En route to Christmas

I am currently sitting on the couch at my sister’s place in Melbourne. It’s been a hot day and the night is balmy and warm meaning that we have every possible window and door open in an effort to catch the breeze. It’s my bi-annual pilgrimage Down Under for a family Christmas, it’s day number two and with Christmas Day looking like a scorcher, I couldn’t be much further away from the chill of a London winter.

It’s a long way so as is my usual habit, I paused for a week on the way through to soak up some sun, read lots of books and enjoy some amazing food. This time the pause was in Hua Hin in Thailand at the gorgeous Anantara Resort.

I had a room overlooking the pool…

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After a ‘busy’ day poolside, I would spend a couple of hours curled up on this comfortable couch before heading out for dinner.

…and there was a lovely message from Dow, my room housekeeper, on my pillow every evening.

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Speaking of locals, there were elephants everywhere – this cutie was my favourite…

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A welcoming hello at the entrance, just one of the Elephant Parade installation scattered throughout the grounds.

…and Alex, the resident blue and green macaw, was a colourful sight around the resort.

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Apparently Alex is bi-lingual (English and Thai in case you were wondering)

All up nature was at her best whether big and breathtaking…

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View from the beach bar at the Anantara Hua Hin resort…it’s a tough life for some.

…small and delicate…

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There are orchids of all sorts everywhere. I passed this one every day on the way to breakfast.

…or there for just a moment.

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This water lily had blossomed overnight so I got this shot on the way to breakfast in the morning – the flower had drooped by mid afternoon and was gone by the evening.

The food was delicious..

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A traditional Thai appetiser. Take a leaf and add a bit of everything – peanuts, dried shrimp, dried coconut, shallot, garlic, lime, chilli and palm sugar paste. Wrap up the little parcel and pop it in your mouth. Delicious!

…and the cocktails many and varied across the balmy evenings…

…but in the main, I lay by the pool – cooling off with a dip in the water every so often – and read.

I devoured four magazines (two Vanity Fair and one each of Raconteur and The Economist’s 1843) and five books: Emma Donoghue’s absorbing The Wonder, Jeffrey Archer’s sixth in The Clifton Chronicles (Cometh the Hour) and the eighth novel in Bernard Cornwell’s Viking series (The Empty Throne), a light and fluffy Lift and Separate by Marilyn Simon Rothstein and the utterly gripping How I Lost You from Jenny Blackhurst. I was also halfway through Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings when I left.

It was such a blissfully solitary and self-indulgent week. Reading is my favourite thing to do and is exactly what I book the holiday for (as well as a much-needed dose of sun). It also stands me in good stead for the next phase of my trip – a little me-time before the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the inevitable flurry of activity with family and friends.

Which brings me back to where I started – a balmy night in the Melbourne suburbs on the night before Christmas. So before I embark on the various opporunities for festive cheer scheduled in the days ahead, all that remains for me to do is wish you a happy holiday season however and wherever you are spending it.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

People In Glass Houses…

I am someone who loves technology.

Not in a really techno-geek, have to have the ‘latest and greatest’ kind of way.

I love the clever ways that technology provides access to new ways of day to day working, convenient shortcuts for the most mind-numbing of tasks and some fascinating and alternatives views of the world.

On top of that, I’m lucky enough to work in the kind of job that’s all about exploring new ideas so there’s not a week that goes past where I don’t find something that makes me go ‘wow’ or ‘that’s amazing’.

And recently I was reminded of a real ‘techno-wow’ moment I experienced earlier this year.

Global glass and ceramic manufacturer Corning has been beavering away to create their very own vision of the future. Each time I watch this, I feel absolutely amazed that this world, that not so long ago would have seemed completely unbelievable, could be possible in my lifetime. 

So strap yourself in, open your mind and check this out:

 

It’s amazing right? And before any of you starts saying it’s all a long way off, evidence suggests that the next generation – not Gen Y but the ones born in the last decade or so – are closer to this futuristic world than we think.

Watch this one year old work an iPad…and then watch her wonder why her motor skills aren’t transferable. Keep an eye on her hands as she tries to ‘activate’ the magazine…

I remember when the film Minority Report was released (only 10 years ago) – it was lauded as visionary and yet so far-fetched. But it would appear that this future is heading our way and much sooner than we think, whether we Gen X-ers and our forebears like it or not.

An unstoppable wave of change is sweeping across the world we live in.

I think I’m ready…

Google Ad(Non)Sense…

I am perturbed.

A little while ago I decided to give Google Adsense a try and dutifully loaded that little box of Google mystery onto my blog page.

As I added new blog posts, I started to notice that the ads changed depending on what I blogged about (particularly in relation to my tags).  ‘This is quite exciting’, I thought to myself. ‘I am obviously getting the hang of this!’

But recently I have noticed that there seems to be a theme that I don’t understand.  Something that I don’t think I have actually blogged about.  And I am a bit reticent to mention the word in case it gets stuck in my little Google box forever…but here goes….

Dogs.

Yes dogs…or more specifically products for dogs – dog biscuits, dog leads, dog walking even dog vitamins…

I’m confused…

There has also been little progress on my attempts at bus-blogging (see my last post by clicking here)…my mobile email seems to have developed an intermittent allergy to various parts of the journey home…maybe it’s confused too…

Technology…sigh!