The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

The world according to #3 – Do you need help?

Quite often #1, 2 and 3 will say something that really cracks me up.

Sometimes it can be something taken literally, or something they’ve misheard, or just how their logic works. 

I keep meaning to make a note of these moments. Like when you promise yourself to write a journal of each child’s key moments. I know some people who are very good and diligently do so. 

I wish I had as time passes so quickly and the rate at which children grow and develop is at an alarming rate. You remember for that moment the funny thing they did or said, the achievement they made that day that seemed so huge but a week later is mastered with effortless ease.

The innocent way small children talk as they get used to a growing vocabulary and the confusing way the English language works with several different words meaning the same thing and two words sounding the same with completely unrelated definitions. 

That’s without taking into account past, present and future tense and who can tell me what a past participle is? 

At the age of two and a half, #3 is well able to communicate her wants, demands and needs with a mish mash of words she’s picking up every day. Favourite phrases include ‘I’m in charge’, ‘I’m songing’, ‘Let me do it’ and ‘Noooo, it’s not fair’, accompanied with a folding of the arms and turning her back to you.

Today’s contribution from the world according to #3 came about when I tried to gain a little privacy in the bathroom. There is no such thing as a locked door for small children. If it’s closed they just barge right in and if it’s locked there’s just heart rendering banging and wailing until it’s unlocked. 

Hardly surprising really when their every toilet movement is declared for all and sundry to hear. Quite funny really when as Grown Ups you may occasionally need to pee but never need to poo. Grandmas in particular never poo. Unless they’re caught out when small children walk in on the aftermath and demand a public outing of the perpetrator.

And how is it that Grown Ups must close the door when small children are told not to lock themselves in incase they get stuck in there forever. And if Grown Ups are forever having to help small people after a toilet movement (I’m finished….somebody come and wipe my buuuum please) then surely it’s polite to return the favour?

Me: Mummy’s just going to the bathroom.

#3: Ok, do you need help?

Erm, no thank you, not today but maybes in another 40 years time I will. 

Oh and Happy 42nd Birthday Uncle Monkey. This post is dedicated to you.


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So here we stay……..for now

I am just as surprised as you are that I will still be in Singapore for the foreseeable future.


I know! I remember it clearly myself just a few months ago when we were back in the UK having discussions that we may be moving back to the UK some time this year.  But we’re not.  Actually I recall thinking we’d be moving back last Autumn too.


Anyhow, we have moved and just a local move has been chaotic enough let alone thinking about an international move.


This has been our fourth move in six years.  When Husband and I moved from the UK to Singapore it was courtesy of his work which meant professional packers came swooping in and taking care of everything.  Back then it really was quite simple with just packing up our small two bedroom flat with hardly any furniture.  How those packers must have rejoiced at landing that particular job.  Back then we were inexperienced relocatees even though throughout our Student and formative gainful employment years we were still in rental accommodation and moving once a year.


The difference between now and way back then is the amount of stuff we (or as Husband will be quick to correct – I)  have accumulated.  You may be congratulating yourself on how ruthless and systematic you are at purging excess belongings that no longer serve a purpose, will never be used again no matter how useful the person on QVC persuaded you it would be or that just, sadly, will never fit you again no matter how achingly ‘vintage’ they may now be.  Nothing illustrates how lightly we once lived than the one small carload of all our worldly possessions we once trundled off to University with to live our whole lives by.


Ok, so perhaps we didn’t have to pack up beds and sofas, washing machines and microwaves, sideboards and cabinets too but the contents of one storage cupboard in our previous apartment that never saw the light of day in two years would easily fill two empty people carriers.  And as I was filling up boxes with said items, I questioned why on earth was I even bothering taking it with me. It just didn’t make sense.


So how has this happened??


