I’m counting this as a win.

Earlier today we were sitting in a tranquil cafe that overlooks the almost entirely dormant city airport. 

Enjoying the afternoon sunlight through the vast windows, watching the heat rising in waves to the crisp blue skies from the nearly noiseless nearby runway .

The teenager glanced at me and, with a slightly uncharacteristically non-sarcastic tone, stated;

“Your hair looks really lovely in this light”

‘Oh thank you,  what a nice thing to say’


“It’s got just the right amount of grey in it. Because there’s a lot now. But not *too* much , you know? It suits you”

‘Oh. Thanks’


“I mean, you can tell that you’re getting older. Obviously. But you don’t look like a granny or anything. It looks… nice”




‘Okay, you can stop now. Thank you’.

As my gaze drifted back out to the still, silent , sleeping aircraft patiently snoozing on the burning hot tarmac, I thought; I’ll take that.


Yes. I’m having a rant.

This is absolute nonsense.

So. Wearing a mask will not make it more likely for your child to be trafficked.

I mean really ?? Come on.

Just wear a damn mask and STOP making more people sick.

And join a group to actually help trafficked children rather than use them as an anecdote to a utterly ridiculous ‘ anti mask’ propaganda campaign.

Masks do not cure covid, they are pieces of cloths not fabric miracles. BUT THEY HELP TO SLOW THE SREAD OF THE DISEASE.

It was at this point that i stopped for a breath and thought perhaps that this may be a teeny bit strong for a reply to an elderly friend of my mother’s on a random facebook post.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I will express my feelings on that particular post just as soon as I’m done here, but perhaps in a more condensed manner.

But I digress. Let me get back to my point.

Unless you are wearing a 25 layer mask lined with asbestos it’s not going to deprive your brain of so much oxygen that you suffocate and die during a 25 minute stroll round the super market.

Yes wearing a mask can fog up your glasses some times which can get pretty darned annoying I can tell you. BUT THEY HELP TO SLOW THE SREAD OF THE DISEASE.

If it makes you feel better I will make you custom fitted one with hand stitched embroidered lettering, with the words “I’m really not happy about this” emblazoned across it. But please just put a damn mask on.

Because I really really really want to see my family again.

If you disagree with the sentiment in this post then, please don’t hesitate to shut up , stop being such a dick, and go put on a mask. Seriously.

A Meaty Problem

Vegetarians look away.

Last night in my haste to spend some time with actual real people (yes, actual real people!) I made a bit of a boo… As I was scrambling to unearth the watermelon sorbet from the freezer ~ I was on dessert duty ~ I had to practically empty it as of course the sorbet had somehow made it’s way to the very bottom. As the grab driver impatiently waited at the gate I dug out my prize and swiftly threw everything* (*not everything) back in and departed.

The evening was a joy, a few friends , some chilled sangria and pleasing task to perform for the school PTO. Lovely. The almost encounter with a rather large scorpion that was nestling near my flip flop almost put a bit of a dampener on the night… Almost.

I arrived home (well before our current curfew) feeling more refreshed than I have for days, weeks, months, who can tell, I deposited the left over sorbet back to its rightful home and discovered to my horror the ‘frozen meat’ bag on the floor next to the freezer quietly oozing juices.

Now here I must stop and give a huge amount of credit to my two boys Bertie and Winston. They are much maligned creatures of late having taken to barking at anything and everything that moves overnight in the garden ( we have quite a lot of things that move around in our garden overnight it would seem…). But beyond all expectation the bag of rapidly thawing meat was untouched. Well done boys.

After a VERY short sangria induced notion that I should start cooking immediately common sense prevailed and I decided that tomorrow would be a far better day to attempt this and I dumped the whole lot in the fridge and went to bed.

Tomorrow is now today and so far we have;
Beef stew
1kg of fried pork mince
36 meatballs
Pork tenderloin with tarragon and mustard crust
12 spicy breaded chicken strips
A joint of Roast pork
4 chicken breast baked with mango butter
And a large dish of sliced pork that is being portioned out during the day to two very good boys.

I think today’s plan for going out for Sunday lunch may well be postponed…..


Some Thoughts About Thinking.

I cannot imagine a second going by without the me inside my head chuntering on twenty to the dozen…..


Last week I read about a very curious thing.

The thing was that some people don’t have an inner monologue. Nothing. They don’t ‘think’ in words.

This absolutely blew my mind. I cannot imagine a second going by without the me inside my head chuntering on twenty to the dozen. Seriously, it never shuts up. Its always banging on about something or another. ‘We’ have conversations. Long ones, detailed ones,  sometimes I am quite taken aback at how astute ( or dim ) my inner voice can be, how many times ‘we’ manage to talk our way round a problem or issue. Of course sometimes we talk ourselves into a problem or issue as well…. but that’s another story.

