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Solo in Sydney* or: Getting My Groove Back

17 Dec

candle-lit mantlepiece with shiny silver backdrop.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a pulse will not be in want of attention in a cocktail bar. I have no idea how I’d forgotten this. But I had…

Over the course of a “career” not so much chequered as positively gingham, but dominated by language and creative stuff, one of few constants has been writing about bars, cocktails, bartenders and combinations thereof.

So as the witching hour when economics moves me from travelling mama to digital nomad mama approaches (accelerated by the prices in Oz), I’ve dipped a tentative toe back into the world of paid writing.

More specifically, an old, old friend and quondam employer who has asked me to identify, write up and take the odd shot of the top bars in Sydney and Melbourne. Z? He’s frolicking in saltwater pools outside Cairns with his dad.

So here I am, in Sydney. Solo. Bouncing around cocktail bars and landmarks with a notebook and a camera as I did rather a lot from age 24 until Z arrived on the scene two years later.

And how does it feel? Continue reading

Who You Gonna Call?

21 Sep

bunch of plastic pink and white flowers
[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]The following episode takes place between 9am and 10am on the day we were hoping to leave Manado.

INT: A surprisingly posh hotel room. Z is lying on the bed, contentedly re-reading his latest Da-Vinci-Code-ripoff for about the fifteenth time. I am shouting into a Mac in the corner, where a nurse from the travel insurance helpline is trying to understand me. Continue reading

If Bangkok was a Colour…

3 Jul

Siam, Siam, wherefore art thou Siam?

Pink and yellow leopard's head with tuk-tuk, Bangkok[/caption[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]]If Bangkok had a colour, it would most definitely be pink. Hot pink.

Like a bar girl’s brassiere, or those gorgeous metallic fuchsia and violet taxis which ply the streets below the Skyrail and the concrete walkways.

A slightly shopsoiled pink. Sort of Bladerunner pink. But definitely bright. The swooshy, showy muted colourwash that floods the Siam Center shopping mall is just a little too, well tasteful. Continue reading

Does the Tooth Fairy Take Lao Kip?

19 Jun

So junior’s molar, which has been threatening to drop for the last few weeks, finally did the deed today. He hasn’t, historically, had the best record with teeth.

Lost one in ice-cream. Swallowed another. And one, I think, fell out of a car window, in circumstances which are blurred, though the ensuing sorrow, of course, is not.

Now, I believe in keeping up traditions while travelling longterm.

On Marinduque, in the Philippines, we may have watched flagellants, crucifixions and centurions in honour of the Resurrection. But I also made damn sure to do the annual Easter Egg hunt, setting cryptic paper clues from one puddle of melting chocolate to the next, and crossing my fingers that the ever-present columns of sugar-loving ants didn’t give the game away completely.

So, naturally, the Tooth Fairy will be visiting us in Laos. And the usual pound will be replaced with…

… Err… Continue reading

Global Time = Quality Time

10 Jun Z holding wildflowers. Sapa, Vietnam.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]My son and I set out to travel the world together in January. I’d imagined many wonderful things about the journey. What I hadn’t imagined is the sheer quality and quantity of time together.

Terraced hillside and paddy fields, Sapa, Vietnam.

This morning's walk. Sapa, Vietnam.

Or, for that matter, the absolute, unalloyed luxury of starting every single day with a complete free rein.

Where shall we go today? What shall we do? What shall we see?

All, as it happens, for less than the rent or mortgage on a one-bedroom London flat. Continue reading

Madam, Your Husband…

4 Jun motorbike cylinder with frangipani flower.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]motorbike cylinder with frangipani flower.“Madam,” said the chap on the scooter, eyeing the motorbike erratically parked some distance from the wrong hire shop (and, indeed, the pavement) with a sort of bemused, yet ineffably polite contempt, “Your husband has asked me to come and find you…”

Now, I guess this sort of “women drivers, pshaw!” shtick happens all the time to married women. And, much though it offends my feminist sensibilities to admit it, I am, sadly, pretty much your stereotypical woman driver, with absolutely zero sense of direction to boot.

However… Continue reading

Short Trousers…

26 Apr Me from behind, walking through coconut forest, Mariquit, Palawan, Philippines

Why is it that someone capable of the Wildean (or Timmy Timpson-esque) remark — “I’ve just been stung by an aquatic delicacy; I am hardly in the mood for seafood?” –- is reduced to howling, “Noooo, mum, seriously, please don’t! Please! Don’t do it!” when I attempt to buy a pair of shorts?

I’ve posted before about my spawn’s touching concern for the size of my arse. However, here in the Philippines, they use American sizes, which not only means that any shop will contain some clothes that fit you, but is particularly wonderful for Brits.

By the simple trick of switching from UK to US labels, one can, as if by magic, lose at least two sizes overnight. After my “XXL or XXXL, Madam?” trauma in Cambodia, a tense forty minutes squeezing into swimsuits in Saigon, and the horrors of knicker-shopping in Bangkok, this is all to the good.

What is less to the good, perhaps, is the preferred sizing. Continue reading

The Fear Factor

26 Mar

Z on canopy zipwire, Tad Sae Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

Loving every minute of it!

Can intensive, sweaty, pulse-pounding vertigo count towards one’s recommended 30 minutes cardio? If so, I need no more exercise for at least a week…

I blame my son. There we are, last day in Luang Prabang, beautiful World Heritage town, all geared up to mooch around and finally visit the oldest temple in Laos, when we get talking to someone who insists we should go to a waterfall. There are rare Malaysian sunbears, elephants, and, the kicker for the young master, a zipwire.

Envisaging this as a sort of one-off flying fox over a waterfall, which Z can undertake while I watch admiringly from the side, I agree. And off we set. Z clad practically in jeans, shirt and sandals. I clad rather less appropriately in a shortish frock and flipflops. Continue reading

The Birds and the Bees

8 Mar

Z with linga, My Son, Vietnam

Linga, My Son, Vietnam

In the aftermath of our not wildly successful dragon boat cruise, Z and I are ambling along the south bank of Hue’s Perfume River, trying to put our collective fingers on what went wrong.

“I think the thing is,” he says. “That the people we met in Cambodia really cared if we had a good time, and not everyone was trying to sell us something, and quite a lot of people wanted to be our friends, regardless. And in Vietnam, it feels a bit like everybody we meet wants something.”

“I’m not sure that’s true,” I say. “Remember the nice guy who gave us a lift to the DVD shop in Saigon?”

His face darkens. Continue reading

Mum, Mum, Your Hair is Turning Green!

6 Mar

Z jumping into a poolWhen does a child count as a swimmer?

I guess the baseline test is chuck them in and see if they sink or not. This is how swimming was “taught” a generation ago, with a teacher on hand to haul the sinkers off the bottom with a long pole.

Z’s passed this for some time, albeit long after he achieved his first swimming certificate. Ten metres!!! Go figure. Continue reading