Where the heart is

27 January 2019

As mentioned yesterday, Cornelia slept solidly for eleven and a half hours.  Her waking coincided with me needing to go to the loo.  I asked Ian to keep an eye on her while I nipped off, as I knew her “Mummy radar” would be strong! Sure enough, when I came back a few minutes later, Ian was in my seat and she was awake. Apparently she’d woken up the moment I’d left!! Anyway, she was in a thoroughly good mood, which only improved when she asked if she could now watch a movie, and I said yes! She started the Lion King again, cheerily telling me about all the different animals in the opening sequence. 🥰

She’d missed dinner last night (being fast asleep) so when breakfast was served, she munched her way through an omelette and baked beans, a mini muffin, a bread roll and a yoghurt, and sat quite happily watching the rest of the Lion King.

We were very excited to finally land back in England, and once we’d made it through passport control (where the officer told Cornelia that of all the thousands of people he’d seen through, she was his first Cornelia!) and collected our luggage, we headed through customs and into the arrivals hall.  Our first stop was to M&S to pick up some essential snacks for the coach journey home, then we took our time ambling over to the main bus terminal to wait for our coach to arrive.  We had landed at about 06:15, and I had allowed two hours for us to collect our bags, clear customs, and make it over to the central bus station, which turned out to be very pessimistic of me.  We had well over an hour to kill, and it was very cold at the bus station!  Although it is under cover, there are large automatic doors on all four sides, which were continuously opening and closing with people coming and going.  Immediately, we were missing our 30+ degrees of the southern hemisphere!

There was a Cafe Nero inside the station, so Cornelia and I went and sat inside for a hot chocolate and a cup of tea, while Ian decided to sit at one of the tables “outside”, as he didn’t want to leave our luggage trolley unattended.  Very noble of him, as I was bloody freezing and would happily have let it all be destroyed in return for a warm cuppa… Bugsy was good as gold, and received lots of compliments from other travellers who were impressed as she read out the various posters (“Oooh, Mummy, am I having BELGIAN hot chocolate?!”) and dashed outside to check on Daddy.  She was in the most joyful of spirits – obviously long sleeps on the plane suit her!

Once we’d drained our cups, it was nearly time to leave, so we gathered ourselves together and went to check the departures board which would tell us which lane our bus would be in.  Despite all of the other departures having numbers by them, ours simply stated “wait in departure lounge” (which feels like a total misnoma!).  As the minutes crept by, we started to wonder if something was amiss.  08:20 rolled by, and the expected departure time immediately changed to 08:23.  Then 08:25; 08:27; 08:35… and it finally disappeared from the board entirely!  Argh!! There were no announcements, but I spied a man in an official-looking jacket surrounded by people, and guessed (correctly) that he was the one with the information.  It turned out that the company which supplied coaches to National Express (Devon-bound) had gone into administration the day before, and so there was no vehicle.  Double argh!! We couldn’t believe that we had travelled around the world really without any major dramas or delays and then the final stage of our journey had gone so wrong!

The official told us that they were trying to find a nearby company which may be able to take us, and while we waited, Cornelia did star jumps to keep warm.  I was so glad that I had packed all our cold weather kit at the top of my suitcase, so we could pull it out easily.  Amazingly, a local coach company were able to supply a bus, and by 09:00, we were all safely installed in our seats.  But it was very cold again and the driver apologised and explained that it would take quite a long time for it to heat up.  And he was quite right.  Brrrrr.

I had bought Cornelia a “Frozen” magazine and a “Mr Men” magazine for the journey home, and she happily read through it, playing the games and chatting excitedly about them, which occupied her for pretty much the whole way to Exeter.  We had a couple of stops en route, and a fifteen minute “comfort break” in Taunton, arriving at the Exeter drop off point on Honiton Road shortly after 12:30.  Mum was there to meet us, which was lovely, and Cornelia raced through the car park to give her the biggest cuddle she possible could!  I’m not sure who was happier!  Ian’s shoulder was still giving him trouble, so I ferried the luggage over to Mum’s car and we just about all squeezed in!  It was so lovely to see Mum, and Cornelia chatted non-stop all the way home.

We finally arrived home and it felt quite surreal coming back into our house, which had been occupied by someone else for the last nine months!  Pete, our cleaner, had done a great job of preparing it for our return, and it smelt clean as we bundled ourselves in at last.

Mum had been kind enough to cook a lasagne for us, so it was just a matter of heating that up for supper, which we all devoured.

And as we clambered into our own bed again, that surreal feeling that it was all over hung in the air.  But it was matched by the excitement of being home, and with Cornelia starting school in a month, the next adventure does not seem so far away!

One more sleep!

26 January 2019

We were up at 06:00 ready and excited for the long day ahead! I dressed Cornelia while she was still three-quarters asleep, then let her lie in bed until I’d taken most of the bags down to reception. She wasn’t best pleased about being woken so early again, but when I reminded her that we were starting our journey home, she became far more interested in getting up! I lugged her and the final bags down to reception where we waited for our 07:00 taxi. And waited. And waited. This was why I’d asked Ian to confirm the taxi booking with Mattia, the manager, last night… and then just as I was thrusting Mattia’s business card into Ian’s hand and demand he called him, lo and behold, a flustered taxi driver came running around the corner showing us his phone with our room number on it. He had gone to the wrong apartment block…! Phew! It took him another five minutes to return to his car and drive around to us, but finally we were on our way.

Annoyingly, I had woken with a deep discomfort in my chest, and I could feel it sinking into me as the drive progressed. I thought, when I had a scratchy throat last night, that it was probably just a bit of sea water that had tickled it, but I bet that by the time I get home, I’ll have my first cold in at least nine months!

The drive was very busy again with rush hour traffic, so it took over an hour to get there, but there were no accidents or scary moments, which is always a relief in the crazy traffic! We arrived safely at Phuket airport, where we discovered that the only long queue in the terminal belonged to our Scoot flight! We haven’t flown Scoot before and the reviews online aren’t brilliant, but they were really good. When we check in four bags, we always worry that someone will make us pay for the extra one, but they didn’t blink an eye and happily took all four cases and the car seat. By the time we’d made it through security, Bugsy was tired and hungry, and whilst I knew she wouldn’t sleep, I was pretty confident a pain au chocolat would sort her out. Happy four year old – tick!

The crew on board were also friendly and Cornelia was her usual confident little self, greeting everyone nicely and smiling at them, so they would probably have let her get away with murder. As it happened, she sat watching her Kindle for the duration of the flight, which was a little under two hours, and we were in Singapore by lunchtime.

