Friday, August 26, 2011

Grateful for total strangers

Clouds over a Hong Kong sun rise

I really need to say this, to thank the Universe for looking after me: I am so thankful and grateful for total strangers.  In the last few months of traveling, much of it solo with two little girls, I have been helped by so many complete strangers.  There are so many genuinely lovely people out there. I can not thank them all enough.

So thank you all:
  • The lovely lady working at London airport passport control for letting Zoe and I in a shorter queue.
  • The three lovely London airport hotel shuttle bus drivers for helping us with our luggage to get on and off their buses. 
  • A kind man for helping me get Zoe and our bags to our hotel room.
  • Kind lady on the London tube offering her brand new bottle of water to Abbey who was thirsty.
  • So many kind people offering me and my pregnant friend Ruth their seats on the tube in London.
  • Mr Motorcycle courier for pointing me in the direction of the lift at 5am in the morning at Terminal 5 Heathrow airport.  I was walking in the wrong direction.  
  • People (in the same situation) offering me kind words when I was upset after we had been told quite unexpectedly that there were no staff seats available out of London.
  • The lovely passengers on a few of our flights for offering to help with our bags.
  • The lovely couple for staying with Abbey during the travelator mishap.
  • The same couple for helping push Zoe in the stroller so I could carry and comfort an upset Abbey.
  • The lovely 82 year old Great Granny sitting next to us on our flight out of Amsterdam: she kindly told me how well I travelled with my girls and she was impressed at how organised I was (it is always nice to hear kind words)
  • Same lovely 82 year old Great Granny sitting next to us ordering a red wine at breakfast just before we landed in Hong Kong.  It was really 12 midnight in European time where we had just left, but boy she made me chuckle - red wine when breakfast was being served with a gorgeous sunrise streaming through the airplane windows. 
Thank you, lovely strangers.  I am ever so grateful.

Have a lovely weekend peeps.


Practicing my chopstick maneuvers

Practicing my chopstick manouvers

Tonight I am practicing my chopstick maneuvers.  Yes, with pink chopsticks (without the little helper at the end though)  I need to buy myself my own pair, don't you think?

Do tell me what you are up to tonight.

Happy Friday to you.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bread making, baking and jam

Did you know the land of the Raspberry Rainbow has a facebook page?

Well, yes it does.  I can assure you, it is updated as sporadically and inconsistently as my blog.  Actually, it is updated a little more often now, with snippets of our new life in Hong Kong.  I am consistently inconsistent, am I not?  

The last few days I have been rather excited as the Shropshire boy bought us an oven.  Ovens are not standard in Honk Kong kitchens, so we had to get a bench top one, I have been missing baking.  The one we now have, includes a bread maker that can also make jam.  I am rather smitten with it.  There are photos of my baking and bread making goodies on my facebook page

You can see what is going on over here.

Happy Thursday to you, Cat.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Champagne, roast lamb and more traveling

I am home safely after a weekend away.  No Shropshire boy and no little girls.  Just me - and I loved it!  I headed back to my home town of Melbourne for a long weekend.  There was still lots of junk in our garage and it had to be sorted and removed before our new tenants could move in.

I must say a HUGE thank you to my mum, step-dad Steve and my bestie Nell for all their help on the weekend.  I would never have gotten the garage emptied and cleaned in 2 days if it was not for their help.  Mum and Nell helped sort and cull junk, Steve made a trip to the tip, mum swept the house, the garage and the front path, Nell took things to the oppy, Steve took me and a small trailer load of things to Abbey's old kinder.  Steve fixed a few more things in the house.  They cooked me yummy meals and delicious puddings.  Mum made the best ever slow cooked roast lamb I have ever eaten.  I was driven to the bank,  the supermarket and to see my Grandma.  I was quite spoilt. It was a lovely surprise my trip coincided with the Eltham Market, I was able to get Zoe some hand made presents for her upcoming birthday (in case I run out of time to make her anything)

Best ever roast lamb

It is so rare to spend time with my mum, Steve or Nell without my girls.  I had a wonderful time.  We could talk and finish conversations - all of them - as there were no little girls interrupting us.  Of course, I missed my Shropshire boy, Abbey and Zoe.  It was worthwhile going away just to see the beaming smile on Zoe's face when I got home to Hong Kong and to have Abbey throw her arms around me and tell me she missed me.

