A Chaos Of My Own Making

Sometimes you have to let yourself fall to pieces so you can put yourself back together again in a new way. A way that makes sense or a way that fits better with now. It is painful but you know that pain is totally necessary.

And that pain; you need to embrace it. It’s ok to sit alone and weep, sob loud body wrenching sobs, letting tears and snot rundown your face until you are nothing put a puddle on the floor’ weak, completely drained and yet renewed. It’s ok.

Then you can look at all those pieces fallen before you and slowly, one at a time, put them in their new slots.

Life isn’t supposed to be straight forward if you live it, really live it. Life is based on chaos,



Radio Quiz

a tribute to my late mother.

A Flurry of Words

Michelle from Sittingbourne, your sixty seconds starts….now. How far is the moon from Earth?…”erm, Ooh, ah..pass!”“three hundred and eighty four thousand four hundred kilometres!” the voice next to me shouts at the radio as she flicks the indicator right and pulls out of our street…

“The flower Helianthus, is more commonly know as..? “Ooh, gosh, Heli, Heli-what-now?’

“Sunflower, its sunflower you nitwit!” I look at this woman next to me with raised eyebrows then shrug apologetically at the radio and poor Michelle from Sittingbourne who thankfully cant see us.

“Is that a pass?. next question, What is the capital of Azerbaijan?”

“Pass, sorry!” giggles.

“Baku!” comes a bark from the drivers seat.

“Who was prime minister in 2005?” ‘Oh yes! I know, erm…oh what was ‘is name…”

“Blair, Blair, Tony bleeding Blair! How can you not know that?”….

“erm, wasn’t it Tony Blair?”

A buzzer squawks.

“Correct Michelle, however your…

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Spinning. aka Simon’s Bike

 I tried a Spinning class yesterday. Why do they call it Spinning? Nothing is spinning. No wheels, not me, except for maybe my head at the end of the class. Why not just call it Pedalling in Hell? 
I found that you actually need to be quite tech savvy to Spin. Once I had finished fiddling with all of the levers to adjust the height and angle of the seat and then the handle bars, there was a devise with a screen and a light. This electronic devise asks all sorts of personal questions and demands data before I can begin pedalling. 

This is not a bike, it is a pedal powered instrument of torture equipped with lights that change colour according to speed, effort or just for fun, I don’t know.

The idea is to keep the light a certain colour and the rpm on the screen at a certain level. I’ve no idea what the other three sets of numbers mean. There is another little dial that I have to turn to adjust the tension of the pedals. All of this while frantically pedalling, trying to find a comfortable way to sit on the rock hard pencil thin seat and somehow have fun.

The next thing I know, they’ve turned out the lights, disco lights are twirling and loud up-beat dance music is pumping through the room. I’m on an exercise bike in a nightclub!  It’s just too surreal.

The instructor at the front, wears a microphone into which she shouts commands, mostly colours and numbers.

Coloured lights are flashing, disco lights are dancing, numbers are doing random things on the screen, I’m sweating, feeling sick and the seat is just too hard for me sit. The manic instructor tells me to stand in the pedals, adjust the tension but “KEEP PEDALLING! GREEN LIGHT, 90 RPM, 3 mins!” 

Dance music pumps.


Yellow? Oh my god, my light has gone red, what does that mean?.. Is anyone else red? Oh, now it’s blue, what the hell?!


How do I make it yellow?


Pedal faster, twiddle the knob. Blue light, green light, yellow.


“5,4,3,2,1. RED LIGHT 100 RPM”

What, your kidding right? I only just found yellow. And my crotch really hurts.

This is like the crazy bicycle version of Simon Says, deluxe edition. It must have been devised by a bike fanatic who loved both the kids party game and the electronic game so decided to combine all of his passions into one demented torturous creation. 

Again, why call it Spinning? My son thinks it should be called Simon’s Bike. I agree.

 Next week I shall I try another Simon’s Bike class and this time I’ll take a cushion for my crotch. 

Uber Mum to Goober Mum.