My inner voice can also be a bit of a bitch. Sometimes she is really not very kind to me, but she’s always there. My constant companion, giving form to my thoughts , breathing life to my ideas, or shooting them down in flames, telling me not to be so ridiculous, that I couldn’t possibly pull that off. We argue a lot … like I said, Brenda can be a bit of a bitch. Yes, she has a name. It would be odd if she didn’t, then I’d just be talking to myself all the time and that would be weird.

Before you start sending me referrals for psychiatric assistance I would like to clarify one thing before I continue. About Brenda. I am fully aware that my inner monologue is in reality just me. I DO know that there isn’t another consciousness lurking inside.

Quite a while ago now I was not in a good place. I was ( in retrospect) suffering from bouts of depression, at the time however I was just a hopeless bag of skin who couldn’t do anything right.  My inner monologue had become dark and quite threatening. I then read somewhere that giving your depression a ‘physical form’ could be helpful. Many people refer to depression as their ‘black dog’, it is a quite common physicalisation among sufferers. But I really like dogs. Our neighbour at the time had a lovely little black dog that would frequently burrow its way through our back garden hedge and appear at the back door wagging his tail and waiting for another friend. There were several days that the company of this playful, friendly little chap helped to quiet the roar within.

So the black dog analogy didn’t hold for me. And that is when Brenda arrived. I have no idea where the name came from but, with unreserved apologies to anyone out there named Brenda I’m sure you are all quite lovely, it just seemed to fit. I won’t claim that my depression was cured or vanished overnight, but it is a was a lot easier for me to rid myself of certain dark thought by telling Brenda she was wrong about me and she could take a run and jump. These days Brenda is a rather benign presence, still always there, but I’m far less inclined to pay her any heed.

But I digress.

What is weird to me is that some people don’t have this voice. Brenda was quite also rather perturbed by this, we had never imagined that people didn’t have their own Brenda . How could that be? How do they think, or reason, or argue with themselves. What is the process… I just don’t understand. Who keeps them up at night with ridiculous notions or rivers of words that flow to the open seas of my conscientious? How do they make any decisions without consulting their Brenda? Apparently not everyone has this. Some people don’t have a voice at all.  Mind. Blown.

This is the post that started it all….. Do you have an inner Monologue

Hillywilly (& Brenda)

*EDIT* Teenager does not have an inner voice!!! They have no idea how it would would feel to have a voice. They tried to describe to be how they think and its like concepts and images, but NO WORDS. We are both now extremely suspicious of each other, and they think I am insane.  This could have repercussions .





Today I lost my pen

The thunder grows faster and fiercer each time. The gentle warm breeze can change to a föhn wind  in the blink of an eye. The sudden snap of electricity in the air and lightning begins to crack and pop seemingly from nowhere, and you just cant tell where it will fall.

And then it just goes bang.

Today I lost my pen.

Not the most world shattering event I’ll grant you, but it was a moment.

At first when a storm starts its almost imperceptible. The rolling quiet thunder stretching on on and into the distance for what seems like minutes  at a time , you  have to arch you ear to to catch its start and end. Listening to the slow build not quite knowing when it will reach is peak , waiting for it to diminish to silence. Counting the seconds until it returns . Sometimes it will just fade away in the distance, becalmed until the next weather front rolls in.

But the storm can also build.

Instead of the diminishing returns of a receding bank of cloud , it can grow. The gaps between silence decrease. The thunder comes faster and fiercer each time. The gentle warm breeze can change to a föhn wind in the blink of an eye. The sudden snap of electricity in the air and lightning begins to crack and pop seemingly from nowhere, and you just cant tell where it will fall.

And then it just goes bang.

Rummaging through the detritus that has consumed my dining table looking for something that I know is there somewhere. Sure, there were other writing implements among the debris, along with balls of string, place mats, copious notebooks, a thermometer, piles of fabric, crossword books, and a bag of dog treats among a sea of distraction accumulated over the course of a week or so while I attempted to distance my self from the all too familiar far off rumble of an oncoming storm. But I couldn’t find my pen. The table takes the form of a modern art piece strewn as it is with a random collection of seemingly unconnected objects that tell a story only within the mind of the artist. Objects taken up with enthusiasm and the hope of entertainment or self betterment, all too soon discarded as they prove unsuitable to satisfy my current whim. And it builds and builds and when I look at it I see so many things started and not finished, so much enthusiasm reduced to a collection of sighs. And I still cant find my damn pen.

