Monthly Archives: April 2010


Sweet Madeleines

It’s a wonderful thing, being a child. Who would have thought a palm tree could have provided pretty much an entire day’s amusement? Scaling it. Monkey-climbing it. Swinging from it. Jumping from it. Building fires under it… I had planned to leave Port Barton today, which, given we hadn’t planned on being here in the […]


Maritime Woes

There are many things unique and wonderful about the Philippines. But the boatmen here are phenomenal in many of the wrong ways. Right now, sat in utter serenity on a perfect crescent of a beach (me) and scaling a coconut palm (Z), the various unpleasantnesses of the morning feel like serendipity in action. All the […]


Here Comes the Rain…

View of the beach, Sabang, Palawan, Philippines

Maybe it’s El Nino. Maybe it’s climate change. Maybe we’ve brought the English summer with us. But it feels like the rains have come early this year. And Z is overjoyed. We walked to the Puerto Princesa underground river yesterday — supposedly the world’s longest navigable river — under heavy skies and dripping leaves. And […]


Desert Island Caveboy

Even with my spawn noisily constructing a hand-axe from fossil coral and driftwood and a six-year-old channelling his inner T-Rex, there’s something about caves that speak irresistibly of mortality. More than 200 limestone caverns burrow deep into the rock of Lipuun Point, a protected peninsula of mangroves and scrubby dipterocarp forests half an hour’s boat […]


Short Trousers…

Me from behind, walking through coconut forest, Mariquit, Palawan, Philippines

Why is it that someone capable of the Wildean (or Timmy Timpson-esque) remark — “I’ve just been stung by an aquatic delicacy; I am hardly in the mood for seafood?” –- is reduced to howling, “Noooo, mum, seriously, please don’t! Please! Don’t do it!” when I attempt to buy a pair of shorts? I’ve posted […]


Light Effects


We were in Tabon, last week, in the south of Palawan, where the sunsets are amazing. But this, I have to say, I have never seen. These flattened cones, in a very intense blue, like rays of a cartoon sun in negative, appeared from behind the islands in the bay, and scattered across the sky […]


Unschooling Rocks!

Drawing of the troll battle in Artemis Fowl

Well, I am quite childishly excited today. This unschooling approach has really worked wonders! Parents, grandparents and a never-ending stream of teachers have sweated blood and tears trying to get my (epically) reluctant writer to put pen to paper for more than two seconds at a time. So I almost fell off my chair when […]


Calamansi Butter


So these little fellas are calamansi, Filipino style, tiny, spherical citrus fruit which experts believe originated as a cross between a mandarin and a lime. They are, along with ube (purple yam), probably one of the defining flavours of the Philippines. What makes the Filipino calamansi (or kalamansi) so fantastic is the absence of bitterness. […]


Butterflies and Mimosa


I’ve always been a fan of provincial museums. Which probably comes from growing up in an era when the Thomas the Tank Engine road show meant one man, a trainset, some photos and some index cards, hammered out on the kind of manual typewriter which takes the circle out of the O, rather than today’s […]


Back to the Jungle?


Who needs a playground when you have a jungle swing? This is Z, swinging on a vine, on his way to Kbal Spean, Cambodia. One of the amazing things I think we’ve learnt while travelling is the simplest, most natural pleasures are often the best. From geckos and puppies to pondskaters and angel fish, the […]