Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Newsletter 2011

Singapore Tales – 2011

Dear Family & Friends,

Well, where did that year go? I find myself at December 31st, looking back on the year that was and wondering about how quickly each year now passes by. And having just re-read my 2010 newsletter (sent on Christmas Eve – I’m slipping), I commented on the same thing! Here in Singapore we have had a good year and we are very thankful for a number of things, mostly our health and for the love and support of our family and friends.

We have had a number of fun family holidays this year. We dubbed 2011, “The Year of Club Med”. It wasn’t intended that way, but it started out heading to Bintan (Indonesian Island 45 minutes ferry ride from Singapore) in Feb 2011 for a long weekend. A few people from work had mentioned they enjoyed Club Med so I checked on the internet, found a deal and booked our weekend. What a weekend we had. The kids both went for mornings to “Petit Club” where they do all sorts of activities, drawing, swimming, nature walks etc. Gary and I enjoyed our mornings “off” with yoga, Thai boxing, lazing on the beach etc. It was a brilliant 4 days so when it came time to book our next holiday, we decided to try Club Med Phuket, (again – got a great deal – I am an accountant after all). We went to Phuket for a week in May and again, a fabulous time had by all. We then managed to dash back to Bintan for another long weekend in September and then had a week in Cherating Beach Malaysia in November. It was a year of holidays that were about rest and relaxing – not something we’ve focused on much before, but having 2 active toddlers makes this much more of a focus!

I also had a long weekend visit to Adelaide in August to help my siblings clear our Mum’s place (Mum has now moved to assisted accommodation). Thanks to Gary for taking all of the childcare (and to Anelen!!) I also managed to sneak away in late October for a ‘girl’s weekend’ in Phuket with Karen & Rachel. What a fun time and yes, I know how lucky I am to have an understanding husband (who is looking forward to a couple of trips away by himself next year - edited by Gary) as well as a great helper! Our latest holiday was our Christmas trip to Siem Reap. A Cambodian Christmas was different, but we all had a great time. It is the most underdeveloped place we have visited (as a family) but still quite touristy and this obviously makes it easier to travel around. We spent Christmas Day visiting Angkor Thom and then had a traditional Cambodian Christmas lunch (fried rice, satay and ginger pork) which was enjoyed by all. It was a really lovely family Christmas.

The kids were rather captivated by Siem Reap, so many things to see that they have never seen before. They loved the tuk-tuks but felt Mummy and Daddy should not off been holding on to them quite as much as they were! (Alex’s comment “It’s not so much fun when you put your arm around me”).

In 2012 we are looking forward to a return to England (first time since 2008) in March. We will be in the UK for a week, before heading to Tignes for a ski holiday (I hope the kids like the cold!) and then back to London for a couple of nights before our return to Singapore.

Both of the kids are doing really well and enjoying their life here in Singapore. They are attending a kindergarten / nursery school called “Alphabet Playhouse” which is a couple of hundred metres walk from our condo. Tara began the year going 3 mornings a week and then went to 5 mornings when I returned to full time work (in June). She loves her teacher and seems to be learning a lot, they both pop out with Chinese numbers and songs on occasion. Alex has made a number of new friends in his class and seems to be really enjoying his time at nursery. He had homework every weekend (something Tara was a little upset to miss out on) and has made great progress in writing and colouring this year. Alex turned 4 in late July and till the day of his birthday declared he was “3 and a half”. Tara is much the same, I told her this morning that today is the last day she can say “I’m only 2 Mummy”. Tara is turning 3 tomorrow and very excited about her birthday.

Work wise, we have had a year of stability with our jobs – Gary having just started his new job at Credit Suisse in November last year has now been in the role for over a year and feels part of the furniture. Gary travelled with work to Pune, India a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed his time there. My job at Diageo has been the same this year, but I’m very happy to say that as of Jan 16th, I am moving to a new role that will hopefully be a lot more interesting than my current role. After two and half years here we feel like we are finally on the right ground work wise, up until now either one or both of us have been at least unhappy and at times furious with our employers. We are looking forward to what will certainly be a challenging but hopefully also rewarding 2012, both of us doing things we are interested in.

We are now truly settled into our home, we moved 14 months ago and are still happy and enjoying our home on River Valley Road. We just discovered a few new bars on the river a short easy walk from home. We spent a rather relieved lunch there a few weeks back, one of the few times when I’ve sunk a couple of pints at a lunch in the last few years! (Gary)

We have had a few visitors this year. Gary’s Mum was with us for the start of the year and then just after Ann left, Roger came over from KL in February. Allisa came for a week in March, shortly after Roger’s departure. We caught up with Paula who was visiting Singapore in June where we discovered a fabulous Japanese restaurant (must go back). My brother John, his wife Jenny and their 3 girls were in Singapore in July. It was fantastic to spend time with them and for all of the cousins to be reacquainted. Gary’s Mum was back in July for Alex’s birthday and Gary’s birthday in August. We also had fleeting visits from my nephew Daniel (actually this was late 2010), Tricia, Jim & Tegan, Ann-Marie & Ross and my cousin David. We love seeing people here and being able to show off some of what Singapore has to offer so if you are calling through, do let us know!

All in all it’s been a good year where we have found some stability to see us through the next few years here, although a few unexpected challenges came our way in the closing months just to keep us on our toes.

I hope that this finds you all well and happy and hope that 2012 is a great year for you all.

A few pictures of our year (not in chronological order!!)

With cousins from Adelaide - July 2011
Swimming in pool at Cherating Beach Malaysia - November 2011
On the beach at Bintan - Indonesia - September 2011
Christmas lunch - Siem Reap - Cambodia - December 25, 2011
Elephant Parade - Singapore Zoo - November 2011
With Granny Ann at Jurong Bird Park - Singapore - August 2011
With Captain Mark - Phuket - Thailand - May 2011
With great friend Lilah on Alex's 4th birthday - July 2011

Watching a monitor lizard at Cherating Beach - Malaysia - November 2011