Good Morning Viet Nam!

I can’t believe it has only been 2 months since I last posted on my blog.  So much has happened since then!  When I last wrote I didn’t even have a teaching job secured and yet, here I am, over a week into my teaching stint in Viet Nam!

I have had so many conflicting emotions since I arrived here.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and had no expectations, which in hindsight is good, because it was such a hardcore culture shock as it was, that if I had had expectations, the conflict would have been more huge than it was when I got here.

The first major change was the weather of course.  All the locals here think it’s freezing and are wearing jerseys and boots and things – at a mild 25 degrees I am in my element and embracing it as the temperature and humidity here apparently soar to unbearable heights.  The weather is already not doing anything great for my hair but at least now I don’t even have to TRY and straighten it because there is just no point.  Curly is my new state.

Not knowing anyone and not knowing how to get anywhere was a real challenge in the beginning.  I am not teaching at a school but rather at an English centre which means the English being taught is extra English for the kids.  So I teach every day but only in the evenings for one or two hours and the majority of my teaching takes place over the weekend – Saturday and Sunday are really busy and at the moment I am teaching 21 classes a week ranging from 4 to 12 year olds.  The teaching is going well!  I am putting a lot of effort into lesson preparation which takes up quite a bit of time.  But time is something I have so much of at the moment!  Because I only teach in the evenings my days are free.  Because there is no such thing as public transport here and the language barrier is just that – a complete barrier to any understanding between me and the locals, the only exploring I can do at the moment is on foot.  It took me a week to find the actual supermarket where there are tills and everything but it’s a 2.5 km walk one way and while this is doable now, while the weather is still mild, it would be pretty much suicidal to try and attempt this once the temperatures start rising.  So I do need to invest in a scooter (even a bicycle would be silly in the heat) so that is something I need to organise.  Everyone here rides scooters and it’s amazing to see.  Women in high heels and smartly dressed ride their scooters.  Families of 5 all manage to organise themselves onto one scooter and everyone rides around hooting merrily.  You can imagine my shock at all the hooting when I first arrived.  No-one hoots in London, and if they do, it’s seen as very impolite.  But apparently here it is the norm and completely acceptable.  So is going through a red light if you are turning apparently.  They actually have the green man light for pedestrians to cross but woe betide if you just cross – it’s still a dodge-ems game no matter what the lights are telling you.  However, no one drives fast and it all seems to work.

I am living in a massive house with one other person, who, surprise surprise, is also South African.  He is 24 and has been teaching here for over a year.  I feel like I was told there was going to be 4 teachers living in the house (but that could also have been a lost in translation thing) and so was a bit surprised to learn that it was only going to be the two of us.  We are literally the only non-Vietnamese people for miles around.  He works at a few other centres (he has a scooter and can get around) and because he has been here for a while has a support base.  I have met some of his friends once so far and I am sure will again but he is often out of the house on his own mission so a lot of the time I am in this big old house on my own.  Well, not entirely on my own.  I have seen a few rats, loads of gheckos and there is something living in the cupboard downstairs that sounds like it’s a small child trying to get out!! (Trying not to think too much about that!).  I am hand washing my own washing at the moment because the lady he goes to lives too far away for me to walk to and at this stage I don’t know of anywhere closer.

My room is about as big as my little house in Noordsig was – it’s enormous!  So I have started a new daily regime.  First of all every morning Dan and I Skype.  The time difference is 5 hours so when I am waking up he is going to bed!!!  If he goes to bed at 2, that is 7 my time which is perfect.  We Skype for an hour then he passes out and I get up and start my day.  Which as of 3 days ago starts with a peaceful 30 minutes of yoga, then a 30 minute cardio session followed by a meditation session that lasts as long as I want it to.  After that I have breakfast, go out for supplies if I need to, and then settle in to some lesson preparation.  I panicked at first thinking I would be bored but I’m not.  I am loving the quiet solitude and space and warmth that is allowing me to get healthy again.

