A Long, Tough Winter

It has been one long, tough winter for the plants on our roof terrace. They had to deal with inept gardeners as The Hubs and I took turns overwatering and underwatering them, they had to survive an onslaught by mealey bugs and white flies (horrid little critters, both of them), and then after they’d survived all that, they were subjected to Poppy’s unusual brand of botanical experiments: namely digging up said plants, and seeing how they fared with their roots in the air and their leaves in the ground (the answer to that one: not well). Continue reading

A Battle of Persistence

It’s a little known fact that spiders are the most persistent animal out there. This fact is little known because I just made it up, but it should be true because my god are those critters stubborn.

At this time of year Hong Kong is already hot and humid (gravity might as well not exist as far as my frizz is concerned), and that means spiders are appearing from whatever place they have been hiding all winter. Said spiders are still small at this point but they have a predilection for weaving their webs across hiking trails at face height. Yep.

I go hiking daily, and at the moment this is how it goes:

1. Celine and Poppy arrive at hiking trails stupidly early so no one has been yet. Celine clears the spiderwebs with a stick as she walks. Poppy finds a spot of wet mud and rolls around in it (the latter is unrelated but is a frequent enough occurrence to warrant a mention) Continue reading

What gives, mother nature?

Seriously, what gives?

There are plenty of green-thumbed-mother-earth types out there. I say this with envy because I, sadly, am not one of them. Most house plants I’ve owned (they have been few and far between) have withered and died within seconds of entering my home. This includes a cactus. Yes, I overwatered it.

But still, I figured that outdoor plants are resilient, even if they are potted plants. So, as long as I keep them watered and in the sunshine, they’ll be fine, right? Continue reading

Scrubbed Walls and RSI

I think I may have SRSI (Scrubbing Repetitive Strain Injury). What’s that, you ask?

It’s an injury that afflicts those who have to pry the photo frames they put up on the wall using double sided tape.

You see, we are moving apartments tomorrow, which is epically exciting. We have found somewhere with good natural light (hard to find Hong Kong, where buildings are so close to each other you could spit a cherry stone and easily hit your neighbour’s windows), with an oven (because life without an oven is just not worth living) and with an open plan kitchen (about as common as hen’s teeth). These things are all rare individually but together they’re Hong Kong Real Estate Gold Dust. The Jackpot. The Holy Grail.

When you find such an apartment the only thing to do is bring a sleeping bag with you, change the locks, and barricade yourself inside, declaring squatters rights until the flat is yours. To do anything else is to risk losing it. Which is why I won’t be leaving our new apartment, nor answering calls for the next three months, at which point the flat will become mine.

Just joking.

It takes six months. Continue reading

Shanghai, puzzles, and bladder pressure.

The husband and I went to Shanghai for a long weekend just recently. I know it sounds pretty exotic, but for us it’s actually only two and a half hours by plane, so kind of like going from New York to – I don’t know, Boston? Philly? I have no concept really. Suffice to say it’s just around the corner.

So anyway – you know when you’re on holiday with your significant other, and it’s a Saturday night, and you decide to go to a bar together for a drink, and you just walk in through the door?

Well, let me tell you, that is SO passé. So 2013. It’s boring. It’s mundane. It’s banal.We westerners are way behind the times.  Continue reading

V is for Views and Vistas of the Hong Kong New Territories

Over Easter, my husband and I spent the long weekend hiking up in Northern Hong Kong, in the New Territories. We did half of the Maclehose Trail, a huge 100k trail that crosses the whole of the New Territories from East to West. Some nutters athletes do this all in one go for the annual Trailwaker race. A friend of Will’s holds the record with his team for doing all 100k in just over 15hours. I know, I don’t get it either. It makes me want to lie down and have a snooze.

