Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas decorations

This is the grotesque Christmas display in the roundabout at the entrance to our complex. It's so fake looking and I groan every time I pass it. In our flat, meanwhile, we have one decoration and one poinsettia. :) That's more than enough because we're at my Mum and Dad's for Christmas in Canada, and they always have a nice tree and Christmas tablecloths, napkins, and lights.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Japanese Muscat Gummy Candy

"Its translucent color so alluring and taste and aroma so gentle and mellow offer admiring feelings of a graceful lady. Enjoy soft and juicy Kasugai Muscat Gummy."

Sunday, 28 November 2010


Years ago I tried jogging. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a whole school year I went to the university gym and ran around the indoor track, and found it to be quite strenuous. It's fair to say that I didn't enjoy it at all. My legs hurt, my lungs hurt, and worst of all, it didn't seem to improve as I continued to do it. I don't know why, but eight months later I wasn't any faster or better or more relaxed. Well, I hate this as much now as the day I began, I said to myself, so I'm quitting.

I haven't run since then. I have always been envious of those who see running as such an enjoyable hobby. They talk about letting their mind relax and the time slipping by. Sonya started to run and train for races, and everyone who jogs just seems so jolly about it. Meanwhile, I got into cycling instead, and loved it! I cycled to work every day for three and a half years and also did a cycling trip in France and Belgium.

We brought our bikes to Hong Kong but if I'm perfectly honest, I'm scared of riding here on the roads. I need to find some off-road trails instead. In the meantime, I haven't been doing much exercise. So, I decided it's time to learn to enjoy running.

I have been out for a half hour jog in the mornings about ten times now, spaced over two months. I enjoy it a lot more now than I did at university. The biggest difference is that running outdoors is so much better than that dark, dingy indoor track at university. When I'm running here I go along a road with a beautiful view out to the shipping lanes. Then I turn along a street with treed hills on each side. I also pass a lot of office buildings and residential blocks. (How can anyone enjoy a treadmill? It's so boring!) The scenery is also one thing I liked about cycling, and it makes jogging so much more bearable.

In addition, the fitness I built up from cycling has made jogging less of a chore. I'm actually not a great runner, but I remember how the more I cycled the easier it got, and I feel confident that my jogging will improve. I can already run for five to eight minutes at a time before I take a walking break, up from three minutes when I started. This gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

So, I wouldn't say that I am a committed runner just yet. But I am learning to like it and I can feel its benefits. We are very fortunate here that the weather will allow me to continue running outdoors until next summer (when it becomes much, much too hot again). By then maybe I'll like it enough that I will tolerate the treadmill.

Friday, 19 November 2010

camping "holiday"

I just got back from a week's camping with 180 twelve year old students. We were there to expand our horizons, try some new things, and have active fun. Actually it was exhausting for the students, and not that exhausting for me. The camp was run by a group of youth leaders and they did all the work while I admired the view. :)

But then I got sick and ended up spending two days at home, lying on the couch and moaning a bit. Eventually I recovered, thankfully, and made it back to camp. Sadly I missed the best parts of the week--the hiking, kayaking, and gorging. Maybe next year?

Friday, 29 October 2010

October trip to the UK

Ant's Nan, Etta, and Rachele's daughter, Kaitlin. She is our first niece!

Rachele helped Kaitin model her Hong Kong fashion.

Helen and I chatting--it was great to visit with her again, and Pari and Geary.

Pari and Geary both liked their new Hong Kong newspaper classified aprons. Early Christmas presents. :)

Friday, 1 October 2010

happy times

A few good things that have happened lately:

Ant and I are both happy at work--though very busy. Every night this fortnight we fell into bed. But a public holiday today has helped us recharge a bit.

We had lunch with dear friends from church last week. It's great to feel as though we are making friends more and more. And we got to try these beetroot brownies while there--exciting times for me (not so much for Ant)!

We went on a sail boat trip with some friends from volleyball. The weather was perfect, the trip was very relaxing. We sailed out past the main harbour to a more remote area and went for a swim. We had a boat-picnic and chatted away with new people. Very enjoyable.

