Recently…

Some of you are probably thinking I have dropped off the face of the earth! My posts have been few and far between these last few months and I did promise you I had a good reason.

From September to early November, I couldn’t even push myself to login to WordPress to read some of the fantastic blogs I follow. With the majority being food related, all the delicious sounding recipes and gorgeous pictures of food were a nausea inducing disaster zone to be avoided at all costs! Meals for me consisted mainly of sandwiches or cheese on toast, with dangerous consequences on the horizon if I had ever found we were low on bananas. The only things I really wanted to eat were those that my mum made for me during my childhood. It’s not so easy to pop round for tea when you are over 10,000 miles apart.

Three days after our arrival in Brisbane, Australia, my Husband and I were thrilled to find out that we were expecting our first baby! Having got married over the Easter weekend earlier this year and edging on ten years together I don’t think it was much of a surprise for our close friends and family who we were super excited to share the news with.

I’ve also been keeping myself busy volunteering with the RSPCA at the sorting centre for their Brisbane Op Shops – that’s charity shops to us non Aussies! It’s great to be doing something to help out and I have met some really friendly locals there too.

I’ll have some posts coming up for some cute DIY decorations I have been making for the nursery as well as some free printables I’ve been busy creating to frame and place up in our new home.

Until then, I hope you are all enjoying the festive season! It’s certainly strange experiencing a Queensland December!

Mrs D Signature

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Bryan the Pug

Over the last few months, I’ve talked a little about myself, it’s time I introduced you to my best bud. Meet Bryan.

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Bryan came into my life long before he was even conceived. My husband and I had always wanted a dog but with our working hours in London it wouldn’t have been fair. Once we had moved to Switzerland and I was no longer working, we decided it was time to think about adding to our family, in the canine way.

Without really speaking to my husband about it as I knew he wouldn’t detest, I had ‘ordered’ a dog from a breeder halfway across the country from us. Deciding the perfect breed to fit in with our lifestyle was a Pug, Bryan was due to be born mid November

I got the email along with photos on November 19th. Bryans maternal mother had given birth and we were to go and visit him 4 weeks later. Being the week before xmas, we decided to make a festive weekend getaway to Interlaken which is about an hour from the breeders house. It was this weekend we first met our Bry Baby.

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One of Bryan’s siblings at 1 day old
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Our boy waving hello! The pup with the yellow collar

4 weeks later we arrived again, this time to bring our baby home. He was so much bigger than his brother and sisters, and we couldn’t wait to start our new life with him.

Trying to look all innocent whilst chewing his transport bag on the way home form the breeder
Trying to look all innocent whilst chewing his transport bag on the way home form the breeder

Shortly after he  came home, and with a couple of vet visits under his collar, it was discovered Bryan had an umbilical hernia. It can be quite risky to put a Pug under anesthetic so we waited until he was old enough, and at 7 months, we took him in to have this corrected so it wouldn’t cause difficulties later in life. Being a healthy Pug, Bryan had recovered quickly and had only been without his elizabethan collar for a couple of weeks when, early in August 2012, he was attacked by another dog in the park. His injuries ended in Bryan needing a graft on his cornea, laser treatment to damaged nerve endings along with much medication and an elizabethan collar for another few weeks.

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He couldn’t quite reach to lick that yogurt off his face!

He’s very much a hero in my eyes, every morning he wakes up happy….shame it hasn’t rubbed off! Earlier this summer he had terrible skin problems and eventually after almost two months of back and forth visits to the vet, we found he had MRSA. His symptoms cleared up quickly and he was free of the infection but within two weeks of being off his medicine, he started suffering from uncomfortable skin problems yet again. Further antibiotics cleared this up nicely.

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Then one monday evening late in August, he flew down to Sydney Australia, to start his 10 day quarantine. You can tell he was a favourite by the way the staff were talking about him and he arrived safe, well, and, more importantly, happy.

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My good boy with his pals, the only one sitting patiently when the treats come out!

I couldn’t wait to  see him once he landed in Brisbane and I didn’t need to wait long as he was with me in less than an hour after landing. You would never have known he had been on such a long journey, he was so happy – his usual self!

Now settling down with us in Australia, Bryan has added his sixth country to his passport – I’m not sure many other dogs could boast this!

Licks and Sneezes

Bryan and Mrs D xoxo

Bryan at around 6 weeks old
Bryan at around 6 weeks old

Invisible Books Ends

I’ve just finished typing up a post on my Nutty Granola Recipe over on Sip Chomp Chew and I must say I have really missed this blogging!

