Wednesday, March 21, 2007

End of a rest

I'm on holiday this week.

It's the first time I've had away from work since I returned from sabbatical in January and I can't believe how tired I am already. This time last year I was in New York, at the start of a wonderful couple of months adventure across the US and Canada. I spent my first full, jet-lagged day over there watching the St Patricks Day parade and celebrating all evening. Last Saturday, it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed in time for supper - and that was only because I had a visitor.

The main purpose of this week's break, then, is to catch up on much-needed sleep. It may seem like a waste of perfectly good holiday time after all the excitement of last year - but it's really what I crave right now. Of course, I'm also fitting in a bit of house and garden 'stuff', finally sorting through the last set of sabbatical photos (there are thousands!) and catching up with some of my Nottingham friends due to a large part of my week now being spent down in the capital.

The new role has me working away from home quite a bit at the moment - which has both plus and minus points as you'd expect. One of the huge plus points is that I love London - especially when I get to stay in central areas and have a walk to and from work which incorporates this sort of view:

The many minuses include long-hours (a bad habit I promised myself I'd break during the sabbatical but not helped by hotel living), travel time, missing a routine back at home - and, of course, not being able to spend as much time with my friends as I'd like...

Anyway - this wasn't supposed to be a whinge. It's really a post to wrap up the sabbatical blog (and shift my ugly-mug down the page a bit!). As I'm back at work and not planning any adventures in the near future (my bank manager would have serious words if I was) - this blog isn't really appropriate anymore. I have many grand plans to add to the archives - to fill in the gaps that I jotted down in journals but never found time to document online. I can't make any promises though. I will, however, definitely be uploading the photos into flickr as I've many new pics to publish but have a strange ocd requirement to upload them in chronological order. I'll probably announce each new set as they are sorted out - just in case there's a flickr* of interest.

So - it's not really goodbye - just au-revoir for now. Who knows, I may even start another blog one day (but don't hold your breath- it took long enough to get this one going and I haven't exactly been prolific for its duration!).

*so shoot me!

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

All good things

Personally speaking - 2006? Not bad. Not bad at all.

Here's hoping for a peaceful and happy 2007 for you and yours.


Life can be cruel

Just over one week to go until the fun stops and real life kicks in. This time next week I'll be experiencing that Sunday afternoon feeling again.

Can't say I've missed it.

I've finally started to upload some photos from the last 4 months into flickr. If you fancy seeing a bit of what I saw - follow the links below:



Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sarah Claus is coming to town...

...Stevenage to be precise!

Mum and I are off to be pampered at my Aunt & Uncle's place for a couple of days (ok, ok - I'll do the washing up as long as Uncle Ern is armed with a tea towel...).

It's been a busy couple of weeks since I returned from my adventures - just like it is for most people at this time of year. It has been lovely to see everyone again but it was slightly poor planning on my part to arrive in the middle of the Christmas season. In a strangely masochistic way though, I'm quite enjoying the change in weather conditions.
(Got to see the positives in everything when it's 't minus less than two weeks' until the return to work and real life again)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Good Night Vietnam

I'm in Thailand - Samui to be precise. I've decided to end my trip to Asia (give or take a couple of extra days in Hong Kong next week) with a week in one place. No need to pack and unpack the bags more than once and nothing more strenuous to do than pick up a book or a pen and reflect on a fantastic year.

Once I've returned I'll still have more month to go before the Sabbatical is over but that's going to be spent at home; getting ready for Christmas; catching up with family and friends; editing the photographs (heavily); and - ultimately - mentally preparing myself for work.

While I get my thoughts together - here are a few snaps from Vietnam:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Missed Saigon

I've just spent an hour writing a post all about my Vietnam experiences so far....then the hotel had a short powercut (prelude to another evening's thunder and lightning storm, I expect. With no rain if it's like last night). Again - I'm being beaten by technology (or the lack of it) - my mobile phone appears to have been set to send and receive only every 5th message and, yet again, a number of websites are blocked (including blogspot). I know - it's really not a bad thing, but it's very rare that I actually find time to sit and write anything (Helen was having a nap).

Still - too late now, we've got birthday* drinks, dinner and CAKE (one of Hoi An's specialties is its patisseries) waiting so the stories will, yet again, have to be put on ice.

*did I mention it was....? Oh? Right.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

N...n..n.. nineteen

Free internet isn't all it's cracked up to be y'know.

There's generally a time limit and a queue of anxious people watching your every move. Not the best conditions in which to organise flights and hotels for a country which does not yet use convenient online booking systems (how quickly we get used to technology) - and is, this weekend, hosting a huge APEC gathering (including one Mr George W, I believe); which means that our original plan of starting in Hanoi was scuppered by unavailability of hotels (or reluctance by hotels to book in anyone not involved in the conference). I swear these world leaders are following me around the globe - there was a China/Africa summit going on in Beijing whilst we were there.

Anyway - the above is also a preamble to another excuse/apology for the lack of information about our trip to China. Every minute I've spent on the internet this week has been used to book/negotiate/plead with hoteliers in Vietnam - and, ahem, a following trip to Thailand for which I've changed my homecoming date (now the 7th Dec).

We're leaving for Vietnam this afternoon - starting in Ho Chi Minh then travelling up the coast through Mui Ne, Hoi An and Hue with a final night in Hanoi before we return next Sunday - then back over to Koh Samui on the Monday!

nb - for anyone who is interested (and concerned about my relative silence on the subject...) - I'll be spending my birthday in Hoi An. That's next Wednesday, the 22nd - for anyone who doesn't know/has conveniently forgotten/has tried to ignore my hints.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I'm sitting at a computer terminal in Beijing airport, waiting for my flight to Xi'an.

Thanks for the comments on the previous post - I'd respond beneath them but 'blogspot' appears to be a sensitive site (at least - that's the assumption I'm making as any attempt to access mine - or other people's blogs ends with a page full of Chinese characters and 'blogspot' highlighted in the centre of the page).

We'll be boarding our flight soon so no time to go into detail about our trips to see the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Hutongs and, of course 'The Wall' (it's Great!). Nor can I give justice to how entertaining it is to try and take a taxi across the city (which is absolutely huge) when the driver understands neither English, written Chinese nor our pathetic attempts at spoken Chinese. How we made it to see Chinese acrobats in action, I'll never know - I'm pretty certain my hand gestures looked more like a dying elephant than a graceful gymnast.