We have booked flights for October half term to the UK and for Christmas for Canada. So we are thrilled that we will get to see lots of family and friends soon!

What has made you happy recently?

Friday, 10 September 2010

yacht trip

Since I last posted, I have gone back to work and it's going well so far. But instead of writing about work, I want to show you some pictures from the other weekend when Ant and I were invited with our care group from church on a yacht trip. We met up with the yacht and our friends--one of them is an employee for the company that owns the yacht. He had arranged to borrow it for the day and invited the group along. There was a crew provided, and our care group members provided lunch and snacks as well.

We sailed west from Causeway Bay, going around Hong Kong island to the south side. We dropped anchor in Repulse Bay and jumped in a for a swim.

The motor boat came along to pull the tubes behind it. Both Ant and I went out for a tube ride, which was really enjoyable. Just the right amount of thrill for me: not too scary but definitely exciting! We had some lunch and relaxed and chatted. After lunch the boat took us further round the island on a tour, and then back past Lamma Island. We saw this little row boat nearby.

Ant and I went up to the top deck and looked out on Stanley, while others were sitting on the front of the boat enjoying the ride.

Just before docking, we went by the floating restaurants in Aberdeen. I've been told that although they are all a bit cheesy, the Top Deck is worth visiting, so I hope we go there soon. You catch a little boat at Aberdeen that ferries you across to the restaurants.

After we went home, I was a bit "land sick". But that didn't detract from how great a day it was. We both had a fantastic time. It was really relaxing and enjoyable.

Friday, 6 August 2010

shopping areas

A funny thing about shopping Hong Kong: the shops can be very focused on just one thing. Yes, there are some department stores, and "home goods" stores, but a lot of shops sell only one thing, like this scale shop I saw earlier this week. The entire shop just sells scales, analogue and digital. I was so surprised, I had to snap a photo; a whole shop of just scales!?

And another thing I find a bit odd, where you find one shop selling one thing, you inevitably see a whole row of them. For example, here's a street (below) in the area called the flower market. The whole street (and the one parallel to it and each side street) is lined with flower shops. There are probably a hundred small flower retailers here, all in the same area. I wish I could go there to buy flowers every week, but the flower market is in Mong Kok, across the harbour from us. In my Western thinking I wonder, wouldn't it be better to have one or two flower shops in each part of Hong Kong? But at least you know where to get your flowers, it's in Mong Kog, of course! (Small amusing anecdote: there are two shops on those streets which do not sell flowers. One is a bakery [num, num] for sustenance when browsing all these flower joints. The other sells motorcycle helmets. I do not joke.)

I visited the Western Market recently ("Western" because it is on the west side of central Hong Kong). The first floor is all fabric shops, row after row of fabrics. I really liked visiting there earlier in my holiday and I bought a few half yards of fabric to use in my food photos (you can see them in this post about nut butters if you're curious!). But I have heard that the Western Market with its ten fabric stalls is not the main place to go for fabric. I don't know where it is yet (maybe my mother remembers?) but I do know that when I find it, there will be dozens of fabric sellers there.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Anna Karenina read-along

Here's today's plan:

I'm taking my guide book as I wander off to Lamma Island. My goal is to find a nice cafe and sit there, reading Anna Karenina and watching life go by. It's too hot for much walking about, but I'll have a ferry ride to enjoy and a modicum of sight-seeing on the island.

This idea has been prompted by my friend, Andrea from Inspired by Hope and Surprised by Joy. One of her 2010 goals is to read Anna Karenina, which is a rather large book, and so we have decided to do it together. And I'm here to invite you to read along, too! Neither of us has read any Tolstoy before, so we are excited to embark on this project. Two bloggers on opposite sides of the world, and YOU!

We are setting a modest pace. The book has eight parts, each of which are about a hundred pages. The plan is to read one part each month from August until next March. Even if it takes you a few days to get a copy (hello, local second hand bookstore!), you will still have plenty of time to read the first part during August.

