Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday photo: target audience?

What a nightmare it must be to decide on a name for a company aiming at international appeal. Think about all those words that could offend.

This jewellery company decided it was best to play it safe:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Here's one I made earlier...

Six weeks ago: someone asks me if I’d like to join their friend’s table for the Melbourne Cup charity lunch at the beginning of November. I don’t know everyone on the table but I say yes.

Five weeks ago: someone mentions that there’s a theme to our fascinators. (A fascinator is a headpiece – not as full as a hat; it perches on the side of your head.) Someone has seen a picture that they like and perhaps we could find someone to make them.

Four and a half weeks ago: no-one’s quite sure who the twelve women are on the table but someone thinks one of the other women has an idea for a fascinator.

Four weeks ago: No-one has contacted K or I talk about hats. I wonder if K and I are control freaks. But no-one else seems to be worried that no-one knows anything.

Three and a half weeks ago: K emails some of the women she does know to find out what is being proposed. I hear from K that one person answered the email and they think someone had an idea for a fascinator. Maybe we can find someone to make it for us.

Three weeks ago: I start thinking, I google, look at magazines and books. I send K a picture. We wait a bit because one of the women knows that someone had seen a picture they liked for our fascinators and maybe someone’s got it in hand.

Two and a half weeks ago: we send around a picture to some of the women we’ve discovered are on the proposed table.

Two weeks ago: K and I go to Chinatown to purchase goodies to make fascinators.

One week ago: I begin a prototype.

Yesterday: I complete the prototype.

This morning: eight women came over to my apartment to learn, Blue Peter style, to make their own fascinator. We made three extras for the women who couldn’t come today but someone is certain they know who they are.

Tuesday next week: Melbourne Cup.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two for tea; tea for two

I had a lovely leisurely tea at Cha By the Park the other day with a friend. It's interior is gorgeous and so bijou you feel as though you're in someone's home. It serves the best range of teas: two choices of Long Jin (Dragon Well) my most favourite green tea. 

The park (in its name) is Benjasiri Park, over Sukhumvit Road. I feel a relationship coming on...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wood Street, Bangkok

We've known about 'Wood Street' for as long as we've been here. In our early days expats would say wisely 'if you want furniture, you should go to Wood Street.' They said it knowingly even though I'd put money on them never having been. Crumbs, I've even done it myself.

Now I can say it knowingly even though it took us five years to go...

We took the MRT (underground) to Bang Su and then in the drizzle we tried to follow our map. (Ha ha ha ha.) We walked for miles in the wrong direction and then got a taxi to the right place (Prachanarumit Road.)

Here are a few photos...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beginner writer + instinct - experience/wisdom/knowledge = ?

I have finally conquered that niggling bit of the edit. I realized I had an instinct but I’d been batting it away; firstly, I knew how much work it was going to be and secondly, what do I know? Who am I to have instincts?

What is instinct without wisdom? Or knowledge? Or maybe experience. Should you listen?

When you’re learning something it’s really difficult to know whether to trust your instincts or not. But I have learned that when a more experienced writer than I has looked at my manuscript and made a comment, on several occasions I’ve said, ‘yeah… I sort of knew that.’ Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I know everything (oh dear lord; I actually know nothing) but quite often – enough times to become aware of it – I’ve had that little thought come into my head: ‘you knew this already didn’t you?’

I had vowed to listen a bit more to this voice but it can be quiet over the rest of the din in my head. Then on Saturday night it raised its voice, ‘you gotta get rid of the second library scene,’ it said. ‘It’s stealing the first library scene’s thunder. It’s gotta go. Hello? HELLO? Can you hear me?’

I could. I acknowledged Voice but it was late so I printed out the two scenes and went to bed. Yesterday I got up early and brought the two scenes together.

Then I saw this: “Good writers learn how to pare a manuscript down to its most essential elements, carving away the word count fat that marks so many beginning writers” from here and I knew I’d done the right thing.

Instincts are good but sometimes confidence is required in tandem.

Hello? Hello Confidence? Can you hear me? Can I have some please?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Every day is Groundhog Day for writers

Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes to Daughter. Normal life has resumed here. Half term is nearly over. Daughter and Husband are preparing for piano exams; Son has done all his homework (I think and hope) and Daughter is finishing homework after her unscheduled days sick. We’ve done some essential furniture shopping – cheap and cheerful for the kids and something nicer for our communal areas. (For new readers, we moved apartment about six weeks ago and yes, we’re still in chaos.) I've attempted to sort my office out. I emptied all the cupboards and... well, then I lost interest and just left most of it on the floor, the sofa, in bags...