The hike was really good fun, and the views were breathtaking. On the first day we did 17k, on the second day 22k, and 16k on the third day (we had aimed for 28k but our legs gave out. Again how anyone does 100k in one go is beyond me). We climbed up around 1k of elevation a day, and descended about that much. I don’t know if what we climbed are big hills or small mountains. I’m going for small mountains because it sounds much more impressive.

What was incredibly though was the sheer variety of the views. At times it felt like we were going from one country to another, what we were seeing was so different.

We started off at High Island Reservoir, where the water was an incredible turquoise colour:


Doesn’t this look like it’s right out of a James Bond film? It could be part of Dr No’s lair.

Continue reading

T is for Test (of the driving variety)

I hold my hands up in hang my head in shame – I am in my very (very) late twenties and I still can’t drive.

I grew up in London and moved to Hong Kong. I had no need for a car in London, I have even less of a need for a car in Hong Kong. Hence why I’ve done nothing to learn how to drive so far. At the same time though, I’m not in bad company. My favourite comedian Dara O’Briain didn’t learn to drive until he was 34. So I figure I have 5 years until it gets really embarrassing. I should *hopefully* be able to pass my test in the next 5 years but you never know. I might be that bad.

Anyway, it’s official, I’m finally doing something about it (and you know it’s official when it’s on the internet). I’ve signed up for driving lessons.

That’s driving lessons in Hong Kong. There’s probably going to be a session on how to toot your horn at everything that moves, and another on how to lurch around corners in a way that is guaranteed to make any passenger in the back carsick. So who knows what kind of driving skills I’ll finish up with, but at the very least I’ll have a piece of paper that says I can drive a car.

A piece of paper that I will promptly put away in a box and not look at again for years. But I’ll have it, and that’s worth something (I hope).

If you have any driving lessons advice – please share, as I will no doubt need a LOT of advice (I fear I may turn out to be a pretty poor driver, and every little bit helps). Otherwise, here is one of my favourite sketches from Dara O’Briain on what it’s like to learn to drive in your thirties.

I am praying that I have accumulated a bedrock of confidence that will allow me to deal with having someone beep their horn at me if I stall the car. So far, said bedrock of confidence is cowering in a corner somewhere and I can’t find it. I will report back after my first lesson (steady on, I’ve only just signed up, haven’t had time for a lesson yet. Need to psyche myself up first!)

Have you got any funny / bad stories from your early driving days? If so please share – mainly so I can feel better when I mess it all up once out and on the road!

Q is for Quantum Leap in Follows (and an invitation to promote your blog/book/art/whatever as a thank you)

This is a bit of a tenuous link to the letter Q, but I’m going with it.

This weekend marks the 1month anniversary of this blog (yay!), and after writing yesterday’s post I decided to pop over and check out my blog stats. I’ve purposefully kept away, because there is nothing more depressing than looking at a big fat zero under the “follower” heading. So, imagine my surprise to find that I had broken the 60 followers mark (Quantum Leap! There’s the tenuous Q link 😉 ) So a big, BIG thank you to all of you who follow and take the time to stop by and read/comment. I love hearing from you, and it’s been a fantastic way to discover new people and new blogs too.

To celebrate my one month blogiversary (is that a thing?), I wanted to give something back to you all as a little thank you for sticking with me for my first month. Continue reading

On Green but Ghostly Hong Kong

Today I thought I would take you on a little trip to my part of the world.

If you think of Hong Kong, you probably think concrete jungle, hectic, lots of noise, lots of taxis, lots of horn beeping, shopping malls, and wet markets with viscera dripping onto the floor. Well you’d be right (especially on that last part, there’s a butcher at the end of my street where there is always a combination of lungs, livers, hearts, the odd brain, tongue etc hanging off hooks out in the open. I’ll leave you to imagine the smell in the summer….)

But the amazing thing about Hong Kong island (which is where I live) is that 60% of it is not built on. It’s just green, rolling hills, amazing for hiking. These hill climb up quite high so that when it’s overcast you can easily find yourself hiking inside the clouds, making it a very cool and eerie experience: Continue reading