Sunday, 11 August 2013

So's your face, So's your mum!

Anyone else started/ended a conversation with those words?

I've noticed more and more over recent days and months that Phil and I are very good at laughing. Of course there are times you don't laugh - coming off your bike in the rain, realising you've been cheated and charged Barang prices at the market from your usual very friendly stall holder, or feeling a bit rough around the edges. For the most part though we laugh... a lot. Mostly at each other, or maybe just at me. Silly voices, stupid jokes, silly sound effects all add to the hilarity in the Parky household. We might have just celebrated 4 years of marriage, but occasionally - you'd be mistaken for thinking we were celebrating the 4th birthday of my inner child!! Yes, I am that silly. 

In case you can't quite figure out why the phrase in this Blog's title would ever be funny, let me explain...
Take an inconspicuous comment, such as, 'The floor's a bit wet', add a precocious wife, and the response is likely to be 'So's your face!'. Depending on the original comment the standard response back from the first party is 'So's your mum!'. Now this can be a highly dangerous game, especially when in the vicinity of either of the parties' mothers, but obviously, the more ridiculous the comment, the greater the hilarity. 
NB. This is not a wise game to play with your sister, at the dining table, discussing a lemon dessert. 'This is a bit tart' followed by 'So's your face' was irresistibly followed by 'So's your mum' who was in fact, mother to both of us, and separated by only a stack of plates from the guilty offspring. Raucous laughter led to explanation, and being the unfortunate party to have been left with the second response, I of course landed in more trouble - after mum stopped laughing and sighing over how ridiculous we were!

Back to the point - there is one, I promise! There is another context to this phrase being used, as a response to an actual question, 'Who's the Queen of England?' for example, is easily answered with the phrase 'Your mum.' Or if you're feeling particularly ghetto - 'Yo' momma'. 
This was the variation used when Phil and I were happily listening to Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio iPlayer (at lunchtime, given the time difference). This in itself is a happy occurrence, especially for me, as I sang along to all the jingles (whether I knew them all or not), giggled at Chris' son Noah making various announcements, and danced round like a loon to the songs, making up new words and again, collapsing in giggles. On this specific occasion, we were listening to an featurette on the Friday Night is Music Night Show coming later that with showcasing lots of beautiful pomp and ceremony. Following the interview Chris started playing a piece that would be featured on the night, which Phil then asked of me, as it started, 'Who's this by?' My answer was of course, 'Your mum', but on this occasion - I elaborated...

Your mum.
Oh really?
Yes, you see, she plays the violin, you can hear the violins.... now. That's her. Your mum's playing this.
And now you see, this bit, the vocals that go with it are 'Your mum, your mum, your mum, youuuur mum, your mum, your muuuum.'
(Laughing) are they?
And if you listen, you see this bit.... (dramatic pause) is your mum walking out into the garden... listen to the birds... and she's doing some gardening. (Pauses) This bit, that's Tanya popping her head over the fence and chatting... ooh, and now, hear that? It's the neighbours' kids kicking a ball over the fence. And now your mum is taking a run up, listen, step, step step, step and kiiiiiiick! She's launched it back over the hedge. And then it repeats - listen, step step step kick!!!
What's this bit?
This is your dad coming to the back door and asking if your mum wants a cup of tea. She does. This bit is him going to the kitchen, filling up the teabag pot with teabags, and putting the kettle on. That's the cups clinking, and he's singing while he does it. That's the sugar going in.... now the milk. Now he goes to call her in from the garden, Tanya jumps over the fence, and your dad, your mum, Tanya and  Meg (the dog), all march into the house, do a couple of laps around the living room, then through to the lounge, where again they all do a couple of laps, showing how wonderful your mum is, then she sits on the sofa, puts her feet up (like it's her very own throne) and your dad presents her with a cup of tea. 

And that's what this song's about. 

So today, on your birthday Sharon Parkinson, I'd like to dedicate this blog entry to you. A marvellous mum, who really should have her own royal theme-tune, but perhaps who shouldn't be given a sceptre... I get the feeling I'd be bopped on the head with it too often for my liking. I love you so very much, and so does that boy of yours that I've absconded with/married. I'm grateful for the influence, encouragement and hilarity you bring to my life. I'm richer for knowing you, and am utterly blessed not only to have my own brilliant mum to giggle with, but to have you as my mother-in-law too. 

Happy Birthday Mum x

NB. To any concerned readers: This was not a dream. It was indeed an actual conversation between Phil and I, and it goes a long way to show what goes on in my head. Please also note that if you don't find this hilarious, you probably shouldn't spend too much time with me in person, especially after I've had some sugar. Laughing at me is just as good as laughing with me... so if you can manage either, pop over for a brew sometime - it could be rather entertaining. Especially if there's a foreign language channel on and we start doing voiceovers. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Foreign fourth...

How do you celebrate 4 whole years of wonderment in marriage, in a far away country, on a budget?
You ask the Parkys for ideas!!

Originally having planned to head to Bangkok for a 3 day city break for our wedding anniversary, things changed and we stayed in our cute apartment in Siem Reap instead over the special day. To begin with I was a little at a loss as to what we should do... I've visited a beautiful 5* hotel and seen the private massage suites for couples (with waterfalls indoors, private gardens, his and hers bath tubs) and sighed longingly... but we've been making other things priority, so I knew this year wasn't going to be the all out luxury celebration...

