Moments.

There are moments in my life that I will always remember.

My brothers and I playing in the park as children.

Walking to school with my mum, holding her hand, chatting and singing.

The day I first saw Ed.

The day I got married.

When my daughter was first passed to me wearing a hat.

and that moment, when I came home, blissfully happy after being at a friends house all day, 7 months pregnant, huge, happy and in need of sleep. That moment, alone when I saw the email, when I opened it…

and saw; visa rejected.

The strength left my body, I fell to my knees and moaned a guttural cry, the heartbreaking pain seared through me. I held my stomach, my baby and the prospect of bringing her into this world alone. That moment crippled me.

I sobbed.

My husband rushed home, picked me up off the floor and looked so incredibly sad.

Yet we were the lucky ones, we had time to reapply to the home office, even though it meant I had to wobble over the Thai/Cambodian border to extend my visa for the extra 2 weeks in Bangkok.

It resulted in costs of over £1,000 and all for a 6 month tourist visa to the UK, so my husband could be there to hold my hand and see the birth of our daughter.

Here I am exactly 2 years later, alone. Experiencing more moments.

Like the moment I found out mum has breast cancer.

The moment we decided I should move back to England, with my daughter, to be with mum and without my husband.

A moment I never expected. A decision I should not have to make, between my precious mum and my dear husband. More on that here

I am sorry darling daughter that you now see Papa on the phone, I miss him, I miss our little family together, I miss seeing you play with papa and going on adventures to chat up the neighborhood. I am trying so damn hard baby girl and using every, single ounce of my strength to hold onto love, faith, hope and a future with us all together defying the odds.

I just hope it will be ok and although I have no idea of the next moment when we will see daddy.

That moment will come.

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Pure Love

 

 

 

The price of Love

On Monday I had decided to stop checking Facebook everyday as it is distracting me from my studies, but this week it exploded with pages I follow and the impending verdict from the Supreme court ruling on the minimum income requirement for a non EU spouse.

Read more here

Wednesday I found out Buzzfeed wanted to interview me to appear online and BBC 5 live would like to feature me talking about the verdict. To say I felt overwhelmed and nervous was an understatement.

So I appeared on Buzzfeed with Eddie on our wedding day looking blissfully happy, I really was. My face ached from smiling that day, I was on the island with my friends who had all brought a dish, I had H&M dress that I bought with mum for a tenner that hid my growing belly and Eddie was my husband. I was and still am completely and utterly in love with him.

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He is from Thailand

I am British

Had I any idea of how hard it would be for us to have the freedom of both countries, none whatsoever, as do most people I talk to. Yes he is my husband but he has no rights to be a family with us in the UK unless I earn £18,600.

This is not a problem for me fortunately being a Londoner although according to the facts, there are estimated to be over 41% of the working population who would not be able to meet this threshold.

I mentioned this on the radio, but what I didn’t mention was that there are other ways to get home.

  1. £64,000 in savings we could ‘buy’ a spouse visa. So if we were rich then Eddie’s foreigner status would be ok. Smell a Tory government much?
  2. I could use my salary here for 6 months pro rata- although I have a shortfall or £3,000 a year. So we need £16,00 in savings to make up that £3,000 but wait there’s more, there exists a really great calculator that someone dreamed up of how to work out my salary here and the shortfall which would mean we actually need £23,500 yep £23,500 to make up the £3,000 and I would need a contract of work upon touchdown in Heathrow.

What I did mention was after an emergency C section I was unable to go back to work without my husband as he had to leave when our daughter was 3 months old. I remember that day vividly, standing by the kitchen sink holding onto the side for support as my world crashed around me. I knew that pain well as I had it previously kneeling clutching my bump when Eddie’s first visa was refused, I was 7 months pregnant. We had been refused on the basis of not having an itinerary, to have a baby… (I’ll just leave that there)

I feel punished by my country and yet I still feel desperate to be back there, something about becoming a mother, wanting to be with my mother drinking a cup of tea in Holland park. Some may wonder why I don’t just put the babe into childcare, get the job and get on with it, because I want my daughter to be taken care of by either me, my husband or her nanna.

Emma Barnett asked me on the radio (1:40 minutes in) about chain immigration, a term I was not familiar with and if I had been my reply would have been something along the lines of hahahahaha (laughing) Eddie’s parents are both deceased, sadly and his brothers run successful businesses with families in Thailand with no desire for a UK visa. So that squashes that idea Emma.