I haven’t been reading blogs or replied to comments here since Daughter was sick and for that I apologise. I will try and get around to it soon.

I am trying to prioritise my editing. Since I've introduced my public humiliation announcements I am indeed humiliated. I’ve got stuck in some sort of Groundhog Day for writers. Edit Hell is on a loop. It doesn’t matter where in my manuscript I start revising when I look at the page number to check out my progress it’s ALWAYS between pages 36-9. Arggggh.

Public humiliation tactic: progress (or otherwise) on my edit: page 36-9 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Photo: Taxi dashboard - badly photoshopped

It's quite common for taxis to have shrines on their dashboard. My book, the brilliant Very Thai says that taxis are "culturally still a boat. The steering column doubles as the prow, the vehicles sacred 'head' where offerings go [to] honour Mae Yanang, the protective spirit of the boat." It goes on to say in other taxis "the dashboard plays host to assemblages of souvenirs, cute cartoon mascots, model cars, wax fruit, heart shaped stickers or toy helicopters..." I suspect that this taxi falls into this category.

I flatly refuse to add my edit update today - even for public humiliation purposes.

For those that don't know we had a major disruption to life on Wed/Thur as Daughter was rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis. She didn't have it; she had a stomach infection but I have therefore done nothing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here's a warning for you...

Oh I’ve been jumping up and down and squealing at the new followers. Thank you; thank you Rach for your Platform-Building Crusade. Actually I have to be honest I don’t like reciprocal following for the sake of increasing numbers but what I do like about this is that we’re all writers, right? So that’s not just for the sake of it…

Another confession I have to make to my new followers is about tea stains.  If I’m talking about writing it’s often a sign I’m not writing… obviously, to someone who wants to finish her book, this is A Bad Thing.

I’m trying to change the Bad Thing into Good Thing. Good Thing is writing; or editing. So I’ve implemented a new habit: I’m ending each post with an edit status.  Public humiliation tactic: progress (or otherwise) on my edit: page xx. This is working well in that I’m embarrassed to have to say I’ve done very little editing since yesterday. It’s good that I’m embarrassed but that’s not really enough. I need to move the embarrassment and inaction towards pride and action because I’ve made progress. I am determined that pitiful progress won’t happen again tomorrow. Watch this space.

So, when I’m not talking about writing because I am writing (Good Thing) I quite often post about my life as a British woman in Thailand or my family or something I see on the street, or somewhere I go. This might mean my blog is somewhat eclectic but that’s just the way it goes. Anyway, now you know.

Public humiliation tactic: progress (or otherwise) on my edit: page 39 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rach Writes: Inaugural Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade


When I wonder why I blog I always come back to the same thing – because I love it. Would I do it if I had no comments, no followers? Yes, if I could see from the stats that people were still visiting, reading; finding out that pineapples really do grow on the ground and not on trees, checking out enormous spiders and enjoying pictures of Crystal Tips and Alistair.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love seeing my follower list increasing – and look I am so near 100. So when I came across this brilliant idea, the Inaugural Writers’ Platform-Building Crusade from Rach Writes I knew I had to be involved. There are lots of aspiring writers, bloggers, agents, publishers and  published authors out there all wanting to build their online platforms.

So how to get involved? Go along to this post from Rach Writes and leave a comment with your blogging name and a link to your site. Don’t forget to follow Rach Writes so that you get updates about the Crusade and of course check out the other Crusaders… check them out and follow them so they’ll visit you.

Rach says:
  • Write about the Crusade on your blog and link back to this post
  • Encourage your followers to come to Rach Writes… and join up (it will help them too!)
  • Tweet about the Crusade, including a link to this post ( and #WPBC1.  Encourage re-tweets. I'm @RachaelHarrie if you want to follow me in the Twitterverse too
  • Pop it on Facebook
  • Generally, spread the word…
I’ll publish a list of all the Crusaders on Rach Writes.., and I’ll update the list as people join in on future Crusades.

So I’m in. Are you?


