one point I was just about to text the results to a friend....when Gollings managed to find that extra try...


Sunday, April 02, 2006

The city with a three day hangover!

My food and beverage intake yesterday was as follows:

one cup of tea
one bottle of Perrier
2 bottles of wine
2 glasses of Pimms
1 KFC Waffle Fry
1 mouthful of quiche

It is called the Sevens diet and once a year it is followed by about 40,000 people in one city over a period of three days! However, some are such faithful followers that they follow the diet to greater extremes....

I can't really recommend it as a fast track to good health but it always seems like a good idea at the time!

And it does make getting home a little tricky....leaving CWB last night I nearly ended up on the train to Quarry Bay heading out for Sai given that I wanted to be in TST and the last time I needed to go out to Sai Kung was when my parents lived there about 10 years ago...that kind of gives you an idea of how bad the sevens diet is for one's sense of direction....

Best match of the day was the Japanese nearly upsetting the Kiwis.....if they had made it, that would have been one for the history books....

The infamous South Stands...



other effects of the sevens diet from Expat@Large, along with a public apology to one set of CX crew and passengers!!!