Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not AGAIN!? (or Return of the Bec)

Mmm hmm!

Just when you thought you were well and truly, once and for all, never again to be refuted, properly, utterly, all-encompassingly, snugly, soothingly, ever-so-comfily SAFE from my inane virtual whitters; I am BACK! And I bring glad tidings of the ilk that may well raise the odd whoop from the audience: I no longer feel the need to bang on about plane crashes and tropical-disease induced hospitalisation. (That said, I have since self-edited most of the bleakness until everything since early 2008 has been whittled down to the admittedly meagre offerings that are available to read nearby.) (Twizzle eyes ahoy!)

This is a mini one to say a great big "How do?" to you. To send you warmest wishes from a mid-summer autumnal Britain. To tell you that the world has and will keep on a-spinning regardless (please note: image is for guidance only; time is not to scale), and to remind you that that's no baaayad thang. To say that I've had the biggest most beautiful adventures here, there and everywhere: stars, sunsets and so much besides in Sri Lanka; pho pho pho and bus-beds in Vietnam; lingering and languishing in and around Laos; Chiang Mai with chums and temples; irresistible mixed-bag Malaysian escapades; star tattoos, Surinders and Sentosa times in Singapore; meditation and runnings away on Koh Samui; dipping a little toenail in stifling Delhi; then HOME to lovelies and wedding-time and the wowsome door of King's College London swinging open to greet little me.

Grumble not, little heart.

Welsh Bec does Welsh beaching... Ah!

Yes, corner well and truly turned.

With relief and relish and chutney (BAMPOTS) and pickle and every kind of condiment your wee heart could possibly contemplate wanting,

Britain-based Bec of Britain she is based

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The D Monster!!

Hello petals

Well, here in Colombo there is an autumn of sorts happening! As most of you will know, autumn is my favouritestestest ever ever season and I thought that I would miss it dearly... but Sri Lanka has its own, somewhat tropical version. For one thing, it's considerably cooler than it once was (back in April I was almost baked Bec on toast!) and for another, every day is presenting the most spectacular storms. Absolutely stunning. Sometimes they're right above us and they make the house shake (that's not my most favourite part!), but at others they're distant rumbles, or silent flashes that illuminate the whole sky for a split second - that's what I love.

Lately life has been making me slow down and simplify and, although it was a bit of a painful process at the time, I'm now starting to feel the benefits.

Part One Of the Slow-Down Process
On my second day in Malaysia, at the beginning of a holiday that should have been KL, Melaka, Singapore and then Borneo, I had all of my stuff (with the exception of clothes and toiletries: phew!) stolen on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Two people on a motorbike whisked away my shoulder bag before I had time to say, "Goodness me!"; depriving me of my passport, all cash, all cards, MP3 player, mobile phone, digital camera, watch AND my Lonely Planet Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei! You can imagine the implications of this! (Note to self: split up your valuables and wear your money belt on your person. Fool!) As luck would have it, I had friends in the city who were absolute angels and rescued me! I had a somewhat sedate break in KL and, briefly, Melaka... awaiting my new passport and exploring the country as cheaply as possible!

The Slow-Down Process Part Two
One day I suddenly developed a rather high temperature - the first time in my life that I've felt boiling hot AND freezing cold at the SAME TIME, plus a number of other yummy symptoms. After a hellish night of trying to make myself stand up and go to hospital, I finally made it there in the early hours of a Colombo morning and, da da daaaaa, the dengue monster had got me! Eight days, pain, nausea, rash and far too many needles later, I emerged from hospital and flopped into my own bed to begin the recovery process. Three weeks later (from the onset, that is) I'm still able to do little more than go to work and sleep (although writing this much in one mega writing fit is a definite sign of progress!). I'm sure you see the theme: slooooooooooooooooowing down! Most of the dengue time I wasn't able to read, or look at a TV or computer screen, so there was lots of time to contemplate and just be.