The food here is cheap and interesting.  I have had some amazing, tasty food and I have also had some dishes that I could not stomach due to the consistency and lack of taste.  Most things are cheap here!  0.60p for a beer or R10 (not even sure if that is cheap in SA anymore but it’s certainly cheap in the UK)!  Cigarettes are extremely cheap at around £1 for a packet (not that I’m smoking but my housemate does) and so is eating out.  Eating out is an experience.  First of all you can smoke anywhere here and when eating out people just throw their butts on the floor along with anything else that forms part of the meal.  We had a clam chowder dish the one night and I was told to throw the shells on the floor.  Beer cans too.  Once your party is done they just come and clear it up!

The people are super friendly and I have become quite the local already as I walk my route to the supermarket most days.  Everybody shouts out hello (unfortunately that’s where the conversation ends) but I do feel like quite the film star here as people do stare and wave and smile.

Working at the centre was also very challenging at first.  Even though its an English centre and all the teachers can speak English, their English is not great (and I see now why they employ foreign teachers to help out because the kids would not get far learning English from their Vietnamese teachers).  Their pronunciation is SO different and often it takes me ages to understand what they are saying and vice versa.  But I am learning to speak slowly and everybody just takes it in their stride when the communication is lacking.  We all just try and try until the penny drops.  Teaching the kids is different every day.  Some days the class goes SO well and I really feel like they enjoyed it and I made a difference.  And then other days it’s just mediocre.  But I put so much effort into preparing each class that I am not beating myself up about it when it doesn’t go well.  There is a syllabus they are following and some days no matter how hard you try, you cannot make it interesting – especially when you are covering the same content for the 5th time!  The younger kids are by far the hardest to teach as they don’t understand and they get fidgety quickly but they are so cute!  Luckily the Vietnamese teacher stays in the class so they often explain to the kids when I can’t get through to them.  It requires a lot of thinking on my feet and it’s very challenging, especially when the kids don’t want to participate, but it also feels like I’ve been doing this for a million years and I am on such a high each evening after classes are done!

I can see why teachers need so many breaks though!  I am SO looking forward to my first break which is in just under a month’s time.  Also because I can use that opportunity to go and explore a bit of Viet Nam.  But more about that in a future post.

For now I am just so grateful that I am settling in and starting to see the positives in the space that I am now in.  I am going to embrace it and use this time to be the best teacher I can be, and the best me I can be.  Last year I felt I was becoming a very negative, angry person and I can already feel that this environment and all the positives I will be putting into my life and my health, will only benefit me and put me on the road to being the positive, at peace person I want to be.

P.S.  Because transferring photos from my phone and laptop to WordPress is such a nightmare I won’t be posting many pics here but mainly on Insta – you can follow me there – mariafkyle.


The best laid plans …

What is it they say about the best laid plans – they often go awry.  Well, in my case that has indeed happened!  Hello, avid fans – all 11 of you! 🙂  My daughter has been moaning at me to resurrect my blog even though most of you know what’s going on in my life anyway. But seeing as I am mostly sitting at home twiddling my thumbs  these days, there is no harm in putting fingers to keyboard and giving an update to those who may not be totally up to speed.

When I left you 3 months ago, I was pretty certain of my plans for 2018. I would continue working in London until May and then follow my dream of teaching in Mexico and saving turtles in Costa Rica.

That all fell apart when the company I had been working for, for over a year, told me that my services were no longer required and gave me a week’s notice!  Considering it was only meant to be a 3-month contract I feel very grateful that it lasted as long as it did!  However, I already had a holiday to South Africa booked and because Khaya was coming back from Thailand on a certain date I couldn’t move the trip forward.  So I ended up being out of work for a month already before I got back from SA and could actively start looking for a job again.  I very quickly realised that this is the wrong time of year to start looking for a job.  Also, the process in the UK is SO slow.  First of all there is a cut off date for applications and they don’t look at any of them until that date.  Thereafter there is a first interview (usually a phone call). Then one or two more interviews before the candidate is chosen.  So the whole process can take months, which I do not have.  I was literally looking for anything – temp, permanent, contract, even secretarial work.  Signed up at various agencies, a couple of bites, but mainly crickets!!

So my thoughts turned to what else I could do and to be quite honest, the thought of continuing in the digital space doing the kind of job I have been doing, was not filling me with great excitement.  I knew that the next job I got, I would not be so lucky with regards working so close to home etc.  It was then that it dawned on me that I should just push the teaching plan forward.   Yes, it changes my plans a bit (Mexico and saving turtles will have to wait) but hey, I’m learning to roll with the punches and not take changes in plans so seriously.  To my mind it’s still better to have a plan than none at all.