Having spent the majority of our first couple of weeks in Brisbane getting buses back and forward due to our temporary accommodation being the complete opposite side of town to where we want to live. And then the actual move and sorting things out. It’s so nice to finally be in our own house. Our first house actually. After 9 and a half years living together, we finally have a house and I don’t think anyone is enjoying having a garden more than Bryan!

I was looking at ways to brighten up our stairway and when I decided to use my many books to do it, I was struggling with them falling down constantly. When I googled invisible book ends, I was actually expecting to have to order and then wait weeks for them but I found this video that shows you how to make them with three things absolutely everyone has in their home, scissors, sellotape and a single sheet of A4 paper – fab and thrifty I just had to share!

Mrs D xoxo

 

 

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Our Camper Van Road Trip

A few years ago, my parents turned our family home into a self catering holiday let. It’s such a pleasure to spend time there and probably my favourite place on earth but that means I hardly get to go visit, not just because I live the other side of the world, but because it is always fully booked whenever I go home! It can be found in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire on the edge of Ellis Reddings Wood, a place where as kids, my brother and I would climb trees and build dens. A world away from our lives in Singapore and Ecuador.

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The beautiful river wye

Given its location, there’s no surprise that when I asked my parents if it was available for us to stay at recently, they delivered the news  that it had back to back bookings all summer. We weren’t going to let that stop us from visiting this beautiful corner of England. Earlier this year, Mum and Dad purchased a VW camper van so we packed it up and off we went!

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We stopped off via the Rebellion Brewery in Marlow to get some supplies for our trip and some early morning beer sampling (just a sip for Dad, our designated driver!). Our next stop and one of my favourite farm markets at Gloucester’s Over Farm where we fed some of their animals and bought a few more supplies for our BBQ later on that day.

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Our final destination was Symonds Yat West, we used to walk along to here from our home when I was a kid and I have so many memories of this place it was great to come back and make some new ones. Just across the river and along slightly are the seven sisters I spoke of a couple of posts ago. We only had time to stay one night so lunchtime the next day, off we went, first stopping at Much Marcle’s famous Westons Cider Mill, we then had a short stop and wander around Burford, a very pretty although slightly overrun with tourists, town in the Cotswolds.

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The main high street in Burford

It was a lot of fun going away in my parents van and we hope to do it again some day in the not so distant future! I hope you enjoy the photos.

Mrs D xoxo

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Burford
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One of over farms pigs
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Cooking some chicken from the butcher at Over Farm on Dad’s Cobb BBQ
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Eeyore!!!!
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Ostriches eating grain at Over Farm

Beating the chain fairies

I’m currently sat on the only free space on my bed, which is covered in suitcases that contain our essentials for the next 5-6 weeks whilst the remainder of our worldly possessions take their first trip south of the equator for our next big move. I’m becoming a dab hand at this moving malarky now. The first couple of times,  I would have been frantically sorting through my fridge throwing away the last drabs of food and the like which we can’t ship. I am pleased to say that this task was accomplished two days prior to the packing teams arrival today.

I want to share this quick tip with you for when you head off on your next holiday or house move. It is a huge time saver once I come to unpacking my necklaces keeping those chain fairies at bay!

Simply take a straw, I like to use the big wide ones you can get for a few bucks in Ikea, measure it against the length of the chain and cut to size before threading the necklace through the straw and closing the catch. I then gently wrap it in a piece of kitchen paper, making sure it’s completely covered, before placing into a sandwich bag to keep it all together.

 

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Walking the Seven Sisters – The In Laws Revenge!

Having taken my in laws on a trek around the extremely hot and humid Singaporean Rainforest a couple of weeks ago, we could only assume it was revenge they were after when on a relaxing day at theirs, we were taken for a walk along the coast at the Seven Sisters National Park. As a child, our family regularly walked around the Seven Sisters but those Sisters were part of a different family in the Shire of Hereford. The ones we were to discover a couple of weeks ago, located in Sussex, are an equally beautiful natural site but a contrast to the valley gorge I am familiar with.

Since we had the use of two cars, we drove from their home to Eastbourne where we parked one car before proceeding west along the A259 to the Cuckmere Riverside Car Park, Exceat. You could, for an easier yet still tough walk, park one car at the Burling Gap visitor centre to cut the walk almost in half. However, the full walk which we did is approximately 10 miles.
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We commenced near the entrance to the car park by Cuckmere River, not, as we first tried, out the back of the car park along the river. We spotted a couple trying this and having to turn back just as we did so it is evidently a common mistake!