The last few days have been hard.

And I know. I really DO know. I know how privileged I am to be comfortable right now. I KNOW.

Every time I get frustrated, or feel lonely, or feel inconvenienced, I remind myself. Every time I catch myself being bored, every time I laugh too much, every time I feel tired of being the house cheerleader, the glee club rallying the spirits of the single other inhabitant of Camp Covid, I remind myself. I remind myself to be grateful. I remind myself how fortunate I am , because I am. I know I am.

The thunder has started to rumble. The sky has begun to swirl.

I get cross with myself for how many times I have to remind myself. I shouldn’t be letting petty niggles get under my skin, I shouldn’t be snapping at the teenager for a minor infraction or inaction. I should be more patient. Its just as weird for them as it is for you. A lot of people have it MUCH harder than me. I Know. Stop feeling like that. Be grateful. i am . i really am. But I’m tired. I’ts been so hot, teenager has been antsy, the dogs are barking all damn night, there’s a mountain of laundry, the table has all but disappeared, it STILL hasn’t rained. I miss my husband so damn much, NO don’t think about that. Push it down. Teenager is sad, snap out of this they need you, smile, reassure, ride out the menopausal hot flush, its just sweat, a lot of sweat and rage,  it will be over soon, be grateful, be kind,  but its so damn hot and the house looks like dusty soup, you should be cleaning, you should be grateful. I KNOW.  Think of others, be a helper, do something, do anything,  I don’t know what to make for dinner, I need to write a shopping list but I cant find my f****** PEN!

And then I just went bang.

The clouds burst open and the rain fell, and fell hard. An unstoppable torrent filled with anger and rage and guilt and self pity and loathing.  A deluge of frustration and longing that eventually faded to a trickle of sadness then petered out with a whimper of exhaustion. In the aftermath of the storm, with the pressure at last dissipated, the sun struggles out from behind the clouds, there is a freshness in the air. A newness. A readiness to begin again. A deep breath.

As my eyes come back into focus, and my mind sweeps away the debris left in the wake of the sudden squall , there right next to the toilet roll tubes and the tape measure is my pen. Just where it had been all along. And I feel once again how fortunate I am. And I know. I know once again that Its OK not to be OK all the time. I know its OK to be grumpy once in a while, I know its OK to have a wobble. I know that the storm has passed.








Do What You Can.

A subtle shift is needed

Its time to make an adjustment. Another one.

Because of …everything …. We have all had to make some pretty drastic alterations in our lives. How you doing with that? Ok? I hope so. I really do.

Now that the dust is starting to settle some of us have been struggling to come to terms with the notion that this is going to be our reality for a little bit longer than we thought. Its not going to be forever. Just a little bit longer than we hoped it would be. But at some point in ‘futuretime’ it will change again.

With the realisation sinking in a whole set of new challenges are looming. Its easy to stare in the face of something so big and be overshadowed the question

What can I do ?

Now say that in your head. How does it make you feel?

If it makes you feel a little sad and overwhelmed then I can assure you that it’s perfectly normal.

Now take a deep breath and say it again but this time put your emphasis on the last word.

What can I do?

And focus on something small. Small things really count right now.

Something that you are good at ( and preferably that you like! ) , something that helps. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture that benefits the masses*  *although if you can do that please do.

The simple answer to the question of What can I do ? is :

Do what you can.

It can be as simple as making phone calls and text to check in with people. It can be as simple as making some extra food and taking it to a neighbour. Invite your friends kids to share a zoom/skype/ whatever app you use to have a story time or play a game with your family.

There are so many ideas … and the purpose of firing this blog up again was to share ideas and hopefully inspiration to so those small things we.

So many people are already doing this. If you are one of them, then thank you , carry on.

If you want to be doing this keep looking at ideas and something will fire your imagination.

Don’t put to much pressure on yourselves to do everything. You can’t. Just concentrate on doing what you can.

If you are reading this and thinking ‘there really is nothing I can do’, ‘I have nothing to give that will help’ ‘I don’t have time to do this’, then please reach out, to someone, anyone, because there are lots and lots of people who might be able to give you a little hand with something.

Do what you can.

I’ll be updating this blog when I have ideas / find a collection of links, / have the time.

Be warned these useful things will more than likely interspersed with lots of random other things, slightly deranged musings with the high likelihood of the odd recipe because, me ….  but there are plenty of amazing ideas already out there to inspire us all so lets get cracking.

Do What You Can.

The story of tonight.

To say that January has been a turbulent month is something of an understatement.