Yes, please!

To top it off, I flew both ways in business class.  So luxurious and so much more comfortable.  Lovely champagne.  Drinks in glasses and not plastic. Metal cutlery. More room.  I was lucky enough to get the very last seat in business class on the way back to Hong Kong and I got quite a lot of sleep on this flight.  This flight went so quickly and to top it off, my two bags were number one and number six out at luggage collection.

Now I can really say I am in no hurry to travel again soon.

Have a lovely day peeps, Cat

Friday, August 19, 2011

My very own raspberry rainbow, to have and to hold

A hand made Raspberry Rainbow

Words can not express how touched I am by the lovely Jennie from A Little Vintage.

A Little Vintage

She made this gorgeous card and zippered pouch.  For me.  I squealed with delight when I opened the package.  A real raspberry rainbow that I can touch and hold.  It makes me smile every time I look at it.  Regular readers of my blog will know that I am rather addicted to fabric zippered pouches.  I can't get enough of them.

Card and a 3D raspberry rainbow

Pop over and see Jennie's gorgeous hand made dolls, they really are exquisite.  

Thank you so much Jennie.  When I gifted you the fabric, I was happy knowing it would be used and appreciated and turned into your beautiful creations.  It would not be gathering dust in our storage room. 

Have a lovely weekend peeps, I am off on a solo adventure, more about that next week :)

Love from Cat in the land of the Raspberry Rainbow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My (first Hong Kong) Creative Space

Sewing time, finally!

Yay, finally something creative is happening around here. Something other than unpacking boxes and assembling furniture.  I had to unpack some of the boxes though to find my sewing machine, overlocker and fabric.

This is my first Creative Space since moving to Hong Kong a little over a month ago.  Today I am making more zippered pouches.

I have to fiinish these by tomorrow night, so I best be off and get sewing.

Pop in and see all the lovely creating going on over here.  I have missed being a part of Our Creative Spaces, I love Thursdays!

Have a great day, Cat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Finding home via Amsterdam

Saturday, over a week ago, our bags were packed and the girls and I were in a London black cab on our way to Heathrow airport.  The Shropshire boy works for an airline, so we get some travel discounts - but you are always on standby.  You never know if you will get on a flight or not.  We knew there were 3 flights leaving London that afternoon/evening and they were all listed as "amber" - meaning we should have a reasonable chance to get on one of them.  If they had been "red", there would be much less chance.  I had my positive cap on.  We are going to get on one of these flights was my mantra for the day.

I was in no way prepared to be flatly turned away and told that there was no chance we would get on a flight that day.  Or the next day for that matter.  We were not the only ones turned away, many other staff travelers were.

I could barely stop myself from having a panic attack. There were tears.  There was swearing under my breath.  I called my Shropshire boy in Hong Kong and we talked it through.  I could go back to our friends apartment for a few days, but Abbey would then miss the start of kinder.  I could just turn up for every flight and hope they could get me on the next day - this sounded exhausting to do everyday with two little girls and our luggage and a stroller.  Suddenly, Hong Kong felt so far away. I felt so alone.   Our discounted travel was no longer as wonderful as it had first seemed.

We checked other airline carriers, to see if anyone else flew to Hong Kong.  Few did and the expense was just too much.  We could go back to Shropshire and stay with our family for the rest of the week and wait till the flights freed up again, when ever that may be. I really wanted Abbey to start kinder on time, this was very important to me - a new kinder in a new country.

We finally decided it was best the girls and I got a flight to Amsterdam, then a flight to Hong Kong from there as these flights were not as busy as the ones out of London.  As long as our tickets could be used from Amsterdam.

The Shropshire boy could check the Amsterdam flight, and it was telling him there were lots of free seats.  I was reluctant to believe him as it had told us earlier in that day they there were seats available from London when clearly there were not.

