Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Wednesday 30th September

So today has been a case of "a woman;s work is never done...!!"The upside of course is how holier than thou one feels... certainly I do as I sit here with my feet up enjoying a cup of tea. Seren is asleep, Luke has just finished his cycling and has gone off to collect Morgan from her play date with Georgie. They are off school the whole week - Monday and Tuesday were pubic holidays but their school took the rest of the week.  We got a text from Katie, Georgia's mom to say that Morgan had taken herself off for an afternoon nap after lunch time - excellent as we were wondering if we should fetch her and she showed (again) that she can figure it out!!! Quite significant as Georgia does not have a nap in the afternoon.  Tomorrow Georgia (and her nanny) are coming here for the day (its the first time she has been here) and in fact Morgan's first official play date at home...and on Friday they are going out with Katie somewhere. I shall probably go as well. We'll see.

So Seren had a great nights sleep - I watched a movie last night. We had such fun. After I bathed Seren, Luke, Morgan and I went out for a pizza and pasta at hte bottom of the road at a place called Serious Deli. It was wonderful - lots of activity a with many pedestrians enjoying the evening. While we were sitting at our pavement table, Max, Oscar and Greta and their mom Julia came passed - big greetings...I really enjoyed my clam spaghetti - memories of being introduced to clam spags in the 70's by Richard, Kathleen's husband when John and I traveled in  California in a friend's camper van!!  Luke and Morgan shared a pizza, then off for ice cream at the 7 / 11 - they actually have magnums!! And then we ended up at Luke's favourite coffee shop where he had his coffee and Morgan had foam milk and sprinkles - see the pics!

Its a toss up between posting pics and getting more words down before Seren wakes!! So the words take priority. John and I have decided that this is not the right time for him to avail himself of Luke and Mel's generous thank you offer so he is not coming over just yet. Hopefully Memory is at the Korean embassy in Harare as I write so she could well be here next week some time.... YAY!! Its an interesting thing - like when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear - so now I find that as the time comes closer for Memory to arrive, I am more and more ready to return home and pick up my life again. Of course I will miss the children ad Luke and Mel as well. But I am ready for a rest and for some time again with John.  It feels very unreal to think of not being with the family full time and especially of course Seren as we have been joined at the hip for two months but this is what it is - I knew this day would come and am just so very grateful to have had this time - seeing where they live and who their friends are and what their neighbourhood is like. I am going to Morgan's school on Monday so will see that as well before I leave.

This morning Seren and I took out the garbage to the bins at the back of the complex and on the way back we spotted a huge, what I think was a type of bumble bee, drinking nectar from the wee purple flowers growing in the garden.It was astonishing and we watched it for a good few minutes. She definitely saw it and watched it- her whole body squirming with delight as it flew around. It was extraordinary - in fact very like a humming bird - with its wings flapping at an incredible rate as it suspended itself near each stem.I couldn't figure out how it was getting any nectar as it didn't go close enough to the flower and the I spotted a long black spindly probiscus - amazing - it was able to direct it into the flower centre and get what it needed and it did this for ages without tiring. What a special moment to share with the animal and with Seren! We certainly live in a wondrous universe on an even more wondrous planet....  

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Saturday 26th September

Well what a great Pru day!! I set off at just after 11 am to catch the train from the Itaewon station - got there just in time after the up and down and I mean steeeeeeep up and down from the house to Itaewon smain road where the station is.  Luke loaded a subway app onto my phone so I was able to track where I was and where i was headed as he had punched in the departure and destination points. So organised with exact times it will take to get from A to B and the number of transfers plus when the next rain is due!!

