Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Currently in October

Eating so many fizzy & sour sweets. I tend to go through phases with sweets and chocolate where I enjoy something all the time until I get bored, currently it's tangfastics! They're pretty addictive. If you happen to just buy me a bag or two or three I'd totally be okay with that...
Enjoying scrapbooking. I have mentioned Project Life in previous posts and keep promising to show you. I will! I'm currently catching up with photos from last year. I was a bit late starting but beginning to get into it a lot more. I already love looking back at what we've done and displaying it creatively. 
Excited to meet our friends baby boy - they are finally coming to visit at the end of this month!
Learning to use my time for effectively and be more productive - I kept this in from my July post because I still haven't figured it out. I get so inspired really late at night and have a plan in place but as soon as I wake up tired I am lost and find all the other interesting, unproductive, procrastinating things to do. Ugh. It's hard.
Watching Grey's Anatomy! There was a time you may remember when I was racing through every season but just as I had 3 episodes left of season 8, LoveFilm changed to AmazonPrime and it went off; but by some micracle it appeared again on SkyGo and I've just finished watching season 9! Oh my heart! Looking forward to starting season 10 soon!
Planning our next getaway! We did think about an American roadtrip but thought since we'd been to Thailand already this year we ought to be sensible and not dip into savings. We had weeks of debate but finally settled on an English holiday back to beautiful Yorkshire where we went last year
Anticipating christmas already of course! I am so excited for the weather to get colder and all the festivities to begin - especially the German Market that comes to town every year. 
Getting back into exercising and working out. I had a routine before we went to Thailand where I worked out 3-4 days a week with a DVD in my lounge. Finally (only took months!) I'm back into it and already feeling the difference. 
Looking forward to lots of roadtrips around the country to see friends and family over the next few months. Love a long car journey with my hubby!
Celebrating the Autumn season!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Twenty five

It had to be a photo from our elephant trek to mark my twenty fifth birthday! I haven't actually taken a recent photo yet. I feel a bit torn between capturing all the best moments in life and just dropping my camera and being fully immersed in the fun but while I have the best time and the biggest laughs I seem to wish I'd taken a few photos too. You know how it goes! For my birthday which was way back on September 10th I hosted a Thai night! My best friends came over for thai inspired cocktails and a big thai feast which Sam and I cooked from scratch using what we'd learnt from our thai cookery lesson! It was one of the most fun nights I've had and I didn't take a single photo but it's ok - the memory will live on!

Twenty five is feeling good. Every year of my life gets better & better. Yes, I still have tough times and sad days but when I think of the things I've been able to do and the life I've already had at such a young age I feel so excited that there is so much more to come! Life with Sam is more than I ever dreamed it would be. 

I've thought about life a lot recently and had hundreds of conversations with Sam about what we want to do in the next few years. Travel is always on our hearts and minds and then there is that question on everyone's lips of "when are you having babies?". We've done a lot of thinking and over thinking and I guess we just concluded to stop making plans and just see what life throws at us. I've always needed to know what's going to happen next, the order things need to happen in, the need for it to be 'the right time' and as I get older, you'd think I'd be like 'we're running out of time!' and I still get an element of that but every single time we've tried to plan something it's always been altered and it's always been better! That's God working and I love it! I read 'when you make plans, God laughs'. I love imagining that. Of course He does! When I look back at everything we've ever done and the time frame things have happened it's all been perfectly right - so I'm pretty happy to let that carry on and not worry about timings. I'm a firm believer that God does not want us to miss His best for us so I'm pretty excited to see what this new year holds!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Mae Sot, Thailand

You'll probably be glad to know that this is the final post about Thailand! We said goodbye to our friends who travelled with us in Koh Lanta & continued on our way just the two of us to Mae Sot. A small district in Thailand bordering Burma. We were lucky enough to stay with our friends who moved to Thailand last December and lucky enough that they had 3 gorgeous baby kittens to play with. It was so good to see them again and so good to see the work they have been getting involved in as mission workers.

I'm not sure how much I can say so I'll give a little bit of text and a few images for you to get the picture.
Some of the work they do involves visiting a Burmese community that have set up home in a rubbish dump. There are about 200 people in this community. The conditions are absolutely horrible but they say it is easier to live here than in their own country. They have created a home for themselves and try to make a living out of sorting through the dump. As you would expect many diseases and infections are spread easily so the team our friends work for go in regularly with medical help & resources when they can.

We spent a good hour here going into the 'homes' of people, getting to know them and their situations. When I initially walked into the dump my first thought was not wanting to walk through the rubbish (and many more unmentionable things!) but a little girl ran up to me straight away with a great big smile on her face and flung her arms around my waist. It was so easy then to immediately put aside anything I thought about it all to just become part of the community for that moment. There was nothing beautiful about the way they lived but there was something strikingly beautiful about the community they had built together. By the end I wanted to stay. There was hope. This community was so strong the mountains of rubbish were almost invisible and it was just another family in their home. They were smiling always - yes, they wanted things to be better, they want to be able to go back to their country, they want real jobs, constant food and water, to not fear being thrown or pushed out all the time and a future for their younger generations but they were beginning to build the best thing they could for this moment in time.

I'm reminded how much goodness and faith can get us through everything. Having a strong community around us to celebrate the good and fight off the bad together. To be light in the darkness and to stand firm. Community is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Of all the luxurious things we did in Thailand & all the amazing places we stayed, this ending was a really special one...