Doing battle with the
dengue demon
Apollo hospital, Colombo

Llch, rugby ball at the ready, making his
contribution to my recovery

Post-hospital confinement within my pink mozzie net...
wondering if the world was still out there

The outcome is that I've made some decisions. How delicious it is to make decisions... especially for someone like me ;) I'm not going to write about them here yet, but suffice to say that I feel great about having made them. The future is looking brighter again... I think I may have created the time and space that I need to finally move on from the last two years. Here's hoping :)

More on that next time... the energy levels are finally giving way. Home for the festivities in a MONTH! Woooooo!

Wishing you health, happiness and an encounter with something thought provoking each, each and every, every day!

x X x

Friday, August 28, 2009

Do you know something?

I think it's time... time to finally fill you in on the story of Bec over the last year or so. It's no novel - parts of it still make absolutely no sense, but that's why we sit down with a book rather than watch our own lives the whole time: reality is less structured. But it's real. So here we go... Bec the book:

It started with a bump

The last blog post I wrote before this episode of the story began was December 22nd 2007. What followed was a jovial, festive, sparkly Beijing Christmas, made all the jollier by the fact that I was to fly home for a mid-year visit the next month (Chinese new year holiday). On January 17th 2008, I sat in Beijing airport and wrote the following on the first page of a brand-new, funkily arty Chinese A4 diary scrapbook:

在飞机场 (at the airport)

Airports are good places to begin. Not only because they afford time for beginning, but because every journey necessitates the start of more than itself - as it does the ending. This book, at its beginning, is dedicated to being whatever it wants to be. Its purpose and format are neither preordained nor fixed, but I anticipate that it is going to record, perhaps unreliably, and probably sporadically, a very interesting and transformational year. A year in which structure develops

I didn't finish the sentence because something or other interrupted my train of thought... it transpires that the timing was perfect. Little did I know the extent to which those words would prove true, or how far from my expectations the definitions of 'interesting' and 'transformational' would turn out to be.

I had one of those great seats on the plane, right next to the door with all the space a Bec's legs could want. Ever since I was old enough to really know that I'm able to die, I haven't been overly fond of flights. That said, I lived in China for three years, so the fear was clearly manageable. Anyway, this flight was a smooth one with a friendly, communicative captain (which always reassured me for some reason...)

Here we are making our descent to Heathrow:

Of course, the plane is far, far, far too close to the house below it because at this point both engines had stopped responding and there was not enough power to make the runway. We were dropping from the sky towards a busy London road and I, ensconced in my deliciously leg-roomy yet windowless seat, had no idea.

We just made it over the perimeter fence before slamming into grass the other side and skidding towards the end of a runway... there was the bump to end all bumps and the crack of my top teeth slamming into my bottom teeth and then... nothing... haziness... snippets of recollection but little else: a man running from another section, desperately wanting to get off the plane; the firm, well-projected voice of a member of cabin crew taking control; jumping onto the emergency chute and wondering why I wasn't going anywhere; running across the runway and answering an, "Are you okay?" with an, "I don't know!"; starting to cry then being too shocked to continue; the kindness of other passengers: the man who gave me his (ankle-length!) emergency jacket, another who offered the use of his mobile phone (from which I forewarned Ma who was waiting in Terminal 4 for a flight that had frozen in the information board world), and the girl who pointed out the wheels of the plane lying in a far-off field and made me laugh with jokes about Chinese hats; using accumulated loose change at a pay phone to send my mother on a parent-hunting mission for a fellow passenger... to tell them he was safe and unharmed; the nun in the secluded section of the airport where we spent many hours, speaking to me with warmth and sincerity; free Pret A Manger sandwiches accompanied by exhaustion and a desperation to see my family; inarticulately answering question after question; waiting; feeling dazed; wondering which way up I was.

You see, my seat was in the space between the third door and window where there is no window. The chute I tried to slide down was the incredibly on the wonk affair behind the wing - is it any wonder I wasn't going anywhere?