So I went off to watch the WTA tennis held at the Olympic Park where the games were held in 1988. It was absolutely thrilling. I was in my element watching these women beat the shit out of each other!!!! I could not believe the pace of the ball and the strength of the shots - back and forth. I was close enough to hear them muttering - about 4 metres I guess and a couple of rows above the court surface level. The were not top seeds which made me even more awestruck as heaven knows what the pace is like when Seren and Sharapova play!! The top seeded player to enter was Sloane Stephens who was knocked out by Aliakzandra Sasanowich ( I think her name is) - anyway I watched Aliak knock out the number 2 seed in the tournament - Anna Karolina something!! What a slinging match - anyway I had such a good time that I am going back on Sunday for the finals. I then watched the other semifinals in which the number 1 seeded player soundly beat the Belgium girl, Alison vanutyk. (sp) So its set up what looks like a super final.
Proof that I was here!!!! Not that well attended  though - not a great shakes sport here!!

I remain fascinated by the dependency on the electronic devises - a random shot in the subway on the way home.
 I reckon at least two thirds of people one sees are busy on some electronic devise!!!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Friday 25th September

Wow I can't believe that it is 9 days since I last blogged!! Not at all surprising given what we have been going through - no kidding, its been a tough time for everyone with me experiencing some cabin fever interspersed with will this ever end type feelings!! But as we well know - this too shall pass - what a great homily to repeat as one faces the drudgery and sameness of how one's days can be if one dwells on these aspects - life is such a mental path I find - not what the circumstances are so much as how we deal with the circumstances.....

So to the status quo on this rather hazy but still very pleasantly warm morning...Seren is asleep. We moved her cot into my room after Luke's accident as he couldn't tend to her at night - difficult then for him to get out of bed unassisted!! And Mel was not well on top of having to spend very long days at work.  Very thankfully Seren is back to being her wonderfully sunny and contented self - we saw the pead (sp!!) on Monday again - he gave us more medication - which is an absolute nightmare to get into her, but told us we could stop giving it to her if she was better. So Tuesday evening Luke and I made the call to stop as we felt it better that she took her bottle which she would do if there was no mooti slipped into it!!!  Morgan is also much better, with very little coughing. What a difference - one forgets how nasty being sick and on anti biotics can make little ones behave!!  Luke finds he gets tired and waks up feeling pretty sore but he has been able to get back on his exercise bike in his bike room so that has helped keep his spirits up. Mel has been away on business in Singapore all week but thankfully arrived home laste last night feeling s lot better - she left on Monday full of cold and feverish again but there was no question of her not going!!

So things are certainly looking up - wonderfully through all of this - I have not succumbed to any of the lurgies doing the rounds. Nancy was in yesterday - quite expensive but as so worth it - it works out at about R 1000 for a full day (in this case 8 1/2 hrs). So I spent most of the day sorting out Morgan and Seren's play area. Very satisfying for me of course!! Heaven knows what is still lurking in the boxes downstairs in the store rooms! Luke took a huge pile of stuff off to an organisation Mel heard about - Unwed Korean moms - so that was good - he is now able to drive which has also made a difference to our mobility. All the clothes and shoes arrived back from the cleaners this week as well = more sorting out!! Fortunately they were able to remove all the mould. Of course, as we continued to unpack we have discovered more soiled clothes/shoes. They have a month to put in claims.

I had a fun time on Tuesday evening. Luke took one look at me and told me to go out for a drink (once the children were down of course)!!  So I took myself off up the hill and found what they call a 'hole in the wall' restaurant/cafe I guess. So tiny - about 2 meters wide and long which seats about 14 people. I sat at the table on the pavement and if I stretched my arm out I could've touched cars driving past!!!  It was wonderful and just what I needed - I polished off 3 beers and a very processed meal called cheesy toast while skyping a few friends. I then rolled back home down the hill - there was a beautiful half moon and all felt wonderful.

So the other excellent news is that Mel has received a visa registration number for Memory. So  Memory now needs to go into the Korean embassy in Harare for an interview and then there are a few days after which they can get her plan ticket!! Very exciting - I can't tell you how many times I thought during the last ten days or so - if only Memory were here!!!! The other great news is that we have found some one to kitty sit so John is on track to come out - hopefully in a couple of weeks. So much to look forward to while being mindful of staying in this moment and not being guilty of wishing one 's life away!!!!