I lined up again at the staff check in counter and yes, the tickets we had were valid to be used from Amsterdam also.  I asked them to confirm there were ample seats available on the flight out of Amsterdam the next day - yes there were many seats free.

By now, it was approaching the girls dinner time, so I was drip feeding them food from my travel stash (I always pack lots of extra food, I have learnt to do this from experience)  I pushed our trolley of luggage and stroller from one end of the terminal to the other, Zoe sitting on the trolley handle, Abbey dragging her feet slowly behind me .  Luckily, another airline carrier had flights available the next morning to get us out of London to Amsterdam.  We took a chance and I booked our flight tickets.  There was always a chance the Amsterdam flight could fill up and we could be stuck there.  I then walked to the next terminal at Heathrow,  trolley and girls in tow, to book a hotel for the night.

There was a huge range of rooms available, from 200 pounds to 700 pounds for one night.  I called the Shropshire boy to get him to find us a cheaper room online, but he could not do an internet search for that night as Hong Kong are 7 hours ahead of the UK and Hong Kong had clicked over to the next day.  I was starting to panic again.  Luckily, the booking agent called me over and said he found a much cheaper hotel with rooms available.  We booked the room immediately and headed off to the bus terminal to get a shuttle bus to the hotel.

We had just missed a bus and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one.  Finally at the hotel, checking in, we were very lucky to arrive just 10 minutes before a whole bus load of Welsh families (who had spent the day at Legoland)  We dumped our bags and the stroller in our room and headed to the hotel restaurant for a very average meal, then back to our room for bed.

Unfortunatly, our flight to Amsterdam was very early, at 7.20am. I did not sleep very well as I was scared I would sleep through the two alarms I had set. We had to get up at 4am to catch the hotel shuttle bus to take us to the airport to check in on time.  By the time we were checked in,  I was exhausted already, and we had not even left England!

The flight to Amsterdam was only 45 minutes long.  For some reason, I felt so sick on this flight, I was suffering from terrible nausea.  Not much fun when you are trying to entertain two little girls.
I was so happy to land in Amsterdam so the nausea would stop. More waiting in queues for passport control then we collected our bags and the stroller and set off to check in for our flight back to Hong Kong.

I was so relieved they checked us in right away - we were going back to HongHong Kong - yay!

One of the funny things about this,  there was another staff mum, with two kids, who caught the same flight from London, wanting to get the Amsterdam flight back to Hong Kong.  We became very chatty with each other, and Abbey her her daughter were having a great time playing together.  It made the 4 hours waiting in Amsterdam go very quickly.

Finally, we could board the flight to London.  The first few hours were easy, the girls either ate, slept or watched their TV's - so many kids TV programs and movies to choose from.  The last few hours were not so good.  I had a tummy ache, the runs and was feeling nauseous again.  I then started to feel like I would vomit and had a terrible head ache.  30 minutes before landing, Abbey fell asleep.  I rushed to the toilet and vomited.  Seven minutes before landing, Zoe fell asleep.  I was feeling worse than ever and vomited again - in a paper bag, not much fun.  After this, I felt much better, then we landed.  I woke up two sleeping girls.  Abbey was very cranky.  She was yelling and refusing to walk. I was carrying a very drowsy Zoe on one hip while also pulling along our wheelie hand luggage bag, talking to Abbey, to encourage her to walk behind me.  She did so, very reluctantly, all the while making little yells of "ahhh". She does this when she is very tired.  Thank goodness the stroller was waiting for us as soon as we got off the plane.  Zoe was put in it, I could then hold Abbey's hand and pull our wheelie bag along.  We we in Hong Kong.  I was so relieved.  The Shropshire boy was so close, waiting for us.