Well I think by nature I am a hoarder.  Not quite so bad as the people they make documentaries about whose homes are jammed packed full of, quite literally, rubbish that is treated with reverence.  There was an episode of ‘Life of Grime’ that featured a gentleman who owned a whole house in Crouch End that I used to pass on my way to work.  Developers preyed like vultures for the property which was in a prime location and with huge potential.  The garden looked more like a scrapyard and you could barely open the front door wide enough to squeeze yourself in sideways.  How could anyone live like that? Well, it transpired that he was a refugee displaced from Poland in World War 2 and to have had nothing under such circumstances affected his attachment to possessions the rest of his life.  There’s always a reason.


I have no reason for my hoarding tendencies than the fact that I am an optimist in believing stuff will once again be useful, be used and will fit.  Although I am much better at accepting that stuff will no longer fit.  And even if they did fit, I am much better at accepting that particular look is no longer appropriate for my current lifestyle (or age).


This recent move happened quite suddenly.  Initially we thought we would just renew our lease but with rental prices falling sharply and our landlord failing to grasp this notion, we decided to move somewhere slightly cheaper and bigger that came up.  And without a six month baby in tow hindering all ability to reason and be proactive, I had a clearer picture of just how much we have that was out of sight, out of mind.  Again Husband will tell you this concept has been known to him for some time.  What has really unsettled me this recent move is the volume of our belongings that does not help with our  daily lives.  It became painfully apparent as I emptied cupboards and drawers into 110 boxes.  Some things I totally forgot I even had and had even bought a new replacement of.    


Moving is a great time for purging excess stuff I know that.  Some of you are very good at it, I know that too.  And I am aspiring to be like that and will at some point get around to it.  As I emptied out cupboards and drawers into 110 boxes, I was drawing up a mental itinerary of all our stuff. There’s the box of cables that we have long forgotten what gadgets they belonged to and yet have kept ‘just in case’ we need it.  We haven’t needed it for two years, surely it’s safe to say we probably no longer have the gadget the cable belonged to.  I was also amazed at the amount of socks we have in these tropical climes.  To be fair to Husband he has to wear socks everyday to work so those are mitigating circumstances.  But he has 60 pairs of socks.  Outside of work socks, there are socks for trainers, socks for cycling, socks for other sports, socks for hiking, odd socks and holey socks.  Frolicking socks breed like underpants in the dark corners of your underwear drawer.  It’s the only explanation.  Same goes for books.  Books are my greatest joy and greatest weakness.  I will always take in stray books with the promise that I will read it some day.  I have a book shelf full of books I’ve mostly read and another cupboard full of books I haven’t read and if you were to pile them up high, you would find it would be twice my height and more.  Books are wonderful.


After packing up the big stuff, the practical stuff and the used daily stuff, there’s the other stuff that just exists. Everyone has this stuff.  Buttons, small change, Allen keys in multiple sizes, safety pins, adapters, receipts, memory cards, Sim cards and so on that lives in a top drawer.  It all got swept into a carrier and moved into another new top drawer.  Then there’s the stuff that comes with small people.  Cots, clothes, blankets, nappies and related paraphenalia, bottles, snack boxes in various sizes, bedding and towels.  Then there’s the toys.  Toys suitable for small people from age 0 to now.  Soft toys are my nemesis.  They are everywhere and they are bulky.  And they cannot be parted with for sentimental reasons because that soft toy was sent by that special person. And just when you think your child has no emotional attachment to said soft toy, once you deploy the services of that soft toy elsewhere it will suddenly become the only soft toy to comfort your child to sleep.


Then there’s the stuff that I can’t part with because as you know by now, I am sentimental to the core.  The tiny sleepsuit #1, 2 and 3 all came home from hospital in.  The boxes with loose photos in that will never see the inside of an album.  The artwork of not just #1, 2 and 3 but nearly niece Strawberry Mousse going back a decade.  The bags and shoes that will always be in fashion to me even if they are not in the wider sense.  The woollen items knitted by the Mother In Law that are like new.  The memorabilia collated from trips we’ve made since moving out to Singapore that will be used to decorate our Forever Home once we really settle somewhere.