As is always the way, so Ian told me, our luggage was on the carousel before we even reached it, and we piled up our trolley and headed off to find a playground and some lunch.  Once the play area had been spotted, Cornelia had absolutely no interest in lunch whatsoever!  With cries of “A superhero never gives up!” Cornelia climbed under and over and around the little obstacles, herding along a small group of kids who shrieked with joy as they chased each other around.  Ian went off for a wander, while I sat and felt sorry for myself, trying not to breath because breathing hurt my chest so much.  By now, I was also sweating quite a lot and feeling pretty awful and, if I’m honest, a bit sorry for myself!  Whilst I was waiting for Ian, I looked online at the check in options for our flight, which wasn’t until 23:55.  It was good news – Qantas open their check in desks at 15:45, for all their flights, which meant that we could at least get rid of our suitcases early.  We were hoping to meet Laura, Howard and Sofie later, as (by some incredible coincidence) they were flying home from their four-month travels at 23:45 from Singapore, and as they would be in transit, we needed to be on the departures side of security and passport control.  We just hoped that we could move from one terminal to the other (we were flying from T1, they were flying from T3).

We had some lunch – fried katsu chicken – before heading over to the Qantas desks, where we joined a long queue for check in.  We tried printing our boarding passes and luggage tags at the kiosks first, but because we were so early, it just told us it couldn’t help, so the queue was our only option.  The queue was long because, despite saying the desks opened at 15:45 online, the staff advised that they wouldn’t open until 16:00.  No matter – we didn’t have anything else to do!  Check in for our final flight went smoothly, and once we’d dropped off Cornelia’s car seat at the “oversized luggage” area, we ambled through security and into the departures area.

First up was the play area for Cornelia, of course!  It was a much bigger soft play area, and Ian bought teas while I held my head in my hands and tried not to feel too sorry for myself.  I failed!

Once Cornelia had had enough of playing, she came and sat with me at the table, and had some crisps and watched her Kindle for a while.  She was also quite hot again, and I was immediately regretting packing the sachets of Calpol in our hold luggage.

We left the play area eventually (a man was playing the same repetitive riff on his ukulele over and over and over again) and found a TV area with four TVs forming a square, surrounded by rows of double chairs, into which speakers for each TV that the chairs faced were built.  One of the TVs was showing kids’ programmes, specifically Spongebob Squarepants, one of Ian’s favourites, so he and Cornelia settled down to watch it while I went to see if I could buy that gold bar celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Pig, which I’d seen the last time we were in Singapore Airport.  Hurrah, success, and that’s Cornelia’s 18th birthday present now sorted!

When I went back to the TV area, there was a group of teenage boys from Australia all watching Spongebob, alongside Cornelia and Ian, laughing away at it.  I loved that this group (which turned out to be part of the Australian swim team) found it so funny, and it reminded me of Charlotte and Matthew watching it years ago with Ian.  I think they’d still laugh at it today too!

My chest discomfort became unbearable at times, and I was struggling to walk at any decent pace without feeling as if I were gasping for breath. My heart resting rate wasn’t going any lower than 63, so I knew something wasn’t right. (It has been hanging around 51 for the last few weeks.) Eventually, I had to ask Ian to get me something from the chemist, to reduce the temperature I knew I had, and hoped that the Panadol he returned with would do the trick.  He also bought some Calpol for Cornelia, who was now getting very tired too, and we all dosed up and sat quietly for a bit cuddling on the chair.

I then went for a walk to see if I could clear my fuzzy head but (and don’t laugh) I was confused, I ended up getting lost in the terminal and couldn’t find my way back to where I’d left Ian and Bugsy.  I was almost in tears – definitely a sign that I wasn’t well – before I recognised a set of escalators and found the TV area again.  Phew!  We were due to meet Laura et al at around 20:00, so we went off for something to eat at around 19:00.  We bought Cornelia a sandwich from Pret a Manger, and although she only ate half, it was hopefully enough to see her through.  I didn’t want to force her to eat and procure some hideous meltdown at the eleventh hour!

Laura then messaged me to say that they’d landed early and were already in the terminal, and Cornelia and I set off down the corridor to find them.  We were so happy to see them!  Sofie was carrying a gigantic cuddly dog and Cornelia wrapped her arms around them both as best she could! Sofie had had just five minutes of sleep on the plane as it had landed, so was as tired as Cornelia, but that didn’t stop them from racing around chasing each other.

We found a little play area, but it was pretty unimpressive, so instead we found a bar near a fishpond, so the girls were amused while we ordered Singapore Slings and G&Ts and ate nachos.  The girls joined us again at the table but their tiredness was starting to take over, so Laura gave them some colouring to do and we brought out the Kindle too, to keep them occupied for as long as possible.  Of course, it was now way past their bedtime and something was bound to go wrong sooner or later!

Cornelia and Sofie were playing noughts and crosses on the packet, but managed to have  some sort of an argument about a pen, which left Sofie distraught and angry, and she rushed off.  Laura and Howard weren’t too concerned, thinking she’d just gone off for a quick sulk, but when she hadn’t returned a minute or two later, Laura went off to find her.  She then came back a few minutes later to say she couldn’t locate her, so I jumped up and we set off in opposite directions to track her down.  My blood ran cold as I realised how terrifying and confusing the airport would be to a five year old (remembering how easily I got lost earlier).  I tried thinking like a five year old (not too hard!) and checked the Lego wall first, before wondering if she’d prefer somewhere quiet, like the benches along the windows.  I headed off in that direction, when I saw Laura ahead of me, with Sofie in tow.  Thank God!  Laura said she’d almost fallen asleep underneath one of the barriers, on top of her large dog teddy.  Sofie was very tired and very grumpy and very sad, bless her.  At least she has nice quiet growly tantrums, rather than Cornelia’s epic eardrum-busting ones!

It was time to head off now anyway, so we had final hugs goodbye and with promises to stay in touch and get a visit in the diary, we went our separate ways once again.

We made it back to our terminal without any issues, and once we were through the boarding gate, it was a short wait before we settled into our seats on the plane.  It was, amazingly, only about a half full, which meant that there was plenty of space around.  We had three seats together, but the four seats in the middle of the plane only had one occupant, so Ian said that once we’d taken off, he’d move into the aisle seat there, so that Cornelia could lie out on two seats.  She was very happy to discover that the Lion King was available, and as we had a bit of a wait before we took off, I said she could watch some of it, until we were in the air, then it was sleep time.  She agreed, but it was meaningless – I turned back to her five minutes later and she was sound asleep!

