Thursday, 17 May 2012


Huh, I've been told off by S again. Apparently, I did not come across as happy in my last blog entry. So, just to re-iterate: I am very happy indeed and I'm glad we moved. I do miss my friends though, and Radio 4...

An update

Okay, so I've completely neglected this blog. (I actually forgot the title and had to look at past Facebook posts to find it. Huh.) I don't feel inspired; and as opposed to my previous cancer blog, I feel it doesn't really serve a purpose - except perhaps update friends and family in the UK of our goings on. Admittedly there have been many times that I have started writing but I just thought it all sounded so show-offy, and icky as a consequence. After all, why drone on about the hot weather and the weekends on the beach when the UK seems to be drowning?

But! I have been told off by S so here I am. I do promise to keep comments on the sunny weather to a minimum.

So, we're on our fifth week here and are more or less settled. We found a house to rent that we like (and is within our budget - for a third world country, housing in Manila is terribly expensive) but sadly, we cannot move in just yet. Because of said limited budget,we've had to make a couple of compromises: so the house we eventually chose needs quite a bit of cosmetic work. And sadly, they're still working on it. The advantage though is that I am in close contact with the contractor (the owner is paying for the work) so am able to direct him into what we'd like done. We have managed to move out of sister T's house though - thank you to the generosity of daughter N's godparents, who have an empty flat in a excellent part of town. Sometimes it pays to have friends in high places...

The children have settled into school and life here. All three seem to be managing very well with the slightly different curriculum and the harder Maths. E has been asked to join the school football team for an away game in Bangkok, N played quite a big role in a recent school play, whilst C is proving to be one of the more popular boys on campus. We have sadly not managed to organise Tagalog lessons for them; but that's definitely in the pipeline.

LH is enjoying his sabbatical - he is coaching football at the children's school (he is an FA-qualified coach) and has also offered to lecture at a graduate school in Manila. He has also been swimming and going to the gym. And until a couple of weeks ago, I was also on my way to getting fit. But sadly, a bunch of annoying hospital tests got in the way so it got sidelined. Hopefully, I'll find my mojo and get back into the swing of things next week.

The beach house is beautiful and we try to go every week - we pick up the children from school and head straight there. And that's all I'm saying about that. Oh, and boat's pretty cool too. Ha-ha.

Admittedly, it's not all wonderful here - there have been very hot days that I have found myself missing British weather, and the traffic is appalling. It can get very frustrating waiting for things to get done, but people just dont seem to be in any rush here. The communist system seems to be enforced when it comes to buying items and Internet shopping doesn't really exist. (I so miss Ocado.) And it can be expensive. But, I see my husband, and I see my children - and I see how much happier they are. I am less stressed as I have people helping me at home (currently a housekeeper, a cook and a driver). Which means that I find myself a more patient mother and a better partner. Oh and have I mentioned the massages?

Monday, 16 April 2012


The day before we were leaving the UK for our new life in the Philippines, the mover's van rammed into my car which was due to be sold and picked up early the next day. Naturally, I freaked.  But in a freaking scale, it was more of a 4/10.  It's been said that moving home is one of life's more stressful experiences, but I find that I've actually been pretty laid back.  Perhaps it's because I'm still on holiday mode and it will only be when the children start school tomorrow that the panic will begin; or it could be that the previous year's experiences of the motorbike accident and cancer have made the entire process of moving a doddle.  Or perhaps it's simply because I've already had three massages in the week and a half we've been here.  Whatever it is, I'm just grateful.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Baby steps

It's been a week since we landed in the Philippines, to start our new life. I know I've been quite remiss with this blog, but as can be imagined, it's been pretty hectic. The day after we arrived, we left for our beach house which we'd been building remotely for the past three years. Needless to say, it was quite an exciting event to finally stay there. Admittedly, it was quite sparse as we have not furnished it fully, but it had beds, it had a pool, and we had our boat - so we can live with that.  We arrived back in Manila and have so far: bought a new car (a very un-sexy people carrier), sorted out the children's school uniforms, ordered furniture for the beach house, and today, we found a house to rent.  So, very slowly and surely, we are getting there.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Don't judge us

(April 6)  Received a mean look from lady at immigration when we were leaving the UK when she realised that LH and I were flying business class and the three little pigs were stuck in cattle.  I'd like to think that this is a 'character building exercise'.  LH and I have certainly had our share of flying in terrible conditions (a particular TAP Airlines flight comes to mind) so we feel justified in what we have done.  Perhaps, years from now, when the children are all grown and have become uh... full of character, they will thank us.  One can but hope.

When, indeed?