Upon receiving the Autumn Term newsletter from school, I dutifully read it. I felt very happy and content doing this little task. Last year, I was not receiving these emails and as a result missed a lot and played catch up all term. So to be reading this and feeling on top of the whole good parent in sync with the school was great!

At the end of this newsletter was a list of recommended reading for the Year 3s. I instantly felt like a literary inept mother for not having a single book from the list in our extensive library. So I popped onto our classes Facebook page to ask the kind mums if anyone had any of the books listed on the email and could they lend some to us.

Moments later there were a couple of replies asking “What email?”

Was it true? Was I the only mum to have read the email? Am I Uber Mum today? Do I get some kind of medal?

As the morning wore on my post filled up with parents commenting on how they had not received this email. I appear to be the only or one of the very few to have received it.

So I am not an Uber Mum after all. Back to being Goober mum as, A) I don’t already have the books on the list. And B) For drawing attention to myself and creating a drama as I sent all the other “almost uber mums into a panic”.

As one mum icely pointed out to me You don’t have to read from the list either, it’s only a guide, they can read anything they like within reason of course.” She of course had received the email.

Green Smoothies

I am trying and failing to love my NutriBullet. I love the idea of these super healthy, nutrient full smoothies. I have all the ingredients for different concoctions which all sound delicious. But lets not fools ourselves here. They are not delicious by any stretch of the imagination. the first mouthful is acceptable, even palatable, the second and third, slip down without much trouble. About halfway through the beverage I’m starting to pull faces, wrinkling my nose, pursing my lips, still pretending that I am enjoying this torture. By now I am almost gagging, I just cannot take anymore pureed vegetable and fruit. Maybe I put too much celery in? Not enough pineapple? If i put more water in its just going to prolong the agony, so I force the thick gloop down telling myself how its doing my body wonders and if i keep it up I will thin and lovely again.

Once the glass is empty and rinced out, I tell myself how wonderfully full and engergised I feel. And I should go for a swim.

My tummy wants to know where the biscuits are.

The gift of a child’s love

More precious than diamonds my children are.
More beautiful than sunsets and roses and rainbows over mountains.

As unique as the finger prints that smear every surface they touch, thus blessing it.

The sound of their laughter rivals symphonies.
The sound of their gentle breath in peaceful sleep, is more reassuring than the locked doors.

The drama of their lives unfolding is more fascinating than any blockbuster or news headline.

And they love me. Even when I’ve told them off, confiscated every toy in sight, banned tv and raged at them. They still crawl into bed next to me, and wrap little arms around my neck, and kiss me with those overly wet lips.

They love me and trust me and that’s the gift.

Greed, 2013.

There’s a new kind of greed. Well maybe it’s not new, but it’s not the classic “have some want more” kind of greed that the word “greed” makes you think of.
It’s the ” I want to get something for nothing” kind of greed. And I’m finding it quite upsetting.
“What’s wrong with wanting something for nothing?” I hear you ask.
Well everything really. Everything is worth something to someone, so why should you or anyone else have it for nothing?

Surely if I want something, I should pay for it, or work for it or give time for it. Not expect it handed to me on a plate. And how do you evaluate something’s worth? In money? Time? Effort?

How do you put a price on time? You could only pay me for my time with more time. My time is not worth money. Money isn’t going to buy back the time I spent on the phone waiting for someone to answer. Money isn’t going to make me on time to pick my kids up from school.
But I do know that time is worth money to some people. It’s the difference between getting paid for one job or two. So why do we begrudge paying for someone’s time when we need their skill?

Let’s taking plumbing as an example. I choose plumbing because it’s something I’ve needed help with recently. Help I’m willing to pay for.

I remember a time when a call out fee was £50. It’s now £70 or £80. Well over time and inflation, I consider that reasonable.
When you consider the cost of petrol now and distance between clients, the time it takes to get to the next job, then just doing the job whatever it is, properly!… this guy has to make a living too.
Then you have parts, parts which frankly I can’t be arsed to hunt for on the internet to see if I can get a better price, hoping I’ve bought the right thing and that it arrives on time and in one piece. If Bob Plumber can get those parts and is charging me a little on the top because he took the time to order them from a reliable source, then that’s okay dokey with me. Like I said, my time can’t be bought, his can.