So I will do my best to find a job for £18,600 so that we are in no way a burden to the UK taxpayer GOD FORBID (even though I still pay voluntary NI contributions and have done the 5 years I lived in Thailand) My husband does not want benefits either, but he has no access to them for 5 years anyway on a spouse visa. These are all facts that get ushered under the carpet (he cannot access public funds) so the public are happy there are no more immigrants taking their precious tax money. There is good new tax payers of England as a family we will spend about £7,198.29 to the Home Office during the years to get Ed a visa. Yey.

We are still left as family wondering how will we manage and facing a separation, the home office wants 6 months of payslips and then with processing time and Eddie’s English test looks like we’ll be apart a year if I’m realistic. This is why many women are staying in Thailand and hoping for a change.

Lastly can I mention how much I am enjoying the pressure of all of this. That it doesn’t keep me awake at night at all, add to my homesickness as we have 0 freedom, shape decisions that we make and leaves me feeling utterly miserable and disheartened, not one little bit.

More on Buzzfeed about my reaction

Confession of a mum

I’ve become one of those mums who just looks exhausted all the time.

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When people get on a flight near me they roll their eyes and I don’t blame them as I try to wrestle my 17 month old onto her seatbelt and she pushes against the seat in front and open/closes the tray table 11 billion times over an hour.

I admit I am one of those parents who destroys restaurants*, lets their kid throw stuff on the floor, play with ice cubes and straws inevitably leaving a shit storm of a mess and only because it gave a 10 minute window to eat and have a 2 way conversation, with real time replies.

I am one of those mums that finds stones and gravel in her bag for days, because it kept the child happy to sit and play with rocks so mummy could hold down an adult conversation (in a really fancy Bangkok garden restaurant)

One of those mums who looks through narrow eyes when single people complain their tired… Mummy hasn’t slept for a year and a half for longer than 3 hours and you can go home and have a  nap!

One of those mums who looks embarrassed and fatigued when the child postrates herself on the floor of the mall because she’d rather walk in the opposite direction (always the opposite direction)

A mummy who bribes daughter with biscuits in the shopping trolley so she can shop in relative peace or on the off chance daddy takes beloved baby to the motorized toys at the mall, mummy gets to walk down the supermarket aisles alone, ALONE and it feels so good. Then the realisation that this is now living the good life hits and mummy heads to the wine shelves.

The constant bath times
Meal times
Nappy changes
Boobing sessions
Singing
Reading
Negotiating

But mummy is ok, because she is madly in love. Astounded by the precious life of her daughter, how she grows, smiles, giggles, babbles and brings so much heart bursting joy to her parents life.

*Apologies to all the waitresses, I was once like you and I know it’s a pain in the butt picking up all the crap and unmixing the salt and pepper but its also a lot easier to sweep the floor with 2 hands and it means mummy can go home and not have to worry about washing up, again.

The holy grail of Thai cooking

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I did it, I cooked REAL Southern Thai food.

I was getting moderately put out by a certain person’s comments that “you have to really understand” to cook “It’s not easy” and getting demonstrations of how to stir food in a pan. Like Thai cooking was this fabled, unreachable golden crest of cooking.

I’m always up for a challenge and have recently become OBSESSED with sataw or what are ‘un’kindly referred to a stink beans. I bloody love ’em!

Sataw and the dry, spicier then chillies on the sun curry called Khua Kling. Hubby now knows if they are selling it at the local restaurant to buy two bags one for lunch and one for dinner. So thanks to the absolute legend’s on Mama Ferang’s group I found a recipe, I laminated it because that seemed sensible, I watched the demo on Youtube and last night I made it.

It was absolutely great and quite spicy.

Today I kid you not hubby was trying to keep the leftovers away from me at lunch so he could eat them!

The best part about this story as it is not a food post, I will not be taking beautiful pictures of food and showing how I made it because I have a small person who clings to my legs while cooking and most of the time I’m not fussed. Curry is cheap here. The best part is all  the ingredients (except the meat) we picked up outside our door!

We got lemongrass, Kaffir Lime leaves and Chillies just on the street while chatting to a neighbour who keeps chickens and started shoving leaves in my mouth to try.

We also picked up Basil leaves to calm the spice, a star fruit which we have no idea what to do with and a rose because it smelled good!