Public humiliation tactic: progress (or otherwise) on my edit: page 36 (but I'm off to do some now.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday memories: Christmas 1986

I’d been going out with Not Yet Husband for about two months. Notions of husbands couldn’t be further from my mind because my first term at university had finished and we were meeting for the first time on fresh turf: Covent Garden. Just us. Would we still like each other away from university?

(I just went to ask Husband if he had any fond memories of this trip. Readers, he had no memory of the momentous occasion. He looked hazy and said, ‘was it a big meet up in the Punch and Judy?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘it was just us.’ ‘Oh. Did we have lunch in that place in the middle?’ I said, ‘you’re guessing aren’t you?’ He said, ‘well I have lots of memories of Covent Garden…’ I said, ‘but not this special one?’)

To be fair to the old bloke his faculties are probably going. He got glasses for the first time yesterday: reading glasses. At last I’m not the only one… When he got home from the glasses trip he did a bit of tidying. He ventured into the button box where he found a number of treasures. A tie pin (aw gawd, did I really fall for a man who wore a tie pin?); an ARP badge (air raid patrol) and a single earring of mine.

He remembered (vaguely) that these earrings had been purchased by him in our dating days (though he couldn’t put an exact date on it) during a trip to Covent Garden (where we might or might not have been with other people) and was distressed that he had only found one. (The other one was in my jewellery box; I had kept it for sentimental reasons in spite of its singleton status.)

We had wandered about Covent Garden market and saw these gorgeous earrings. They were expensive and we were students but Not Yet Husband told the girl he wanted them. To our horror, the expensive price tag was for a single earring only (damn that trendy Covent Garden) but by this time NYH was unable to back out.

Regular readers will know how much I like lizards. I have blogged about all sorts – monitor lizards here and here; a blue crested lizard here; various gecko visitors here and a skink here. But I thought the lizard fascination grew while I was in Thailand; apparently not.

I wonder what those two young people wandering around Covent Garden in Christmas 1986 would have thought if they’d been told what life had in store for them.

For scale these are about 1cm tall and wide. They are inserted from the back of the ear lobe.


As a public humiliation tactic, each day I will show my progress (or otherwise) on my edit: page 31.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh what a lovely day...

I had the loveliest birthday yesterday.

Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes. Messages came in all day via Facebook which is particularly lovely when cards don’t arrive overseas in time for the right day.

I’m always the first to wake in this house (first to bed too.) And this is the sight that greeted me at the crack of dawn when I crept out of our bedroom:

There was a pile of presents on the table that I presumed I wasn’t allowed to open… Oh the self control… eventually, when everyone was up I got to open the gifts. This was one of them:

(Is it wrong to be so excited by a label maker?)

After much research, Daughter made a wheat free chocolate cake that was delicious but was spectacular this morning after a night in the fridge. I know because I had some for breakfast.

We had dinner at Face in Sukhumvit Soi 38 (I've never been before but it's a gorgeous complex of traditional Thai houses) and then went to see Red at the cinema.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Thought for Thursday: guilt

Something came up at book club on Tuesday. One of our new members asked if people read more now that they are expats. Answers were split. I don’t read more; I’ve always read obsessively.

Someone asked about guilt. They said: do you feel guilty taking the time to read? Quite a few people did.

I don’t. It’s not like I’d be dusting under the sofa if I weren’t reading, is it?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

On being really irritating

I was tucked away working in my office last Saturday. All the rooms in our new apartment are arranged off the central communal space so no one is ever very far away. (This can be a good and a bad thing.) Everyone was home pottering about. I was unaware of them. Later, when I thought back to what had happened, I realized I’d heard this:

Setting: In the distant subconscious of Jenny’s brain.

Son: Dad. Shhh: Mum!
Husband: *singing* little boxes made of ticky tacky;
Son: *urgently* DAD! Shhh. Mum’ll start…
Husband: Huh?
Me: *singing* little boxes, little boxes, little boxes all the same…
Son: *tutting* Oh never mind. It’s too late.

I sang Little Boxes aloud to everyone’s irritation for approximately twenty four hours until after lunch on Sunday, this happened:

Setting: the dining room table. Son is doing homework. Jenny is working. Husband is doing something; it wasn’t the tax returns… though it probably should have been.

Son: *Looking up* How do you spell ukulele?
Me: *bursts into song* ukulele; ukulele, ukulele me!
Husband: *bursts into song in the style of George Formby* I’m leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street in case a certain little lady comes by… (He actually does the ukulele actions: that must be doing air ukulele?)
Son: Grrrrrr
Me: U-K-E-L-E-L-E (I even spelt it wrong)

It’s now Wednesday and I’m still singing Ukulele; ukulele, ukulele me!