And she stayed that way for eleven and a half hours, only waking briefly to take off her clothes, whilst still half asleep.  It was amazing!  The flight was fourteen hours, and I managed about seven hours too and having taken my contact lenses out and brushed my teeth beforehand, felt quite refreshed by the time I woke up.  What a fabulous final flight!  Now, just the final push to get home…

 

Our final full day!

25 January 2019

What a fabulous way to end our world adventure! Having been slightly underwhelmed with Phuket to date, any bad feelings disappeared as we spent the day on a boat trip organised by Phuket Sail Tours, under the marvellous supervision of Korn, our wonderful guide for the day.

It was an early start for all of us: up at 06:00 ready for collection at 06:30. I dressed Cornelia while she was still in bed, and she very helpfully lifted herself up in all the right places to assist me, whilst keeping her eyes tightly shut. Once dressed, I reminded her why we were getting up so early – and she remembered that she loves getting up when it’s still dark (which will come in handy when we are home!!), and immediately donned her beautiful bright smile and got out of bed to have her hair and teeth brushed. I carried her down the steep hill and we waited at the bottom for our pick up.

He arrived shortly after 06:30, and on board already were Mike and Dee, a lovely couple from Bristol no less! We chatted amicably with them while our driver braved the rush hour traffic. This is the time all of the workers head off, and we passed truckloads of men and women in blue construction outfits and hats, many of whom were fast asleep on each other. It was already hot and dirty out there!

We arrived at the pier and were invited into their main office where a great breakfast was being prepared. The spiel had said a “light” breakfast but this was far from true! I stuck to my fruit and yoghurt, but Cornelia was given a bowl of chocolate-coated cereal (bleurgh) and some fruit, which she scoffed quite happily.  They were cooking too and there was toast available – really like a small hotel breakfast – and it was all dished up by super friendly staff.

Korn, our tour guide, introduced himself and using a chart on the wall, showed us our route for the day, which would vary depending on how busy certain places were. Ian and I had deliberately chosen Phuket Sail Tours, as they did not take big groups and avoided the mos touristy spots. For example, although we would swing by James Bond Island (of Man with the Golden Gun), we would not go ashore, because it would be so busy. That was completely fine by us!

Shortly after 09:00, we walked down to the jetty and were taxied to the end of it, where we boarded our boat. It was bigger than Ian and I had thought (it carries about twenty passengers but there were only thirteen of us) so we had plenty of room to spread out. We knew Mike and Dee, of course, but the rest of the group we had only seen at breakfast.

The boat had twin 250hp outboards (so Ian told me excitedly…); enough to speed us rapidly across Phang Nga Bay. The boat was quite bouncy and Cornelia enjoyed it very much, but we were glad to be sitting near the stern and in the shade.

Our first stop was Patak Island, where we waded ashore to visit a cave.  Cornelia was quite happy to be carried off the boat, and then walk barefoot over the crunchy shell-y sand, but the rest of us donned sandals of some description to avoid the mega-exfoliation we would have otherwise received!  Somehow, we missed out on the torches and had to rely on the light of ten others as we ducked down low (yes, even I had to duck down once or twice!) and headed through the watery cave (knee-deep for us, but flooded at high tide), emerging into a mangrove lagoon ringed by towering limestone cliffs. The cave was the only access point. Somewhat disconcertingly, Korn stopped halfway through the wet, dark passage to recount the ‘local view’ of the cave rescue of the Thai schoolboys last year, and we spent some considerable time imagining how utterly awful it must have been for them, and what a complete miracle it was that all of the boys and their teacher were safely rescued.

Once in the muddy lagoon, Cornelia was whisked off by Korn to watch a family of long-tailed macaques play, marvel at the mudskippers (amphibious fish) and hunt out some of the thousands of tiny one-clawed crabs scurrying around (one of which Cornelia held).  The scenery was stunning and quite special – it felt as if we had stumbled upon something for the very first time.

We scrambled back through the cave and onto the boat, and sped on to Hong Island, where we boarded an inflatable sea canoe, paddled by a local. Again, the submerged karst scenery was quite beautiful and majestic. Our paddler pointed out different shapes that had formed in the limestone (jellyfish, faces etc), whilst taking us through caves into azure lagoons, where the heart-shaped tree branches hung over us. Although the water was filled with other such canoes, everyone was remarkably quiet and it was quite a peaceful experience.  We jumped out at a small spit of sand, across which the boat was dragged, providing a short-cut back to the tour boat.  Cornelia took advantage of the opportunity to go exploring with Mike, who managed to find a lizard for her, and she sharpened a reed she had found on the oyster-shell-covered rocks.

Once back on the boat, we swung by past Tapu – or James Bond Island. Close enough to take cheesy pictures with a (plastic) golden gun. And to see the teeming mass of tourists ashore.  Not stopping here was definitely a sensible idea!

We were then ferried to Koh Panyee, a Muslim village, and an extraordinary feat of informal construction. The village boasted a marvellous, gold-domed mosque, built on a small piece of land adjacent to the island. Otherwise, all of the hundreds of houses (or shacks), a school, market and restaurants were built on stilts in the shallow sea, providing a home for around 3,000 people. They even have a football pitch, with the local team’s nickname being ‘Pride of the Sea’. After meandering through the village, browsing the numerous souvenir huts casually but, unfortunately, with no intention to buy, we sat at a table in one of the restaurants with great views of the surrounding sea, where we were served a variety of local dishes, plus (luckily) some chips and fried chicken, which Cornelia homed in on.

Our boat was moved around to the side of our restaurant, so we didn’t walk back through the village, instead boarding from the small pontoon.  Off we went again, speeding over the seas, pausing to look at some Lascaux-style cave paintings at another island – apparently several thousand years old although (atypically) Korn didn’t have much to say about them, other than to offer that they were there “before history began”, which must mean they are REALLY old!

Korn enjoyed a little nap on board, as our skipper whizzed us south, and the rocking of the boat was enough to send Bugsy to sleep too.  She had a slightly comfier position, lying on the padded bench with Ian holding her to make sure she didn’t drop off!  She woke up with perfect timing, as we entered a hidden bay where we dived off the boat and enjoyed watching large schools of fish eating bananas thrown from the boat. We tried snorkelling, but the water was too murky, but it was worth having a swim, just to see the fish that close to your face!  Cornelia amazed everyone by jumping off the boat into the sea, although she was soon clinging on to me, slightly nervous of the fish, so I was glad that the watchful Korn had thrown in a life jacket, which Cornelia then used as a float, meaning I was no longer in danger of being drowned by own child….!