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The recipe recommended 3 tablespoons of curry paste and thank the curry Gods I only used 2 because this is proper made in Nakhon si Thammarat paste that would take the enamel off your teeth!

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The recipe was very thin sliced lemongrass, kaffir leaves and chilli. Fry the paste, add the meat and bits while choking on the fumes and sneezing a lot. Done. We ate with rice and sataw and some egg fried with random green leaves that hubby made. Next week I plan to make Tom Yum soup because why not go from making the simplest curry to the most complicated, 50 ingredients soup ever.

Please feel free to mention any of your favourite Thai foods and I will try and make them, because I will never admit defeat!

Link to the recipe

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Written in the air

Another post about travelling with a baby, which will certainly be a theme in her life.

Over the years I’ve travelled a lot, being a nanny in the states saw that at a young age I flew around the globe, always keen on the adventure and unknown. That feeling hasn’t subsided as I get older and in those ‘odd’ moments I’m glad of the life choices I have made. Living in a foreign country and out of my comfort zone regularly.

Flying has become a new challenge though, gone are the days of sipping a latte and browsing the duty free, squirting on lovely fragrances and scanning the really expensive, will never afford or want designer shops while waiting to board.

Hello days of trying to wrestle my laptop out of my carry on with a baby hanging in the sling, really, really fast too (argh) then removing the baby while I get frisked manually hoping the security guard doesn’t feel my post pregnancy extra bits while worrying my little adventurer won’t wonder of somewhere, which she does a lot! Carrying a multitude of bags full of clothes, spare clothes, muslins, food, extra food, water, wipes, more wipes, extra wipes, blankets, toys and books. Checking nappies constantly with the worry of  sitting with a poo for the duration of take off and not forgetting the where’s; where are our passports, boarding passes, phone, clothes, spare clothes, muslins, food, extra food, water, wipes, more wipes, extra wipes, blankets, toys and books.

Yet here I am at 3pm in the afternoon with my feet up, thanks to the extra room in the bulkhead seats. I’m slowly working through a really good mini bottle of Chilean cabernet savingon and right now loving British airways. It could be my tipsy state as I no longer drink, partly because I’m a lightweight, I also worry about hangovers with an energetic year old, also Breastfeeding but truthfully it’s because the wine in Thailand is shit.

BA have bouncy style seats that prop up on the bassinet platforms and which currently my sleeping princess is very content with. She even transitioned fast asleep from boob to seat, which deserved a little dance. I’ve been fed and managed to eat the resemblance of a veggie lasagne as she sat happily sucking on broccoli.

The staff have been so super lovely, friendly and helpful I want to give them a hug. Here’s the thing though I long for sleep constantly but I can’t switch off, I have nothing to so but sit here. Doze and drink wine, make plans for our visit home. I can’t remember the last time I just sat like this.

Fast forward a few hours and baby awoke and very active, running up and down the aisle which I know some folk did not appreciate. Unaware that if I tried to restrain her in a seated position she would flip her little lid. Then to the moment my bubble burst: BA have a new CEO who has banned inflight snacks! If I had known I would’ve done a 7/11 stock up instead I found myself at dinner time paying £3.20 for malteasers. It was that or Pringles AND they weren’t even real English chocolate they were that drier, crusty tasting chocolate you get in Thailand. BA total ******s.

Luckily (in an ironic tone) my mum being Irish forced a full roast chicken dinner in me at  3am Thai time, I’m glad to be home.

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My blog has been quiet…

A full time job, trying to be a good and present mum, moving house (being screwed out of money, well this is Thailand) and some visa stress mixed in my little pot had me running for cover. Homesickness has been gnawing at me until I booked a flight home…19 days and counting. Hubby can’t come as obviously that would mean gigantic PILES of paperwork.

On the bright side in my small world here in nowhere for mums Nakhon,  I created the Mama Ferang closed group on Facebook. It’s closed so the women on it can be private in their thoughts, rants and advice. A space for only women who are with a Thai man as we are a special (patient) lot.

I have not yet managed to lure another mum to come and live here yet, working on that.

So far the group now with nearly 50 members has proved to be a fantastic hub of sharing, caring and had me laughing a lot!

