The Download Diaries…part 2.

The sun shone brightly through the canvas of our tent. All around us I could hear the cheerful bustle of happy campers getting breakfast interspersed with the sounds of joyous birdsong. Or not. In reality our body clocks had not yet got fully in synch with the english time zone so I was wide awake at about five o`clock. As ever first morning thoughts tend towards coffee and toilets so I hurriedly unzipped the tent and groped in the gloom for my trusty wellington boots. As my bladder started sending ever more urgent messages to my brain I stumbled around, half crouched, in the low porch that we use to store our chairs and tables. Finally I tugged my boots onto my bare feet and unzipped the outer door. The cold air woke me up and I looked vainly around for the sun. The sky was a uniform grey, the grey that comes with no warmth or joy, the grey of doom,the grey of a thousand ruined english holidays. I gallumped across the grass towards the row of portable chemical toilets.

The field was nice and green, the gateway, however, had been churned to a brown porridge by a few vehicles and a multitude of boots. I stepped manfully through the mud, nearly losing a welly in the process. I open the toilet door to see the floor about three inches deep in what I really really wanted to believe was mud. When I returned to our tent I was wide awake and ready for my coffee. I huddled in a chair as I waited for the kettle to boil and amused myself by watching the spots of rain on the canvas slowly turn to rivulets and then running off the flysheet.

A couple of hours later and after several cups of coffee we decided to head for breakfast. A slightly expensive but very welcome english fry up was wolfed down and accompanied by yet another coffee. As it was Thursday we now intended to head to “The Village” which is an area near the standard camping, which features shops, food stalls, a fairground and more shops. The previous year we had spent a fun day wandering about and spent a very jovial afternoon in the company of some very pleasant young people. ( I know now that as I refer to “young people” I am assuredly advancing rapidly through middle age to old age).

As we passed the hordes carrying their camping equipment and beer towards the standard campsite, we noted that in most instances camping equipment seemed to actually consist mostly of beer. The cheerful attitude of these happy campers was possibly aided by most of them deciding to lighten their respective loads by drinking as much alcohol as they could on their route march from the car parks.

Once inside The Village we realised that in horse racing terms the going was “soft to liquid.” The trudging of thousands of boots had churned the grass to a brown slop. The traders selling gum boots were seen to be dancing and praying to a rain god. I presumed that once they had sold out of waterproofs and wellies, they would swiftly convert and start praying to the sun gods to enable them to shift their stock of sun creams. We managed one slither and slide around the stalls and retreated to the comparatively solid ground of the RIP campsite.

That evening we decided to head for the pub, more to keep warm than drink beer, although as we were there and there was a rather good selection of real ales on offer it would have been rude not to try one or three of them! I even managed to stay awake to savour them. Bed for ten o clock. Still not much of a rock and roll lifestyle, but we are heading in the right direction.


Summer is here!

The last few days has seen a marked increase in temperature. The local population has been seen to dispense with the jumpers and just wear a t-shirt and coat. Me? The jeans have been relegated to the wardrobe and shorts are now the order of the day.Temperature is all a relative thing, last “winter” I was sorting out the transfer of various utilities from our old flat to the new one. The staff at the shops were aghast as I stood in front of them wearing a slogan`d t-shirt and jeans. “Are you not cold?” they asked through scarves whilst zipping up their coats a bit more. Of course I am used to an English climate, so Hong Kong seems warm most of the time. There is, as ever, a payback to my tough “I-don`t-feel-the cold” stance. While I sit and gradually descend into a puddle of sweat in the corner, my fellow drinkers sit cool as cucumbers and smile as I slowly but surely melt. The mercury is heading towards 30 degrees but the only one sweating is the Englishman. I envy the fact that the locals cope so well in the heat. My main consolation is that should any of these sweatless people head to England for the summer, they will have surely caught hypothermia before the end of August!