Wheels of the British Airways Boeing 777 were found in a field close to the crash

The wheels of the plane in a field over yonder.

The crashed British Airways Boeing 777 plane at Heathrow airport

The scene of my dramatic, non-slidey escape.

These men, Peter Burkill and John Coward, saved my life. It's thanks to their skill and presence of mind that I stood and walked off flight BA38. Yes, they were doing a job, but they did it so well that day that 152 people danced with death and came out the other side. Besides which, they are the ones who faced the ordeal that we, in our blissful ignorance, were spared. The word gratitude has a new depth and significance in my vocabulary.

Why is this the start of the story of Bec? Because everything changed on that day. Everything. Why am I writing it now? Because I am finally ready to admit to it.

More next time my lovelies. Be well and be careful and don't give up. Remember: for better or worse, no experience lasts for ever. Much love, Bec x

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There was a time...

when life was slower. When a day lasted twice as long as it does these days. When there was time to plan the future and it seemed as if far-off dates would never arrive. When some days, although good, were fairly inconsequential... unremarkable...

Life is unrecognisable when compared to what it was, and I don't think it really has anything to do with where I'm located on the globe. Issues of life and death which were once too huge and too far-removed to be tackled, push their way into the comfortable routine of existence, stepping on the toes of the familiar figures in everyday life. Death is not something to be faced one day, it is a constant companion to those who are alive. Where there is life, there's the promise of death. It's the old two-sided coin; night and day; main course and dessert. One inevitably goes with the other: they are inseparable, although who knows which is which? The challenge now is to accommodate this truth within the confines of a 'normal' life. To be neither too hedonistic nor morbid as a result, yet achieve a degree of awareness. To keep plodding through a story that we are only permitted to know a tiny part of: the gap between the end and the epilogue, which is devoid of words.

Yet again, there is much to tell, but now is not the time to tell it. I will squish a little update in here, however:

I'm in Sri Lanka! It's rather incredible.

More on that later, I'm all typed out.

Be well, and if you're not, be honest. Let's look after each other in any way we can.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Momentary moment moment moment moment

Well, hello! Look who it is: me!

So, realising that it's been ALMOST A YEAR since I last wrote, I was on the verge of starting a whole new blog... I actually went as far as signing up for it and writing the first post... but then I realised that I was doing that exact thing that I've come to realise makes no sense: COMPARTMENTALISING!! This has truly been a year of realisations - the kind that make life itself look so very different, it's as if someone has switched channel without telling you. Yes, anyway, what I've realised about compartmentalising life is that:

a) Calling a marshmallow a mushroom does not change the essence of the marshmallow. It can be called a mushroom if you insist, but when I eat it (which I inevitably will), it's still going to taste like a marshmallow.

b) People like stories. Deep down, somewhere where intellect doesn't impinge on intuition, we are all narrating our own.

c) Our stories are composed of miniscule chapters. Teeny weeny incy wincy chapters, so small that they flow together to create a seemingly seamless whole. In case you didn't realise, that's good news. It means that this very mini moment is the one when you can make that new start you've been planning :D

Mm hmm, so basically I concluded that I should persevere with this blog. And here I am.

To say that this year has been eventful would be an understatement so great that I couldn't even do justice to it via some incredibly ingenious comparison. Let's just say it's been MOST eventful, and leave it at that.

I know you've only come to snoop at my photos, so I'll gratify the effort you made walking over here by sticking up a few from the last year. Be warned, however: I have much to say. I suspect I'm going to write about things that I had no intention of writing about, because finally I see that this year has been awful and wonderful, and weird and enlightening, and scary and exciting, and so many other things beside... and I have always taken refuge in writing: it organises my chaotic thoughts.

So welcome, friends old and new, to peek at my snapshots, skim-read my stories and wonder what on earth I am. I do hope you are happy. I hope you are warm, well-fed and within a few pace's distance of something wonderful to read. But, even if you can't tick all of the above, I hope you have peace.

