Archive for January, 2016

Thai Days: The privileged world of Thailand’s supernatural dolls – BBC News

January 30, 2016

Hugh Paxton’s Blog verdict: Downright peculiar!

Subject: The privileged world of Thailand’s supernatural dolls – BBC News

Myanmar: Today’s photos

January 27, 2016

Some photos just in from my beloved wife. Hugh Paxton’s blog has attempted to capture mud flats in all their grandeur and has failed. As usual (tiresome isn’t it?) my wife has made mud flats mean, moody and magnificent!

Cheers from Bangkok!


Thai Days: Where do yout take your husband and 12-yearold daughter out to dinner when they’ve seen it all?

January 25, 2016

Somewhere they can’t see anything! My esteemed wife’s idea! Brilliant!

A restaurant that is completely without light, with a four course dinner served by blind people.

Hugh Paxton’s Blog began to panic! A four course dinner that includes soup! Wine! Water! Heaps of constantly changing cutlery. My ungainly elbows? My daughter? My wife? Me. Arggh! Complete loss of control!

That’s the point. You focus on not seeing anything.

You don’t choose what you eat, you select from a choice of set courses decided by the chef. Asian, European, Vegetarian, Chef’s Surprise. No further details supplied (apart from questions about food allergies). Annabel said she could eat anything, Midi and I said the same. Annabel opted for West, Midi and I for the Surprise!

No cheating, no lights in pockets, and we promised. I expected muted candles. Our most enigmatic waitress, “Moo,” graciously led us in and away.

When I say completely without light I am not fibbing. Our waitress was indeed called ‘Moo’ and if she had invisible helpers they were equally invisible. They were probably called Khao. That would have given us moocows.

The whole dinner was an initial constant case of where the h*ll? is my soup spoon? And what is this? And I’m getting the hang of this, go left, you’ll hit a cold face towel, inch up and you’ll hit a fork with something on it – I’m passing it to you slowly. Hey, I AM getting the hang of this!

The great thing about this whole experience is that, after touchy, feely instructions from Moo, you have to eat the meal by yourself. No ghostly hand helps you sip soup. Moo explains your navigation techniques course by course and accoutrement by accoutrement. Disasters are yours and yours alone. Any hands you wish to use to grab something slippery or small are unnoticed.

If you wish to try a sip of each other’s wine it involves careful and useful movements. The way my wife’s hand and mine reached out through the ink pitch and made final connection still sends a jolt through my spine. It was like the first hand contact made so many years ago only with one key difference. I wanted to try her Merlot. And she wanted my Chardonnay. And I was a bit concerned that I’d eaten her breadstick. My beloved daughter, Annabel, on the Dark Side of the Moon was still saying things like “This is a Pringle!”

I hope the chef wasn’t listening.

“He’s French! Isn’t deaf!”

The conversation shifts from the normal (never really been a problem in our family) to the Tales of the Unexpected : Annabel: “Do you think we are being watched?” “That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard!” “They’re blind!” “But that doesn’t mean they don’t know where you are!”

“This is tofu!” “No I think it’s a dumpling.” “This is so juicy!” “What is?” “The thing I’ve got. It’s like your beef.” “Your beef is better.” “I think my beef’s a pork.”

“It’s like a squid or…a…no it isn’t! It’s like a sort shrimp in a thing like…what is it?”

“No idea, darling, you ordered the Western set…”

This is no place to take your parrot. It will fall asleep immediately. And if somebody fears things that go bump in the night, no way! I heard a thump and ‘Merde!” and Moo reassured me it “was a new table coming in.” Annabel said “Don’t say anything about frogs!” “I didn’t say anything about frogs!” “Don’t start!“

Dine in the Dark Advisory: For Heaven’s sake don’t douse yourself in perfume or aftershave or almond vanilla Bath and Bodyworks marshmallow hand cleanser. The French say ‘the first taste is with the eye.’ For most other mammals the first taste is with the nose! A hyena gets it seven miles away.

Here a nose is most useful.

When the four courses are done and you conga out holding the shoulders of your guide through thick curtains and blink back into light and colour, you think “That was a blind date with a difference!”

Then, politely, the staff show you what you have just eaten.

You see the courses and they explain all the ingredients! And you think “If I’d seen that in sunlight or even lowlight I’d have scoffed the lot in ten minutes without bothering with any conversation! Gorgeous!”

I’d attach a photo but there are constraints. No light within the restaurant. And like audience members in Agatha Christie’s theatre play, The Mouse Trap, all dark diners are requested to observe discretion and secrecy. It would spoil things. Although I can give you one hint.