So you move from one apartment to another apartment that is bigger than your last one.  Although our previous apartment looked pretty big again when it was devoid of all our stuff in it. It would seem obvious that the new apartment should accommodate all your stuff quite comfortably.  This is not the case and never will be.  You moulded your old place to fit in all your stuff.  You put all the big obvious stuff in place and fill it with the all the big obvious stuff.  Then fill in the gaps with all the other stuff that exists.  And even though you existed quite happily on all the stuff you have in your previous home, when you move, there will inevitably be a post moving in trip to Ikea involved even though you already have too much stuff.


When you move, the initial frustration of trying to find new homes for all your stuff makes you even more determined to filter out what you don’t need.  Every time we move, there’s always that period of boxes just being there for weeks, sometimes months, because you don’t know where the gaps are to fill in with the stuff that just exists.  Plus, I kid myself that I’m going to sort it out properly and purge what we really don’t need.  But after while, I am always just tempted to get another cabinet but Husband will tell you that is not the solution and so in a bid to just rid ourselves of the unhomely looking, cumbersome boxes, I just end up filling in the gaps with the stuff that just exists with the promise that I will one day very soon get around to properly filtering it all out. I really will.


I’ll let you know in two years time how that plan worked out.


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It’s best I do drive

Nine years of travelling on the London Underground in conditions we often complained that you wouldn’t transport cattle under, certainly makes you appreciate a transport system that has air conditioning and big wide train carriages. I still shudder at the memory of bumping sweaty arms with the next commuter. There is no observation of personal space on the Tube.

The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT or Mr T as Husband likes to call it), is the Singapore equivalent of the Tube. 

That is where all comparisons end.   

The Mr T is sleek, shiny and new. So shiny, I couldn’t quite get a good grip on the seat in the trousers I was wearing when I was on it the other day. I felt like I needed anti slip grips on my bum to secure me to the seat. 

As I missed out on the invention of the selfie stick, which is very big in South East Asia, I propose to invent the Self Stick (patent pending, already registered trademark and have logo to boot). This is a portable rubber pad to aid commuters in getting a good grip on the Mr T or any mode of transport that has shiny seating. A luxe padded limited edition version will also be available.

Additional lines are popping up (very slowly) across the island connecting the up and down and left to right places of Singapore. It will be so much more convenient and property prices will become so much more expensive. So that when the new station just 500m away from our new place opens, I can guarantee when our lease is up, we probably won’t be able to afford the renewed asking price.

Ranking top in the global table of having the highest cost of living isn’t something to be overly proud of and neither can it be sustainable Singapore. But that is by the by.

So, travelling by public transport in Singapore is clean, cool, comfortable (once you have purchased your own Self Stick) and cheap. It really is. Bus rides cost less than a $1 and the Mr T less than $2 for a single journey to most places. 

Singapore isn’t very big but then neither was my journey from North London to Covent Garden that far either. The cost of travelling in London is extortionate in conditions you wouldn’t transport cattle under. Fact. And there are mice. Late at night I would tactically choose not to take certain exits from Finsbury Park tube station because the mice would have taken over the platform for a rave. Also fact.

So, if travelling by public transport in Singapore is so fabulous, why don’t I do it more often? Why is a trip on the bus or Mr T considered a special treat for #1, 2 and 3? Even a cab ride brings whoops of delight and can you imagine what taking a maxi cab is like? The equivalent of an amusement park ride. 

I know. Simple pleasures.

We have a car (leased) that would cost the same price as a small house and the make of it doesn’t even end in an ‘I’. 

We could have two cars and a luxury caravan for the same price in the UK. Our last car was a beautiful Alfa Romeo 147. Colour red. For you cannot picture a car without knowing the colour. Same as you cannot picture a newborn baby without knowing the weight. 

At the time I remember saying to Husband how it seemed so expensive and shouldn’t we get a more modest car. But he had already forethought this and said this would be his only chance because when small children with no regard for good leather interiors and big monster car seats come along, there can be no luxury transportation. By the time said small children do not require a double decker bus to transport them and their paraphernalia places, he will be too old for any luxury transportation and will look like Middle Aged Man Having a Crisis. 

