Saturday, 18 June 2011

I'm back (or am I?)

Yep, I'm still alive and kicking.  Did you even notice I was gone?  I'm sorry for dropping off the face of the blogging world.  I'm still unsure whether I'll be back for good... 

It can't just be me - do any of you just completely lose motivation for blogging?  I've been wondering these last few months why exactly I should carry on.  Just what is it all for?  What do I hope to achieve from it?  Let me just stress that I'm not in it for the free samples (which is good coz I've never been contacted by a PR company and do not expect to!) or the thousands of followers (simply not interested in Twitter).  I do enjoy writing and I definitely enjoy reading other people's blogs, I follow almost a hundred and read them pretty much every day.  In fact I'm so in awe of some, I feel rather feeble in comparison.  How do some people find the time to do so many posts in one day?!  How do they take such gorgeous pictures?!

I've been so busy the last few months, between work and seeing family and friends.  Hubby and I have attended no less than 6 weddings - 4 weddings & a birthday in May (wow that was an expensive month!).  So it's not like I haven't been inspired to write anything - often I think something would make a great topic.  I guess I feel like I'm talking to a brick wall, to steal one of my mum's expressions.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not attention seeking and I'm by no means blaming others (I'm so grateful for each and every one of my 21 followers!) but I kinda thought it would be different, more responsive.  Although I'm definitely being hypocritical as I rarely leave comments any more, although I highly admire so many of yours.  I guess it works both ways so I'm going to try and make an effort over the next few months, see if it makes a difference!

To end on a positive note, I've gotta say I'm so glad I discovered the blogging world (via Muhsine's fabulous Bubblegarm!).  I've been so inspired for the past year or so and my love for food, fashion, make up and photography has soared.  I hope my motivation will return soon!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Taking you back to 28th March 2007

Day 12

Current mood:cheerful
It's Wednesday morning, a week since my last blog.  I know I've been slacking but I really haven't had much time or energy to write in my diary, let alone make the effort to get to an internet cafe.

What have I been up to?  Thursday we had the day off and Grace went with Lorena downtown to go and give blood.  Why didn't I go?  Because I'm a wimp, I don't like pain or needles and I've never given blood before - it's probably not a great idea for the first time to be in a completely different country where I would probably faint from the heat!  Excuses, excuses I know...  Anyway, the doctor wasn't there and Grace had to go back yesterday when they told her they couldn't accept her blood anyway because she's had a tattoo in the last year.  She was a bit disappointed as she had planned to donate the blood to the orphanage as the staff said they are getting a bit low.

Then we went downtown and had lunch, then I bought a couple of tops from the department store - it's SO cheap here, I bought a T-Mac (basketball) t-shirt for 295 pesos (about 2 pound 95pence) and a Lakers vest top for 59pesos (about 59 pence). 

In the evening, we had dinner at the store and hung out there for a bit.  Nana Marlin's brother-in-law came and spoke to us for a little while and seemed fine at first, he was fairly good at English.  His family is a homestay but they have no volunteers staying with them at the moment.  Then he invited Grace and I back to his house to look at his photos from when volunteers were here.  Shy-shy came with us, and brought her friend as well.  But he was showing off his home like it was much better than Nana Marlin's, which was pretty insulting I thought but let it go.  Then, because he studies history of different cultures, he kept lecturing Grace and I on history of Britain, such as how Oxford university was first set up by people from a different country and stuff about the royal family - and then laughing hysterically when he saw our blank faces, and then he'd shout "but you don't know that".  I can be pretty tolerant and was smiling politely at first - but he must have done that about 50 times, no joke and our patience was wearing pretty thin.  Grace even snapped back "Oxford's not actually in London - so YOU didn't know THAT!" and eventually made our excuses and escaped, dragging Shy-shy and her friend away as well.  Lol.

On Saturday after working at the orphanage in the morning, we came back to the house where Nana Marlin and her husband John were holding a party as it was their 32nd wedding anniversary.  Filipinos love karaoke and we had an 8 hour karaoke fest until we went to bed that night.  Yes, I sung several songs including "Heaven" by DJ Sammy/Bryan Adams, "Build Me Up Buttercup", and "Let me love you" by Mario; even Grace reluctantly sung a few!  And we weren't even drunk - although we had drunk a few glasses of tuba (which is coconut wine I think). 