What do you think? Who's up for joining us? In anticipation of your answer in the positive, I am posting a character list here! Unless you want the plot spoiled, don't go reading around on the web for help with Russian names. Just stick to this list!

Note: Every Russian has three names: first name, patronymic, last name. The root of the middle name is that of the father, plus a suffix meaning "son of" or "daughter of." Thus Anna's middle name is "Arkadyevna," while that of her brother is "Arkadyevitch." Russians call each other by the Christian name and patronymic, rarely by surname. For the sake of clarity, however, English translators use the characters' family names wherever possible.

Anna Arkadyevna Karenina: High society heroine

Alexey Alexandrovitch Karenin: Anna's husband; he is a frigid, lonely man with an influential government position in St. Petersburg

Sergei Alexeyitch Karenin (Seriozha): Anna's son

Count Alexey Kirillovitch Vronsky: An honorable, rich, handsome aide-de-camp with a promising army career

Konstantin Dmitrich Levin (Kostya): Autobiographical hero of novel

Princess Katerina Alexandrovna Shtcherbatsky (Kitty): The eighteen year old debutante

Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch Oblonsky (Stiva): Anna's brother who is a pleasure-loving socialite

Princess Darya Alexandrovna Oblonsky (Dolly): Stiva's long-suffering wife and Kitty's older sister

Nicolai Dmitrich Levin: Levin's profligate brother

Sergei Ivanitch Koznyshev: Levin's elder half-brother who is a famous writer and intellectual

Thursday, 29 July 2010


The view from our balcony is so beautiful sometimes. A few days during my holiday I have sat on the couch looking out there, reading a bit, drinking tea, and enjoying it. This was what Ant and I saw a few nights ago when we were eating our dinner.

I feel grateful to God for the peace that he gives us through his faithful upholding of the days; sun rising, and sun setting.
It was St. Thomas, I think, who pointed out long ago that if God wanted to get rid of the universe, He would not have to do anything; He would have to stop doing something.... Do you see what this means?... God made the world out of joy: He didn't need it; He just thought it was a good thing. But if you confine His activity in creation to the beginning only, you lost most of the joy in the subsequent shuffle of history. Sure, it was good back then, you say, but since then, we've been eating leftovers. How much better a world it becomes when you see Him creating at all times and at every time.... He has no use for [the world]; only delight.

--from The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

our living and dining room

Our living and dining area is one big room, divided by the couch. At one end is Ant's new TV (bought just in time for the World Cup) and our bookshelves. On the left you can see the doors to our balcony. (Our landlady left us those curtains; what do you think of them?)

On the other end of the room you can see our new painting, which we got as a gift from Jeff's Mum when we went to Shenzhen with Mum and Dad. It's amazing! At the back you can see our front door and the kitchen door, going off to the left.

And I've started a picture collage on the wall--some family photos and some postcards. I am now looking for new postcards, so why don't you send me one from your next outing? ;-)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

flowers and rain

Anna, my sister-in-law, has started a photo blog that I love! She posts a photo each day from her travels and experiences and the stories are memorable. Today's photo is one that I took!

When we both lived in the UK I got to visit them more frequently and I visited on Easter weekend when both Micah and Anna got confirmed. This is Anna's hair on that beautiful day. Click through to her blog to read more about it.

Yesterday I stayed in the flat for a quiet day in as there was a torrential downpour outside. This kind of rain keeps Hong Kong very lush. I sat in the window nook of the guest bedroom and ate yoghurt and read my book. It's so nice to be inside when this is going on outside. The view from the nook is a steep hillside covered in trees and a few buildings down the road.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


I have just come back from a week in Australia. What a nice surprise--I asked my school if I could get some International Baccalaureate training and they booked me on a three-day course in Sydney. I stayed on a few days more so I could visit Micah & Anna and Chris & Tam. I didn't do too much sight-seeing this time, instead I visited, ate food, did some window shopping, played games, drank wine, went to church, and read books. What a nice holiday!