 

We had a further swim at another lagoon, where we also lazed on the small beach for a while.  Cornelia was put off swimming there however, by Ian mentioning “sea lice” again, at which point she screamed to get out of the water, content with just lying on the mat, being chewed by sandflies or something similar, instead!  Meanwhile, Korn sat quietly by himself, and just as I was about to ask him what he was up to, he presented Cornelia with a rose made out of reeds!  She was suitably impressed and grateful, and he secured his position as her favourite person in Thailand.

Shortly after embarking again, Korn pointed out a cave, high on another island, occupied by a licensed collector of birds’ nests. These are sold to the Chinese market for around £3,500 per kilo. They are essentially small shelves, a bit like a half-finished housemarten’s nest, but made primarily from swallow saliva. As with other, unappetising excrescences and appendages (e.g. bear bile and tiger willies) they are thought to have health-giving properties. Fecundity, in particular.  The current occupant (they do shifts) was at home, and gave us a friendly wave from his perch, as we passed by.  We asked Korn what the soup actually tasted like.  He looked around, covered his mouth and whispered “Sperm”.  And we all burst out laughing, grateful that none of us was rich enough to have ever ordered it….!

We had one more stop at a fabulous spit of beach, where Ian took a final dip, while Korn spent almost his entire time on his hands and knees digging into the crab holes, and throwing them out on the sand, making Cornelia shriek with delight.  She increased her animal-touching experiences by prodding a dead jellyfish, but didn’t fancy picking up the larger two-clawed crabs!

And so our wonderful day out on the boat drew to an end.  We were returned to our original starting point, and taxied back to the office, having purchased one of our “official” photographs of the day, which had already been printed and was in a shell frame.  Worth every one of the 200 baht we paid for it!

It was a long drive back to our hotel, due to the heavy traffic and although we had expected to be back by 18:00, as the hour ticked by, I rang EAT to put back our dinner reservation by fifteen minutes.  Even that seemed like it wouldn’t be enough, as the sun started to set… We said our farewells to Mike and Dee who had been such excellent company for the day, and I pegged it up the hill (the driver couldn’t get his vehicle up it – or wouldn’t…!) with Cornelia on my back, did a two minute change of clothes, and raced back down the hill and along the road to EAT, where they were waiting patiently for us.  I was sweating profusely and looked anything ready for a meal, but Cornelia was on good form and made up for my dishevelled appearance!  In the meantime, Ian had been to reception to check us out and organise a taxi to the airport in the morning.  The restaurant staff recognised Cornelia and remembered Cowbat too, so MaiMai entertained her by making Cowbat squeak (and making Cornelia giggle joyfully), and generally looking after her brilliantly.  She had spaghetti bolognese again, Ian had the chateaubriand again, and I opted for the New Zealand lamb.  It was all quite wonderful and delicious, although I’d have preferred my lamb a little pinker.  As it was the last night of our World Adventure, Cornelia was allowed a chocolate ice cream, and I tried the chocolate mousse, which I didn’t like enough to keep for myself, so passed it over to Ian to polish off!

We were done by about 20:00, so it was back up the hill for us (Cornelia on my back again – at least I’m getting some hardcore hillwork in!), and I rinsed the day’s excitement off me and Cornelia.  She was exhausted and fell over while she was being a bit silly, but when she asked Daddy for help getting up, he got disproportionately cross with her and yelled at her that she was four years old and she could pick herself up. I’m afraid I couldn’t help myself and told her that if she fell, I’d pick her up, even if she was 44.  She went to bed without argument, very excited that she only had one more sleep left before we head home and only two sleeps until we see Grannie Annie!

And so, that was the end of our final full day of our world travels.  A day of travelling home awaits us tomorrow…

Lazy bones

24 January 2019

I ended up in bed with poor old Bugsy again, whose temperature went up to just under 103 again at 01:00.  I didn’t want to risk it skyrocketing while I was asleep in the other room.  She was also wide awake, so we lay in bed cuddling and chatting until I gave her another dose of Calpol 45 minutes later, which helped settled her back to sleep.  She woke again at 04:00, having thrown herself  into the air and back onto the bed shouting “NO!”, waking herself up and saying to me “Don’t worry, it was just a dream.” and falling straight back to sleep!  She woke once more at 06:00, before sleeping through until nearly 10:00.  When she finally woke up, her temperature was down to normal, and she even said to me “You don’t need to take my temperature, Mummy, as my body feels completely cool.” What a relief! She was able to breathe properly through her nose, and although she still has a slight chesty cough, it is nowhere near as bad as it has been the last couple of days.

We made it down to breakfast fifteen minutes later, and we scoffed our usual melange of muesli, yoghurt, fruit and muffins, and lazed around at the table a bit, before heading upstairs and lazing around a bit more!  Cornelia wasn’t interested in going to the beach, and just wanted to stay by the pool, so although Ian and I would’ve been quite happy to go, we didn’t feel it necessary to force the issue, and after a couple of wasted hours in the room (I was reading a book on my Kindle and was totally engrossed) and Cornelia was watching her “Arty Galaxy” programme), we set ourselves up on some sun loungers and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine, and playing in the pool.  Prior to leaving our apartment, Ian was tasked with putting suncream on Bugsy, who was busy dancing and making life difficult.  I won’t post it here, as Facebook would remove my post in its entirety for child nudity, but I have a very funny video of her dancing happily while Daddy is not looking so cheerful and trying to dab her with cream!

Cornelia was full of energy, and we were happy for her to exhaust herself, so she’d sleep well tonight, as we were booking ourselves onto a boat trip for tomorrow, which required an early start.  She went straight into the pool with Ian and spent ages climbing the steps to the higher pool, then jumping off the wall into the lower pool.  I was quite impressed with her bravery and confidence, as it was quite a high jump!

I wasn’t in the mood for any lunch, but Ian said he could manage something and thought that Cornelia should have more than a yoghurt (my suggestion) to keep her going, so at about 14:30, we heaved ourselves the five metres from our loungers to the restaurant table and while Cornelia had a grilled cheese sandwich and Ian had his tuna sandwich, I chomped on Bugsy’s chips and enjoyed a nice cold Diet Coke.  Neither Ian nor I enjoy just lying around, but we seem to have adjusted quite well to it over the last two enforced days of R&R!