On Sunday we got up early and did some touristy things with some of our family and Ethel and the a couple of other volunteers Evan and Al - we went to a shrine (just a nice mansion), climbed a massively steep hill (and nearly died of dehydration) and then we went to the beach where I got a bit burned because I was in the sea for so long, teaching Twinkle and Shy-shy how to swim.  Filipinos swim in their clothes but I really wanted to just wear my bikini so I would get brown but i felt so uncomfortable I had to put my top back on.  At this rate, I will be coming home paler than when I left - so much for coming home black!  Dammit...

So far this week, we've been going to work in the morning and chilling out in the afternoon.  Yesterday we went downtown and ate lunch at Guiseppes, an Italian restaurant.  I think my stomach has shrunk as I could barely eat dinner last night as I was still full from lunch!  When we came back, Grace went to the house to chill out and I sat by the basketball court to watch the guys play.  Then the local girls that we have made friends with, wanted me to watch them practise for the dance competition - they're really good dancers.  My sponsor kid, Hazel is dancing with another girl her age Mia, and two guys, one of which is the teacher.  They're dancing to a remix of a Backstreet Boys song that goes into Twista's Sunshine (with a sample of the old song "Lovely day").  The rest of the girls (about 6 of them) are doing a different dance to Beep by the Pussycat Dolls.  But this morning, we heard it's been cancelled.  I'm really disappointed, I was looking forward to that!  So now we have a few hours free as we told the orphanage that we'd be going in this afternoon.

Bit more detail about the kids at the orphanage as I can't take pictures there:  I'm definitely getting attached to them and, yes, I do have my favourites even though I know I'm not meant to.  I like some of the older boys who are about 8, 9, 10 and 11.  I was reffing a 3 on 3 basketball game in the playground on Saturday morning, and Eric is really good!  He's 11 and can read, write and speak English well and is really bright.  But yesterday I noticed he wasn't there and asked his friends where he was - I was told that he's gone home to his family.  But I'm not sure whether they meant to his own family or whether he was adopted - as they can be adopted after they've been there longer than 6 months.  I think.  That's what I can gather from what one of the orphanage staff have told Grace. 

There's Jobert, whose eyelashes are sooooo long I actually did a double take when I first saw him.  They're about 3cm long, no joke!  He's older, about 10 I think.  Very intelligent.
There's Ronnel and Ronneil - twin boys who are about 9 or 10.  I can't really pronounce the difference in their names as they're so similar so I kinda just call them both the same name!  They're very smiley boys who love bball and I think it's good that they're in the orphanage together as at least they have each other.
There's Francisco and Rafael, two more older boys who are both quite light skinned and very cute.  They're about 8, I think and Rafael is one of the lucky ones that is allowed to go to school in the mornings.  Yes that right, going to school is a priviledge here...
There's a smaller boy called Jesu (around 3 or 4) who I have given the nickname "cheeky monkey" which he says now, whenever he sees me.  I've also taught him to say "I'm funny" in a sing-song voice!
There's another set of brothers, one is about 4 or 5 and the other one is 2 or 3 and still in the baby group.  The younger one's name is Michael but I haven't figured out the older one's name yet so he's another "cheeky monkey" to me.
Then there's Thomas.  Probably my absolute favourite.  He's soooooo cute, in a naughty kind of way.  He's got a mischevious grin and does bite the other kids (and me in the first few days) but I overlook that because he's so cute!  I think he's about 2 or 3 but most of the kids here are small for their age, compared to the UK.  So he's probably about the size of a 12-18month old.  He's not clingy but does like his cuddles and I've managed to get him to sleep a few times (a very good feeling, I can tell you!).  If I was going to bring a baby back in my suitcase, it would be Thomas!

I've noticed that I tend to prefer the boys as I think they're funnier and more entertaining, and the girls are usually quite clingy and whiney.  Grace on the other hand, usually prefers the girls and has one favourite who she wants to adopt!