Micah and I spent a day in Newtown, a shabby and hip suburb of Sydney. There is a shop there that sells only buttons (above). We browsed at the used book stores and the antique stores. I bought a few pieces of old cutlery, since food styling seems to be one of my main hobbies at the moment. Micah bought a book and we ate some excellent Mexcian fast food. But it was really just the time chatting and wandering that made this a memorable day out.

I went with Anna to her work and saw the offices that she is soon to leave for good as she takes a break. We ate food, which is actually my main hobby, I admit. I got a tour of the complex in which she works. Since I have never worked in an office I was quite interesting in how noisy it was (not that much) and how friendly her co-workers were. I think it would be strange to see everyone else making phone calls or working on their computers while you were doing your work.

I had dinner at Chris and Tam's place and saw Ethan--now a big boy who can almost walk and has learned a few words. He also knows baby sign language. Wow--what an idea! I had never heard of it but I guess it's quite well known in Australia. Ethan can communicate that he is thirsty, hungry, or done eating using signs Chris and Tam have taught him. Tam says it keeps him calm and less frustrated and that it also helps toddlers learn to speak more confidently in time. What a great idea.

After meeting Tam for coffee at her work, I wandered around downtown Sydney and saw the Queen Victoria Building, with its beautiful floors and windows.

The QVB is a very upmarket mall; the main attraction for me was the building itself. I love the tiling on the floors (and took more pictures so I might be able to turn them into a lesson activity one day).

The rest of my time was taken up with relaxing with Micah & Anna and meeting Norman & Natalie, their flatmates. Anna has started a blog, Anna's Ambles, and we talked blogging a bit. Please have a look at it: each post shows a beautiful image from Anna's travels and she shares the story behind each memory.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

questions? and Ant's birthday!

Hello, a few of you have been urging me to blog more often. And I want to. But I have been finding that every time I sit down at the computer my mind goes blank. Sometimes I look through my pictures and try to think of something that way. But it doesn't seem to be working. Please tell me, what do you want me to write about? :-S

Here's one important happening: Ant's birthday last week! We held a little party last night. Our new table got good use. We bought it last weekend. It seats six in its normal state (below).

And here it is pulled out to its full size: for ten people. It has an in-between size as well (for eight, duh). Ant invited round a handful or his colleagues and we also had a few friends from church over. We don't have too many friends yet, but Ant was still celebrated by all in attendance!

(When the party starts I always forget to take pictures. I am the one pouring drinks, passing napkins, ferrying food, and so on. But let me assure you that a good time was had by all.)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

visit to Cheung Chau with Victor & Viviana

It was a treat to have Victor and Viviana visit us from London. One day we went over to the island of Cheung Chau and walked everywhere.

It's a fishing community, and there were fishing boats moored all along the harbour and fish drying and for sale along the paths. It was quite a smelly walk!

Anything will grow in Hong Kong, it seems, due to the favourable temperatures and vast quantities of rain. These tree roots astounded me!

We walked all over the island: along the shore and also up the streets to the hill in the centre, past the homes of the residents.

There were two temples which we saw on the island, one of which had this lion outside. It and the stone ball inside its mouth was carved from a single piece of stone.

There were a lot of little eateries along the main paths and this was the back kitchen entrance of one of them. I asked this lady if I could take her picture and she posed for me. I am amazed by how frequently I see roasted poultry hanging up--do people order a whole one? I think it's to take home for later.

Outside the other temple there was a fruit tree--orange Victor said (he should know, he's from Spain). I sat next to the tree and took its picture while the others roamed about nearby. My feet hurt after all that walking. It was a great day out with friends.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Ant's new suits and shirts

Hong Kong--the place for tailor-made suits. Ant and I each had a suit made when we were here last summer, and I've encouraged him to use some of his first salary payments to get a couple more. He has been wearing only the one suit for the last few months and he's due some new ones. Aren't they smart? He had two white shirts made as well.

The suit he has made last year is navy with light pinstripes (not shown here) and his two new ones are charcoal (at the top of the post) and medium gray (above and below). Now he has three suits and I'm going to suggest that he gets a new one every year (or so?) from here on.