Saturday, August 31, 2013

Contracts

The Gorse Fox was up early (thanks, no doubt, to jet lag).

He has spent the last 5 hours pouring over the various contract clauses related to the purchase of the new house - and in response to items raised by our solicitor. 10 pages of written comments and queries later, the Gorse Fox is feeling a bit brain-fried.

Meanwhile, the SIlver Vixen (followed everywhere by Jasper the cat), has been catching up on things in general - and proof-reading the Gorse Fox's comments.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Perchance to sleep

As we boarded the flight to London, the Gorse Fox observed yet again that there seem to be a lot of people travelling who a) should not be allowed out without a carer; and b) are not blessed with good looks, style or manners.

We boarded the plane and found our seats - clearly not in First Class (an oversight by the airline, no doubt). We all managed to rest during the flight - but the Silver Vixen and Urban-cub clearly failed to sleep deeply for long... the Gorse Fox, on the other hand was able to get several hours of good rest and sleep.

Back at Heathrow the usual early morning chaos ensued as all of the big long haul overnight flights arrived in close succession, disgorging thousands of weary travellers into passport control. We queued, as only the English seem to know how to do, and eventually popped through into the baggage hall. With bags retrieved in record time we headed out where Pistol Pete was waiting for us.

The M25 was in a benign mood and we got back to the south coast in excellent time.

Now it is time to sort the mail, the washing, and the photos whilst preparing to collect Jasper the cat and awaiting the delivery of our groceries.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Journeys

Leaving the villa we made good progress until we got to the second ferry (there is a ferry from Koh Lanta Yai to Koh Lanta Noi... which we drove straight on to; but there is a further ferry from Koh Lanta Noi to the mainland). We boarded the second ferry, but is just sat there for about 20 minutes until it was good and ready to leave. The Gorse Fox supposes we were lucky really, apparently during high season the delays can be several hours. The sooner they build some bridges, the better.

We had to ensure the hire car (a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport - 7-seater 4x4) was filled up before returning it, so some 50kms later we turned onto Route 4 and stopped at the gas station recommended by CH and CC. Three quarters of a tank for just over 1200 baht (£24) seemed like a bargain. With a full tank we set off on the final stretch to Krabi AIrport. In all the 90km took about 2 hours - which in the scheme of things seemed pretty good.

Having arrived at the airport in plenty of time, we went and found a place to grab a bite to eat. Then we sat an 'people-watched' until it was time for the next leg of the journey - the flight to Bangkok.

We saw the German family who had been on the dive boat with us on Tuesday. They were heading back to Frankfurt and said how much they had enjoyed the diving. We also saw what the Gorse Fox can only describe as a furniture salesman from Bolton with his Thai rent-a-bride (who may just turn out to be a rather ugly lady-boy).

The flight to Bangkok was uneventful - though we did have to re-route round a rather large thunderstom in the Gulf of Thailand. Suvarnabhumi  Airport was as impressive as ever. Once through the transit gates you are present with a vast shopping complex.
Perhaps one of the more starling images of this airport 'mall' is the huge centrepiece...

As you wander on down the various thoroughfares it actually becomes clearer that actually there are hundreds of shops - but they are all selling pretty much the same things. Mostly high quality Thai products or international brand names - but there is huge repetition.

Exhausted by the shopping experience we made our way over to the First Class lounge (CIP Louis Tavern) - which courtesy of our NatWest bank account was available to us even though were were travelling economy. This was a welcome haven for a couple of hours before the gate opened. A nice choice of fruit, of sandwiches, of soup, of nibbles, of ice cream and a full free bar made the experience very satisfying. The hushed tones of the lounge and the fact that it was fairly empty were very soothing before the final hurdle - the flight home.

Farewell

It was a difficult morning. The sun had come out and it was getting hot. It was fast becoming another perfect day. Cousteau-Cub and the Coventry Hobbit, who had stayed the night, made the most of the pool whilst the rest of us set about our packing and tidying up ready to leave.

 We were trying to ignore the inevitability of parting, chatting about all and sundry, but the Gorse Fox suggests it was a case of keeping a stiff upper lip for all of us.

