>If you thought that I had maybe fallen off the edge of the earth, well, I haven’t. I have taken time to simplify, unclutter my life, spend time with treasured people and unwind. So there have been no posts, no pictures, no news. I have had a near month of staying away from the television and the internet and feel that I could have another month away, far away, maybe the Wild Coast…without cars, electricity, noise (only a good book, my Bible, my gorgeous husband, some dark chocolate and my toothbrush). I think that having this little gap of stillness has revealed so much about the business of life. Sometimes I feel restless, and worthless because I am not achieving in the sense that I am not rushing to work, and being ‘productive’, yet I am actually sleeping in, writing, having time for friends, being restful, and just slowing down, praying for an opportunity to work at a publication which I can give myself to with fresh perspective and creativity. It feels like all of the other ants are marching forward and I am standing watching their backs and bottoms scurrying along. So this post is just to let you know that I am still here, only a little removed. With no pictures. Just words. Just me. I will be getting back to my dear blog with more dedication soon though, so keep popping in. Love.

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>My new favourite

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My new favourite blogsite is definitely Black Eiffel, which I have added to my list. This photograph reminds me of Mary Poppins and makes me want to fly home to my love. I also found a clip on her tumblr which I just love. Search ‘An eye for Annai’ On YouTube and select the first. Watch it if you have 5 minutes 27 to spare and just want to enjoy some fun and genius animation! This film was done by John Klassen and Dan Rodrigues in their third year at Sheridan College’s Classical Animation Program. Everything is hand drawn and animated. They coloured the animation digitally, and the backgrounds are a mix of traditional and digital. The jazz music near the middle is from Louis Armstrong’s “Jeepers Creepers”… (Noon, please watch and then answer: will you share your eye with me?)

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I just needed to sit on my bed and blog tonight. To find inspiration and look at beautiful things. Seen as I am with the little species all day at the moment, they are obviously on my mind. I smiled so much when I saw these fun children’s fashion photos…it made me want to be a little girl again. Have a peek at the little people and the big people’s fashion at essentiel

>Life in Shelley Street

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Gina, my lovely friend, found this sign in Hong Kong. I feel so special that she thought of me, and remembered to send the pic. Life in Shelley Street is mild, subtle and good. I had a serious lack of sleep last night after going to the top Korean coffee shop called Arabica with a Muslim (the irony) guy called Nafe and two friends. I was so thrilled to have a bunny face edged into my latte! We discussed our faiths for three or four hours and I was inspired by his knowledge and courtesy. On the way home, we had a hairy ride with a not so hairy taxi driver who seemed to want to give us a taste of the Koreans’ notoriously bad driving. That he did. I was relieved and glad to have spent what I thought were my last few hours proclaiming my faith as we turned a corner and saw two sets of headlights…somehow we arrived home in one piece. Teaching was good to me today, with a few sweet moments with the little ones. But not enough to inspire me to do this again. Shelley Street is headed in another direction.

>Jinjilbaan

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I forgot to add a picture of the lotus flowers, so added it to this post. And I forgot to mention that lotus roots cooked in a sticky, syrupy sauce with peanuts is completely delicious!

For those of you who did not receive news from my last trip in Korea, I should explain what a jinjilbaan is. Basically, it is a steam house, with three floors for women’s baths, men’s baths and sleeping quarters. The fun of it (and liberation and shy giggles) is that one disrobes entirely, leaving the safety of clothes in a small locker, and walks boldly into a steam room full of different baths with varying temperatures, saunas, drying rooms, scrubbing posts and showers. Add to the picture many naked shapes and sizes, all beautiful Korean women, each in their own way. One lounges in the mineral water pools and may sauna all night if so desired. The best thing about a jinjilbaan is the exfoliation. Once you have jumped onto the bed, you are scrubbed from head to toe, massaged, slapped, soaped and scrubbed some more! I especially love the pure cucumber mask on my face and the squeaky clean and rejuvenated skin afterwards! When you are clean and have put on the pink pyjamas provided…the mission is to find a mat and Korean pillow (think brick) and find a place on the floor to sleep. Sleeping is interesting when fighting the brick, the person next to you, the snoring and the nocturnal children. It is however, a must when in Korea. I promise.

With glowing skins we headed out for a Western breakfast to compensate, and a walk along the harbour (a collage of boats, birds and interesting abandoned objects) which ended up in a forest where some Korean men invited us to share their picnic of choco-pais, beer, soju (wicked Korean vodka-like drink…beware) and grape sweets. A vendor lady brought us (hideous) black bean milkshakes which were hot on the bottom and frezing with ice on the top, and we, through broken English and much guessing, miming and laughing, enjoyed a Sunday snippet in the park. After saying our goodbyes we slipped off to toss the blackbean shakes and headed for the shops. Alas, tomorrow is Monday. But every day should be opportunity for adventure, so I will see…

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I love weekends. Actually, when people ask what we like and dislike, I have no idea why ‘weekends’ don’t come to mind immediately! This weekend we went by bus to a town called Gyeongju, which is the only South Korean town which was not destroyed during the Japanese invasion. Our adventure started a trip to a Buddhist temple which was absoltuley stunning in Summer, the only off-putting aspect was the smell of cooked worm-like creatures on the sidewalks! We then went to Gyeoungju Handicraft village and enjoyed meeting an old potter in a studio, and learning about the pottery process…a leg powered wheel and ancient kiln which burns for 5 days and 5 nights! Our next stop was a pond park…where we enjoyed lying in the lush, long and soft grass and were in awe of fields and fields of huge lotus flowers. They are grand and delicate at the same time! These lotus flowers have been growing for 800 years and are some of the largest in the world. They were magnificent. The day was filled also with beautiful countryside scenery, spotting huge green mounds which signal buried kings, and streets with fresh fish, legumes, leaves and spices (please appreciate my new shoes in the picture…a friend likened them to puff pastry, but I love them!). For dinner, we dined at a Korean buffet. This was an experience which involved every type of strange and unrecognisable delicacy all at once! But there was watermelon and delicious sweet and sour chicken so all was well with me. The evening ended back in Pohang with a cold Cass Beer (Korean speciality) and a night in a Jinjilbaan.

>India story

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One of my favourite and most amusing pastimes in South Korea is reading the little English captions on products and snacks. Today has been my favourite (on a Mango Lassi bottle), entitled ‘India Story’:
You are the evening cloud floating in the sky of
my dreams. I paint you and fashion you ever
with my love longings. You are my own, my own
Dweller in my endless dreams! Your feet
are rosy-red with the glow
of my heart’s desire, Gleaner
of my sunset songs! Your
lips are bitter-sweet with
the taste of my wine of pain.
By Tagore (1861-1941, India poet)

Hmmmm. Deep for a mango lassi.