Now you need to consider the qualifications of these dudes. I do wonder about these so called qualifications as I’ve had two so called plumbers in to look at my dodgy heating and neither has had the faintest idea what to do. My neighbour who has identical plumbing, hired a Russian chap who fixed the dodgy heating issue.
As Russian dude is familiar with our odd system, I want him to fix mine. Common sense if you ask me. But because he wants £80 call out, folk who shall remain nameless are shaking their heads and tut tutting. Suggesting all sorts of bodgem and dodgems to save a buck.
This Russian chap obviously knows his stuff, I want to pay for his know it all stuff to fix my crappy heating! I don’t really care how much it bloody costs. I’ve already wasted money on blithering idiots, why not try the clever dude?
Of course clever Russian dude is charging what he does. Blithering Idiot charges the same, so does Mr F’ing Clueless and his mate Bodgit Fred. They might swing a deal but you’ll be without hot water for a month.

But this is typical of folks these days. Cut out the middle man. Well loves, the middle man is there for a reason. To save you mucking up and costing yourself more in the long run.
Hunt for the bargains. The truth is, there are no real bargains, things cost what they cost. They are made and the cost of making them depends upon the price of the raw material. If you buy it cheap it was probably made cheap. Sure some stuff gets marked up unreasonably, but a bit of common sense should tell you this and at the end of the day you need to think “how much is this worth to me?”
If someone offers to do a job cheap his work will probably be shoddy because he’s in a rush to get to the next job he also promised to do cheap. He needs to make ends meet too and he knows how much he needs to bring home at the end of the month. He’s only doing jobs cheap because that’s what all you greedy bastards demand. He can’t survive on the jobs at the actual rate he’s giving and then give them adequate time too. If you paid him more, he could take his time, do it properly, get job satisfaction and leave you happy too.
Instead, you bargain hard, he takes on more than he can manage but still needs to pay his bills. He cuts a few corners, leaves unsatisfied and will probably have to return to angry customers in a months time.

I blame internet shopping. When it comes to buying ticket stuff. Go see it in person. You can’t see the quality on a photo. Sure go see it then buy it online because is cheaper. I hope it’s the same and I hope the shop you looked in now doesn’t go bust because the items they sold are cheaper online online. Well done greedy. You’ve put someone out of a job and made something more expensive.

If you can’t really afford to buy something without wasting precious, invaluable time on the internet, perhaps you should consider “do I really need it?” You might save £10 here and £5 there. But how much time did you spend looking? What else could you have done in that time?
Go outside, get some fresh air and exercise. If your lucky you might get some free extra minutes added to your life.

Avoiding stereotypes.

For almost 5 years I tried to avoid being the stereotypical expat wife and mother. It’s not easy living in Hong Kong and avoiding becoming the thing you most deplore. I had a helper, I was able to swan off at a moments notice to get my nails done, go for coffee/lunch/afternoon tea/cocktails… But I didn’t. Well, not always.
Hong Kong is shoppers paradise but I managed to never once shop in a designer shop or a fake designer shop for that matter. The markets don’t count.
I did the volunteer bit, I got involved in community things, over involved in school things. I largely failed at avoiding the stereotypical expat mum. It was just too exhausting to not conform.

Now I’m back in lovely Blighty I find I am again trying to avoid stereotypes. “Oh not again!”

I am sad to report that I have one of those enormous beasts of a car to take my precious ones to school in. I’m actually embarrassed to be seen driving it. Thank goodness it has tinted windows. I will go as far as standing next to a random, smaller car in the hopes that the parent I’m talking to will think its mine. Of course this means I have to wait for them to walk away. And of course the kids give it away.
“Mummy, come on, that’s not the BMW X5!” Why do kids always have to some damn precise about bloody everything!

I did manage to avoid a coffee morning (which I would have quite liked to go to) with the very cool excuse of climbing the scaffolding on my house to clean guttering and repaint woodwork. How many Mums do you know who climb scaffolding and clean guttering?
So I climbed the scaff, I cleaned guttering and I cleaned windows, I had a splendid view of my neighbours garden, I got lots of fresh air and really quite enjoyed myself.

