.... having had lots of great visitors, been to new places and experienced and seen so much more, it's time to sit down and summarise some of it in the blog.
19.02.2011 - 17.08.2011
I'm writing this on 17 August. It's past high summer but, even so, today the temperature is around 32 and humidity is OK. At least you don't need to wipe the moisture from one's top lip every few moments. Nice! Mangoes are in season here in the north and we have several trees in the garden so I made (even though I say it myself) rather nice ice cream. Our garden is amazing with its fruit trees - mangoes, kumquat, coconut, pomelo, star fruit, sapodilla and chilli plants and all bear masses of fruit. The vine going up the house had lots of bunches of tiny grapes so "Anh from next door" has picked them all and busy making wine. I think it should really be called "happy" or "fire" water! Lotus flowers are in full bloom although once cut and in this heat and humidity, they only last 24 hours.
My lack of writing up anything here is really because we've been busy.
I should really give an update on all our visitors so far to Hanoi and we have most of October and November booked too! We've had so many visitors since we got back from Australia in the middle of February: the Jennings, my parents, the Baileys, Brian, Anna, 3 generations of the same family converging on us from Western Australia and France.
My parents walking in Sapa with Mai, our guide, and two friends.
Three of the Cookes came out from Buckinghamshire as they made their way around half of SE Asia and Alys had her 21st birthday here in Hanoi. Larissa came in July for a few nights before heading off Thailand and then back to reality and first day in the first job! Good luck, Larissa! Our youngest, Peter, arrived for a few nights late July before he and friends head off around Vietnam and Cambodia. Brother in law Peter, Sam and Daisy came for 10 days and we had such a fun time. Hanoi, Mai Chau and then down to Hoi An: more on those later but they really felt they saw so many different aspects of Vietnam. We did overlap in Hoi An; not every lad wants his mummy to keep popping up but they all seemed OK about it and we did buy them dinner: then Nick happened to be in Saigon as Peter arrived on the overnight bus from Da Lat so breakfast was on Dad!
Daisy, looking every bit a Vietnamese in the warm rain!
The Cloughs beds weren't cold when Lette, Jess and Anna arrived, courtesy of The Link. A long story and very tenuous connections but they arrived, spent a night here, caused some chaos, were very entertaining and good fun. The house was very quiet after everyone had left but I had day trip to Laos to look forward to as I had to leave the country to renew my visa
(have to go back....)
and then a long weekend down in Da Nang. Well, all these places have to be visited........
It's truly so good having people to stay. As we so enjoy living out here, taking people around Hanoi or suggesting places they might like to visit is certainly no chore. Each visitor sees Hanoi and Vietnam, or elements therein, in a slightly different way and that, in turn, makes us look again at things which we may now have become accustomed too. And some great memories with each.
We've both been back to England for a holiday in May - Nick didn't make Phillip and Gina's wedding (I had a wonderful day) but he did manage to get out of Hanoi to go on his annual cycling tour - this year around the west coast of Scotland. Nick cycles here in Hanoi three early mornings a week but life on the road in Scotland is somewhat different to Vietnam.
Nick (R) and Brian on our way to the cham temples at Son My, Hoi An.
In June we went away a couple of times including down to Cua Lo, on the north central Vietnamese coast and more on that later. I also went to Lisbon for Alexander's happy wedding.
In between all the visitors: we've had weekends away; explored Hanoi more on our own; Nick's been working on the project and cycling and playing tennis; I've been helping to teach English at the Will to Live Centre and had some sessions teaching children in the same community. Life's fun!
Peter gets back from his travels next week and Laura and Ed (and Jules from Brisbane) arrive together on the Monday - all for 10 days. Hurrah. All of us together for the first time in a year. It's far too long for us all to spend time as a family but that's how it is and we shall enjoy every moment. Blog details and photos to follow especially as we are heading up to Ha Giang, by the Chinese border, and hiriing motorbikes and setting off with a mechanic....
Ha Giang sure won't look like this......