Straight after lunch, Cornelia wanted to go back in the pool so I took her in, and we played ball for a while until some mean Russian woman just decided to take it and play with her son instead (yes, really!!!).  (Cornelia had been jumping into the water from the top pool and I was throwing the ball for her to catch on the way down (unsuccessfully, I might add).  Of course, each time she missed, the ball would float off a bit, so once I knew that Cornelia was back in her depth, I swam off to retrieve it, which was only a couple of metres away each time.  This woman had been in the pool, right next to where we were playing, and her son was in the top pool.  Once Cornelia had jumped in and I’d helped her to the shallower water, I saw the woman swim towards the ball.  I just assumed that she was getting it to pass to me, so didn’t bother going for it myself… and she just picked it up, called for her son, and then started playing catch with him!  I couldn’t believe it! The bloody cheek of it!  Anyway, Cornelia was about to get upset, so I had to explain to her that it was a communal ball, meaning that anyone could play with it, but that I thought it was not a very nice way to behave, and if she had done it, I would be quite cross with her, and that other people just weren’t as nice as us.  I offered to get her bucket and spade for her to play with instead, but she was happy to carry on jumping in, and we practiced some underwater back somersaults too, before surfing back to Daddy on the other side of the pool.

We all lay on our loungers drying off (Bugsy in the shade, Ian and I in the sun!) until about 16:30 when we decided to head back upstairs and shower, ready for an early supper and bed. 

I decided to try and get a quick run in, and after some initial procrastination, set off for twenty minutes – a short run down to the seafront and along the pavement bordering the beach, before turning around and sweating my way back.  I even managed to run up the ridiculously steep hill, although I had to stop once and catch my breath.

I was disgustingly sweaty by the time I’d finished my run, and immediately took a cold shower, to try and cool myself down. I had fifteen minutes to shower, dress and be in reception for the 18:00 shuttle bus, but the shower did little to help, and my dress stuck to me immediately! Ah well, at least we weren’t going anywhere smart for supper!!  I met Ian at reception, as he was already there arranging our check out for tomorrow evening as well as booking a taxi to the airport for Saturday morning.  We weren’t due to be back from the boat until 18:00, and with supper booked for 18:15 at EAT again, we had fifteen minutes to change, check out and walk down the hill.  It turned out that Mattia, the actual manager, as opposed to the chap who had emailed me on Tuesday during LaundryGate calling himself the General Manager, was very helpful, and told Ian that if reception was closed by the time we had finished supper, Ian could call him on his mobile and he would come to our room to check us out personally and return our £80 cash deposit.  I get the feeling that if I had made the approach, I would’ve just been told it was tough and if I wanted my £80, I’d have to be in reception during opening hours!

Anyway Tan, our cheery shuttle bus driver, agreed to drop us off at Red Chopsticks again, where we had another good table overlooking the mayhem of the road below us.  I’m afraid to say that I enjoyed my Thai chicken curry so much the first time we were here, that I ordered it again, and I wasn’t disappointed! 

We had enough time after our meal to stop off at the mini mart for a couple of bottles of water, and withdraw enough cash to pay for our boat trip tomorrow morning (they only accept cash payments!), before plodding back to the Island View Hotel pick up point, where Cornelia was delighted to find her new friend, Emma, was also waiting for the shuttle with her family.

We sang some songs on the bus home and said our goodnights, before heading to our respective apartments.  Cornelia had a bit of a paddy about Daddy brushing her teeth, rather than Mummy, but I stayed out of it and they managed to resolve it without intervention. ;o) I went in for her bedtime stories, and we both said goodnight, before leaving the room with her agreement that she wouldn’t call out.  Hmmmm. Within five minutes, she was calling out for either of us, and once we’d established that nothing was wrong with her, we told her that we weren’t coming back in now, and she needed to sleep so that she would have lots of energy for tomorrow.

Back in the living room, Ian and I suddenly heard a loud noise and it sounded like heavy rain.  And sure enough, it was a torrential downpour.  We were very glad we weren’t stuck in town, and having to walk back to the pick up stop in the rain (although, to be fair, I looked as if I’d been in the rain anyway!).  In the meantime, Cornelia was still calling out variously for me and Ian, saying she needed a song to help her sleep, amongst other distractions.  She is currently chattering away to herself and it’s just gone 21:00.  That child!!  We need her to go to sleep, so she isn’t beastly tomorrow!  We shall see what happens!

 

The not much day!

23 January 2019

Gosh, that was a fretful night. I slept in with Cornelia so I could monitor her and her temperature overnight, measuring it every couple of hours. It rose to 104.6 (40.3) at 04:00, really making me worried. After discussion with Ian, I woke her to give her another dose of Calpol, and although she said her tummy hurt, and spent ten minutes blowing her nose, she fell back to sleep, waking briefly at 06:00-ish and again at 08:45. I took her temperature again at 08:15 and it had gone down slightly to 102. Whenever Cornelia has had a fever before, it has only lasted 24 hours and she’s bounced back very quickly, so I am hopeful that the ferocity of this fever is a good sign that her body is fighting whatever it is fiercely!

Ian and I think that she probably has a nasty cold, given the constant nose-blowing and coughing, but we are also mindful that we have been in areas where dengue fever can be passed on by mosquitoes (and she’d received half a dozen bites on her upper body that last night in Siem Reap, having escaped any all year!) and the zika virus is prevalent. She was being gorgeous, in between nose blows, and as I gave her a fresh tissue saying “Just in case you need it”, she said, “Thank you, Mummy, you’ve thought of everything!” 🥰

I was also concerned about other germs that may have amassed on her Gang members, three of whom she chomps on at night.  I washed Molly and Cowbat, then sterilised them both and hung them out to dry.  I need to get Cowding away from her at some point too!

Ian went down for breakfast, but Cornelia didn’t want to go, so he brought up the other plates for me and Bugsy to share. Despite her fever, she was in a particularly cheery mood and once again, but for the thermometer and physical heat of her body, you’d never know she was unwell!