By lunchtime we had to bow to the inevitable. We were packed and ready, CC and CH had a few things they needed to take back to their house - and so GF loaded their stuff and the Silver Vixen and GF took CC back to the house whilst CH road his motorbike back with Bruno the dog, tagging along behind.

It was sad to say our goodbyes - but we had had a super time and had a wonderfully relaxing holiday. Driving back to the villa, we loaded up the car, locked up, and set off on the first stage of the trip home.

Tempest

Overnight there was quite a storm. Rain pounded on the villa and lightning flashed across the sky. It settled in the early hours, but soon after the Gorse Fox was up and about we had another downpour. That seems to have cleared the air, and now we have a lovely hot sunny morning - with a refreshing breeze off the sea.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Last Full Day

It is the last full day and it started with some threatening storm clouds that approached across the sea and dumped huge volumes of water over us for about an hour. After that it cleared and we resumed our usual pool positions.

Cousteau-cub joined us at lunchtime, and Coventry Hobbit came along late afternoon.
Of course, as the sun went down we had the obligatory photo-fest. After all it was the last such sunset we would get to enjoy for a while.

All went next door to Miami for a farewell dinner and cocktails, before we repaired to the poolside and sat chatting until bed time.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Eating

Once back at the villa and having related our exciting tales of the day to the Silver Vixen, we had a couple of quiet hours and watched another Thai sunset.


Cousteau-cub's friend Tukta had asked if she could cook for us. She is the most delightful girl and we were pleased to agree. Soon after dark she arrived with the most beautiful looking meal.

There we two huge fish, both fried, and one with a three season sauce, the other with garlic and pepper; there was a thai shrimp salad; there was chicken in ginger; there was (giant) shrimp in caramelised red onion and tamarind; and there was a tempura dish containing something like clams (but we never quite got the right translation).

It was certainly the best meal we have eaten all holiday - and let's be honest the food has been superb  throughout our time here. Tukta had prepared and dress everything it was an absolute picture. She went on to explain that different oils are used for cooking different foods, and how fish should be fried as it retains its texture better than being baked in the oven. It was a feast and we were all completely overwhelmed by her kindness and her obvious talent. (She does run a restaurant in high season, and does all the cooking as she doesn't trust anyone else to get it right)

We decided to adopt her.
Urban-cub, Cousteau-cub, and Tukta


Diving: 2

The boat approached and they threw a line to drag us to the stern and allow us to remove our flippers and climb aboard. Not the easiest of tasks when wearing a weight belt and a scuba tank, but achieved with the grace a dignity you would expect of a sporting icon such as the Gorse Fox.

That was where it all went a bit wrong. The Gorse Fox has always had an immense dislike for diesel fumes. n the enclosed area of the wet deck, with boat trying to hold station the intensity was too much and before he knew what he was doing the Gorse Fox was hanging over the side, sharing his breakfast with the fishes.

He headed upstairs onto the more open deck above, and sat there whilst he recovered his dignity and control over his stomach. Once all the divers were on board, the boat headed away to Phi Phi Ley where it stopped for us to rest and take lunch. We stopped at Maya Bay, the bay made famous by the film The Beach.

Unfortunately, its popularity as a tourist site has meant that the bay is overrun with speed boats and tourist craft, though it is still clear that it is a very beautiful spot - and no development is allowed - so it remains uninhabited. For lunch, the Gorse Fox limited his intake to some Coca Cola and a Massaman Curry.

Soon we were on the move again and moved round from Maya Bay to dive a site just round the corner. it had been chosen for Urban-cub as she wanted to see turtles - and this was the most likely dive site to see them.

Everyone prepared as before - except the Gorse Fox. because of his reaction to the diesel fumes he put his weight bel on upstairs, quickly suited up in his BCD and started breathing through the regulator immediately. He was fast-tracked to the back of the boat and was one of the first in, along with Cousteau-cub.

Urban-cub and the Coventry Hobbit dropped into the water and the second dive commenced. this was a more barren site. The hard coral was less colourful and the selection of fish not as extensive and search though we may, we were unable to find a turtle - even though others did! Again the time whizzed by and and the tanks slowly emptied so that after about 45 minutes we popped up to the surface to await the boat.