There we were thinking we were alone with our crazy lost in translation moments when asked for a towel but really mean a tissue or commanded to “hold this” and mean the plastic bag not the baby, so plastic bag drops and the jar of pesto inside leaves this world. True story. Sad day. The hours we all spend daydreaming as we have no clue what is being said amongst groups speaking faster than lightning Thai and sharing stories about the interfering strangers and in laws with their ‘moments’ in their masses as everyone is a family member here!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/mamaferangclosedgroup

It takes a village and even if at the moment it’s all online for me, I’m glad to have found these other women to call my community.

Here are my TOP TIPS to parenting in Thailand:

  • Don’t ever let one drop of rain fall on your child’s head. 

. If they become sick it’s because of the rain, air conditioner or swimming, not because of the presence of a virus or bacteria which they may have picked up from another child.

. If they have symptoms of a common cold or cough bring them to hospital.

. Once in hopsital before you do anything take at least 3 or 4 selfies and then pictures of your ‘sick’ child.

  • Feed them mush and constantly clean their mouths, let no food fall.

. Even if they can hold food and enjoy feeding themselves with their hands do not let them do this, they will choke.

. Never give them anything to eat larger than a pea.

. Constantly make yum sounds as you try to get food in their mouth and repeat ‘you are so strong’ at every single mouthful.

  • Tell them to never cry

. Encourage them to be strong and not cry even of they have fallen from a great height and and knocked out their front teeth, with a fat lip, expect NO TEARS!

. If their nose is bleeding also tell them not to cry and put cold water on their head.

. Repeat ‘you are strong’

  • Call your child a beautiful, meaningful name and then give them a ridiculous nickname* such as:

Pizza or pasta

Boss or Deal

Big or Fat

James Bond, Google, Data, Beta or Omega

Disney, IQ, Newton

French Fry

“Met a coffeemate once”

“Brothers named Champagne and Wallpaper”

“We have Iphone in the family”

“Donut gets me every time”

“Use to teach a Pancake”

“Personal favorites are brothers Donut, Donight, and their sister Doneet”

“In one class I have a Sky, Sprite, and Sugar”

Nymph or Paint

Pee and Poo or Big Poo

Bank and Beer

Warm and Mean

Yurin and PP

When translated from Thai; White Tooth, Frog, Smells Nice

“Ultra is obviously #1”

*These are all REAL nicknames with thanks to all my contributors, you had me in stitches!

 

 

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First night out

Last night for the first time in one whole year I went out.

I slapped makeup on which included lots of eyeliner, I wore really big earrings that I haven’t been able to in case my earlobes get yanked off, I fit into my favourite red skirt but had to change out of my old black vest as I couldn’t inhale, I prayed baby would settle and she did, I proceeded to do a little dance around our bedroom then had a pre drink with a work colleague/friend . I am 14 years her senior, but we get on great thanks to our shared English humour and there we were drinking Spy wine coolers (my new favourite tipple, it’s wine but it’s not so 0 guilt) We then whizzed on her moped to a bar in the city.

There I was and never had I imagined I would be, drinking in a bar in Nakhon si Thammarat. Weird, as it was always just a place we visited husband’s family, very Thai, very rural and this bar could’ve been back home for the lack of Thai people, but I was happy. I drank crap red ‘Mont Clair’ wine for those who know and fondly refer to it as mount shit wine.

I spoke about yoga and got bored of the usual conversations where I think people want me to convince them to come to yoga*. Come, don’t come, it’s all yoga anyway…I managed some small talk which I was anxious I would be out of practise with. I shared drunken stories and then had a moment; hang on, what am I on about? I’ve grown and birthed a human and although I’m doing my best to talk about others things, to not be the boring mum who only talks about her incredible little girl, I wanted to tell everyone I met.

I had fun, the shit mountain wine went down well with some lovely company but I was  happy to go at 11pm, I got excited and with good reason. As I climb into bed with the two loves of my life I feel completely content, I breastfeed one as I talk to the other about going out in his hometown, then my little girl gifted me with 4 hours of straight sleep. Winning!

 

 

* Yoga is a great way to feel calm, to awaken and stretch tired, overused or tight muscles, by releasing these muscles we release built up tension that could have been caused by a physical element or an emotional reaction. The physical posture practise or asanas is only 1/8 of the 8 limbs yoga which also include meditation practise, detoxifying and importantly how we live our lives. So it’s an all encompassing practise of living. This is why there doesn’t exist good and bad in the practise of yoga and why you really should come to one of my classes 😉

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