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Koh Lanta & Monkey Island

A hotel room with pool access? Yes please! Walk straight out of the french doors and into a gigantic infinity pool? Why not!? Gosh, I loved Thailand! Ok, the flights might be expensive when you initially look at them but as soon as you're over there you're laughing! The places we stayed, 5* some of them would be the equivalent of paying for a cheap hotel in England and you could eat like a king for less than £10 each a day. We probably ended up paying the same amount for a 2 week holiday to Europe except we were 3 weeks in Thailand. My point is, if you love travelling you can make it happen. 

We stayed at the Crown Lanta Resort & Spa. We also found a room deal online so it's worth having a look about! Thanking Trip Advisor for so many good places!

We decided the final part of our Thailand trip would be finding an island to relax on. We had done some crazy activities in the other places & wanted this time to soak it all in and enjoy a good book! Koh Lanta was the perfect place. Being low season there were a few shops in the local town that were closed for a few months but I don't think we really missed anything. We found a few really good restaurants to try out but this wouldn't be a place to shop or find many activities to do. 

We did however book a long-tail boat ride around the surrounding islands where we stopped off to explore a cave!

We were picked up at our hotel & driven to get food & drink supplies for the day. We opted to travel in the back of the car out in the open which was ridiculously cool.

After the cave we were taken to Boo Boo Island. I was a little bit disappointed after visiting a few beaches in Thailand that they weren't what you normally see in the holiday brochures of crystal clear waters and white sand so as we pulled up to this island I was more than excited that find that places like that actually do exist! I have never experienced anything like it. Laurie (my friend) and I immediately stripped off to our bathing suits and jumped right in even before the boat fully came to shore! We swam and frolicked for about 10 minutes until we realised our Thai guides were trying to tell us something. Oooppps. We could have stayed in the water at our own risk but we thought better to stay in the shallows as apparently there are A LOT of sea urchins in these waters! We didn't want to risk any medical dramas so got out - but I have to say that little bit of time in the ocean was glorious!

There were lots of little fish swimming in the water which was fun to watch. The only thing not fun about being on a tropical island were the bugs. I've got to kill a few dreams here because places like this are kinda terrifying in reality! There was a bit of 'jungle' that had caterpillars hanging down everywhere which I didn't realise until I walked through a load (uuuuugh!) and sitting down at a table for lunch with all sorts of bugs, spiders & ants crawling around you was not my idea of a good time. When we found out we were chilling on the island for a couple of hours I opted to go for a walk down the beach & find a few rocks to climb. Laurie & I ended up sitting on them for a long while letting the sea rise up over our legs while we reflected on our time in Thailand.
Sam, the poor boy, does not enjoy beaches so he sat relaxing with the bugs (that don't bother him) until it was time to sail away.

Once off the island we were taken to 'Monkey Island'. It has a proper name (which I can't remember) but that's what the locals call it! As our boat came up to the island we saw lots of monkeys come out to see what the noise was then suddenly they swarmed the boat like something from planet of the apes! It was both terrifying and exciting! They grabbed a bunch of fruit that we'd bought for them, some ran off to enjoy it and others stayed on the boat to join us for a while!


On this particular day our friends ended the evening by GETTING ENGAGED!! So exciting!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Me & Mom Cooking School, Chiang Mai

If you're going to do a cooking school in Chiang Mai then this is the one to do! Me & Mom Cooking School. We searched around for a few but this seemed like the one we would get the most out of and boy, were we right!
Being the low season we had the class all to ourselves. Xie, our teacher, picked us up from our hotel (another reason we went with them). She was such a lovely person, we all immediately clicked and knew it would be a great day. The class was from 9am - 3pm so a full days worth of wonderful smells and tasting!

We began by taking a trip to the market where Xie taught us all about different grains of rice, what they were used for and how to prepare them. She went through lots of thai curry pastes, showed us the best sorts of sauces and spices to use in our cooking & we learnt how to find the freshest ingredients. It felt like we were being let into all sorts of secrets!
We had a little bit of time to wander the market to see what was on offer while Xie picked up some ingredients.

We then travelled to her parent's house where the cookery was to take place. The biggest surprise was their garden where they grow all of the vegetables and a few of the spices they use! We were given a full tour and shown how best to grow things. Call us silly, but Dave & I were surprised to find that pineapples do not grow on trees! Where did you think they grew? We never thought about it before but they are grown in the ground like a root vegetable! Took us a while to get to grips with that! And to find out how the spice turmeric is grown. It looks like fresh ginger & we found it fascinating watching her calve of bits of it from the ground. Felt like we learnt a wealth of stuff out there in her garden!
The best use of turmeric I found was how it stops itching of mosquito bites! I was bitten to shreds the whole 3 weeks but rubbing a little bit of turmeric into my bites took away the itch instantly. I was yellow for the rest of the day but it was worth it!

At the beginning of the day Xie gave us a list of 15 different dishes we could cook. Three soups, three curries, three stir-fry's, three sides and three desserts! Since there was the three of us we broke it up in order to have a go at cooking EVERYTHING! Being able to cook such a range of food was more than we expected so we were excited the entire time. 
Above is mango sticky rice, fried bananas with condensed milk & bananas in coconut milk & vanilla!

Some of our feast!!


This was one of our favourite days and we'd say the best Thai food we ate! Xie even gave us recipe books of all the things we made at the end so in a few weeks time for my 25th birthday I'll be cooking up a Thai feast for a few of my friends! Will be nice to bring the things we learnt there into my own kitchen!

I highly recommend this cooking school! It was so personal, so comfortable & Xie was a spectacular teacher with a great sense of humour and full of so much information & knowledge!