I even irritate myself sometimes but at least I’ve learned to spell ukulele, ukulele, ukulele me!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I went over to Siam Paragon again today.

A week since my first blog about it and the Krispy Kreme Doughnut frenzy is ongoing. Look at today's queue! There are rumours that they are being resold in MBK for twice the price.Yesterday there was a sale in school: the doughnuts went to the highest bidders. The last doughnut went for 400 Thai Baht (a bit over £8 or $13.) The only redeeming fact about this is that the money was raised for charity.

(Sorry about the dodgy photoshopping job - I can't get the staff. They must all be queuing for doughnuts.)

For anyone that didn't see in my comments I did find out why there was a queue on the first day. I googled it and found this promise:

- 1st customer gets 1 year supply of a dozen donuts per week
- 2nd customer gets 6 months supply of a dozen donuts per week
- 3rd customer gets 3 months supply of a dozen donuts per week
- 4th-100th customers get 1 month supply of a dozen donuts per week
- 101th-200th customers get 1 dozen free donuts 

There are no more free doughnuts to be had people.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Bangkok dairy diary

I was never very conscious of dairy in my diet until I came here. I suppose that might have been because I hadn’t given it a second thought. But when you’re served condensed milk with your tea it’s difficult not to fantasize about cow’s milk (skimmed, please) as an essential ingredient in your diet.

The Thai diet doesn’t include dairy products though thankfully - as I can’t imagine tea without milk in it - it’s purchasable in local supermarkets in all its variation: fat, semi and skinny. Condensed milk is popular over here; it lasts forever and nothing is too sweet for a Thai tooth. As time has passed, I’ve become more tolerant and if I’m out and about I’ll shrug and pour a tiny bit of condensed milk into my tea if that's all that's on offer. Still, it’s never going to become a habit, not even to avoid smelling like dairy. (I remember being mortified when I discovered that Thais think white westerners smell of cheese/milk. Actually…I’m still a bit ‘ewugh’ about that.)

Cheese is a staple too – particularly now there’s a vegetarian in the house. It’s so versatile but most of what we bought here was rubbery, bland and expensive. We met a French family when we arrived here. Son was a good friend of their elder boy and one day when I must have been withdrawing from the lack of decent cheese, I asked Son to enquire where they bought their cheese. They’re French, I thought, they’ll know some secret cheese emporium… Son came back with a French shrug… ‘France’ was the answer. They told Son they don’t bother… I still get a yearning now and again but it’s also so fattening unless it’s a corker, I won’t waste the calories.)

I grew up on good strong flavoured varieties like Stilton, Camembert and cheddar that could make your eyes sting. Limburger made an appearance too, mostly for the kudos of being able to get it in your mouth without being utterly repulsed by the smell. Still, I like mine ripe; knocking on the cupboard door if possible. Husband and Daughter are cheese wusses. Although I’ve tried to train Husband in the delights of the stinky foodstuff he still shudders at some of the memories he has of my family’s cheese plate. The anecdotes are unpublishable here.

Son and I were very pleased to discover, two weeks in a row, some particularly tasty Camembert in one of our local supermarkets.

We’ve had a lot of pleasure out of the cheese; a sneaky wedge here, a sandwich there. Even the necessity for me to eat it on rice cracker rather than bread hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm. We’ve also had quite a lot of peripheral enjoyment: watching Daughter’s expression when she opens the fridge because the Camembert shouts out its presence with a particular pungency. We’ve had endless amusement devising ways of getting her to inadvertently smell the cheese. ‘Hey, Daughter,’ we’ve said full of faux enthusiasm, ‘check this out.’ She turns around only for us to shove the tub under her nose: we’re rewarded with that face again. Such fun.

Friday, October 01, 2010

(Random) Friday Photo

Yesterday was a Bad Day.

I toyed with flinging my manuscript out of the window. There was an unusual but welcome wind; from the 21st floor it might have made an interesting piece of performance art.

Instead I took myself off for some chocolate a walk down my new soi. I spotted this random teapot which stood about 75cm tall. I would rather like one for my balcony but maybe not in red.

The teapot cheered me up but not as much as the Dairy Milk Chocolate.