(April 6) I'm writing this as we're around twenty minutes from landing in the Philippines. And for some reason, this big move has still not sunk in. I feel like we're just on one of our holidays and we'll find ourselves back in the UK in three weeks' time.  I do wonder when it's finally going to hit home that this is a permanent move; that rather than going to the Philippines for our annual holidays, we'll be going to the UK instead. Will it be when the plane touches town? Or when we first set foot on our finished beach house? Will it be when the children start school on the 17th of April? Or will it be when we find a house to live in, or all our furniture (and stuff) arrive from the UK? Who knows? Watch this space.

Friday, 30 March 2012


Here we go...!  The movers arrived last Wednesday which means that we're on day 3 of the packing and already I'm absolutely shattered. Although we're not actually doing any of the packing and carrying ourselves, it's the running around, making sure that they haven't packed something they shouldn't, that's exhausting.  Also trying to sort out our stuff:  what to throw out, give away, send to Manila or send to the beach house.  And to think that I was feeling slightly smug, as I thought I'd been pretty organised.  I'd been going through every room in the house for the past few weeks sorting things out.  But nah - it was all an illusion.

I just want this part of moving to be over now:  how I wish I could just wake up and find myself in Manila tomorrow!  But sadly we've got at least two more days of this.  Can someone just wake me when it's all over?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Au revoir mon chat

Back home after a 4-night visit to Scotland.  This was a last visit to see LH's family before leaving for the Philippines.  There were a few tears, but funnily enough, not from me.

I'm not sad because I KNOW that it won't be long before we see the family again; they will come and visit us in Manila and we definitely plan to come back to the UK every year.  So I wasn't too desolate as I honestly don't think that there will be any difference in the number of times we see them; and I actually believe that the next time will be a better experience as we will make the most of the limited time we have together.

I was however, distressed to leave our cat behind.  But at 19 years of age, we were not sure she would survive a 15-hour journey to the Philippines.  And although we can discuss with LH's family our decision to leave, Poor Cat has not had any explanation and probably feels abandoned.  Sniff.  Being a French cat, she does the cold shoulder very well and has put it on to full effect.  I just comfort myself knowing that LH's parents put cats on top of their priority list; in fact, Poor Cat will probably be wonder why we didn't send her there sooner.

PS. Poor (French) Cat is female, and I could've made the title reflect this properly. However,  I realised to my detriment a few years ago that you do not (ever) use the female version of cat in French.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A simple choice

Last week I had brunch with the loveliest S and L and we started to talk about a particular music teacher.  S and L (sounds like a strange sexual pursuit) mentioned that this teacher always feels that the current school he's at is 'the best school in the world'.  I fell silent at that point as I almost felt alluded to.

I suppose in a way, I am like Mr M - I'd like to think that wherever we find ourselves at the moment is the best place for us.  I'm not delusional; I don't believe that there is a perfect place - but certainly, the best for us, at that particular time, in our current circumstances. If it isn't, then surely we would leave.  Which is what we're doing now.  Which is what we did when the children moved school a couple of years ago.  Which is what I did when I left work.

We have choices; we can decide whether or not where we're at is a good place.  And if we make the decision that it isn't, we also have the choice to leave.  Whether it's a place, a school, a relationship or a job, no-one is forced to stay.  And if the consequences of leaving don't make the move worth it, then perhaps it's time to start counting our blessings and being thankful for all that we have instead of focusing on the things that we don't have.  Surely it would be much nicer to find yourself next to Mr M, waxing lyrical about where he's at, than Moaning Myrtle, complaining about where she's not.

There is a possibility that the Philippines will not work for us; I may miss cheese too much - but should that happen, we can always move again.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A new adventure

In two weeks' or so, we are upping sticks and moving halfway across the world to the Philippines.  To a number of people, this may seem like a very strange decision - we are moving from a first world country to one that is, if I am to be positive about it, a developing country; we are leaving the UK and its seasons, free healthcare and tea to move to the Philippines' overpopulation, pollution, traffic and shortage of decent cheese.  But for myself, my husband and our three children, this is the best move. The past couple of years have been challenging:  two years ago loving husband (LH) was in a pretty serious motorbike accident and last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although we are both well now - LH has his bionic shoulder and I have been given the all-clear - it's challenges like these that make one re-evaluate and re-assess lives and understand priorities.

What the Philippines will offer us is time; quality time to spend with each other, our children and the rest of our family.  It's very easy to get caught up on the treadmill of modern life and its material entrapments:  the bigger and faster car, the bigger and fancier kitchen.  So, we've made the decision to step back and be more mindful, and we're hoping that a move to the Philippines will give us this quality of life that we yearn.

After all, we intend to make annual trips back to the UK, giving us the seasons; we can escape Manila's overpopulation and traffic by visiting one of the more remote islands of the country; I've bought 1,800 bags of tea to take with us and I'm lactose intolerant and really shouldn't be eating cheese.