Back in Blighty!

I started a blog post back in January that had the first line, ‘Before it gets forgotten in the tumultuousness of the  new year…’. Having singularly failed to get around to chronicling our travels in England over Christmas, I can belatedly litter a few of those photos over this post.

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Deleting most of my notes from the previous drafts, it is nonetheless a pleasant feeling to finish a post about England, and as it turns out – almost like it was planned –  we are now back over in the isle seemingly known as Brexit.  Ignoring the news though, it is good to be back on home ground, although I’m gutted that the football wasn’t on terrestrial(is this still a term?) television.

Nice view looking back from the entrance of the awesomely named cave, The Devil’s Arse.

Suffering the usual fourteen and a half hour flight – spent watching Creed films this time -the highlight by a cracking English breakfast just before we landed at 8:10pm.  It was good to finally touch down, especially when we were gifted fast track passes for passport control, because Crissy has friends everywhere. Continue reading “Back in Blighty!”

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Plans and Planes

Hurley, the latest puppy to add to the menagerie.

It’s been a while since I last posted, but in the brief time taken off, lots has happened.

first off, work has been taking up most of my time.  I am now working for a second book publisher, Shadow Alley Press.  The opportunity came out of the blue, but grabbing it with both hands, it promises lots of tight deadlines and a good stream of work, which is handy as I am not averse to grabbing a coffee at 10pm to power through to the early hours, if needs be.

We are also heading back to England for a time, at the end of May, so getting a visa for Crissy was a necessary distraction.  This was by far the most frustrating waste of time and money.

VFS Global are notorious for their terrible service.  The barriers we faced were, a website that logged us out automatically (and constantly) meaning we couldn’t book an appointment with them.  This was sorted after countless attempts on their poor excuse for a website.  When the visa arrived it was the wrong one, there was no phone number for the UK, it turns out that it doesn’t have a number (but numbers for Malta, Netherlands, etc are available).  Only bots ‘answered’ our messages on their website and social media.  Randomly turning up at their offices they acknowledged their mistake, nevertheless we had to buy an envelope for them to send the passport back to the British embassy for correction.  Then we find out their policy is to not deliver the visa to our door despite the mistake being theirs. Continue reading “Plans and Planes”

(F)easter

Good Friday promised a leisurely start, especially as the citizens of this country run on ‘Filipino time’ which generally consists of being late at ever opportunity so if you want people to show up at your desired time, its accepted that you tell everyone to arrive at least an hour earlier.  The opposite happened, of course. The rush was then on when word came through that we were going now, Right Now.  You can’t plan anything in advance, I find it best to go with the flow.

Liliw, Laguna. I have no idea about the umbrellas.

The whole weekend was glorious sunshine, especially after a cooling thunderstorm had  hit us the day before.  Off we went to Quezon province. Around about forty of us piled into cars and a lorry, and as usual the lovely countryside sprawled out for my viewing pleasure.

Rolling into our resort, the air con going 24/7 in the rooms was the best thing since the bread before sliced bread.  The first order of business was to go on a short pilgrimage up the Kamay ni Hesus.  Not being a Catholic, I still chose to wander up its 300 steps for the experience.  Thankfully it wasn’t too busy, last time my Filipino fam came the queue was three hours long. Continue reading “(F)easter”

Doing the Universe of Good

A few months ago I watched with amusement at the resulting celebrations rising from the announcement that the Philippines had yet again won Miss Universe.  Putting my book down for a few moments – a struggle such as that was – I joined the party because it meant a chance of free food!

A couple of things of late have reminded me about Catriona Gray, firstly Ren’s post on Filipino films, especially Buy Bust which is set in Tondo, and secondly, the below music video, again set in Tondo, where Miss U does a lot of charity work.  It gives an insight into one of the areas so often glossed over when people talk about the Philippines.

The last question posed on finals night was, What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life and how will you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?  Her answer:

I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is very… it’s poor and it’s very sad. And I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty in it; to look in the beauty in the faces of the children, and to be grateful. And I would bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining, and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And this I think if I could also teach people to be grateful, we could have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children will have a smile on their faces.

A Writing Retreat

This weekend saw us go on an adventure to one of our favourite places, Bag of Beans, in Tagaytay.  Battling the usual heat, and a cold – which rendered my voice incapable of anything above a croak – it was a relief to clear away the cobwebs and stretch the legs.

The view is always going to be the major pull, inspiring as it is, and has the added bonus of effortlessly making my photography skills seem like talent, despite being a bit ropey in reality. Relaxing here is always the perfect pay off after yet another crazy week.

Despite the beautiful and distracting vista, there was also plenty of reading and writing successfully done, accompanied by a pleasant, cool breeze. An iced mocha at my elbow further stimulated the brain cells into action.

Breakfast was an absolutely treat as well. Sweet and savoury combined to complete my satisfaction, and a creative day was off to a great start.

An Anniversary, a Birthday, and a Huge Surprise!

Recently Crissy and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and before I made my way to Manila on the afternoon of the 28th Jan, a bunch of 99 red roses were duly delivered to the Philippine Airlines offices, to make a statement.

Travelling to Manila is always an ordeal, standing for an indeterminate amount of time under the beating midday sun, with little to no shade.  This time made more interesting by the two pickpockets, who assumed that I had no idea what they were doing.  I had to suppress a snigger every time they checked a box off of my mental checklist of Robber Form; shuffle surreptitiously near target, separate, distract, engage in conversation to show no threat, etc.

Leaving these two inept thieves behind, I got on a van which took the scenic route to Mall of Asia.  The highlight of the journey being when the driver attempted to thread our van through the eye of a needle, that being a concrete wall and speeding articulated lorry, it was pretty fun actually!

Its been a great year, reflecting on the adventures as I made my way around MOA, I thought of the build up to the ceremony a year to the day, then the wedding itself and the people who attended. The adventures had since.  I also had time to read a bit of book as well.

Heading to posh casino Solaire (chosen partly because it has a free bus to and from Mall of Asia, we are by nature frugal people) later that day, we get to our buffet restaurant early and took advantage of the photo ops whilst it was quiet. Continue reading “An Anniversary, a Birthday, and a Huge Surprise!”