I will see if I can add a few pics below but in the meantime will post this in case madam Seren wakes up before I have finished!! Morgan has a play date this afternoon so there should be time to get back to this later. Luke and Mel went off for an appointment this morning after which Luke will drop Mel back at work. Monday and Tuesday are public holidays. In fact Morgan has no school all next week. I am going into the school on the 5th October to spend time with her class at group time. It seems the school welcomes parents / grandparents to read, tell stories or do an activity with the children. I am going to do some grace and courtesy activities - how to carry a chair, a table, close the door, interrupt some one, hand scissors - who knows we'll see what pans out!!!

Thank you to those of you who have dropped me lines about the blog - it seems it is not possible to make comments??? Amazing to think that this time 2 months ago we had not left SA yet!!!  

I got quite excited when I saw all the stuff in these 2 pics -
I was looking for new bibs for Seren (and toys!) - no such luck - these are all for dogs!!!!

Luke's play station / sanity spot!! He cycles on the bike set up on a stand (see the handle bars on either side of the fan that cools him down while he watches where he is riding, e.g. some place in the States or  on the road from
Glen Cairn to Camps Bay!!!

Morgan and the ever patient 6 yr old Max from upstairs - climbing a tree in the garden. Some trees have a sign that reads
"Do not climb a tree" on them!!!

Funny faces - Morgan, Max and younger brother Oscar. They have a 3 yr old sister but the girls are so different -
Greta is into Princess Sylvia lipstick etc - Morgan into Thomas Train - so little love there!!!

The moment that our tower collapsed - just too high Nana!!!

Sisters forever....

My really healthy lunch - I love the smoked salmon, then added pineapple, rivc and black beans, tomatoes,
cheese and of course Nederberg Lyric which I stumbled across!!

Seren in front of the mouth watering display of desserts at the French Baguette where Luke and I
enjoyed a pre-lunch snack in Itaewon main road on Thursday. 

Morgan's side of the playroom in the area between the lounge and dining room areas.

Seren's space!

and again

Same again - watch this sapce I am about to launch myself!!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Tuesday 16th September

So we continued to work very hard to bring order into the chaos that was now number D 1 Itaewan Villa!! It was particularly hard for Mel as she was not able to take any time off when the container arrived and the unpacking happened. We were doing pretty well - from fitting Korean plugs onto South African appliances to hanging paintings and figuring out which shelves should go where. We have been able to include a play area for Morgan and Seren between the dining room area and the lounge area. It was all beginning to take shape, with boxes being brought up from the store rooms downstairs as we could sort them and make decisions about where the contents would be placed or what should be turfed or stored for use later when the girls grew into what ever it was.

So our little jaunts came to a halt as we tried to sort out home. I find that it takes far more effort now to keep everything tidy as there is so much more stuff and of course so much more that has not yer found its home!!

During this time, Mel has been struggling with a strepp throat and finally had to resort to antibiotics. Then on Saturday, Luke went on a downhill mountain biking run and hit a rock and came hurtling over the handle bars, landing rather hard on his left shoulder. Long story short - he has at least 5 broken ribs, blood on the lung which has pretty much dissipated by now, bruised lungs and a dislocated shoulder. Really heavy as of course it had put an end to his cycling for a good 6 weeks. On the home front of course it means no more picture hanging, carrying of boxes, little sorting of boxes, lifting of children. He has amazed me with what he has been able to do - for example shower Morgan - a great relief as its quite exhausting to have to bath both Morgan and Seren each night!!

Then on Monday Morgan woke up feeling very poorly - so Luke took her off to the university hospital. She was put onto a 4 day course of antibiotics which together with the fever and sore throat has resulted in a very scratch and rather contrary and whiny Morgan!! Not helpful especially as Luke is not able to dress her or play madly with her as she is used to - they have a very physical relationship.

