The Countdown has started

Lulu is just 4 days away from being reunited with us. We are both anxious that she has a good flight. We will be getting the house ready over the next few days.

I spent hours last night reading about fracking, looking at satellite images of the area and checking on google maps exactly where we will be in relation to the exploration fields.

I feel a little more relaxed now. We are protected Northwards by a nature reserve and Southwards (?) by a designated Ancient Woodland. We have the railway and Itchen Navigation to the East and a low density housing buffer and the motorway to the West. We would not be insulated from possible earth tremors but I think the aquifers are safe and the immediate vicinity is not vulnerable. Famous last words. So we move forward and wait for the building survey to be done on Thursday. I was in two minds whether to have one done but decided to play safe and pay the money. The solicitors sent me a pack of searches they have done. I don’t recall ever having had these in the past but it is probably 15 years+ since I bought property in Britain. I find prices here scary. One has just gone on the market around the corner from our target house for £1.75m. They have an extra garage but marginally less land. I hope our vendors don’t decide to ask for more. I am already 50% above budget before Mrs. Ha starts the refurb.

The next goals are 1) sign the tenancy agreement for a 6m let and 2) exchange contracts. Once both of those are done we can breathe out for a while. Assuming our royal visitor arrives safely. I suspect she has quietly enjoyed her stay at Dogotel and we have found the move easier without her to worry about each day. Nonetheless this is not an exercise I want to repeat in a hurry.

One of the joys of being in Britain in February is watching the Six Nations rugby championship. I say ‘well done England’ through gritted teeth and thank Ireland and France for an enjoyable if bruising game of rugby, edged by the Irish. Rugby is slowly being ‘cleaned up’. Scrums are not what they were and although the old style were prone to being reset several times they were more exciting. The advent of the upright tackle is to be deplored and that will have to go next. Far too dangerous. If we are not careful it will end up like American Football with body armour and padding, topped off by motorbike helmets. And then we shall call it “cricket”. Except England can’t play cricket any more either. Tonked by the Aussies again yesterday. Thank goodness for being Welsh – unless of course we lose to Scotland tomorrow. Then I shall have a face full of prime haggis and have to go into mourning for 12 months.  It is a tough life.

Oh and happy Valentine’s Day.

I’m a Fan

I owe a lot of replies to comments – sorry. I also apologise if you thought I was ‘threatening’ to stop blogging yesterday. I am not. I have thought of doing so several times but that is when it becomes a chore and at present it is welcome relief from the dull ache of moving. I need Panadol Removals to sort me out. No, I was reflecting on what might lie behind our blogging facade. Am I really a 25-year-old ladyboy from Bangkok and not a retired banker with a camera addiction? I rush to reassure you that the only lap dancing in this house is Lulu squirming for a more comfortable position but you just never know who lurks behind the blogging wall. Remember that and as someone once remarked, be careful out there.

This morning I insisted on a walk before I headed off to town. I can’t even remember why I had to go to Central but I did. I have vague and painful recollections of standing in boutiques whilst Mrs. Ha looked for something to go with her new trousers. I wander off when we get to the bit where she asks ‘gei doh tcheen?’ (how much?). I would rather be blissfully ignorant. But be that as it may, I squeezed in an hour in the park. There I found the fan dancers. There seemed to be one, possibly two teachers and a covey of pupils. The teacher counted to ten and at each number the students adopted a new position. The teacher would watch, correct and encourage. Sometimes she encouraged someone with a kick in the calf. The age mix was broad and of both sexes. It is recreational fitness training. If you find fans too soft you can opt for swords instead. Today there were no budding d’Artagnans. No swashbuckling would-be Errol Flynns, thrusting their epées, no ‘en garde’ to defend the advancing fan, and I failed to spot a single lunge.

Anyway, without further ado here are the fanatics of Quarry Bay Park. I wish they had chosen cleaner backgrounds but it is what it is. And please observe how very like cricket is.

First up, fending off the bouncer.Fan dancerCopying David Shepherd so the score must be 111.Fan2A most graceful Gower-esque glance to leg.Fan3Full concentration for the off drive.Fan5The Barmy Army doing its imitation of Saturday Night Fever. Not sure what is going on in the left of the frame. Steady sir!FanGreaseAnd these were my stars of the show. Smiling, enthusiastic, they would make a great advert for the Mandarin Oriental. Are you a fan?FanMan

Marathon Man

From the wee small hours I could hear the chanting. Gah yow, gah yow. This means literally add oil. It is a call of encouragement to urge someone on. Well rather a lot of people needed some oil this morning as the 2015 Standard Chartered Bank marathon started early. There are the usual options of 10k, half marathon and for the foolish, a full Snickers bar.

Eventually I decided to open the curtains and see what was happening. The runners were close to our apartment and I took some images from the crow’s nest. Note that traffic is still allowed on the opposite carriageway but sadly, as I am sure it would be more entertaining, not on the same lanes.Marathon1


Just a little hazy – the photo is enhanced in Lightroom so that you can actually make out something in the distance. I recommend a mask and oxygen for those with breathing difficulties. Running here is a brave decision. It could of course be romantic, early morning mist. But it isn’t. Marathon3


Marathon5Some runners couldn’t even follow the arrows.Marathon6Then I wandered down to the bridge over the motorway just in time to be too late. Feeling the pain with a smile or a grimace. But they were not last!Marathon7Even this group of 4 managed to avoid being the tail on the donkey. Right at the back the last straggler, soldiering bravely on.Marathon8And just to urge her on the clearing up had already started behind. This marathon is run with a ruthless efficiency and a fanatical devotion to the pope. Just like the Spanish Inquisition.Marathon9And what of all the cheerleaders? Well they can settle down to a well-earned rest and a hearty breakfast convincing themselves that next year they too will run. But in the meantime there is room for just one more tiny, wafer-thin mint. Marathon10A good pal of mine ran the 10K in 61 minutes. Well done sir.