Me and marvellous Martha do Korean dinner with Ma and Mike (Beijing)

My darlingest sibling on early-morning stroll to whooshy waterfall (Waterfall, Wales)

Tusk-brushing sesh with lovely Jin (Beijing)

Wondering whether I'm about to meet a watery end (Devon)

Bec the leaf (Westonbirt Aboretum)

In my other role: promoter of dumplings (Beijing)

With cold feet, happy heart and Sarah (Sandymouth, Devon)

Mart demonstrates the in-tent schnuggle (Forest of Dean)

The Buddha demonstrates the in-tent peace (The FOREST!)

Mim and Mart do breakfast at Mim's: many yums! (Pembrokeshire)

Bec overboard! (Near Mim's)

Waiting for our clothes to Dry (Launderette int' Forest)

The world beneath my knees (Mim land)

The intricacies of tortoise care (Swansea)

Giving my forehead its annual airing (Mim's beach!)

Wishing I could wrap the WHOLE WORLD in a snuggly pink towel (Swansea)

More when I can manage it!

For now, much love,


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Twinkly sparkly festive time!!

Heya gingerbread folk!

Yes, jolly Crimbly time is upon us once more, and to celebrate I've been teaching lessons with a festive theme and having yuleish adventures around Beijing! I'm going to be teaching on Christmas Day, but only until 10am, at which point the Crimbo lounging and gorging shall commence! I've just purchased some apple cinnamon tea, so I really couldn't be feeling anymore festive this far away from home.

Here I've captured a few of our recent pre-Crimbo antics:

Miss Sarah Marsh and her pals the baubles.

Me inspecting a plastic crab at the Christmas market.

Bonding with the baubles.

Now for two little videos that I made (filmmaker extraordinaire that I am!):

Yes, this is the rather splendid Kempinski Hotel, which has the HUGEST EVER Crimbly tree in its lobby! We popped to the deli for coffee and nibbles before venturing out in search of Sarah's Christmas tree.

I am emitting a somewhat witchlike cackle in this one because Sarah had already been endeavouring to open yonder box of tea for quite some time!!! Oh ho ho ho!!

Erm... I'm not sure whether these are actually going to be watchable, or if they simply spend forever buffering! We still can't access Blogger blogs from here so I am, as ever, unable to actually see my own blog!

Either way, I wish you and yours the most wonderful Christmas yet! This time next year I shall be home and near you all, but until then: let the festivities commence!!!!!!

Do, do, do enjoy! Much Crimbo love,

Beijing Bec x x x

Monday, December 10, 2007

MONDAY AGAIN?????????!!!!!!!!!!

Tee hee... oops! It seems that a WHOLE week has passed since I last wrote. My 'Week in the Life' didn't go quite as planned! Not to worry! I'm going to give you recent highlights instead...

How are you lovely people? Feeling festive I hope! I'm in reasonably festive spirits, aided by the fact that I stepped outside into a snowy winter wonderland this morning! Woo!

I've received some Christmas parcels over the last week or so! I'm soooooooo lucky and spoilt: thanks to everyone who's sent Christmas gifts, cards, wishes or thoughts (yes, I'm psychic as well as forgetful ;))

Here are a few snaps from quiz night at Lush (cafe/bar) last Wednesday:

Sarah and I in wondering mode.

Our team 'The Twittering Sparrows' (Sarah M, yours truly, John A (my next door neighbour) and Jarod Z (my film watching buddy)) posing with answer sheet.

The world is prettier when viewed through a cocktail (and they have buy 2 get 1 free from 8-10pm!)

Me pretending that I may actually know the answer to a question.

All quizzed out!

John's mojito gave more assistance in question answering than the combined efforts of his three teammates!

Mr Zhang enjoying the quiztastic experience.

Brain strain.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeee! We did pretty well (5th out of 20 I believe), but sadly left without the first prize (a bottle of Jack!)