Once we made our way along the trail, I really appreciated seeing some farm animals in the form of sheep and cows, we don’t get to see animals like this in Singapore!
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The path is very much up and down as we took each Sister with gratifying defeat. We were lucky to have a clear day with fantastic views out across the English Channel.

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Stopping off for a coffee and a cake to refuel at the Birling Gap visitor centre, we appreciated the rest before trudging on.  Just next door to the cafe are a small row of coast guard cottages, we learnt that there used to be a few more houses before the cliff edge but these have been eroded over time by crumbling chalk underneath. Upon reaching Burling Gap, we had passed the Seven Sisters but we still had a few more hills to pass before the finish line.

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There is a second rest spot at the Belle Tout Lighthouse, now a B and B slash tea room, the light house was decommissioned over a hundred years ago for many reasons including that ships could not see it in the cliff top position during mist deeming it pretty useless. There is a new lighthouse located at the bottom of the cliffs now which makes for some fantastic photos.

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As we began our final descent, I for one felt a sense of achievement for the walk we had accomplished.

Mrs D xoxo

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The Lion City Bucket List: The HSBC Treetop Trail

A visit from my in laws a few weeks ago gave us the opportunity to knock some more things off our bucket list and show them a side of Singapore they were yet to see. The HSBC Treetop Trail at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park has been on my to do list for a long time and we were looking for a nice walk to take them on so it seemed like a perfect option!
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I quickly googled to find the nearest car park and we headed to Venus Drive, just to the west of Bishan Park. What I didn’t read was that this car park was 2.5km from the start of the treetop trail but luckily we had comfy shoes and plenty of water to keep us going!

As you start along the path located at the far end of the car park, there is plenty of flora and fauna to be seen. We followed along the side of a stream  for a short time before reaching a spot where we spotted a young family of long tailed macaques which inhabit much of Singapore’s rainforest areas. When we glanced into the distance, we noticed there were many more running around the forest floor and in the trees. I managed to get a shot of the family together but I was being careful not to disturb them in their natural habitat. Taking care to avoid any snakes as per the signs(!) we continued on our way up a short road which lead us to the Bukit Kalang Service Reservoir, spotting a couple of lizards sunning themselves on the tarmac, before joining the track again.

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Upon reaching the Ranger Station, we found public toilets and ice cold fountain water to top up our bottles with. It wasn’t much further before we started the treetop trail.

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The trail is one way traffic so make sure you access it from this side! When you look over to the right, you get a fantastic view of the MacRitchie Reservoir. It’s not as long as I thought and we were soon back on solid ground. The next stage is a little challenging although easy under foot with a boardwalk style path and stairs taking you up and down the hilly section of rainforest.  We spotted a little frog under the path and kept our eyes peeled for more of those Macaques swinging in the trees up above us.

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We eventually reached the end of the boardwalk and took a left which lead us around and back up to the ranger station, by now, we were in much need of liquid refreshment! The walk back always seems quicker once you know where you are heading and once we reached the car, a blast of air con was much appreciated!

After our long and sweaty walk, we thought we had earned a treat and headed over to Peperoni in Greenwood where we enjoyed one of their 21 inch pizzas with an ice cold beer! 😉

Note that if you are planning to walk in Bukit tima Nature Reserve, the path is closed from September 2014 until March 2015 with limited access from then until the end of 2016 so if you want to head over there, now is the time!

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Mrs D xoxo

Leaving Singapore, a taxing surprise

Since we received our Australian Visa’s and my husbands start date for his new position down under last month, the wheels are in motion and we’re almost going into auto pilot. Most evenings will now be spent catching up on any news each of us have had on the move, doing research into items on our ever evolving to do list. I have dusted off my ‘Move to Singapore’ notebook and am running through the generic moving country items to add ready for when we need them. Mainly the general list of who to advise of our new address, or, in our case, who to advise that we will be of no fixed address for 8 weeks.

One of the things that truly surprised me was when my husband and I were having a catch up the other night and he informed me that he won’t be getting paid at the end of August. Of course I assumed I had misheard him, although we won’t need to pay rent out of that pay packet and our lease car will have been returned earlier in the month, so only the minor bills like TV, internet etc will need to be paid. It turns out that when you are leaving the country, you must give the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore one months notice of your leave. In that period, they assess our tax situation and whether we owe them any money, until this is complete we can’t leave the country. Having never had this when leaving a country before, it really surprised me. We either get whats left after the tax bill has been deducted, or a bill for any additional monies owed. It seems a very skeptical way to do things but slightly more organised than the Swiss who are yet to pay our overpaid tax from 2012! I guess thats the difference when you are being taxed at source!