Aware of the impact of diesel fumes, the Gorse Fox hurtled through the wet room, removing his equipment as he went, then straight up to the top deck where he could sit in the open. It worked. No further mishaps.



Once we had finished rounding up the divers, we set a course for Koh Lanta and headed home.

Diving: 1

Cousteau-cub picked us up at 0700 and we headed up to Saladan to join the dive boat Maya. This is a lovely boat adapted for diver with wet ares, dry areas, racks for the tanks, weights, BCDs, wet suits and so forth. We were first on the boat and Cousteau-cub introduced Urban-cub and the Gorse Fox to the crew and the other dive masters and dive instructors.

Eventually, everyone was on board and the Maya headed out into the Sound between Lanta Noi and Lanta Yai and west towards the Phi Phi Islands.


It was a good 90 minute ride during which we grabbed some coffee and croissants and the Coventry Hobbit came to brief us. He took Urban-cub through the basic safety briefing again, then showed us where we would be diving, and what we were likely to see.


As we approached the dive site we went down to the wet area where we donned our equipment and shuffled to the stern, dropping into the water in shallow bay. Urban-cub seemed to take to it well and despite a slight wobble where we re-surfaced after a couple of minutes, she was as right as rain as we dived the site.

There was so much to see - beautiful coral, dory, barracuda, clown fish, angel fish - the list seemed to be endless. At one point we rose over a slight mound and into a large shoal of beautiful golden yellow fish that just parted to let us through.

The highlight of the dive was probably coming across a 2 meter leopard shark, just towards the end of the dive. We had to drop down a couple of extra metres (but were still well within the permitted depth). The shark seemed oblivious to our presence and we were able to approach very close to it. After we had watched it and Cousteau-cub had photographed it, it obviously got bored with the attention and with a flick of its tail it swum away.

Meanwhile, Cousteau-cub was taking photos of all of the divers and many of the sights that they were seeing. (Gorse Fox has the photos and may put them up in the future - at the moment he doesn't have a means of accessing them from the iPad)

As always, time seemed to whistle by, and 45 minutes later we were back at the surface.

Bubbles - the sequel

Today Urban-cub and the Gorse Fox are up early. Sonn we'll be off to meet up with Cousteau-cub for a day's diving.

Very exciting.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Excitement

To add a frisson of excitement to today, we started with a trip up to Saladan for some shopping. Not the most picturesque of towns but it had the shops that the Silver Vixen and Urban-cub required.

Back at the villa settled back by the pool to recover from the exertions of the 30km round trip. Cousteau-cub and Coventry Hobbit were working, but Cousteau-cub joined us by mid afternoon and we had a couple of peaceful hours in the pool and then watching another spectacular Thai sunset as it dropped across the Sea
Sunset reflecting on the sea

Urban-cub and Cousteau-cub together

Goodbye to another day



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Trend

The trend continues with a hot day spent by (and in) the pool. Cousteau-cub and Coventry Hobbit were working but were able to join us by mid-afternoon and and hour or so of complete silliness ensued... as they decided that their dogs should join us in the pool.
Certain other people got involved, but will remain anonymous at in case the papers get wind of it. There may however be a clue in the following picture. It appears that even Bruno, the dog, wasa little  flummoxed  by the antics!

After a rather unreal sunset we headed down to Kantiang Restaurant where we grabbed a drink whilst they prepared a huge take-away meal for us.
We went back to Cousteau-cub and Coventry Hobbit's lovely house up the hill in the middle of the rubber plantation and ate the meal, making an early departure as both had to work in the morning.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Clear

The clouds have cleared, and the temperature has climbed to the mid 30s. It has been a lovely day alternating between the pool and listening to the latest audio book.


Cousteau-cub and Coventry Hobbit were working (though not diving) today... but Cousteau-cub came round when she had finished and we watched the sun go down before popping next door for cocktails and a bite to eat.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Overcast

Today was hot, but overcast. A day to sit somewhere that benefited from the breeze. The Gorse Fox propped himself up and donned his earphone to start a new audio-book. We all spent the day with our books or in the case of the Silver Vixen her sewing.