It is so tempting to constantly pick up these kids as soon as they demand attention by holding out their arms to you, tugging on you or simply wailing their little hearts out.  But I'm starting to see that that is not going to be a good thing in the long-term, as the kids will get used to all the attention and cuddles that we're giving them, and as soon as we go home, they'll suddenly be without all that attention as the staff there just do their job and don't often play with or properly interact with them.  I'm starting to dread my last day at the orphanage as I will probably cry as I won't want to leave them there.  Well, maybe some of them - the more naughty ones!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Taking you back to 22nd March 2007

Day 5

Current mood:tired

We've been working at the orphanage for 3 days now.  We work from about 7.30-8am until the kids fall asleep at naptime after lunch - about 12-1ish.  That feels like a day in itself, it's that tiring, and the afternoon is a new day where we do what we want.  Monday and Tueday afternoon, we spent hours preparing colouring sheets with both the Waray-waray and English words on it, and wordsearches, after the panic from one of the orphanage staff telling the children to sit down and listen to Ate Joy and Ate Grace!  We had nothing prepared that first Monday morning and both stood there speechless.  It's pretty hard to communicate with the kids when they don't know much English and I know very little Waray-waray (the local dialect).  We've had a couple of Waray-waray lessons at the centre with Ethel and Lorena so have learnt a few phrases such as "good morning", "you're good!", and some necessary childcare words such as "don't!", "no!" and "stop!".  Anyway the colouring sheets and wordsearches have been going down a storm and have kept them entertained for about an hour or so every day.

I've just realised that I haven't yet mentioned the bathroom situation just yet...  Well, remember I said I would have to prepare for a tub and a bucket?  It's worse than that.  The bathroom is a simple small downstairs toilet with tiles on the floor and a dim light.  A low down toilet with no seat/cover - and, more importantly, no flush!  The shower (I use that term very loosely) is a bucket underneath a low down tap and a small scoop.  This doubles as the flushing system - you have to put 2 or 3 scoops of water down the toilet after you've been...  For a shower, you have to brave the cold water (well you didn't think it would be warm water did you??!) and just pour it over you.  It certainly wakes me up in the morning (and Evan, whose bedroom is above the bathroom, can probably hear me yelp) but in the afternoon, it's really nice and cools me down after sweating buckets at the orphanage.

Other news:
Natasha has left the Philippines and returned home to Dubai after having to go to hospital with stomach pains.  Hopefully she gets better soon and continues her travels in Cambodia etc later in the year...
Oh and we're getting the hang of the jeepneys!  I can confidently pay the driver, tell him where to turn left and when to stop!
And I finally had pancit yesterday, hooray!  My favourite...

Saturday, 19 February 2011

And they lived happily ever after...

As mentioned in my earlier post, my sister recently found one of my favourite childhood books amongst the stacks of ancient Ladybirds that had been handed down to my niece.  I was distraught when I thought it had been lost forever - particularly when I saw how much they are being sold for on ebay!  Not that I'd ever sell it, it's a classic.

Here's why I liked it so much: Cinderella got not just one fabulous dress in this particular fairytale.  She got THREE!  Plus her wedding dress!

Oh and of course they lived happily ever after!

4 days and counting...

I must spend 3 weeks every month, browsing ASOS, ebay and various online stores looking at all the pretty dresses, shoes, bags etc I can't afford but vow to get once I've been paid.  Then the highly anticipated day arrives and do I get everything I've been hankering after?  Hell no...  I'd have to be a highly paid executive to fund my shopping habit.  I end up getting a few pieces that ultimately do not excite me.  What is up with that?! 

Here are the bags I've been oohing and ahhing over this evening (and no I don't work for Dorothy Perkins!):

Ochre chain cross body bag
This sunny ochre chain cross body purse - I also have strong urges to buy it in all the other colours: berry red, green, and camel!  18 pounds is a bit of a steal but maybe not when you multiply it by four!

Berry chain cross body bagGreen chain cross body bagCamel chain cross body bag

Coral twist lock bag
Coral Twist Lock Bag (also with a chain to be worn across the body)

Cream and coral twist lock bag
Cream & Coral Twist Lock Bag

Blue croc twist lock bag
Blue Croc Twist Lock Bag (again, with a chain to be worn across the body - sense a theme??)