Then today, we thought Morgan would be ready to go back to school but it turned out that she woke up with rings under her eyes and "stoned" eyes!!  In the meantime little Seren started yesterday with a rasping cough, running nose and watery eyes. So today we took her off to the hospital that Morgan had been to on Monday and Luke had been to on Saturday and again on Monday!!  I went with him as he can't get Seren in her pram, in and out of the taxi on his own.  Anyway Seren saw a pedeatrician who spoke English. Her temperature was 38 degrees. She has a strepp throat and acute bronchitis. He did not want to put her on antibiotics as she is so young so we were very relieved. Poor little thing was not well by the end of the afternoon - it was quite scary knowing that er temp could spike to quickly. Anyway between Luke and me, we were able to sort out administering the meds and suppositories  so that now they are both asleep and hopefully will have a settled night!

So all in all - we have had a trying week - interesting though is how many times this week, we have made plans which at the last minute get derailed.

I have gone through a lot of introspecting and reflecting in this week - will elaborate on this later,

Luke in hospital before he checked himself out!

Luke wearing the correct brace after he had seen the professor on Monday

Tuesday 16th September - a la Tues 9th Sept

Well ... it feels a little like the honeymoon is over..... not that Seoul is not a good place for the Ramsey family to be. but this week has been tough with many demands and challenges - but I jump ahead!!

So I have started writing so many time since last week - in my head that is but have n't got thoughts to the key board!!! Used to be pen to paper. I was in the eye of the storm when I last signed in. So the eye passed by and the moving trucks arrived - three of them parked in the drive. They worked all day and then returned the next day to continue to unload and then unpack boxes. There was a woman dedicated to unpacking in the kitchen - she spoke no English but was quite accommodating, especially as she had to repack the pots and pans and casserole dishes in different cupboards the next day.

Once again the pics can tell the story!

Two of the trucks

So efficient - they lined the walls and covered the floors to protect them while moving everything in

Morgan unpacking in her room - a delight to see her reconnect with old friends!
 But here you see the problem - more boxes than space to unpack them into!!

Luke's work station - the moving company pasted the lists of all the boxes (2 they moved onto this long board and
Luke checked off the numbers as they came in. Many were redirected to the store room downstairs!!

Dining room table on site!

First pass at lounge arrangement - the movers graciously gave one three chances
 to re-position furniture - as in - to change one's mind!!

Some of the stuff that sadly got damaged or soiled in transit. A lot of Luke and Mels' clothing was also covered in mold.
They are now faced with the paper work of claiming.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Tuesday 9th September

Well today is DEE day!! - The furniture et all arrives this morning. Luke and I are sitting on the floor in my room - Mel is at work, Morgan at school and Seren thankfully asleep in her cot which is the only bit of furniture of their own that they had! So we are in the eye of the hurricane. The packers arrived promptly at 7 this morning and very efficiently packed up and took away all the furniture and household goods - kitchen, linen that Luke and Mel had hired in the meantime. They were finished by 9.30. Morgan and Seren had breakfast while the couches were still around. I then took the two of them upstairs to play with Jan until the school bus arrived. Jane. upstairs, had set up a travel cot for Seren to nap in but we decided to put her down in her own cot as she will probably wake up as the movers arrive at 10.30 - so here we are in a holding space for the moment!!!

Morgan feeling right at home upstairs with Jan and his dad Alex

Supper time with Jan and mom Jane!

Me writing this blog on the floor  in my room,while we wait for the eye of the hurricane to pass!!!
The guys packing up the rented stuff  - Luke is standing in the dining room area looking into the lounge

Sunday 6th September

Luke and I dropped Morgan off at a play date with Georgie who is the other South African child in her class. She lives in a lovely home not far from here - in fact walking distance away which is great as she could then get off the school bus with Georgie and Memory could walk over latre with Seren to fetch her. Luke said that the other day as he was walking home with her, he walked down a lane and then stopped and looked around. Morgan said - " are you lost daddy!!" He replied - I am not sure if this is the right way or if we must go that way. Morgan replied "that way daddy - silly daddy!!"" Much to the delight of a couple sitting on a tiny balcony above them who started laughing and told Luke "Best he listen to her...!!"