Hong Kong airport is HUGE.  We still had a long walk, then a train ride to get us out.  I got onto the first travelator (horizontal escalator) and some how, Abbey did not follow me on.  She just stood still, crying, while Zoe and I moved off.  I was asking her to get on the travelator with us but she was refusing, just standing there crying.  There was nothing I could do.  The Hong Kong travelators are very, very long.  A crowd was gathering around Abbey, wondering who she belonged too. A kind couple waited with her until Zoe and I could get off the travelator and walk back to her (did I mention how long the Hong Kong travelators are, oh yes, they are)  The lovely couple offered to help us and the man pushed Zoe in the stroller while I comforted an upset Abbey.  We finally got to the train and Abbey agreed to walk.  Then to immigration and next to collect our luggage.  I put as much as I could on a trolley and we finally made our way slowly out.  I was so happy to see the Shropshire boy waiting for us.  I wanted to collapse.  I felt like I had been put through a wringer a few times over.

Do you know what?  I felt so happy to be "home".  The realisation that Hong Kong was now our home hit me hard - but in a good way.  I could not help but grin. I was home.  We were back with the Shropshire boy again. I had survived an awful journey home.  All was well in my world again.

I am in no hurry to travel again soon.  The jet lag and time difference change has taken us a whole week to get over.  We are slowly settling into our new life in Hong Kong.  Abbey is loving her new kinder and making new friends.  Zoe and I have begun exploring.   We have been swimming in the pool.  Lots.

There are still boxes to unpack and furniture to assemble, but I am in no hurry.  We are home.

I hope all is well in your world.

Cat xox

How I felt

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Let's drool over some Liberty Tana Lawn, shall we?

Bag de Liberty.

Hi lovelies,

We are (finally) back in Hong Kong.  It was a crazy journey home, I need to talk about that in a separate post.

We had the most wonderful time away. A week spent with family in Shropshire and almost a week with friends in London.  Abbey and Zoe loved playing with their Shropshire cousins and being spoilt by Shropshire Nanny and Shropshire Auntie.  It was hard to leave, but the Shropshire boy had to go back to work, and London was calling my name.

I have always been fascinated with the UK.  I can't quite explain why, the amazing history draws me in for sure.  Most of my ancestors come from the UK.  I grew up watching English TV shows,  I knew I would always visit, and hopefully live there one day too.  I had a European holiday in 1998, nine amazing weeks backpacking around Europe, and of course the UK was visited.  My childhood friend Ruth was living in London, and she showed me around. I fell in love with London, the city.  Not so in love with the weather.  It was through Ruth and her husband Jason that the Shropshire boy and I met briefly on this trip.  After my nine amazing weeks in Europe, I returned home to Melbourne and was made redundant from my job.  Actually, while in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, standing in a phone box with a view of a glacier, I was told work were giving out redundancies - and did I want one?   I knew I had to move to London, had to have that experience, so how could I say no?

I moved to London in 1999, full of excitement and ready for an adventure.  Ruth and Jason let me stay with them and showed me around.  I met my Shropshire boy properly this time and we fell in love quickly and deeply.  So London is special to me now, and I had to show it to Abbey and Zoe on this trip.

London really is an amazing city. So new and old at the same time. People from all over the world call London home. So much amazing live music to be seen.  The pubs. The fascinating history. I was so excited to be visiting again. Flying into Heathrow, I would barely contain my excitement.  I wanted to show my girls London, take them to places the Shropshire boy and I have been too.  But first,  just for me,  I had to visit Liberty of London.

Liberty building

It did not disappoint. The building itself is beautiful.  The whole shop is full of gorgeous things to buy.  I had birthday money to spend - saved up for this very visit to Liberty.  I knew I could choose two different fabrics to make dresses for me with this sweet pattern.

Zoe had fun checking out all the lovely fabric (thank you Ruth, for entertaining Abbey so I could have a proper look at all the fabric)

Zoe loving Liberty Tana Lawn

There were so many luscious fabrics to choose from.  I thought it might be difficult to choose, but these two really grabbed me.

Liberty Tana Lawn

London and Shropshire will always be special to me.  We had such a lovely time away, I look forward to our next trip to the UK.

Now, I still have this huge pile of boxes to sort through.  Not to mention, Abbey, Zoe and I are still on UK time, so we have been up at weird hours during the nights.  We will be taking it slowly this week.

I hope you are all well, Cat.