There weren’t any Pringles. Unless I failed to find them. Or my daughter got there first.

Here’s to dining in the dark!

Love from Bangkok!

And thanks to my beloved wife to opening my eyes once again to her constant potential for being a surprise!


New Post from TheGirl: :Lost in translation

January 25, 2016

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is delighted to receive this latest post from TheGirl and thoroughly impressed by her casual use of the word ‘pond’. Once you start referring to the Atlantic as the pond you are almost on step one of the London English ladder!

I’m not sure what her two-way dictionary is teaching her but if she thinks it will help her communicate with anybody from East Anglia she is sadly mistaken. Mention pond to that lot and they’ll assuming you are referring to something with ducks on it or will ask you to help them rescue the moon from it with rakes. Trust me. I lived there for a year. One local pub had next to its dart board a timetable for dwile flunking. I asked the behind the bar what that was about. “Flunking dwiles,” he answered after long thought.

TheGirl has, of course, picked the vilest month of the year to begin her English adventure. No, not quite right, February is worse! Mind you her native New York looks like a good place not to be at the moment. Even Thailand is a tad chilly. Khun Mee is wearing a woolly bobble hat and at least five layers of clothing. She looks like a fat elf. My sister-in-law, Kimmie, knitted me something even more outré. I may be wearing it when I go to pick up my inconvenient daughter from another football fixture conveniently located several hours away.

If TheGirl has romantic yearnings I’d suggest she seeks out a place of warmth. Anybody mad enough to even consider a museum date at this time of year is either a museum curator or is an exhibit creaking around the vaults wrapped in bandages in search of Queen Imhotep’s escaped undead cat.

Suggested reading list for TheGirl vis a vis learning English: Anything written by Bill Bryson about US and England.

Suggested DVD viewing for London English language education: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (or was that four smoking barrels?), Quadrophenia, The Long Good Friday, Anything with that ponce Hugh Grant in it. The Queen.

Best of luck to TheGirl! And my thanks for keeping us all informed of her adventures!

Stiff upper lip, darlin’!


From: TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan! []
Sent: Sunday, January 24, 2016 10:58 PM
Subject: [New post] Lost in Translation

TheGirl posted: "So I just bought this two-way dictionary, because apparently I do not speak English. So, I do not want to offend anyone and I also don’t want to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous shop-keepers. Well, look on the bright side, I can always add it to my "

New post on TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan!

Lost in Translation

by TheGirl

So I just bought this two-way dictionary, because apparently I do not speak English. So, I do not want to offend anyone and I also don’t want to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous shop-keepers.

Well, look on the bright side, I can always add it to my resume/CV as another foreign language that I can converse in.

This past week, I have been integrating into campus life and meeting my PhD supervisors. They seem less cold in person, but maybe that has to do with the "freezing 45F/6C weather" than me. I’m sure things will warm up soon.

Overall, trying to stay positive and thanks to the advice of many good folks who have been following along, I managed to get great tips and stay on top of all things that I need to navigate the system in the UK. It hasn’t been terribly hard, as the government here likes to post things in plain English, rather than Legalese.


The number one question from friends and family from NYC: have you met any hot guys yet?

Oh yeah, London is full of sophisticated blokes in top hats and carrying handkerchiefs who just can’t wait to take me to the museum. I’ve just been tripping over them the last two and half weeks since I landed here!

But seriously, no.

During the winter time, Londoners and Brits in general seem to want to go into hibernation and sit in their living rooms with the curtains drawn up. Especially on a grey day like this with subfreezing temperatures of 55F/13C. Just look how nasty it was on my morning run as I discovered a quaint little town called Mill Hill.

This was actually beautiful!

Meanwhile, New Yorkers who are facing a state of an emergency #WinterStormJonas who dumped well over 12 inches of snow reacted by buying every last loaf of bread in the city and proceeded to throw chunks of bread at Sanitation workers.

A Snow Day

Oh well, will be interesting to see how Brits react when the storm comes visits us next.

Lol, soon things will brighten up on both sides of the pond. But until then, cheerios!

Tweet me @ReporterandGirl

Or like my page on Facebook.

TheGirl | January 24, 2016 at 10:57 am | Tags: british dating, British English, jogging, Mill Hill, musings, winter storm jonas | Categories: Musings and Life | URL:

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Clarke, lemons

January 21, 2016

Hugh Paxton’s Blog’s computer is about to die. Excuse it a few eccentricities in its final moments. Charlie Clarke’s lemon diet account is I hope finally going to be readable.

Sorry..I know the attachment did not open

January 20, 2016

All the reasons you need to visit Kenya or stay a long way away!