There have been soul crushing lows, followed by adrenaline fueled highs, followed by numbing pain, followed by pure joy and so on and so on and so on…

Dealing with a close family members brutal diagnosis, and learning to re-calibrate your thinking on what constitutes good news. But that is not my story tonight.

Watching your child who was once so shy and determined to camouflage herself into the background of any situation blossom into glowing, confident individual who is finally comfortable in her own skin . But that is a tale for another day.

Gazing upon with pride the medal that a 44 yr old flabby ex smoker won by running a 5k race, not too many months since she was struggling to get to the end of the road without being out of breath . Yeah, I like that story, but I’ll tell you that some other time.

Being pierced  by the pain of the sudden and unexpected  death of a beautiful soul whose radiant smile will never light up the room again . No. I’m still not ready for that one.

To have our house filled with joy and laughter of good friends enjoying  too much food and far too much wine was a much needed time of relaxation and letting go. There was even some dancing. Well there was certainly some mid 90’s running man action going on.  And I really don’t think I should talk about that.

Standing on the road bridge with my small one tonight watching her wonder as the moon was eclipsed and an shrouded in an unearthly shade of blood red was a beautiful way to end this tumultuous month. At 9pm I felt sure that this would be the last of January’s emotional stories, and such a good one to go out on. But that is not where the story ends.

This story ends in sadness. This story ends in loss. The story of tonight is what has me pouring out words through a river of tears. One more small but significant straw placed on my back that has me utterly broken.

This is the story of Matilda.

This is the story of my hissing ball of rage, my surly, obnoxious, anti-social, thoroughly wonderful hedgehog Matilda, who is no more.

No more to be heard snuffling around under the bed at all hours of the night, no more to be extricated from the interiors of both furniture items and electrical appliances. No more to empty her food bowls with an air of undisguised contempt should you dare to forget to add a sprinkle of her favoutite ‘party mix’ kibble on top. No more stowaway journeys in small ones schoolbag. No more spiky surprises as I reach into my yarn bag.  No more squishy poo presents left for me to discover in my slippers ( OK so I won’t miss absolutely everything ).

No more.

No more.

While this moment is not unexpected, in hedgehog terms she was quite the pensioner, and her health has been a concern for some time now,  despite losing a few teeth and overcoming the subsequent swollen jaw, she was still enjoying a hearty diet and nightly tours of her domain, albeit at a more leisurely pace than in bygone days . But now her days are all gone-by and my heart is aching.

Goodbye Tilds. I love you all the way to the very ends of your spikes.



A Lesson In Perspective

I posted this here a year ago and it still haunts me. Please give it 5 minutes of your time.

Hillywillyworld's Blog

My long long wait at the consulate this morning ( more of which to come) was by anyone’s standards awful, sitting around for 2 and a half hours to hand in some papers and another hour and a bit to pay for the privilege made me a little grumpy.

But boy did I give myself a lesson in perspective this afternoon.

Without a small one in tow I was able to visit a place that I wanted to see last time round but was unable to due to point blank refusal and tiredness of said small person.


COPE visitors centre is located within the grounds of the Vientiane rehabilitation centre. COPE is a non profit organisation that, amongst other things, provides prosthetic limbs and support for victims of unexploded ordinance (UXO) in Laos. The fact that this organisation is so desperately needed is a shame on the western world.



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A change is as good as a rest.

Here I am sitting in departures (again) on my way back from a trip to Bangkok.


Something that even a few short months ago would have filled me with wonder and excitement. I mean its Bangkok. Capital of Thailand, a wondrous sprawling urban mass that is begging to be explored and discovered. A thriving city that has everything a person could wish for, as long as you know where to look. And yet I sit here without feelings of wonder and instead mull over the mundane details of my afternoon and evening with the slight annoyance that I used to view a trip into central London.

Get on a plane, go to the UK consulate, pick up new passport, get back to the airport, get on a plane, come home.

Today was strictly business.
And a tiny bit of shopping. Well it would be rude not to.

It wasn’t meant to be like that but the flu epidemic decimating the schools in Chiang Mai, causing their closure and a week long programme of sterilisation of the school buildings, means that instead of being at school with a weekend sleepover at her best friends house, small one is at home with daddy as her friend fights off a bout of illness.
And Daddy, instead being next to me enjoying a grown up weekend in the capital with his wife, is sitting at home ( with a thankfully fully fit small person) playing Mario party on the Wii.

Plans change.

Flights were abandoned, then rebooked, plans rearranged and I’m alone at the airport heading to back home.

However instead of a grown up weekend a hastily arranged family overnight trip has been arranged for tomorrow, with the dog still booked into the kennels it seemed a shame to waste the opportunity.