Now, if I can just find somewhere else to park…..

Things I’ll Miss About Hong Kong. Part 3. Random

I am running out of things to miss now. We all know this wasn’t my favourite place and there are dozens of things I won’t miss, but I’ve discussed them at length before.

So back to what I will miss.

My friends of course. Despite its transient nature I was able to make a few friends who still live there.
I’ll be honest though, its not hard to stay in touch and I’m sure we’ll still be a part of each others lives, just from a distance.
There are only few true friends, relationships sometimes built on the need for company, support and vodka that worked out well. I’ll miss those girls.
I am looking forward to getting home to my old friends whose lives I’ve been missing out on all this time. Back into the security of people who have known me so long, relationships built on trust and history.

Someone told me the other day how I would miss my helper. She meant miss the help not the person. I will miss my helper as a person. She was a hard working woman with pride, common sense , a sense of humour and great strength of character. I admire her and like her. So yes I will miss her.
Will I miss someone cleaning for me and cooking for me? Hell No!
I am very much looking forward to being the mistress of my house. The keeper of the keys. The stirrer of the pots. The homemaker.
I like to clean my own house. I have a nice house, I’m proud if it and I want to look after it. I like to potter. Sure, I’m not the tidiest person in the world and I get distracted by other projects. But it’s my mess, in my house and I’ll tidy it up when I’m good and ready. So ner.

I like cooking. I like cooking in a nice big, bright, clean kitchen.

I like shopping for my groceries. I like shopping in a supermarket where the checkout staff are nice, chatty and don’t bark things like “you want bag? 50¢!” ” you ga muni bac car!?” Which translates as “do you have a money back card white guilo trash?!”

Will I miss someone looking after my kids so I can swan off at a moments notice? No. I quite like my kids. They’re fun. I like doing stuff with them. They’re my kids.
We also have grandparents who like to spend time with them and haven’t been able to for a while. I also have great friends and neighbours who are like aunts and uncles. If I’m desperate to escape or need to do something and can’t take the kids, I know I can get some help. It’s called family and community.

After a few weeks of being on my own with two kids, two dogs and a six bedroom house, it’s possible I may crack a little and ask for help. I might decide a cleaner once a fortnight is good idea.

I may just decide to laugh, put my feet up with a glass of wine and worry about the mess in the morning.

Most of all, I’ll miss my husband who has to remain in Hong Kong for a while longer. My rock who stays behind to secure the family’s future while the kids and I go home to start it. He’s my hero.

Things I’ll Miss About Hong Kong. Part 2. Over indulging.

Over indulging. Ok, I might not so miss this as remember it as something fun we did too often.

Hong Kong is a very Foody place. My husband is a Foody. He loves good food, good wine and plenty of it. So we eat out quite often. We also have a helper who is a self taught awesome cook. And a wine collection that makes Robert Parker envious I’m sure.

At weekends we might eat out in Soho at our favourite Argentinian steak restaurant. La Pampas. Or one of the middle eastern places with belly dancers.
We might stay in Discovery Bay for Mexican at Carambas! Or 22°North or Mirch Masala.
There is always a choice and that choice is bad news for your waistline and your pocket.

For lunch we might have Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wans, or Peking Duck at the Summer Palace in the Shangri La. The boys love it here. They like the minced duck with lettuce leaves.

Hong Kong has a lot of hotels that serve Sunday Brunch. Sunday Brunch is the thing to do with a family or friends at the weekend. Every hotel is different in its approach except for one thing. The free flow champagne, that’s a given. Some might do a Saturday brunch with free flow sparkling wine, just to be different. Whatever the difference it’s always Eat As Much As You Can, Drink As Much As You Dare, Spend the rest if the day sleeping it off.

Top of our recommendations are:
Nicholinis at The Conrad
The Kitchen at the W Hotel in Kowloon.

The W serves brunch 12-3 then you can up to the 76th floor, to the pool for more cocktails, DJ and swim. Sounds dangerous to me!

I might miss these, but my waistline won’t!