Ariya turns 11

Ariya turns three.
Ariya turns four.
Ariya turns six.
Ariya turns eight.
Ariya turns nine.
Ariya turns 10.

During the previous 12 months Ariya has made the most amazing group of friends at school. They are all beautiful kids and I hope that they stick together for the rest of school and even perhaps their lives.

Ariya invited them all around for an afternoon and evening of chocolate fondu, fun and pizza making and consuming.

Lots of laughs and giggles – long may it continue.

Ariya (closest to the camera) with her friends and chocolate fondu.

Ariya playing the clown with friends and sister Marisah with the pizzas ready to go in the oven.

Jacob turns five

Jacobs Birth.
Jacob turns one.
Jacob turns two.
Jacob turns three.
Jacob turns four.

Compared to the non event when he turned four – Jacobs fifth was one to remember.
Jacob shares his birthday with his cousin Elise who is in Kununurra. We had planned a family trip to Kununurra as had my sister and her family from South Australia and my parents from New Zealand.
My folks had finished their memoirs and wanted to show us the finished product (it was awesome) so a family reunion of sorts was organised.
S it was decided that a joint celebration would be had for both kids and a smash able birthday cake was promised by my sister. Jacob was so looking forward to using a hammer to smash open his cake!
We were in Kununurra for 10 days and while I had a lot of work on at the time there was a lot of fun had as well and memories for the kids that will last a life time.
I will let the photos and captions tell the rest of the story.
Happy birthday Jacob!

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Birthday cake on the actual birthday before going on holiday.

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The fabulous cake before being attacked with a hammer!

This video shows Jacob finally been allowed to open his cake with a hammer!

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So much sugar!

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Hogging in!

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A hug with the other birthday kid – cousin Elise!

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Learning to fly a drone with his Uncle Paul

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Fishing at Ivanhoe Crossing. First time fishing and first ever catch!

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Riding in the Kubota with Uncle Paul is always fun.

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Swimming with the cousins was another highlight of the trip.

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Hooning with Grumpy was scary but fun!

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All the cousins together!

Marisah turns nine

Marisah turns two
Marisah turns three
Marisah turns five
Marisah turns six
Marisah turns seven
Marisah turns eight

Marisah turning nine fell right in the middle of her year three school camp. She didn’t seem too fussed but then again nothing seems to worry my previous (not so) little girl. I am constantly amazed at the way she adapts to sudden changes and always puts my mind and heart at ease.

Parent help at all school camps is welcomed so I made sure I went and visited (camp was only 40 minutes away) for the afternoon and evening of her birthday. The teachers found out about the birthday and invited me to stay for dinner and sit with Marisah. We had a wonderful meal and a great time with her friends and were surprised by a birthday cake plate of food with a candle that they managed to rustle up before singing her Happy Birthday.

Marisah 9

The day before camp we had a special afternoon tea. The black eye is from Hockey training.

The passing of a King – a real King. The King of Thailand.

I watched the sad news unfold of the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on twitter before letting the rest of my household know just prior to the official announcement from the Royal Palace which was broadcast live on TV here in Australia.

Apart from my wife and kids watching, I also have my Thai niece living full time with us and that particular night had another Thai friend sleeping over due to work commitments.

We all knew it was coming but it was interesting watching everyone processing the information in a different way.

My first visit to Thailand was planned for 1994. I cancelled it just before I was due to leave (long story) but did enough research to understand how special the King was to the Thai people. A very special friend by the name of Valerie Bock who had worked in Thailand for 20 years had also given me a lot of information about him. At first I was incredulous about it all. I figured that the Thai people must have been brainwashed or threatened for there to be such an amazing amount of respect for just one man.
Eventually, after visiting many times and then living there full time I began to understand that the love and the respect was indeed genuine and well deserved.

Just now I read this simple but heartfelt email from Greg Lange who is the owner of Sunbelt Asia. It summed up, in just a few paragraphs, the type of man King Bhumibol Adulyadej was and will remain for a very long time.

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Many of you may have heard about the death of beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed away on October 13, 2016 the age of 88 and during the 70th year of his reign.

You may have heard through the news about the nation’s deepest grief. Not a single face is without tears. Not a single word can be enough to express the sorrow we feel. The whole nation has once again united as one to share one of the darkest hours in its history; losing the heart of the nation who Thais love unconditionally and wholeheartedly.

For those who are not familiar with the strong bond between the Thai people and the Royal family, especially HM King Bhumibol, you may not understand why Thais had and continue to have such deep sorrow on His Majesty’s passing. In the rest of the world, there seem to be two kinds of Kings : those with absolute power, and those whose function is ceremonial and symbolic. The King fell into neither of those categories because on the one hand, he did not wield political power, yet on the other, he possessed a moral authority more powerful than that of any government this country ever had; he was literally the fabric that held this country together, the living embodiment of this country’s identity. Let me proudly and humbly share with you some of his stories I know…

His Majesty was born on the 5th of December 1927 in Cambridge, MA in the U.S. He was named “Bhumibol” which means “The Strength of the Land” by his mother who was originally born as an ordinary person and raised him well along with his brother and sister in a simple ordinary way, not in a royal luxurious way.