From: Caroline Subject: Sorry..I know the attachment did not open

Our Christmas letter…..something went wrong so please delete the attachment and this is sorted by Chris!!!

Happy 2016 with it’s ridiculous technology!!!

Xmas letter 2015(1).pdf

Thai Days: Photos

January 18, 2016

This is what happens when somebody clever takes a picture! She keeps her eyes open. Grabs the moment. And what have we got? My front door.


The reporterand the girll: New post Anglicizing

January 18, 2016

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thinks this is the most interesting message I’ve received today. The Girl hits London. And is refreshingly funny about it. Rather intimate and is bored enough to do what she does best, think, write, be herself. Her questions are stimulating. She is doing what everybody must – she’s an explorer on an adventure.

I’m not discovering London. She is.

She’s on Day 11.

Day 12 can only be better! Or worse!

But it won’t be without interest. I like the way she tries, I like the way she thinks, I like what happens when she makes things happen. I completely agree with her notion of Europe.

I’d like her to meet an English chap, become a British citizen, find cricket interesting… I’ll have to wait until Day 30 before all that happens. Or she’ll go Tuscany and three years later we’ll get our next post. In Fluent Italian.

Keep a stiff upper lip TheGirl.



From: TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan! []
Sent: Sunday, January 17, 2016 11:15 PM
Subject: [New post] Anglicizing

TheGirl posted: "My eleventh day has passed in London, and I am not "counting the days" but nearing the end of my initial adjustment. I know how to walk home from the two nearest "high streets" (what we would call main streets). I can ride the tubes and buses myself and "

Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan!


by TheGirl

My eleventh day has passed in London, and I am not "counting the days" but nearing the end of my initial adjustment.

I know how to walk home from the two nearest "high streets" (what we would call main streets). I can ride the tubes and buses myself and understand the station stops or how to detour if there is service disruption, like what happened yesterday during my trip to the National British Museum:

No train home today!

I now know to check the website for weekend disruptions.

I wake up earlier in the mornings and jog most mornings on the high street or to a nearby park. Then I settle in and read or do more paperwork or research for permanent apartment, job, etc…I still feel like some of these things are happening waaayyy too slowly though.

My bank appointment is tomorrow, which was like the only appointment available in the London area of all January! So hopefully I can open an account, can’t believe it took so long!

I also finally figured out the difference between NI and NHS. I thought they were the same thing and have been going around telling folks that I paid for an NI number online and a card should be coming in the mail to me.

You paid how much?

OMG, isn’t that illegal?

You poor migrant!

These photos are a courtesy of

But then I actually called for it last week and applied for it, silly me.

Well, until my first seminar starts on Thursday, I decided to let my hair down just a little, and visit the British Museum. I have tons of photos that I will post separately, but wanted to share the featured image with you all first.

The makeshift wooden cross was the first piece I saw when I entered the museum. It was made from scraps of a boat that carried some Syrian refugees across the Mediterranean. Being a dangerous journey, its easy to see why someone would want a religious icon that would hopefully bring comfort and peace in the rough seas.

Even though I had a more comfortable trip to the U.K with "proper documents"; I’m reminded how lucky I am to be here and able to do this. I certainly did not choose my birthright and could have easily been born on an island in the Caribbean, if my parents weren’t fortunate or determine enough to come to the United States when immigration laws were different. My blue passport is the difference between waiting a couple of weeks for a visa, versus a couple of months, or maybe even a year.

Nonetheless, I feel some homesickness for the things I miss:

· My YMCA back home, where I worked out everyday.

· My normal sized car that always gave me a heart attack when the check engine light comes on.

· My softball mitt.

· My own bed. My own kitchen where I know where everything is, and can whip up a 5 course meal easy.

But then I remember why I decided to move abroad

· Stuck in a rut with my job and career, I didn’t want to make a lateral move

· I moved back home (’nuff said)

· I needed something different, I have a routine there but nothing really keeping me here

· No one keeping me here

· I kept romanticizing the European lifestyle, I just had to see if I can come and live it out.

So in essence, we all come and go because of a dream or to live a better life. And by remembering these decisions, as well as the opportunity I have, it makes me feel determined again.

At least until I read the syllabus last night that contained 96 items that we are expected to read in the short 10 weeks of term.


I’m still fortunate.

Thank you to my readers and followers for sharing your ideas for places to visit and things to do, including solutions for jet lag!

So, have you ever been away from home for an extended period of time? How have you dealt with homesickness? Or even with friends and family members reaching out excessively or "upset" that you left?