As dusk approached, Cousteau-cub phoned. she and Coventry Hobbit had just got back from their dives. Not a pleasant experience by all accounts as all of the dive masters ended u with clients who were sea-sick... in one case 5 times during the dive! We met up at Diamond Cliff - one of the great viewpoints on the Island - but after the sun had gone down so there was little to see except the residual lightning of a distant storm.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sundowner

We enjoyed the trip to the National Park. We stuck to the main routes, but there is a nature trail of a couple of kilometres... but that winds up through the jungle and would not have been possible for the Silver Vixen.
Heading back to the car we were observed along the way by one of the local monkeys (sorry about the photo, but he only stopped for a moment and the Gorse Fox was using the zoom to try and capture him)

Back at the villa, Cousteau-cub came along to join us and the Coventry Hobbit stopped by on his way through. We sat and chatted as the sun dropped. Coventry Hobbit headed home, but Cousteau-cub joined us in the bar of the Miami for a quiet cocktail and a bite to eat.
 
A traditional sundowner.

Down south

With the Coventry Hobbit diving and Cousteau-cub working in the dive centre, we were left to our own devices. Yesterday's warm wind continued to blow, but did manage to carry with it a good deal of cloud.

Urban-cub, the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox headed south. The lower end of the Island is a National Park, and though we had tried to visit it during our last trip, we had been defeated by the lack of paved road. No such problem this time - a road has been completed all the way to the park. The Gorse Fox would comment that he was glad of the heavy duty 4x4 as the roads are a little challenging.

It's an idyllic spot, crowned by a lighthouse, with views to the east, south and north, and embraced by the jungle and mangrove plantation

It also boasts a stunning south facing beach which was practically deserted.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Windy

Today was still hot, but a steady wind had picked up from the north-east. Cousteau-cub and Coventry Hobbit were diving and the forecast included some rain.

A brief run to the shops ensured we had all the basic requirements and then we settled by the pool. The winds brought some dramatic clouds and a couple of 5 minute downpours, but in general caused no interruption to the idleness.

The impending full moon brought exceptional tides (high and low) and the Gorse Fox strolled down to wander among the rock pools at low tide.
The weather was no impediment to those wanting to use the beach, it's just that, frankly, it appears nobody did.
Cousteau-cub and Coventry Hobbit called early evening to say they had only just got in, after 3 dives today. They were staying put as they were exhausted. Understandably.

The Silver Vixen, Urban-cub and the Gorse Fox strolled next door the Miami Resort and grabbed some dinner there, before sitting at the beach bar and watching the surf in the moonlight.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Armaggedon

Back at the villa, Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit joined us for the afternoon - most of which was spent in the pool.

As the afternoon wore on it looked as if some rain, currently out at sea, might head our way, but the wind veered and the rain headed north leaving a ragged sky that augured well for the sunset.
The Gorse Fox is just amazed by the sight - night after night. He is clearly not alone as he noticed further up the beach, people were setting up chairs to sit and watch the show.

Tonight it was most dramatic - and looked as if Armageddon had begun

Refreshments

At the far end of Old Town is a nice little restaurant we had visited on our last trip. To get to the bar you walk across a causeway that is both elevated on silt and decrepit. At the far end, elevated over the mangrove swamp is an intricate cluster of brick platforms where tables are set out to give the best views of the sound.
It is a charming spot, and even though we only had a soft drink, we were made most welcome.



Old Town

Once up and about and suitably fed we checked in with Cousteau-cub and Coventry Hobbit. We had decided we would visit Lanta Old Town - they decided to stay put and meet up with us later.
Old Town is only 10km from where we are staying but on the opposite side of the Island, over the mountain. It only took a short while to get there, and once parked up, we took a stroll down the Main Street with Urban-cub and the Silver Vixen stopping off at various colourful emporia.
You do see some sights as you wander the roads here. Whole families on a single moped, a moped and sidecar carrying as much as a Transit van, and of course a neighbour doing a favour for a monk!

Special 4

Tad, the celebrant, and a friend of Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit was a very nice chap - and was certainly up for a laugh. The Coventry Hobbit commented that he should have married them in the pool, not the sala.
Next thing we knew, all three of them, Tad, Cousteau-cub, and the Coventry Hobbit were in the pool on rubber rings, repeating the ceremony.
It's a good thing everything dries so quickly as they were all still in their finery.