As you can imagine, it was a bit of a boring morning!  She watched a new programme on her Kindle, called Arty Galaxy, and while Ian went to pool for an hour, I read a book and occasionally wiped Cornelia’s nose!  Just after Ian had left for the pool, the cleaners came, for the first time in the three nights we’d been there!  Apparently, it’s not actually an hotel, it’s a residence, and the service is not that of an hotel.  We had already run out of loo roll and had to buy some of our own, and empty the bins.  All in all, I was not loving this last part of our trip that was supposed to be complete luxury, before Ian has to go back to work.  Anyway, we had fresh towels, fresh sheets, more loo roll at last!

Ian came back after his hour at the pool, and then it was my turn. I just lay there for an hour, turning over every fifteen minutes to ensure an even tan…!  Just as I looked up to our balcony,  Bugsy called out to me and her and Ian came down for lunch at the poolside tables.  Her temperature was hovering around 101, so once she’d eaten her cheese toastie, she was allowed some pool time again.

She made a new friend in the pool – Emma from Mongolia – who spoke very good English for her age, and we just threw a ball around together for an hour before she left to go upstairs with her family.  Cornelia had had enough too so I dried her off and we all went back up to our room. Bugsy watched yet more of her Kindle while Ian went off for water and beer, and then I showered with her before it was Ian’s turn to get clean!

Cornelia was feeling energised, so we walked down the hill to EAT, a restaurant that had really excellent reviews.  We hadn’t booked, so the host told us that as long as we could eat our meal in the next hour and fifteen minutes, we could have a table!  Done!  The atmosphere was great, and the staff went out of their way to make Cornelia laugh.  Ian and I both had the chateaubriand that our Swedish host recommended (the beef is imported from Australia), and it was absolute perfection.  Just so, so tasty!

Mid-meal Cornelia decided she needed the loo, and found it hilarious that there was a “No Diving” sign in the bathroom.  She chuckled away to the joke and told the waiters how funny she found it, which just delighted them even more.  Stupidly, I agreed to her request for a chocolate ice cream again, which they gave to her served with chocolate sauce and extra sticks of chocolate.   Uh oh!

It was a terrific evening, despite having to leave on time (we would happily have stayed for longer!), I felt very full as I trudged up the ridiculous hill with a tired toddler on my back!  At bedtime, she asked for three stories which Ian read, then I cuddled her for a bit before leaving her to sleep.  Then she started calling out for me, so Ian went in twice, before she finally went quiet.  We went to bed ourselves at 21:45, as I was especially tired from last night, but she called out for me twice, and the second time, I stayed in with her as temperature was starting to go up again. I was very much hoping that we would have more sleep than last night, but I think that when you are a parent and your child is unwell, it is very difficult to have a deep sleep!

The heat is on…

22 January 2019

When Bugsy woke up, she said that she didn’t feel very well, and as her skin felt quite hot, I took her temperature. It was 101.7. Uh oh. I gave her a small dose of Calpol, and as she was otherwise in perfectly good spirits, she got up and asked if she could do some drawing before breakfast. She drew a magnificent wicked queen complete with cauldron and poisoned apple, a la Snow White. Next was the same witch holding a poisoned comb, this time with a cauldron filled with (very specifically) jellyfish blood, a puff of blue smoke, melted banana, some green poison, and five scoops of ordinary orange powder to make it all sparkle. Then “a teensy bit of squeezed juice from an old apple, and finally the pink from a rainbow”.  Hopefully her inspiration wasn’t from our cookery class in Vietnam…!

We went down to breakfast which made us despair… There are only two options for breakfast: European and American. We ordered two Europeans, with one cappuccino and one English Breakfast tea. 50% of that order was wrong! 🙄 Anyway, she was very sweet about it and rapidly replaced the incorrect meal and drink, and we shared our muffins and fruit with Bugsy, who seemed well enough to eat everything she was given!

While Cornelia rested upstairs with me, Ian went for a walk to get more water and continue his hunt for tea bags, which have so far eluded us! I haven’t been this tea-less all trip! He returned pouring with sweat, with plenty of water… but still no tea bags. He had visited two mini marts and couldn’t find them anywhere.  I shared a bag of crisps between him and Cornelia, so he could get his sodium levels back up and, as she wasn’t in the mood for lunch, she also had a yoghurt.  She lay on the sofa watching TV for the rest of the morning (cartoons in Thai, mostly!) and Ian went out again to collect the laundry.

Ah, the laundry…

He went down to reception to collect the laundry that had been promised last night, but that we agreed with the staff we would collect in the morning.  Imagine my surprise when he came back empty-handed, saying that he had been told he was wrong and that it wouldn’t be ready until today at 17:00.  I stomped off down that, fuelled by frustration and lack of sleep.  The following conversation ensued:

Hi, my husband’s just been down to collect our laundry that was ready last night and has been told he can’t collect it until this evening.  

Yes, that’s right.

But when we came down last night at 6 o’clock, we were told it was ready, and in fact, one of your guys was just about to go and collect it for us, when we said that we would pick it up this morning instead, as we were just going out for dinner and didn’t want to hold up the shuttle bus. 

No.

Yes, that’s exactly what we were told.  He was even getting on his moped to collect it before we stopped him!

No.  You have misunderstood. 

No.  I have not misunderstood.  I want to be perfectly clear about this.  If we had had to wait 48 hours for laundry which was costing us twice as much to take twice as long, we would have taken it ourselves.  That was the conversation we had yesterday and that was what was agreed.

No,  you are wrong.  It won’t be ready until 5 o’clock tonight.

That is completely unacceptable to us and completely outrageous.  I am very cross about this indeed.

I stomped off, absolutely livid, but before I composed my email to the manager to complain , I needed to check on Bugsy.  At 13:00, her temperature had dropped to 100.3 and as she was desperate to go to the pool, we agreed that she could have an hour there. She played very happily in the pool and you wouldn’t have known she had a fever! We kept to our hour, before returning to our room, where I pinged off my email to the manager about the laundry problem, explaining that in the 40 countries that we’ve now visited, this is the only time I’ve felt the need to complain and that the attitude of the staff member I spoke to was totally unacceptable, not least because he was wrong and I had not misunderstood the situation.