weather nice……

I have managed to avoid as much as possible the infamous “w” word. Not work you understand, but weather. It is fair to say that I have managed to avoid talking about the weather as much as possible. In Hong Kong a greeting of “Have you eaten?” is common. The English tend to ignore such culinary references and start a conversation with “Nice weather for the time of year”. Of course in reality England does not have either weather or climate, England gets a three-day summer and the rest varies between grey, greyer and “a bit nippy!” The English are an optimistic breed, how else do you explain the crowds in a garden centre on the one day of summer when the sun decides to break out from behind the clouds. Like moths to a candle the hordes descend to buy gazebo`s, swing seats and patio sets. Of course the realists also buy patio heaters and chimineas….
I would sweat and suffer on the warm days and look forward to returning home to a beer and a sit on the decking whilst surveying my garden. The truth was that I would arrive home, have a wash and a scrub and by the time I had plonked myself down on the outdoor furniture it was getting dark and a jumper would be required. The beer would be too cold and the garden would be something to squint at in the dark.
Winter in Hong Kong is cool. Cool is a relative term of course as it rarely drops below 12 degrees. The main problem with weather in Hong Kong is of course that the flats are geared up to be cool in the summer. That means that as the alarm clock goes off, signalling that it is time to apply a forceful foot to Wifes backside to persuade her to go and earn my beer money, the marble effect floor is an icy touch to the tootsies.The floor acts like the slab in an Edwardian pantry, keeping things cool in a warm enviroment. The trouble is that the only heating system we have is a fan heater that seems to disturb dust more efficiently than it heats the flat. The last few weeks have been spent shivering under blankets and wearing jumpers. But not today! The weather has brightened up, the sun has blasted through the haze and the temperature has hit the low 20s. Time to do what every true blooded Englishman wants to do. I head for the beach and have pizza and beer and sit outside whilst watching the world go by. English summers spent sitting in a beer garden are a distant false memory. Here in Hong Kong the beach,the bar and the sunshine are a fantastic reality

Typhoon Nesat


We retired after a night watching the TV to a T3 warning. That means, in our terms, a bit blowy. It seemed like the typhoon was passing by Hong Kong but going to be far enough away not to give any problems. The alarm next morning woke us up with its usual beep. I switched on the TV on and said “beep!”   The warning was now a T8 and that meant stay at home and keep away from windows. I looked out of our window and could not see Hong Kong island for the dark clouds scudding menacingly by. The wind was squally and filled with rain. Not a nice day to go out. Wife clambered out of bed to enquire wether or not coffee would be prepared this millennium or was I going to look out of the window all morning, If I was going to look out of the window all morning, what was I going to do in the afternoon. Wife is not a morning person in the same way that Hitler was ” a bit naughty”.

I pointed out to Wife that the T8 warning was hoisted. We then needed to know what to do. We were due to collect our visas from Wan Chai later in the day and Wife concerned as we had no got many days left on our existing visas. With all the modern technology available to us we discovered that work was suspended and she was not expected to go to work until the T8 signal was lowered. It also meant that the Immigration services would be closed today. I made coffee and we settled down to watch the news bulletins on the TV

Typhoon Nesat was passing by Hong Kong on its way to South China at a distance of about 350 km away and travelling at around 22kph. I was surprised that something with so much energy would travel so slowly. The winds stayed gusting strongly for the next few hours with pauses when it would be eerily still until suddenly the curtains would waft and rain would blatter vigorously at window for fifteen minutes and then just as quickly stop. The news showed some minor damage in Hong Kong, with a dredger ( although sometimes refered to as a floating crane or mobile dock) breaking free from it`s anchor and getting blown against the seafront, causing a block of flats to be evacuated. With buses and ferries all being cancelled the only transport running was the MTR and taxis. The oddest thing was the bulletin kept going to a reporter at Tsim Tsa Shui waterfront, fully resplendent in waterproofs and a hard hat , giving updates about not a lot, while in the background tourists in shorts were taking photos.

The warning was in place most of the day so the population of Hong Kong had a holiday. Of course this meant that the next day the staff at the immigration tower had twice as much to do. Still, we turned up, got our visas so we are now allowed to stay for another year! I just need to avoid looking out of the window in the morning……..