Soon after, a number of Cousteau-cub's friends turned up to join the celebration and we had a couple of pleasant hours chatting with everyone before the party split up and some drifted away and the rest of us headed up to eat at a favoured restaurant "Red Snapper"
A few of Cousteau-cub's friends.

And there's more - with one, Nick, bearing an uncanny resemblance to to the Silver Vixen's nephew.


Special 3

After the ceremonies we went down onto the beach for some photos against the setting sun.
Cousteau-cub and the Gorse Fox were down there first and took a few photos before everyone else arrived.
Photos were being taken from all angles..
The, so far, unmentioned star of the evening was Urban-cub, who just made everything run smoothly, took the video, managed the guests, poured the champagne, and was a hero.
 


Special 2

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen were called up onto the sala, and the celebrant,Tad, read a lovely blessing that had been prepared by Cousteau-cub.
It was very moving and very meaningful, and an appropriate start to the next 40 years. The Gorse Fox is indeed a very lucky man.

Special

Yesterday was a special day.

Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit turned up mid afternoon and preparations began. Miles of fine white net were cut into sections and draped round the sala. Lanterns were added as accents. Miles of fishing line were used to hang things... and slowly the villa was transformed in readiness for the ceremony

Finally it was time to get changed. Cousteau-cub looked beautiful in her wedding dress. She made the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen very proud.

The celebrant arrived and their rededication began
It was a lovely event in its own right, but then merged on into service for the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Reminiscing

Forty years ago today the Gorse Fox was relaxing at home, reading a John Wyndham novel waiting to get dressed up for the 3pm ceremony. Meanwhile, the Silver Vixen was being rushed here and there, and being ministered to by here coterie of friends and family, being pursued by our own private paparazzo, and trying to get her hair done, makeup done, and get dressed in her wedding dress.

What a day it turned out to be. It really was the start of something special.

Ruby ruby ruby ruby

You are too young.

You don't know what you are doing.

You'll regret it.

It'll never last

Just a few of the comments the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen had when we announced we were getting married. Well today we complete the first 40 years... We weren't too young, we did know what we were doing, the Gorse Fox has never regretted it for an instant, and whilst taking nothing for granted - he's aiming for at least another 40.

The Silver Vixen is the most special person the Gorse Fox has ever had the chance to meet.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Auspicious

As the moon rose over Koh Lanta this evening, it gave a few minutes of contemplation before we continued to potter around.

Earlier

Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit received calls and both now have to dive in the morning, so we cut short the evening at Mook Lanta in order to bring them back and let them get to bed. 

Mook Lanta is a resort run by the Coventry Hobbit's best man and his partner. They are doing a good job refurbishing the guest cabins and ensuring there is a safe, dry walkway between the various parts of the resort (which is effectively built over a swamp).

Back in the villa, by ourselves we sat and watched the slideshow of wedding photos from Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit's big day. Wonderful photos, and exceptional photography.

Flakey

Internet connection very flakey again today.

Quiet day by the pool for the Silver Vixen , Urban-cub and the Gorse Fox, whilst Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit had to work.

Dinner planned at a nearby restaurant where they are showing the Spurs game.

WiFi

It really is becoming  very noticeable how much better the Samsung phone and the Nexus7 are at connecting to and holding weak wifi signals, in comparison to the ipad.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Evening all

In case it hasn't occurred to you, the sun sets early here.  Soon after returning from the shops we were  witness to a wonderful prolonged sunset.

It really is one of the awe-inspiring sights that rarely seems to disappoint.


and whilst the Gorse Fox took a long sequence of shots, he will limit the blog to just these few


By this time the Coventry Hobbit had left, with Bruno the dog loping along beside him, and Cousteau-cub was clearing her stuff and heading home on her moped (with Tyson, the other dog on her lap). We got in the car and headed to Narima.

Narima is the resort where Cousteau-cub often works, and was a regular haunt of ours during our last trip. Though they had a fire earlier in the year, things are virtually back to normal. Certainly, the quality of the food is unimpaired.

Back at the villa, the Internet connection was still not working - much to Urban-cub's disgust as that meant she couldn't Skype with Pistol Pete.