Around 15:00, her temperature went up again to 102.9, so I gave her a larger dose of Calpol, and she rested on the sofa, watching some of her Kindle episodes, while I tried not to storm down to reception in a blaze of fury.  Here is an extract…

we apologize that you had some Difficulty Dealing with a Real Language Barrier with our Thai Stuff Team, in order to get a better understanding while traveling in Thailand I would recommend you to Talk slower, not louder. Speak clearly, not forcefully. People of a different language and culture can hear fine. regarding the Laundry service let me remind you that we coordinate with External laundry service to provide this Service for our guest. there was a huge delay with the laundry order unfortunately we apologize about this unexpected event 

So, just to be clear once again…. it WAS expected the previous day, it’s just that there was a huge delay on this occasion, and I had not in fact misunderstood a single bloody thing…  I was NOT appeased in any way by this response, and had Ian not persuaded me to just leave it, I would probably have packed up and booked us another hotel for the last few days.  I then became quite upset that this last part of our amazing adventure was being marred by an irritating argument, where I was being accused of failing to adapt to and respect a different culture, which is quite the opposite of how I see myself!  In my view (of course!), it was, in fact, one crappy member of staff not understanding how to deal with a pissed off guest!  The silver lining to the cloud was that we didn’t have to pay for our laundry, but that still meant we were all without pants for the day…!

Ian managed to soothe my mood, and once I’d recovered myself, I went to check on Bugsy, who was then fast asleep on the sofa.  Now, that was as shame, as we’d just ordered Italian to be delivered and it was about to arrive!  But she stayed fast asleep and so Ian and I ate our food (very nice, simple pasta) and drank some beer, waiting for her to wake up again.

I’d added a Tiramisu to the order which I was meant to share with Ian, but it was so yummy, and Ian was “waiting until later” to eat his portion, by which time, his half was more like a small quarter…!  🐷

I took advantage of Cornelia’s epic sleep on the sofa, by watching Suits and uploading the thousand photos from Angkor Wat onto the blog.  Unfortunately, the wifi here is pretty slow, so it took a very long time, and there were so many beautiful shots, it was very difficult to choose which ones to exclude!  Cornelia finally woke up at 21:30, but the sleep hadn’t done her temperature any good, as it was now to 103.9.  She had another big dose of Calpol, but was feeling quite good in herself.  She ate some of her penne pasta then just went back to the sofa, where we read some books to her until 22:45 when we went to bed.  She kept burping and I was on permanent alert that she might be sick, but thankfully that never happened.  She also had a small rash on the back of her neck, that we hoped was either a touch of sunburn or a mark from where her hair bobble had rubbed the nape, but we read up on dengue fever, zika virus etc and put our medical insurance by the door with a packed bag, just in case of a nighttime emergency!

I also decided to stay in with Cornelia, hoping she would have a good deep recovery sleep, and just in case things deteriorated during the night.

It’s my birthday!

20 January 2019

It was another early start for us, and when the alarm went off at 05:00, I got up and dressed while Ian had a quick shower. But before that, Ian passed me a birthday card from him, which he’d managed to buy last night, after quite a search apparently. 🤗

I had packed up everything last night, so went about finishing up the last few bits and pieces, before waking Cornelia. She took a few minutes to come round, but let me dress her whilst she was in bed and I managed to roll her out and up surprisingly easily, once I’d reminded her that it was my birthday.

Ian’s watch was wrong, and he didn’t realise that time was ticking away. I was trying not to be grumpy tired, so didn’t tell him to get a bloody move on, eventually saying “We’ve only got thirty seconds before our driver arrives, so we really need to get a move on!” in my best not-nagging voice. His reply was that we still had ten minutes… er, we did NOT! His watch had stopped again, so he’d thought he’d been doing brilliantly getting ready etc but, in fact, he was now late!

I took Cornelia downstairs with me to reception so that we could check out, only to find it in complete darkness.  I could see two members of staff asleep on the benches in the lobby, with small blankets pulled over them.  I felt bad for disturbing them, but coughed loudly, and you should have seen the speed at which the first guy jumped up!  He charged behind reception as if he hadn’t really been asleep at all.  It was hilarious!  He knew we were checking out, and went to shake his colleague awake, as our driver walked in.  The other guy took a bit longer to wake up and looked quite dazed for a few minutes.  While he went to get our bags, we tried settling our bill.  They had incorrectly charged us for a second room – our room was 606 but, confusingly, that incorporated rooms 607 & 608 within it.  Anyway, a manager turned up, she switched on the main lights (no-one else had yet thought to do this!) and sorted it all out.  They were very friendly and good-humoured, once they’d realised their mistake, but the delay set us back twenty minutes.

On the way out, I grabbed our three breakfast boxes that we’d ordered, to eat at the airport a bit later.  Cornelia was being brilliant – getting up at the crack of dawn seems to suit her!  Our taxi driver had already been paid, so we didn’t incur an extra charge for the delay, and we gave him a decent tip to thank him when we arrived.

There was already a queue to check in at Siem Reap airport, but we waited patiently and soon it was our turn.  For this flight to Phuket, I’d been able to buy an extra ten kilos of luggage allowance, so we knew we wouldn’t incur an additional charge, and we waved goodbye to our bags once more, before finding a bench on which we could sit and eat our breakfast.  It was a generous meal!  A raisin pastry and a roll with butter and jam, two boiled eggs and some bacon, and three pieces of fruit.  My stomach was still feeling tender from yesterday, so I just had a bit of fruit, and once Ian and Cornelia had eaten what they wanted, I offered the remainder to the guy in charge of the luggage wrapping facility, who accepted it happily and thanked me.

Once we were through security, Ian went to buy a coffee for him and a cup of tea for me, and Cornelia had a bit of time on her Kindle.  This attracted the attention of a small Russian boy, who was on holiday with his parents and grandparents.  He came over and settled himself down next to Cornelia with his grandmother, and all was well until his mum came over and dragged him off, for no good reason that I could see!  The poor kid burst into tears and then everyone started yelling at him for making a noise.  Cornelia looked quite bemused at it all, before returning to watching Paw Patrol.

Our flight boarded very early, and in fact, it was ready to take off about ten minutes ahead of schedule.  It was an Air Asia flight and it was very cramped – probably the least amount of leg room we’ve had on any flight to date.  The guy in front of Ian put his seat all the way back, so he had even less room, but thankfully, the flight was less than two hours, and he had enough room to read his book (just about)!

The personnel at the airport were all friendly enough, and we were quickly through immigration and passport control (we didn’t need a visa for entry to Thailand) but the taxi kiosk staff and drivers were all quite surly and brusque – far from the legendary warmth of the Thai people generally. Our driver was a large chap, who smoked over us while we lifted our bags into the boot of his car, and seemingly, rather blind. He had to bring the docket, bearing our hotel destination details, right up to his eyes to read it. Gulp…!