There is a surprisingly large number of high performance vehicles in Singapore ending in the letter ‘I’. Driven by Middle Aged Men who may need a hand getting out of the almost to the ground seats. I often wonder how can people afford a car that costs half a castle in Yorkshire. 

To supposedly curb the number of cars on the road, the Singapore government imposes a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) that grants a legal owner the right to own the vehicle for a period of 10 years. It currently costs $70,000. Before you’ve even considered the value of the car. So we lease ours. You can of course buy second hand but even then it’s extortionate and then the extras on top.

Anyways, I just realised my Singapore driving license had expired by a couple of days and I needed to renew. Thank goodness converting your license didn’t require a practical test as I most certainly would have failed after the habits I have picked up over 23 years. It did require taking the Basic Theory Test. 

50 questions on your basic Highway Code with an allowance of getting five wrong maximum. I still remember the pressure whilst taking the test. I already thought I had 4 answers wrong with another 35 questions to go. I felt like crying. But well done me I passed.

So without wanting to be on the wrong side of the law, I went to the only place you can get your license renewed in Singapore. It had to be located in the back of beyond that you actually would need a car to get there. But I thought it would be bad form to drive to the Transport Police HQ on an expired license. So I parked the car at a shopping mall with a Mr T directly to the nearest station to the Transport Police HQ. With just a mere 9 minutes walk between the two.

I was looking forward to this journey so much I brought a book with me. Even though you get uninterrupted 4G and mobile signal. I was going to enjoy the old fashioned travelling pursuit of reading a proper book and not playing some cartoon city building app or listening to music that everyone else can hear clearly too. My other favourite travelling pursuit is having a 15 minutes power nap. Quite impossible without the use of Self Stick as you’d end up just sloping off the seat in a heap. 

I didn’t get to read my book because I was distracted by three down to my left blaring out ‘thumpin’ tunes and because I was more fascinated by the row of six commuters opposite me who were enjoying a power nap in very different styles. I wish I could have taken a photo. And I was also revelling in aircon luxury.

So I arrive at the Mr T station I have never heard of and get out above ground to an area not quite finished. This is nothing new in Singapore to be honest. Within seconds, I no longer feel the benefits of the air con luxury I had just left behind. I’m waiting for traffic lights to change and I set off on my epic 9 minutes walk. 

I’m doing ok 5 minutes in. By 7, I can feel I’m developing what Beauty Editors in magazines call a ‘youthful glow’. It’s not. It’s just sweat. By 8, I’m beginning to feel I need to shower. 

I used to scoff, I still do, at the snail’s pace most people walk at in Singapore. I do understand why though. You try not to overly exert yourself causing needless extra perspiration. But what’s worse? To walk faster and sweat but be indoors sooner. Or to walk at a less than leisurely pace and be out in the heat and humidity for longer? 

Anyways, I arrive and obviously look a bit gormless as I’m quickly assisted by the person in front who helpfully presses the right queue for ticket button. Upon hearing a non local accent I immediately have a new waiting room buddy.

I can tell you all about his knowledge of the naval navigation system developed by the company he works for that uses maps put together in the UK to helps ships get from any A to B, all over the world. Fact.

In return, he has walked away with my rather extensive business acumen in the field of where would be the most profitable location in the UK to open a hair salon. Indeed. I take back previous observations that you can’t have weird and wonderful random conversations with Singaporeans.

It’s like when you tell the taxi driver you come from the UK and they ask you whether you know their neighbour from 12 years ago who also lives in the UK. But actually, it is such a small world that you most probably do.

I’m happy to say that I was granted another five years of legal driving on the roads of Singapore.

Even though public transport in Singapore is cheap, cool and comfortable (with Self Stick). It’s the 10 minutes walk outdoors either side that just causes me to unravel and I’ve been acclimatising for 6 and a half years. 