So this is where I am at the moment.  Still jobless and with absolutely no idea what the future holds.  I’ve applied for some teaching jobs but because my dates are so specific – I really cannot afford to wait longer than January to get a job – it narrows the teaching jobs down as well.  I could still get a job in London but my heart has already packed my bags and left the country.  At the moment my strongest leads are in Taiwan and Vietnam.  So after never ever believing I would go to that side of the world and teach, it seems that fate is pushing me in that direction.

How am I filling my days you ask?  Besides the lack of monetary income, I cannot lie and say that I am not enjoying this forced holiday.  First of all the weather is perfect for my current lifestyle.  I still wake up early but then I lie in bed and drink loads of  coffee and read and catch up on emails etc. before I even think of arising.  Once I have arisen I do any errands that I need to – usually food shopping and then I get on my bike (I would say weather permitting but hey you gotta take the bull by the horns in this climate and roll with the punches again!).  Luckily, I have figured out the English weather.  It very seldom rains in the morning.  It looks like it’s about to pour ALL the time, but it usually holds off until the afternoon so you have a fairly good chance of making it home dry.  So, my mornings are filled up well.  The afternoons are for watching Netflix, reading some more and making dinner.  It’s dark by 4 so if nothing else is going on I am often asleep by 9!  This is made easier by everyone in SA being 2 hours ahead now so they are all turning in at 9 too (except it’s 11 their time which is far more respectable).

I’m loving having the time to explore my hood on my bicycle.  It has taken me many months to build up the courage to go out on the road on my bicycle and I am still so nervous every time I do.  But it has allowed me to explore so much more of this awesome place I live.  The past 16 months have been a such an awesome journey.  I feel very happy that I am getting to spend the last while I am here exploring and being active.

So that’s my life in a nutshell at the moment.  Had such an amazing SA holiday and now counting down the days until Dan and then Nick come for possibly their last visit to visit me in London!!!!

It feels weird not knowing what my future holds!

Watch this space … more to follow soon!




Life Update

As forewarned dear readers, the next few months are going to be quiet as I put my head down and concentrate on my studies and keeping on the straight and narrow.

Having said that I am very excited as I start planning for my travels next year.  As has happened a lot in my life so far, I have had to bide my time and wait patiently (or not so patiently) for things to fall into place so that I can realise a dream.

So my first plan of action has been to enrol in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course.  Easy right.  Thousands of kids do this every year and go on to get amazing jobs overseas.  Well, the easy part was enrolling – nothing since has been!  I’m not sure what happened between leaving school 27 years ago (really!!!???) and what they expect to be taught these days but it is HARD.  Or should I say difficult, complicated, onerous (see I know all the big words but apparently not only are they adjectives but they can also be nouns when used in a certain way!) And, if used in another way, may be a gerund.  And don’t even get me started on past present continuous and the like!  Anyway, luckily Khaya is in Thailand teaching English and I get the sense that what you need to learn (and get over 75% for) is not necessarily put into practice quite so formally in the real world, so that makes me feel a bit better.  Except I still have to get 75% for every single assignment of which there are many in order to continue and ultimately pass.

The other exciting thing that happened is that I have already found my school!  It’s in Tehuacán, Mexico.  I had a Skype interview with the supervisor yesterday who asked all sorts of weird questions – like if you had a superpower what would it be?  I said, to be able to read people’s thoughts (Yes, I was an avid Misfits watcher!).  If I could choose between flying and invisibility which would I choose?  I chose invisibility.  How would your boss describe you?  I said ‘annoying’. 😉 Anyway, after a 45 minute chat he told me that he never does this on the first Skype interview but I’m hired.  He found my ‘quirkiness interesting’ and has a good feeling about me.  Well, I hope he does not say that to all the prospective teachers.  Anyway, its a long way away still but as soon as I saw the advert for this school, I knew it was the place for me.  I have 4 months there and am going to travel for 2 months and already I have changed my mind a hundred times about where I am going to go.  But more about that later.  As I type this I received the confirmation email saying that they want me to join their team! I am so excited!