 

Mrs D xoxo

 

 

 

Feeling Orientated

Apologies for the Radio Silence. The last few weeks have been busy with the in laws visiting and then last week we were in Brisbane for our orientation trip. Having returned, we are feeling very excited about moving to our new host city. We’ve done a lot of research in the last few months so it came as somewhat of a surprise that Brisbane is made up of eleven hills. Yes. Eleven! Thankful for comfy footwear and the fantastic cafés dotted around in the Brisbane suburbs, free city hopper ferry service and the reasonably priced city cat to zip us around the serpentinesque Brisbane river. With this being our third international move in yet another new continent, we have found that initially living fairly central is key for us to get our bearings and, should we ever stay long enough somewhere to feel fully settled then we should by then have a favourable area to make our home.

I’m not a city girl, I mean, I can handle the city and I absolutely love spending time amongst the buzz one provides but my heart belongs in the quiet leafy suburbs of which Brisbane has many. Quite a contrast to the densely populated island state of Singapore. It’s amazing how much I could imagine my bestie and I settling into this town which is literally the opposite side of the world from our home.

Like most cities, Brisbane has it’s own sights and smells. From the Eucalyptus trees wafting their scent in the breeze to the warming aroma of coffee beans, freshly roasting in the local cafés. Our senses were wide awake, assessing every experience.

I will certainly have some more pictures for you after we arrive at the end of next month, but for now, here are a few shots I took last week.

Mrs D xoxo

View of the CBD from the Brisbane Wheel

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Some old wool stores in the riverside suburb of Teneriffe20140722-103250-37970252.jpg

The Treasury Casino

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View of the South Bank from the Brisbane Wheel

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The South Bank from Victoria Bridge

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The Lion City Bucket List: Walking the Bukit Timah Railway Line

Having been raised in the beautiful Forest of Dean, spending time in the great outdoors was something I was raised to appreciate. I find it frustrating here in Singapore that each outdoor adventure is a sweaty affair. Living in Geneva, a walk along the lake with Bryan, my pug, was a daily event. Occasionally we would head up into the surrounding hills together or, of a summer weekend, the three of us would head to see some of the almost deserted ski resorts for a hike around the mountains.

 

Click the images for a closer look

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An abandoned building opposite the old Bukit Timah Station
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More of that same abandoned building
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Some sleepers remaining outside the Bukit Timah Station
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The Bukit Timah Railway Station
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The old station sign, you can imagine this will be unreadable in a few more years

 

 

 

 

 

 

We learned a little of the Bukit Timah Railways history during our orientation weekend back in March 2013 when we were sent to Singapore for  5 days to decide whether we would like to live here. We were told how the railway used to be owned by Malaysia making the entire line, which runs through the centre of Singapore, Malaysian land until 2011 when it was completely shut down. The only thing stopping us from exploring the Bukit Timah Railway before now is the Singapore heat but with a newfound sense of purpose, we finally got around to it a couple of weeks ago.

After a bit of a google, I found the best guide for the walk on the Green Corridor  website. With taxi’s being fairly cheap here in Singapore we decided to hail one down and ask to be dropped off at King Albert Park so we could join the railway by the steel truss bridge over Bukit Timah Road. Joining the old tracks after a short incline, we were soon at the old train station. It looks like this place closed down much more than 3 years ago, it’s so over grown and if we were the only people there then I think it would have quite a eerie feel to it. I had read since our walk that it has been closed to passengers since 1940 so that explains a lot!

It took us much less than the suggested one hour to reach the Holland Road exit point so we decided to stick to the railway for the next section from Holland Road to Buona Vista thankful for smart phones and the 1.5 litre bottle of Evian I had thrown in a ruck sack. It was again, much less than the recommended 90 minutes before we reached the exit near the Buona Vista MRT station but the ease of getting home from there was our cue to head back. I think had we been more prepared, we could have easily started at the section before or continued on the next section to Queensway. With Only 7 weekends left until we move and only 4 of those weekends being in Singapore, I’m not sure we will get the chance to visit the other railway sections but I am thankful that we at finally made the time to explore this peaceful green area of Singapore.

The railway is a popular place for cyclists and dog walkers alike. Possibly one of the friendliest places we have visited  in Singapore, almost everyone we passed gave a friendly greeting.

If you are planning on walking the Bukit Timah Railway, I would advise that you head out early with plenty of water and a smart phone or one of the handy maps from the green corridors website to guide you and don’t forget your camera to snap some of the old buildings and the beautiful green flora!

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Mrs D xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

The tales of an expat housewife