At the age of 2, he lost his father from a severe illness. At the age of 19, he lost his brother, HM King Ananda Mahidol from a mysterious accident. So, he had to accept the request from the government to start his service on the throne ever since. At the age of 20, he lost one eye from a car accident and he has used only one eye to work for his people throughout the long service of his monarch ever since….. 70 years of service without a rest.

His first royal statement as a king was “I will rule the land with righteousness for all the good and well-being of all Thai people” …. And he has done what he promised every single day of his life until his last breath.

Throughout 70 years of his reign, he traveled to almost every bit of the kingdom, mostly remote areas whose names are unknown to us, in order to visit his people and help them rid themselves of the problems they had and raise their quality of life. He created thousands of Royal projects to create foods, jobs and wealth for his people.

His Majesty’s palace is the only palace in the world where there are testing farms, agricultural inventions, cows, a school, satellite radio station and other inventions you wouldn’t imagine other kings would have in their palaces. He sacrificed his happiness, time, money and devoted his service for one single purpose; to create good lives for his beloved people. He had unconditional love for all the people, regardless of race and religion. His support was equal for Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. This is why Thailand is considered one of the freest religious countries in the world. He was a great teacher, creator, scientist, commander, farmer, and musician and above all, he was the only man in the country who could truly unite all the people as one.

He once said “My place in this world is to be among my people.” He taught us with words and through his actions to love, help, and give peace to each other.

He was someone who could have had a happy luxurious life if he wanted, instead he chose a very simple life and rough road to complete his given mission. His reward and life-time achievement was only one thing, the happiness of his people.

This is why Thais love him so much. In the end it was not his exalted status that commanded all this love – it was he, himself – his actions, his selflessness, his heart.
In remembrance of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej 1927-2016

Is Ubon Ratchathani about to be ‘discovered’?

Way back in 2009 I blogged about a writer coming and visiting me in my little village. He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and is often seen on TV travel shows and heard on the wireless.

You can read about that here.

As a result he wrote a book called 5 ways to carry a goat where he dedicated a chapter to his visit with me.

You can read about the book and my thoughts back in 2010 here.

Last night I saw a link to a story about Ubon Ratchathani. Being interested in all things Ubon I clicked on it and was surprised to see the same Journalist (Ben Groundwater) had written an article called “Ubon Ratchathani province: The part of Thailand tourists haven’t discovered” a rehash about his time all those years ago.

It is a short but nice read and so, wanting to blow my own trumpet a little bit, thought I would share it with you all. Enjoy.

Ubon Ratchathani province: The part of Thailand tourists haven’t discovered

Here is the writer, Ben Groundwater wondering if he should believe me how nice and smooth the local Rice Whisky is.

Here is the writer, Ben Groundwater, wondering if he should believe me how nice and smooth the local rice whisky is.

Down the hatch

Down the hatch


The aftermath!

The aftermath!

Ariya turns 10

Double figures. *Sigh*

While I love watching my kids growing up – learning, experiencing and living life – it sure is a reality check when the first one hits 10 years old. I feel like I only started this blog a few years ago – yet upon reflection she was two when I wrote my first post!

Ariya turns three.
Ariya turns four.
Ariya turns six.
Ariya turns eight.
Ariya turns nine.

Ariya is a sensitive soul who really looks out for others. However, during the last year she has really started to step out of her comfort zone which is great to see. She has made some new and solid friends yet is still so super close with her sister and loves her little brother to the moon and back.

I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring – plenty of goodness I am sure.

We made a bigger deal then normal for this birthday and Ariya had a group of friends over for a play after school with three of them staying for a sleep over and more fun the following day (Saturday). Here are a few photos and a video.

Marisah stayed up late the night before helping Mum decorate the cake.

Marisah stayed up late the night before helping Mum decorate the cake.

After school I picked up and brought home the three friends who were staying on for a sleep over.

After school I picked up and brought home the three friends who were staying on for a sleep over.

Getting ready for bed.... yeah right!

Getting ready for bed…. yeah right!

More friends arrived in time to help eat the cake.

More friends arrived in time to help eat the cake.

The trampoline makes a great table - Thai style!

The trampoline makes a great table – Thai style!


Ariya is really starting to enjoy cooking. Basic stuff at the moment but she can do some mean eggs and pancakes etc (great for when she cooks for her siblings allowing Mum and Dad a sleep in!) so this book was a very welcomed present.

Ariya is really starting to enjoy cooking. Basic stuff at the moment but she can do some mean eggs and pancakes etc (great for when she cooks for her siblings allowing Mum and Dad a sleep in!) so this book was a very welcomed present.

Jewellery is always welcomed!

Jewellery is always welcomed!

As is money! She bought a how to train your dragon lego box set with it.

As is money! She bought a how to train your dragon lego box set with it.