I am thankful I have all these things to keep me going and occupied because life is hard and lonely in London when you aren’t doing much and are trying to save money.  It has literally rained the entire summer so far.  I bought a bike recently and have not really been able to ride (except for weekends) because every night when I get home it’s drizzling or pouring with rain.  I am really missing the boyfriend so much and and there is no sign of an imminent visit due to his expanding business which in itself is leading to huge stress because the Skype dates of old are very few and far between these days.  But on the plus side, his business is booming which is amazing.  I am so grateful to have this man in my life who will keep the home fires burning while I get to follow my dreams (with the general expectation that one day we will live and make a life together!)


The WEIGHT Blog : Chapter 2

I’ve decided to blog about my weight quest in the hope that by blogging about it, it will keep me on the straight and narrow and more determined to have a positive outcome to this endeavour.

I started my new eating regime on 20 June 2017.  This was the day after we came back from Amsterdam and I knew that I had to do something and fast!  I wasn’t entirely sure which diet I was going to follow at this stage, I just knew I needed to eat less so I decided to just count my calories.  Inserted my height, gender, weight etc into some app online and voila, it told me how much I needed to eat in order to lose.  At the same time the boyfriend was urging me to start Banting as its always worked for him and he believes it’s the best eating plan one could ever be on.  So after doing some research I decided to give it a go.  The premise behind it sounded good – if your body doesn’t have any carbs to burn energy, it will turn to the stored fat in your body and start burning that.  Sounds foolproof right?!  And it kinda is – if you can stick to eating the correct amount of protein and fat.  Unfortunately you have to eat a LOT of fat on this eating plan and I didn’t feel like that was working for me either.  I like that there are no carbs, except certain fruit and veggies but trying to get the right amount of fat in meant eating a lot of meat and cream and cheese which wasn’t really working for me and I didn’t feel like I was losing weight.  At first I didn’t worry too much about the scale, as I have enough clothes in my cupboard that don’t fit anymore and those are the true test.  But yes, I wasn’t feeling much difference in those clothes either.

So during this time I am reading and researching and trying to figure out what will actually work for me and I find a term call ‘intermittent fasting’.  Banting advocates it and I believe the 5:2 diet does too.  It has been around for thousands of years,  not as a diet but as a way of life. I am not going to go into the in’s and outs here – there is a vast amount of reading material on the internet – but this one struck a chord with me.  For so long I have been eating every 2 to 3 hours worrying that I will feel faint and dizzy if I leave too long between meals.  And if I did have longer breaks, I would feel like faint and dizzy.  But that’s only because of the all the carbs I was eating.  If eating a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet, people can fast for extended periods of time.  It sounded crazy to me that there are people on the internet advocating only eating ONE meal a day!

Anyway, so I have started on the lowest one you can get which is sure to make a difference and that’s 16:8.  With this one you fast for 16 hours and then ‘eat’ for 8.  You don’t obviously eat for 8 hours straight but you have your food during that time.  So my normal day is – you tend to work backwards on this one as it depends on what time you finish having dinner.  Generally I have eaten by 7:30 so 16 hours later is 11:30.  I eat what I guess we can call brunch.  It usually consists of an omelette – 2 eggs, spinch, peppers, mushroom and cheese.  Then a bit later I’ll have a bowl of fruit and yoghurt and then for dinner is a huge plate of veggies with some kind of protein.

I was crapping myself when I decided to do this, but at the same time reading about it, felt so right.  The science behind it made so much sense to me and also I had been limiting my carbs to next to nothing for two weeks by then so I reckoned that I would not feel dizzy and faint if I waited 2 extra hours to eat instead of eating at 9. And I was right!!!  It was SO easy!  The most difficult thing for me so far has been not to have a snack AFTER dinner.  I get peckish around 10 and then want to have an apple or something but NO – that immediately puts your body into receiving food mode again and so even just a little apple or a cup of yoghurt upsets it.  But in the morning, those extra hours fly by and to be honest, I’m actually not ever technically starving when I eat, I just eat because I still feel in my head that if I don’t it’s wrong.  I’m going to take a while to work myself up to fasting for longer – if at all.  The change in mindset has been surreal.