Ok, a different style:
Coral tab corner clutch bag
Coral Tab Corner Clutch Bag - this is oversize and I'm a big fan of oversize bags and clutches as I read a while ago that the bigger the bag, the smaller you look.  I need all the help I can get, especially when I go out with my super slim friends!  I do see some logic in it though, with the proportions - I can hide my belly behind a large clutch and a tiny wrist purse is only going to make me look larger.  I have a couple of Dorothy Perkins oversize clutches and I love them so I think this will be number three in my collection.  Adore the coral colour and suspect it will be used often in the summertime!

Forgotten smiles

I have been a bad bad blogger recently, with no posts to speak of.  Truly sorry ladies.  I'm sure some of you can sympathise: going to work when it's dark, getting home when it's dark therefore no light for taking photos and no sunshine for inspiration!

So what IS making me smile at the moment?  My new Blackberry Torch for one...

My gorgeous little niece who I'm babysitting tonight...

Making my hubby breakfast in bed on Valentine's Eve (we make a point to celebrate not on Valentines Day!)

Being pampered for a day at Whittlebury Spa with the girls, for part 2 of my friend's hen do...

Finding one of my favourite childhood books that I thought was lost forever...

The return of The Good Wife...

and the introduction of a new character, the delicious Michael Ealy (from Barbershop and more recently Flashforward)...

And the anticipation of PAYDAY!  Cha-ching!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Pop the champagne open, I've won my first blogger award!

Trumpet fanfare please - I've won my first Blogger Award.  I was reading through my hundreds of blogs on Google Reader and spotted my name... I was shocked, I can tell you!  I was like "OH!  It's me... is it me?  Yes, it's me... Are you sure???" 

But before I start digress into an Oscar-style speech, let me introduce the gorgeous "Pretty In The Desert" who was the stunning sweetie who gave me first award - I love her blog!  When I first discovered it, I was immediately hooked and read her entire archives too.  Her style is so easy to read and feels like she is an old friend just chatting away to you.  I particularly love her quick tips and her cat Bowie is super cute too!  Much love and appreciation hun!  I'd award her right back if I could!

Not long after winning my first award, I was also lucky enough to win my second!  This time from "The "E" Girl" whose blog is extremely informative!  She puts so much time and effort into each post.  Thanks so much!

Renee's award requires me to tell you 7 things about yourself and as I'm a fairly new blogger and could come across as a bit of a closed book so far, WHY NOT!
  1. Born in Chelmsford (yes I’m an Essex girl), I'm half Filipina, half English but my dad actually grew up in Kenya. His grandmother was from Barbados so apparently I'm part Barbadian, but you'd never tell just by looking at me!! 
  2. I don’t have a sense of smell. And yes I can taste. Trust me, I would be a size 6 if I couldn’t taste – I’d live on lettuce leaves.
  3. I know dance routines to some very cheesy songs that I should be embarrassed about, eg. most of Five and A1’s songs, Spice Girls…
  4. I like cooking but resent it if it’s expected of me. I make some mean chocolate brownies!
  5. I was in Miami when Versace was assassinated there.
  6. I have a weird phobia of buttons. I don’t wear clothes with buttons, except jeans/trousers. I don’t know why. Lol!
  7. I would like my career to be based in charity and non-profit organisations and hope my mortgage doesn’t force me to veer away from this.
OK, so there are a few rules that came along with this award:

Post about the award and copy the rules
Link to the person who gave you the award
Choose 3-5 blogs you would like to give the award to and link to them as well. Leave a comment ontheir blog to let them know!
Important: The award is for unknown and/or new blogs only!
Here are the blogs that I've "discovered" and think deserve this award, however I would not describe them as unknown as they nearly all have more followers than I!
Laura & Boutique 73 (I wish Laura would blog more as I don't often have time to pop into her shop which is tres cool!)
My last award would have been to another Laura whose blog You Are So Pretty Laura I discovered a matter of weeks before she decided to depart from the virtual world... Sad times.  I'd read back through her archives and had really enjoyed them, she seems like my kinda person, plus she's from the same town as me.  But I can relate to feeling uninspired sometimes, I often feel overwhelmed by the talent and interesting lives of other bloggers.  Fingers crossed she misses blogging soon and returns!
Thanks again for my awards, I will be feeling very chuffed for quite sometime!  Very very happy right now!