Sunday, 28 September 2014

We have Moved

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Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Cold Days

It is really cold today and we have all had to wrap up thing we expect to do in England.. though not in Thailand a hot tropical countries.

There were not many really cold days, mostly cold mornings. There would be that hazy cold air which often comes in hot countries on cold mornings, the smell of wood burning and desire to wrapp up warm with what ever you can find.

We would wake up and feel the cold seeping through the walls of the house. Our house was made of wood, nailed in ship lap style. On the inside you could still feel the roughness of the wood and sometimes see through a wood knot to the world outside.
Most of the time it was great to have these little cracks because the cooling air would come through and shift the hot air to somewhere else. The front of the house had big tall doors which folded back to allow the air in and as part of the culture in Thailand, to have an open house.
On a cold morning all you wanted to do was hibernate until it got warmer. On mornings like that we would only oen one door until it had warmed up enough, usually aroung 9:30-10:00.

From November to February was cold season. Most of the time during the day it was a nice warm temperature and we went around in t-shirts and shorts but when it started to get dark around 7 pm the air became quite cool and in the morning we could sometimes see our breathe.
It was such a novelty to have to wear jumpers, thick sock and wander round with blankets draped around our shoulders.

In the evening, mum would light a fire on the charcaol cooker on the lower porch and put this big blackened kettle on it. This water would be for our bath. She put it in a big tin washtub in our bathroom and we could have a warm bath. I think if there was any water left over she would make a cup of tea with it!!! We did have a gas cooker but I think it was easier to heat the bath water on the charcoal stove as it got in the way of her cooking dinner.

Ovaltine and Milo are another memory I have of cold days. It was the only hot chocolate you could get. Whenever we were travelling and wanted a warm drink we would buy ovaltine or milo depending on what the shop sold. Ovaltine was in orange tins and milo green tins. The thai make it up with hot water and an inch thick layer of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom....children's idea of heaven...horribly sweet!!!

Thursday, 11 January 2007


Whenever it rains and I smell that unmistakable moist earth smell it draws me right back to my childhood. When we moved up into the mountains, I was very young, about five, our house had a woven leaf roof. I never liked this roof because when it rained hard it used to leak.

I remember one night in particular. There had been a ceremony in the village where we lived 'a rain dance' because there had been no rain for ages. Well that night there was rain. The sky went an inky black and the thunder was deafening. It was raining so hard that our poor roof had sprung several leaks and was pouring into the store room (under the gutter which was not great planning on the part of the previous owner) As neither me or my brother could sleep my mum had ropes us in to empty the containers dotted around the house collecting water.

I vividly remember going out on the veranda of the house (which was a good six feet off the ground) to empty the container over the side. Water was pouring off the roof like a waterfall, which was quite scary for a 5 year old! Suddenly across the yard and in the yard opposite there was a deafening noise and a blinding light of a lightening bolt. It scared me so much that I threw the whole container of water over me. I remember being really cross because they were my favourite 'moon and star ' pyjamas!

No, my most fond memories of rain were in the new house, which had a type of tiled asbestos roof. When the rain fell it was a gentle drumming noise.
The wind used to blow through the house bringing the scent of water in the air. then we would wait with anticipation. Sometimes we could even see the rain coming along the path. One time it rained on one side of the house but not the other.
If it rained hard during the day, we would put on our 'rain clothes' and go out in the warm rain. Sometimes we would put the tin wash basins on our heads and run up and down under the water as it poured off the roof. This was deafening and great fun.
The favorite game was to slide down the slope by our house in the mud. The more we slid the more slippery it became and the faster we would go. We would get covered from head to toe in red, brown mud but we did have fun!!
Then at night I would put my head down on my pillow and go to sleep to the gentle drumming on the roof.
Even now I love that gentle, therapeutic sound, the smell of rain on the wind, and thunder streaking the skies.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

At what age do you remember things? I have always wondered this. When did my memories start? Where my early memories fed by photos and my parents recollection of events? Probably a mixture, but there is a time when I remember having memories and they were very strong.
My brother described his childhood as being in technicolour. Its true. Colour seemed brighter, sounds louder and smell stronger.
For me it was the sense of smell and sound which re-awakens my first memories. I was three when I first arrived in Thailand and it was as if someone had turned a switch on. Suddenly I was bombarded with heat, smells and itchy bites. Enough to make any three year old grouchy!

Everything was loud and people seemed to shout at each other but they weren't cross, they just shouted words I couldn't understand. Cars beeped, dogs barked, music blared. Everywhere was noise, noise , noise.

It was so hot and the air was close as if it was wrapping around me and trying to suffocate me. And the air carried smells that I had never smelt before. Strong sour smells, awful smells which made my stomach turn as if I was going to be sick and wild sweet, beautiful smells. They all swirled around me on the warm air mixing together, separating and creating a perfume distinct to Thailand. I hated these smell because they were strange and new; now they are like a long lost friend.
I know that we spent a little time in a guest house when we first arrived but I don't really remember that. It was our first house which I think my first memories are from. I have some photos but the rest is definitely my impressions.

To get to our house you turned off the main road (we didn't have a car so we were always on foot) down a small unpaved road called a "Soi" (soy) This bit was narrow and dark until at the back of the houses it opened out. Our house was in a row of houses on the right. It was built on a swampy area so when the rain cam it flooded. To get to our house we had to walk along a wooden plank walkway. The house was built up higher than the path and made of a mixture of concrete and wood.

In my mind opposite our house was a wide expanse of 'swamp' with lilypads lotus flowers growing. My mum said there were houses but I don't remember that at all!
Inside the house was open plan downstairs with shiney dark wooden floors. I loved to slide around on these floors. At the front there was an area by the window where we had our table. The stairs to the bedrooms went up at the back of this main room.

At the back of the house down some concrete steps was the "kitchen" and "bathroom". I cant remember what was in the kitchen at all as I didn't go there. It probably had a small stove, fridge and cupboard. I didn't like this area as it was dark and gloomy.
The bathroom consisted of a sqat toilet and a huge concrete water tank. "baths" consisted of throwing dipper fulls of water (cold) over yourself. My mum bought metal baisins which she filled with a mixture of hot and cold water in, which was much nicer and she still has them!!
These are my memories of growing up, mainly in Thailand. I cannot say that all the events happened as they did. I'm sure other members of my family would describe the same events in slightly different ways. That is the quirky nature of memories. These are mine.