I’ve modified it slightly now so that if I feel like eating a slice of health bread, or a sweet potato, or half a cup of unsweetened muesli with my fruit and yoghurt, then I do.  For my body,  I feel that some carbs are necessary – you know when you just know.

I am eating FAR less than I was and have completely cut out sugar, bad carbs, beer, wine – it’s all good, healthy food so I feel like I should have lost more in the time I have been on this diet – which is 6 weeks.  For the first 4 weeks there was no change on the scale.  I deliberately didn’t start an exercise regime because I wanted to be able to see the change on the scale and not get confused between losing fat and gaining muscle.  Nada.  I was feeling despondent.  Then I read some more and most of the articles say that nothing will happen for at least 6 weeks and then the weight will just melt off.  My clothes however, were feeling less snug – although I have not yet attempted to put anything on that I couldn’t fit into anymore.

I left the weighing in for 2 weeks and on the 6 week mark I weighed myself – moment of truth readers!!

The sad truth is that on the scale, I’m lucky if I’ve lost half a kilo.  BUT on the upside – I went clothes shopping about 6 weeks ago and I found this amazing pair of pants that I liked.  They were so amazing that I thought to myself I cannot buy these in a size 14 as I will lose weight and they won’t fit so I bought them in a size 12.  They cost a lot of money and I thought if this isn’t incentive, nothing will be.  When I bought them I couldn’t even button the top button!!!!  Put them on this week and I can button the top button up – so yeah!  It really is true about not getting on the scale but rather using your clothes as a yardstick.  I still can’t zip them up or wear them but I’m getting closer!!! 🙂


My one year Londonversary!

I have been in London for a year already!  The time has flown!  What an exciting, exhilarating, amazing year this has been for me!  If I had told my 20 year old self that this is what I would be doing with my life at 44 I would not have believed me!

It’s weird because on the one hand I have had lots of time on my hands to do nothing, but when I put it all down on ‘paper’ I  can see just how much I have accomplished. This post is a tribute to my first year in London – all the places I have been in London, all the places I visited outside of London in the UK and my travels to other countries.  It’s a pretty impressive list, even though I say so myself!

July – Arrival which was coupled with a few stressful moments –  finding work and the accommodation debacle. Thank goodness Cait and I had our day out in London!  – Cait, Tait and Bi-Bim-Bap

August – I started work in August but prior to that I managed to get myself around quite a bit of the UK.  Nottingham (to visit Dan’s gran), Gloucestershire (to visit an old friend from SA), Cheltenham (to visit my cuz) and Malvern to visit my old friend Annabel where we had a marvellous time hobnobbing with the rich and famous! Also attended my first big festival in the UK: Nottinghill Carnival – what an absolute jol!

September – After only being in the UK for 2 months my only living parent (of which I had 3 originally), passed away suddenly.  Here is my tribute to my step-dad – On Becoming an Orphan

October – Little did I think that I’d be going back to South Africa so soon!  But I had to go for the funeral and sort out my dad’s affairs – I spent a hectic week in Cape Town

November – Went and saw The Lumineers as part of my birthday weekend and went to France for a long weekend!!!!

December – Went to Reading to my cousin for a few nights for Christmas and then of course, the main attraction of Dec 2016 and January 2017 – the Kids visit!!!!!

January – The Kids Epic Holiday in London

February – I did Dry February and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes this month.  MFATGG was the show I went to alone (but with Dan in my pocket)!

March – Back to South Africa to visit the family

April – Long weekend in Portugal – Lisboa you beauty!

June – I always love when I have visitors to the UK as it forces me to get out and about in London which I don’t tend to do when I’m on my own.  Extra special because it was the boyfriend who visited and we really got around this trip! Dan and Maria do London (and a bit of the countryside too!)


July – Summer Concert in Hyde Park – main act was Green Day but we also got to the see The Hives, Gorgol Bordello and Rancid.  Hands down the best production I have ever been to!  Hands down the most sober I have ever been at a concert so maybe that’s why! 😉  Green Day played for 2hrs 45 minutes and their stage presence and interaction with the crowd was just amazing and heartwarming and yeah, I’m gushing.  🙂  We were in the middle of a rowdy group of people who moshed to most of the songs and everyone was making friends with everyone else, people were pissed and having a great time.  There are LOADS of videos on YouTube of this crazy event but the part that blew me away the most was when Green Day had a quick break and they played the music to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and the crowd sang every single word.  Watch this video to see and also to see how insanely BIG the crowd was – 65 000 people!!!!  If this doesn’t give you goosebumps, nothing will!