Morgan came home for a nap at lunch time then the four of them went back for a braai. I set off to meet up with mark who had tickets to a show at the national Museum. (see pics below). I was very proud of myself - I phoned 1330 the number one gets travel info from and did what I was told!! Caught the village bus from the Grande Hyatt up the road - Luke dropped me there - then  realised while onto the bus that I had not counted the number of bus stops. I asked them where the subway station was where I had to change buses. It turned out they were getting off there as well. They then headed me in the right direction to catch the city bus to the Museum - these are caught rather like our Mycity (sp??) buses in the middle of the road.  So all good and I arrived half an hour early and got chatting to a greeting guy at the festival who it turned out had spent four years from 1992 - 1996 with the Korean embassy in Pretoria!!

It was a delightful evening - once again I was astonished at the sounds that can be generated by the zither I think it is called - see the pic of the Mongolian musicians. The place was packed and once again - amazingly - the honoured guests present were mentioned and the firat was the Sought African ambassador - I think they said Gloria Parks - I caught a glimpse of her but did not go and introduce myslef as Mkrk was edging to leave at the end so we exited while everyone was still dancing on the stage. The participants invited members from the audience to join in the last number - exactly as had happened in Nepal when I attended a National dancing festival at the Chitwan national park last year!!
The pic says it all!! - the lady wearing the national dress of Koera at the entrance to the
Yong theatre at the National Museum 

The performance I enjoyed most - incredible sounds from what look like fairly crude instruments

The national Museum

View from the top of the steps seen in the photo above - once again the Seoul Tower and Itaewon
where we live to the 'right' of Namsan park 

Another view from the steps at the entrance to the Yong theatre - a golf driving range 

Friday, 4 September 2015

Saturday 5th September

So this time 34 years ago Mister and Missus Ramsey walked down the aisle together!!!  Actually we moved in together (skande!!)  6 years before that so that's a lot of time and much water under many bridges and we are still here and still happy to maintain the status quo!!

Talking about which - Luke and Mel have wondrously offered to bring John to visit as a way of saying thank you to us for my being here! So I am very excited - we have yet to work out the details about when and how - we have to find some one to look after the little back girl - Miss Loki - in SimonsTown first! Anyone want to kitty sit for a couple of weeks at the end of Sept or in Oct??

Luke and Mel's container arrives on Tuesday - much excitement and fear and trepidation - as they remember how much stuff is arriving!! So we have a busy week ahead of us.....

Today we planned to go out to the Botanical Gardens but it has been raining most of the day. Morgan got an invitation to play upstairs with Jan so thankfully has been hanging out there...

The other big news from here is that I might be able to get tickets for the finals of the Seoul womens tennis - WTA - it takes place at the end of September and looks like it has most of the big names -what a win - I am so excited. They are presently playing the tournament in NY city. - sorry no pics - am waiting for Luke's pics from last night!!!

So here they are....
Street scene - only pedestrians - 8.00 pm on a Friday night

The same street looking theo ther way!

Me and the coals before the grid was placed under the extractor - I thought it was a griller,
but am wrong - obviously the meat is cooked from underneath!!

Bath time with mum and dad

...... and again

Friday 4th September

And so it goes - Luke and I set off with Seren this morning to catch the bus to the War memorial museum - well we had to walk quite a way before the number 3 green bus came along and when it did it was full so we had to wait for the next one! On arriving at the Museum we decided that there was now too little time to actually go inside so decided I would give Seren her lunch while Luke had a good look at all the war planes. Well - national emergency!! Between the two of us we had lost Seren's rather nice thermal lunch container so plan B kicked into place - gave her a rice biscuit and chilled only to have a hoard of chittering ladies descend on Seren  - see pics - what a celebrity she has become!!

Once again the centre of attention!!

We left soon afterwards so as to get home before Seren's tummy clock took over!!

Doing the splits on the bus 
                           Here's a pic of me and Morgan having a nana moment on nana's bed!