It is a huge luxury to drive one’s own mode of transport in Singapore. I know that. When #1, 2 and 3 can all walk 20 minutes without one bleating ‘Carry me’, we will definitely be using public transport more often. Do you think it’s acceptable to refuse on the grounds of ‘No, you can walk because Mummy can’t carry you as it will make her all hot and bothered and rageful.’ Rageful Mummy in the tropics is not good. I am more rageful in the tropics than I was in the UK. I do blame the heat. 

So in order to keep Rageful Mummy at bay and to save more people from throwing their pension fund into ill advised business schemes in the UK, I think it’s best I do driving for now.


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Chocolate eggs and beer gardens

I remember when the Easter long weekend was one spent lazing around doing not much else than hoping for sunshine and a beer garden. 

There would be an Easter egg from Husband and one from Nana Moon. Just the right amount of chocolate to last me the weekend as a hangover pick me up.

I had not realised that the Easter weekend social calendar could almost be as busy as Christmas when you are responsible parents of small children.

I am not one familiar with the hunting of Easter Eggs growing up. Neither was I presented with my Easter egg from relatives on the correct day but the fact they tried and got me some chocolate eggs was quite something. 

So I have to admit it’s really only since #1, 2 and 3 have arrived that I’ve had a better education in some of the fun traditions that come with Easter. Not to mention the fridge full of chocolate that they have acquired from the four Easter Egg hunts they’ve been on these past few days.

Though tropical weather is not conducive for the traditional Easter Egg Hunt for several reasons. 

  • Your Easter Egg Hunt cannot be a long leisurely affair, hence no joyful trail of clues to ponder over.
  • Your chocolate goodies must be hidden mere seconds before the Easter Egg Hunt is to begin.
  • If your Easter Egg Hunt is not over within three minutes then it is probably best to draw a line under it and leave your melting chocolatey treats for the enjoyment of the army of ants who have already hunted down the source of sugar before your children have.  
  • The said chocolates we have in the fridge are no longer egg or rabbit shaped. But it’s chocolate all the same.

As children get older, the Easter Egg Hunt becomes more and more like a battle of the strongest. #2 and 3 didn’t get a look in during one Egg Hunt as all the eggs were swooped up before they had even set foot into the arena. So it was just as well they had four attempts at it. 

And #3, in her second year of active participation is all about the chocolate. Whilst the older kids are marvelling over what they’ve added to their hoard, she is quietly tucking into them.  She’s got the right idea.

And so, as you know, this weekend is not all about sunshine and beer gardens. Chocolate and Easter Egg Hunts. Tea parties and barbecues.

Once again, as part of my parenting repertoire, I attempted to explain there is more to Easter than just collecting chocolate eggs. I should have given this more forethought or referred back to Husband with it being more his area of knowledge. But it just sort of popped into conversation on our drive to school. Good job really as at least there was going to be an end to the conversation when we arrived at school. 

So we started talking about Christmas being the celebration of the birth of Jesus which they still remember and there’s a warm glow around us talking about that. Quickly extinguished by the follow up that Easter celebrates the death of Jesus. 

#2: You mean Jesus dies when he’s a baby.

Me: No, no, he’s a grown up.

#1: Like a really old man.

Me: Not an old man. But very much a grown up.

#1 and 2 do not like talking about dying at all. Only allowed if you are older than 100. Just as well as how could I have possibly explained the dying on a cross part. That would appear very cruel in all senses.

#2: But why does he die?

Me: Well you know about God? God sent Jesus to Earth to look after the people a long, long time ago. 

#1: How did God make the earth? What did he use?

At this point, I can feel my explanations beginning to unravel. I see the turning for school. I stall a lot in my answers. Then we quickly finish happy with Jesus coming back alive on Easter Sunday but only because He is special does he come back before they think everyone else can. 

Thankfully school has already explained all about the Easter Bunny. Maybe next year, someone can give me a bit of help with explaining everything else. 

Hang on, what are the Godparents doing? 

They say never discuss religion and politics. Quite so.

Happy Easter!


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