I’ve been in the same job since I arrived here and that too has been an interesting one as there have been times when its been super slow and boring and I was constantly weighing up the pros and cons of the job.  But for the most part I am really grateful to have a job with a great salary and very importantly, that I am able to walk to work, the little bit of exercise I do still get!

I will admit that the travel bug has bitten big time and what I’ve learned from all these quick adventures to other places, is that I would like to immerse myself into the culture of a country, to be able to take time to explore and learn things more deeply than you can when you go for a few days.

Which is why I am doing the TEFL course so that I can go to South America and stay there for as long as I can afford to, living with the people, learn a new language, and really explore … the country, and myself.  I love London and I am so happy here but I definitely feel like I do not want to just be here now.  I need new experiences and new adventures and that is what I am working towards with London’s help – as its paying me the salary I need in order to save enough! 😉  No more travelling for Maria this year!  It’s all serious from here on out – study, save and get slim is my new mantra for the next six months!

AMSTERDAM: Where bicycles rule the road!

So the only way I’ve discovered so far to make my photos not wonk out TOO much is only to put captions on the ones that are rectangular, not square – I had so many pretty square pics that I couldn’t disregard them but those will be the ones without captions – the others should hopefully be descriptive enough!

OK, so where to start about the Amsterdam trip … to put it in a sentence which deserves all caps:


I’ve spent a long time on this post trying to put into words why I was so blown away by it.  I think it was partly because Amsterdam was something that Mnandi, Jo, Mike and I had decided on doing over a year ago.  Mike and Jo were coming to the UK for Jo’s daughter’s wedding and they decided we should all go to Amsterdam for a long weekend together. Tickets were booked ages ago and Mnandi (having been there before) booked the accommodation.  For those that know me, know that if I am to go to another country/city with other people who know their way around, I tend to not get involved.  I like the element of surprise and am generally quite amenable when it comes to doing things i.e. I have no set agenda so happy to do what the rest want to do as long as we keep busy and see as much as possible.  I think what I am trying to say here is that I had no preconceived ideas about Amsterdam.  I knew that you can smoke weed in the open and that buying soft drugs is legal and acceptable.  And that cheese, clogs and the Red Light District seem to be Amsterdam’s other claim to fame.  Well, let me tell you dear readers, we did all of this AND MORE!!!

What I didn’t expect:

  • Was to be able to read all the road signs because Dutch is so similar to Afrikaans
  • To be able to understand people when greeting and other similar sentences because it’s SO similar to Afrikaans
  • The friendliness of the people
  • The immense amount of bicycles and that bicycles rule the road and that you don’t find 4 story car-parks, you find 4 story bike-parks!
  • To see mothers with as many as three children with them on their bikes – no helmuts!
  • No road rage, considering there are bicycles, scooters, cars AND trams all contending for the same road space – still, bicycles rule.
  • For my Facebook photo of me licking a giant penis in the Sex Museum to get so many Likes? And comments. I mean really, who died and made everyone a prude!
  • That you really can walk into a coffee shop (of which there are many) and buy weed (and then smoke it there, or in the park, or in the street, pretty much anywhere except the apartment).
  • That you can buy mushrooms and various other mind enhancing chemicals at what is called a Smart Shop (the sign of a mushroom above the shop lets you know you have found the right spot).
  • That I would not see one homeless person in the entire time we were there (not saying that aren’t around, but with the amount of town we covered I think its safe to say that there aren’t many, if any).
  • The beauty and cleanliness of the buildings
  • The architecture – we saw some really modern buildings
  • To puke in the middle of the street and for no-one to bat an eyelid!
Our very first expedition was to the Rijks Museum where we spent a lot of hours looking at art






Here is the gang looking at some art on the ceiling
Here we are at the Cheese Tasting expedition. We got to eat a shit load of cheese!  The green cheese below has basil pesto in it!