Tweet me @ReporterandGirl

or tell me on Facebook or G+

TheGirl | January 17, 2016 at 11:14 am | Tags: british, British Museum, homesick, letting go, starting over, syrian cross | Categories: Musings and Life | URL:

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The Ongoing Citrus Event: Charlie’s fasting blog: back to work (days 3-5)

January 14, 2016

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is impressed! Yes, impressed! Charlie Clarke has hit Day Five of his lemon diet without cheating or veering off in the heretical direction of oranges or limes. And, although I’ve been scanning the media in my routine manner, there have been no reports of yellow men smeared with syrup supplements spotted in the Brighton vicinity. There was a chap found dead near Newcastle who wasn’t just dead, but malnourished and orange. He’d opted for carrots. Mr. Clarke has wisely limited his adventure to seven days. This fellow had been ‘carrot only’ for months. There may have been mental health issues as well as root vegetables involved in his demise. If I was his undertaker I’d plant him vertically sans coffin with sufficient solar contact in the scalp region, water him from time to time and see if he sprouted new growth.

BLOG ED: Thank Turnip you aren’t an undertaker! But while we are being chatty, tell em the Nazi carrot cunning plan. This is probably your only chance to get it off your chest without wasting an entire Blog post boring everybody rigid.

Hugh: If you insist. The Brits invented radar and kept shooting down Heinkels and Dorniers and other bandits at night. Berlin when it wasn’t planning final victory at Stalingrad wondered what was going on. Some genius in UK Intelligence spread the rumour that the RAF was feeding ‘The Few’ with carrots because they improved vision, especially in low light conditions. Nazi spies were never very good; they missed ‘radar’ but heard ‘carrots’ on the radio. Goering, to give him his due, a WWI fighter ace and a brave if misdirected man, on learning that carrots were responsible for his unacceptable casualty rates responded with alacrity. The Luftwaffe began to find carrots on its menu. Didn’t help. After losing most of their bombers the Jerries switched to rocket science. Carrots, in their way, spurred ideas and helped put men on the moon. And if your Mummy tells you to eat carrots because they’ll make you see in the dark she’s making you swallow a superior piece of Brit MI war-time disinformation…

BLOG ED: Let me cut you off there, before you start in on how rats and fleas created democracy in Europe by killing one third of Europe’s population with bubonic plague thereby reducing the labour pool and spurring pay rises and the power of the peasant to exert influence on decision making in the lofty elites, and the persistent Japanese belief that their intestines are different and can nourish the body with fresh air rather than rely on immediate VJ WW II Imperial defeat rations for nourishment. Although both are quite interesting topics, and the second theme is most definitely diet-related. I would genuinely like to hear about them at a later date, but back to Charlie Clarke. You say he has not gone yellow?

Hugh: He doesn’t mention the issue. He may be extremely yellow. But if he was, I think his greengrocer would have pointed it out to him.

BLOG ED: Greengrocer? What’s he been dieting on? Asparagus?

Hugh: Just read Charlie’s account. If there’s a hastily buried murder victim anywhere near Brighton with a bacon sandwich in his/her pockets the CID can call off the dog squad and Charlie will sniff out the victim. There’s something about the crisp crunch of a bacon sandwich with crusty newly baked bread and no bloody lemons…

BLOG ED: That’s enough of that! Over to Charlie!

From: Charlie Clarke []
Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2016 5:39 AM
Subject: Charlie’s fasting blog: back to work (days 3-5)

Hi all

I’m still going … and going well at the end of day 5!

Here’s my latest update …

All the best


More on pythons and cats: Obituary to an impractical cat.

January 13, 2016

Further to Hugh Paxton’s Blog’s recent Dope of the Day awards – python bites Chinese woman’s nose blog post I would like to present an obituary poem to Treats my cat who didn’t have her nose bitten off but was engulfed. I’m sure Treats started it. And looking on the bright side I’ve saved a fortune in cat food and all the little lizards and snakes Treats would have eaten are thriving and multiplying. Treats had a good life, and what the Vikings and Samurai would call a good death. More useful than being squashed by a car, mauled by a tom, picking up rabies (I woke one morning and there was a hydrophobic corpse in my fish pond! Hooking that horror out was a nightmare! Drool, froth, blood, glazed eyes, torn fur – looked like an Irish pub after an argument over who paid for the last round of Guinness) or withering away with age, sloppy bowels and arthritis for her final downward journey.

“The Passing of Treats”

“A python arrived in search of a rat,
Instead it found a belligerent cat,
The cat stood its ground
And all that was found
a bulge in a python
And that’s about that.”

With respect!

Hugh Paxton (Bangkok)

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