I’m very much looking forward to our little ‘staycation’, I can’t tell you where it is exactly because I can’t actually remember, I did say it was hastily arranged, but I know its in a national park about an hour from home and that the hotel has a spa so that’s good enough for me.

Not quite the intended plan, but a good plan given the circumstances.

Jer gan mai

As a footnote it’s extremely strange to have a completely empty passport. It will only be like that till next week after another visit to Chiang Mai immigration to get the visas transferred, but it’s still wierd.


Funny old places airports.

If you want to see the full spectrum of human emotion I can heartily suggest hanging around an airport for a few hours.
Which is exactly what I’m doing today.
I’m ‘hanging around’ because I’m not really going anywhere, well I am, but not ‘really’.
I have come to from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to meet my folks who are coming over for Christmas (squeeee). And in a few hours time I will be going back to Chiang Mai. I’m sure that if needs be they could easily have made the transition form place to place without my presence, but the opportunity to see them even just a few hours earlier than could have was just to good to miss. It’s only hours flight each way and the less cost is than I’ve done some similarly timed rail journeys in Europe so I thought, why not?

So here I am in Suvarnanbhumi airport or BKK as I prefer, for obvious reasons, to call it. ( The locals affectionately call it ‘swampy’ as it was built on reclaimed swamp land, but for the sake of clarity I’ll just call it BKK ).

I arrived here stupidly early. I blame my husband, I was always the kind of person who used to screech up at the last minute, usually sweating and swearing, but his traveling habits have finally rubbed off it seems and I have allowed plenty of time for unexpected delays and mishaps. Today so far there have been none.

The upshot is that I’m in no particular hurry, and with no particular destination or deadline I’ve spent the last hour ambling around the airport. And what a fine airport it is. As a passenger I have always appreciated the layout of the airport as it is easy to navigate, well signposted and well provisioned with coffee. I have spent many, many, (many), hours here before when transiting between flights or waiting for connections, but it’s always been with an invariably tired and grouchy small person in tow who wants to do nothing more than find a chair then complain to me how bored she is for how ever many hours we need to sit there.

This time I found myself just mooching about and I discovered the observation deck which I have never noticed before tucked away above international departures. What a find. It’s not that there is anything all that amazing to observe as it doesn’t even look out onto the runway, but it has something which, to me, is airport gold.
It has very few people in it. There was no real noise, there were benches, there was a wide open space. THIS is where I will be bringing small person the next time we have to do any waiting here, this is like an airport paradise. I mean sure it has no coffee, but I can supply that without too much of an issue, so this is where we will be.

The only interruption to my near solitude was a large group of sunburned drunken Russians who had taken the wrong escalator and were frantically searching for international departures. I pointed them in the right direction and once again it was just me and a few airport staff enjoying a quiet lunch.

As I have said the view you are intended to observe is on the mediocre side, but it’s the unintended view that captured my interest more. From high in the roof of BKK you can look down on the entire departures floor and the order it makes from the chaos of bodies that are filling it. From way up here you can’t hear the bustle but watching the snaking lines of passengers overburdened with luggage desperate to be first in like when check in opens, or sitting disconsolately behind a mass of suitcases waiting for news of the flight that cancelled, is a fascinating distraction.

The need for caffeine drew me down from the sky into the madness of departures. Mad, but still beautiful. BKK have done a great job of interior decorating with plenty to keep the eye entertained while you wait. From the impressively large statues that stand guard over the hall to the enshrined relics of lord Buddha with its gloriously scented orchid garden ( with its very own pond don’t you know) it is one of the more interesting airports to wait in. Even the exterior is ordained with 10 metre high portraits of His Majesty the King for you to gaze upon (if you happen to be sneaking out for a crafty cigarette ).
And what better way is there to while a way the time than to watch the whole world ticking by on the departures board in front of your eyes , and dream and scheme of adventures yet to come. But it’s almost time to go to my favourite place. Arrivals.

I find the arrivals hall of any airport to be a joyous place. Not the bored couriers holding up name tags for unknown business men, but the palpable sense of expectation and excitement anticipation as you see people’s eyes constantly flickering to the flight status displays, waiting for the moment of reunion. And when the people begin to trickle through the doors laden with baggage freshly whisked from the conveyer belt, those moments of bleary, sometimes teary eyed reconciliation, of homecoming, of excitement for the unknown, those are moments to treasure.

And speaking of which, it’s my own eyes that are flickering now. In a few short minutes my parents flight will land and we will be having our own magical moment.

Jer Gan Mai

*pictures will be added when I get home and have non stupid internet!!