Here I am at the Van Gogh Museum. I am not really an arty person but I thoroughly enjoyed my museum experiences – so much history!










Said by Salvador Dali – what a legend! Our last cultural expedition was to the Banksy and Dali exhibition. Mind blowing!!!!
No explanation needed: Powerful words by Banksy


















Mike and Jo playing silly buggers at the Banksy exhibition. The tag line for their Onatural line is Keeping it Real so this was very apt!
The photo on FB that got so many comments! My one friend said she thought it was a giant ice-cream without her glasses on and when she went in to take a closer look she got quite a fright!!! ROFL










Us at the Ice-bar! We could only stay for 15 minutes because two of us were wearing open shoes and it was pretty cold in there!









Vondel Park – where we spent a very happy morning watching the world go by










Here people suntan in the park!
The scene above when looking from below








Our evening on a river boat in the canal. I’m sure its a very different animal when the weather is cooler – the day we went felt like we could have been on a dam in Caledon (except for houseboats of course)









Us enjoying the evening and the awesome architecture


















Eat, drink and be merry! Dan and Maria do London (and a bit of the countryside too)!

Please excuse the layout of this post – really struggling with how my photos are posting now that I have to retrieve them from the Cloud.  If anyone has any suggestions of how to fix this, please do let me know!

Daniel’s recent trip to visit me was the catalyst, the straw that broke the camel’s back, the tipping point, the last straw – whatever you want to call it – that caused me to start my new regime of eating less.  For two weeks we ate and drank continuously.  We ate out every day, at least twice a day and drank copious amounts of alcohol.  Besides him going to visit his gran for two nights we spent every moment together and it was awesome. Sadly, too awesome.  It was his first visit to me since I have been in the UK and it has been hard without him since he left.  All my bravado about long distance has gone out of the window a bit but that’s a story for another day.

Here are some highlights of our trip.

The Book of Mormon – excellent show by the makers of South Park.  I was a bit dubious going in, knowing how contentious South Park is and knowing the show is about religion and ‘making fun’ of Africa and things going on there.  However, what they addressed really IS going on – like genital mutilation of women being one example.  I really did not find it any way demeaning (even though there was a shitload of swearing)!  I came away from that show knowing more about Mormonism – what an absolute joke that people really believe all that shyte – and seeing that people can laugh about things that are actually real and hectic issues.  The songs were all very catchy and easy to hear and continued the story. It flowed well and every single character was easy to like and enjoy.  I would definitely go and watch it again – in fact I want to take Nicholas to see it in December and get his take on it.

Image result for the book of mormon

After the show (we went to the matinee) Daniel said that he really wished we could go and see a comedy show.  We tried Google to see if we could find one close by, but nothing came up.  Then lo and behold, while we were walking around, a guy came up to us with flyers to a comedy club with a 20% discount for that very night – in an hour’s time!  And oh what an interesting night that was!  There were 3 comedians and all of them pontificated about politics and racism (all men, 1 White, 1 Black and 1 Indian).  A lot of the stuff I didn’t understand as I am still coming to grips with British politics but the interesting part about it all was the reaction of the crowd!  People were walking out and saying they hadn’t come here to watch this shyte kind of vibe.  Even though I didn’t get some of it, I still found it funny but yeah, the people walking out definitely put an even more interesting slant on the evening.  It was really fun!

Wicked – Wicked is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz story.  Took a well known story and put a different slant on it.  The acting and costumes and sets were all brilliant and the twist in the story was great.  A lot of people apparently go to this one many times. Definitely a once off for me and Dan.

Camden Market – One can never get tired of browsing around Camden. Always some funny characters to see and be entertained by and of course, the food selection is just INSANE.  In fact, we took so long to eat there because we couldn’t decide.  We eventually chose a Hungarian food stall because it had tables you could sit at and we needed to rest for a bit.  We probably chose THE most unhealthy option in the whole place as well!

This guy was giving away hugs – actually no, it wasn’t free hugs, he wanted to get paid to impart them! Bloody cheek – the funny thing is people were gagging for it!!! And putting in NOTES nogal!


















Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho – Dan and Don (the gran’s boyfriend) had surprised the gran.  Dan by not telling her he was coming to the UK for a visit and Don by arranging a weekend in London with us and not telling her.  We managed to keep it a secret so gran was VERY surprised to see Daniel at her front-door when he arrived.  And then even more surprised and thrilled that they would be coming to London for the weekend!  Anyway, jazz is not our thing but we went because they wanted to and it was another nice surprise for gran.  It turned out to be such a fun afternoon.  A band called The Jive Aces were the act and they were funny and very good.  The songs were all tunes that people know from movies or adverts.  We chose to eat there and the food was excellent, albeit a bit pricey. The show lasts about an hour and a half.  Definitely worth a  visit, especially if you have older folk visiting and not sure what to do with them.  It does require booking way in advance though.
















Had to get this picture – of Dan looking at some art! LOL. Not his cup of tea really – National Arts Museum 

After the show we wandered around Central for a while and by the time we got back to Richmond, it was time for a pint at what had become our local in the short time that Daniel had been here.  Turns out it was open mic night and we had the most fabulous time listening to all the talented people having a go!  Daniel’s gran and her man are such good sports and I think they had a better time than us!  Lots of wine was consumed!
























The Queen’s Rose Garden – Regent’s Park – Did not know about this part of the park and was so pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it was.  So many variations of roses and they all smelled different and beautiful!  Lovely place to go if you want to propose marriage to the love of your life.
























Slam Dunk Festival – The whole reason Dan came to visit when he did, was because we wanted to go and watch one of his favourite bands play at a festival in Hertfordshire – Mad Caddies.  So we spent two days doing this. One day to get there and go to the festival and the next day to recover and get home.  It was a very interesting experience to say the least. Coming from a background of years and years of trance party experience (with one rock festival – Ramfest) in there too, this was totally different!  Even if I just compare the Ramfest experience with this one because the genre of music is similar, it was still so different.  Or maybe it was just because we didn’t know anyone so there was not that familiar vibe of walking around and bumping into people.  Or maybe it was because it was gently drizzling the entire time.  It was still really fun though!  The bands we wanted to watch were all great, the sound was amazing and we had a fat jol.   We tried really hard to get drunk but that didn’t happen – not sure if they watered down the drinks or what (they were rather cheap). Anyway, probably for the best because we got to go home and enjoy the quaint little hotel we were staying in and were not at ALL hungover for the free breakfast in the morning!  We even went for a little walk in the town before hopping on our bus to the station.

When last did you see a hotel that still gives you a key to the room! So quaint!
















































Our stay in Bradford-On-Avon.  The second week of Daniel’s visit we decided to drive up to Bath for 4 nights.  Turns out we had booked a cottage on a farm in a town about 15 minutes outside of Bath. It was so beautiful and exactly what we needed after a hectic ten days of being on the go non-stop.  We had lots of big ideas about seeing as much as we possibly could in those 4 days – maybe even driving up to Wales – but the moment we got there we were so overcome by exhaustion and the beauty of the area that we literally didn’t leave for 2 days.  There was a farm stall 5 minutes walk from us with milk and cream straight from the cow, fresh, HAPPY meat and everything else we needed so all I did those first days was cook!  LOTS of food and drink consumed.  We managed to make it into the village on the third day – SO old!  And on the last day we caught the train into Bath, did the hop on, hop off tours and in so doing, managed to see as much of Bath as possible in one day.  We left feeling revitalised which is the main thing.

Famous Roman Baths, in Bath. Interesting history …
Us getting romantic – we drank wine and played Rummikub every night we were there – it was so frikking cool!!!
This tearoom we went to dated back to 1502 – all the waitresses were dressed like they came out of the 1800’s and the teacups looked like we were at grandma’s house. That’s Dan taking a sugar cube from the sugar cube bowl. Neither of drink sugar in our coffee but we put one in just for shits and giggles!
We spent about three hours walking around this tiny town. SO OLD!
A picture of me and the surrounding scenery on one of our walks! Beautiful!! 😉
This umbrella installation, seen in a passageway in Bath, so innovative and colourful!
One of our many meals – this pizza was really good!!!


































































































There is no set date yet for Daniel’s next visit – he has to at least pretend to run his business for a while again – but that doesn’t stop me from nagging him about booking his next ticket at every opportunity.  😉  Can’t wait for our next adventure!