Luke and I went out this evening to have dinner - an early celebration of 34 years of marriage and 40 years of John and Pru together time!! We got married on 5th September 1981, 3 days before the memorable snow fall in Jhb! We walked down the hill to Iteawon main road and then a couple of streets up into this amazing area - pedestrian walkway with restaurants of every shape, size and variety. Such a incredibly relaxed vibe  people out strolling, enjoying the balmy evening - no loud behaviour - just very very civilised - lots of couples holding hands, many groups of 2 or 3 young woman chatting - there seemed to be far less preoccupation with cell phones as well - people were really engaging with each other -and once again I was quite taken aback by the vast amount of legs shown by so many of the women - everyone very comfortable with themselves it seemed to me.  We were told we had to wait 1/2 hour for a table so went off to a sports type bar for a beer - there were TV's all over the place and we saw the end of a NZ vs Eng rugby match - but from the 80's I reckon as Jomo Lomu was in it and also the crowds mobbed the players at the end!! 

Our table was right on the street. The fire is place in the middle of the table and the griller lowered onto the meat which the waitress places on the grid. - the pics tell it all! For those interested in prices - the evening cost 61 700 won - one does not tip here, so that is approx R 600 which included 3 Heinekens!

Great selection of veggies to compliment the beef and pork - some a little too spicy for me but I did at least try them!!

What a super evening - no doubt Luke and Mel will find their way down this hill many times in the next few years and could visit a different restaurant every time and still not run out of places to try!!

We walked home again afterwards - so close although of course up pretty steep hills. I can feel my body tightening from all this walking especially holding onto Seren's pram going down hill 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Tuesday 1st September

Goodness - its Tuesday already - as mum used to say - tempus fugit!! And so it does - but not dramatically just from each now moment to the next now moment time passes!

Today I feel a bit weary - Seren is asleep, Luke is out cycling, Morgan and Mel at wukk. My legs are a bit tired. All that up hill walking yesterday I guess. I have just caught up on yesterday so will continue later.

Mel caught a taxi to work so that we could have the car to gad to go to Lotte the large supermarket. Anyway we get Seren sorted, pram, nappy, wet wipes, extra dummy, bib, lunch, spoons, pram cover, - all check! car seat and get outside and realise that we forgot to get the keys from Mel!! Rethink - so we decide to head out on foot and catch a bus to the shops. We find the bus stop  - weird bus shelter/seat - see pic -, I board the bus ahead of Luke who lifts Seren in her pram only to find that the pram does not fit into the door way!! So second reset!! We were astonished as it goes against everything I would have expected from this place - anyway we ended up taking a stroll in Namsam National Park which is this huge wooded area near us - we had lunch then strolled under the shady trees, through a wild flower area - it was so restful and easy walking as it was along the contour so to speak!
Bus shelter!

Different angle - Luke and Seren checking out bus routes

Lunch in the park restaurant

Daddy's beer

Garden of wild flowers

Bikes etc locked to a resting place near the bridge over the freeway that leads to the park

Tiny coffee shop where we enjoyed ice cream and iced cuppachino

Luke and Seren on the small deck at the back of the little shop

Looking down from the deck

View from the deck - the Seoul mast peering up out of  Namsan park 

Seren flirting with her image in the mirror along the road from us )not sure if you can apen this 
I had a first today. I met Morgan off the bus as Luke was buggered after his ride and our walk!! Anyway she was fine and so was Blade her new scooter that went off to school with her this morning! Really my worst nightmare when I was teaching little ones - is a child bringing her toys to school and everyone else wanting them!! Anyway a little later we were doing a sticker activity and John's name came up in our conversation and she said, "John's in SimonsTown. He's waiting for you. When you're finished with me, then you can go back to him!"

So here we are in September already. Luke and Mel are settling in very well. Their container arrives on the 9th. In fact this afternoon Luke projected a world map onto the TV screen so we could show Morgan the route the ship carrying the container. We then watched Maersk U tube clips of cranes lifting containers onto and off ships. It was fun and good for her to get an idea of how her toys etc are getting here from South Africa. Luke is meeting a lot of people through his cycling and building up quite a network!