He did try to be friendly, despite our language barrier, but then annoyed us again by pulling over at some tour company office, where a woman tried to get us out of the car to go for a drink and undoubtedly book a tour with them. We declined and said we would wait in the car for our driver to finish his cigarette, and that we just wanted to get to our hotel. It is difficult not to be rude, and we understand from Google searches that this is quite normal, but once we’d made clear our intention to stay in the car, our driver took the liberty of making us wait another ten minutes before heading off. We were grateful to largely have escaped this sort of irritating nonsense so far! Typical that country #40 would be the one!!  Cornelia was glued to her Kindle, and had taken the luggage labels off and wrapped them around her legs and arms, and told me she was now a fashion designer.  Obviously, the Mercedes programme we’d watched in the hotel restaurant had made an impression!

We arrived at Karon Butterfly Residence after about an hour of driving and checked in.  We were shown to our room – a spacious two-bedroomed apartment with a little kitchen, and a living area.  It overlooks the lovely pool, and we were looking forward to our stay.

As we were unpacking, Cornelia set up a “fairground” in the bedroom, with pillow dodgems, the ceiling fan as a carousel, a spooky house behind the curtains, and a pirate ship (a rolled up towel).  I love that she’s put all the time we’ve spent at adventure parks to creative use.  While I was in our bedroom, Daddy took her off to write my surprise birthday card.  She kept popping her little head around the bedroom door saying “Stay in here, Mummy, we are just doing something to the fairground rides for you…!” and then giggling and running out.  Eventually, she came in brandishing a card saying “Here’s your birthday card, Mummy! That was the surprise!!” And she’d written it all herself, refusing any help from Daddy. 🥰

 

We had a late lunch at the hotel restaurant, sitting outside in the shade by the pool.  It is very hot and humid here!  I wasn’t massively hungry, so had an omelette, and Bugsy had a cheese toastie with chips – she said it was really delicious and even ate the crusts!  Small victories…!  Back upstairs, Cornelia fell asleep, so I took advantage of some parent- free time to book a much needed wax at a salon down the road for 16:00.  I left the apartment at about 15:30, to make sure I arrived in time.  Walking along the busy road felt a bit dangerous – there are no pavements or even a hard shoulder of sorts, so you are literally walking with the traffic very close to you.  I suspect it’ll become second nature quickly, but I walked faster than I normally would and, coupled with the humidity, was quite sweaty by the time I arrived!  Pin runs her own salon and was quite lovely and friendly.  We had a good chat while she fulfilled my request… and let’s just say she was certainly very thorough! 😳

 

I popped into Makro on the way back to the hotel, to get some basic supplies: milk, beer, teabags, some crisps and fruit.  There were no teabags, but I did find some piggy ear biscuits!  When I got to the checkout, I could see the girl thinking “Bloody tourists!” as she patiently explained that you couldn’t buy beer until 17:00.  I returned the beer to the shelves as quickly as possible, only to find out on my return to the check out desk that I hadn’t weighed the oranges either. D’oh!  The queue behind me was building, so I handed back the oranges, paid up and left, feeling very touristy indeed – for the first time for ages on this world adventure!

 

Back in the apartment, Bugsy was still asleep on the sofa so we let her stay there, in the hope that we could stay up a bit later this evening.  Ian had decided to shave off his beard, so that he didn’t return home with a big white patch when he went back to work!  I asked him to keep it for just one more day, but offered to trim it for him, which I did in the shower.  It created a ridiculous amount of hair, which I rearranged into a nice face much to Bugsy’s great delight, when she finally woke up.  She chuckled and said to me, “This has been my favourite birthday with you so far. I love you, Mummy.” And with that, she put her sweet little hands on my cheeks and drew me in for a kiss. 🥰

Then I did something really silly… I put our passports and my jewellery box into the safe, and closed it, using our usual code.  The door locked and I tested it, just to make sure it was all working okay.  It was not.  I had stupidly not read the instructions (which were hidden under a towel I’d put down when unpacking the cases earlier) and the safe was well and truly locked with our stuff inside.  Argh!  I felt like such an idiot!  We have done so well all trip not to get caught out by stuff like this.  Honestly, I was so embarrassed, that I had to get Ian ask at reception to see if they could sort it out! Amazingly, they could – the block at the front of the safe can be opened, and a master key opens the safe.  Phew!  She showed us how to set the lock properly (overly-complicated, frankly…!) and all was well.  Ah, I was so relieved!

 

Now that she was awake, we all went down to the pool for a late afternoon swim, and while Ian and Bugsy played in the water, I relaxed in the evening sun with a can of gin & grapefruit.  Classy, eh?!  We had an hour or so there, before heading back upstairs to shower and dress for dinner (once I’d cleaned up the hair!).  We were running much later than planned, but Cornelia was on good form and her afternoon sleep seemed to have done her the world of good.  The friendly driver of the little shuttle bus that takes you down to the main drag of restaurants and shops recommended Red Chopsticks to us, and kindly dropped us off right outside.

 

The hostess warned us that there may be a five or ten minute wait, but that was fine by us, as we didn’t know where else we would go!  As it happened, before she’d even finished her sentence, she saw some guests leaving, so said she would have that table cleared for us asap.  It was a great spot, right by the road, so we could see the hustle and bustle of the traffic and passers-by.  I must confess… we had thought this area was a bit more upmarket than it is.  It is filled with large tattooed Russians, and it all feels a bit sleazy – exactly what we were hoping to avoid.  But the restaurant was terrific, and they had a decent kids’ menu for Cornelia, who went for fish fingers and chips.  I had the Thai red curry and Ian opted for the massaman curry.  Mine was superb – just the right amount of heat to make my face sweat!

After our meal, we walked down to the seafront to the entrance of the Island View Hotel, from where we could catch the shuttle back to our apartment.  The bus was full this time (it was the last one of the evening at 21:30, but I think they normally run later… it is just that today is a Sunday), and the driver said that some of the passengers would need to get off at the bottom of the steep hill that leads up to our apartment.  Ian hopped out, along with a couple of the other guys, and Cornelia and I were whisked up to the reception, from where we walked back to our room.  Then I realised that Ian had the key.  D’oh!  Anyway, we sat quietly and waited for him to arrive, which he did a few minutes later (I was just happy that I hadn’t lost the key!).

The two hour sleep Bugsy had earlier meant that she would now NOT go to sleep!  She was wide awake and kept calling out for me for cuddles, not falling asleep until nearly midnight, by which time Ian and I were exhausted too!  But what a fabulous birthday in two countries it’s been!