So I got creative. Did you know that 4 years married means gifts of flowers and or fruit? Google's top results tells me this is the case, so I started the day by dashing (I say dashing - it was an incredibly leisurely affair!) to the local market and picking up a watermelon and a pineapple for 50c each - that's right, 34p each (and yes, they taste even better when that's the price without even haggling!).
Having got home, I banned Mr P from entering the kitchen, which, as he pointed out, is easier said than done given that we live in an open plan apartment and therefore limited him to sitting in the bathroom, the cupboard or outside! The creative juices (get it?) then flowed, with the result below! Good job I carved the melon, not the pineapple, not sure the message would have come across so well otherwise!

'Happy fruity 4th'

What next? Well, I had pancake batter ready for breakfast time already, and had been mulling over the fact that we hadn't followed through with our plans to go to Bangkok and whilst there go to the zoo (including taking a paddle boat out onto the lake there, which is a must... so that's a postponed plan rather than a cancelled one!). So, we couldn't go to the zoo, but the zoo came to us!


As you may or may not be able to tell we have (starting top left) Giraffe, elephant and zebra, followed by fat monkey and lioness, duck/parrot and gecko and last but not least octopus (the only way I really enjoy seafood is to have it made out of batter instead!). Such fun to make, and I even had an outfit on to match. For those who know it, my white dress/top with silhouettes of animals on... perfect!

What to do next? Well, we'd been thinking about getting mugs for the house, as the ones we have are made of glass, and a little frightening to pour boiling water into - and a little off-putting when you can see the weird brown colour of your tea or coffee! People here don't use mugs though... Tea is often served over ice in a beaker or glass, and cups without handles are the norm... so... off we trotted to 'treat ' ourselves to some normal mugs. Having surveyed some particularly horrific ones with gilded pheasant/peacock mongrels on them, we found some simple white ones that came with coasters... perfect! So we duly popped back home (first buying that other romantic essential... floorcleaner) and put the kettle on. And it's true - the cup makes all the difference, the teabag has more room to move around, we can use just boiled water and not be worried the cup will smash, and the white colour gives a better surface indication of brewing time/taste etc. The tea just tastes so much better!! Two very happy bunnies, I then decided, given that they were identical, to make them unique... in case of rinsing out and making another brew, we now have his and hers labels, fashioned (bizarrely) from a flannel/dishcloth and lengths of ribbon.

'His and hers' mugs

Having made, and drunk beautiful cups of tea, we then went out to an early dinner we'd booked at a recommended local restaurant, Haven. I can't recommend this place highly enough! Impeccable service, big portions, relaxing atmosphere and gorgeous food!! And, 'fully booked' when we popped in earlier today to look at the menu, they squeezed us in for an early sitting. So very helpful, and an absolutely gorgeous meal where we chatted, laughed, pulled faces at each other, sang along to Queen songs in the background, and ate a lot of food!

Given it was an early tea, what next? We'd also looked earlier in the day for some fitness tops for me to wear to classes, given that I've been wearing 'normal' tops and want to make sure my wardrobe lasts as long as possible... Along to the Adidas shop we went, knowing it would be pricier than the markets, but not expecting the $30 price tag on most t-shirts - if not more. And the really cute little double-layered top - just $70. Needless to say we refrained from running around waving our arms screaming when we saw the prices, but calmly and politely looked around for a few more minutes, offered each other some particularly silly items (Phil didn't seem too interested in the grey and red speedos I found for him.. shame, they were stunning), and then retreated. So a new mission for the evening was to go to the Night Market, find a t-shirt or two for me, some for Phil, (given he has an even smaller selection of clothes than me), and some new headphones for me - given my extraordinary knack or breaking mine very quickly - at least 2, if not 3 pairs in a row now only work in one ear... 
So to the Night Market we went, paid a bit too much at the first place, but not ridiculously, and got a 'free' Cambodian scarf thrown in (proof we paid too much), then found a t-shirt for Phil, but not in the right colour - found some VERY genuine 'beatz' headphones for me, haggled a bit for those too, and then found a lovely lady who asked $2.5/t-shirt instead of the special price of $4 each! We found perfect colourways for Phil and came home, showed off to our neighbours/bezzie mates/co-conspirators Tashia and Sandor, who very politely showed interest far longer than they probably needed too, and then headed home, (it was a long walk of about 10m! Metres... not miles) for another brew and bed. 
And that was our day... relaxed, food-filled and a heap load of fun.

 It's the simple things that make a big difference on special days, playing with your food, spending time with people you love and making the perfect brew. On days like today, I feel incredibly blessed. 

And for my very final thought (on this blog entry - not forever - well... maybe for tonight too) I'd like to say a huge thank you to both sets of our parents, Philip and Sharon, and Don and Angie... Philip and Sharon celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary yesterday, and mum usually tries to avoid the question when I ask when theirs is, but I think it's later this month too... You guys have not only shown us how to stick it out in marriage, but also how to work on it, nurture it and grow through it. Thank you for your influence, your love and your support. We wouldn't be here without you guys. Like. Literally!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Oi! Parkys... are you still alive?!

So, we're rather overdue an update aren't we?

Sorry folks, July has been and gone, and a few of you may have been left wondering what on earth the Parkys were up to, whether they were still alive and well, or if they'd jumped off the face of the planet never to be heard of again. The good news, for those of you who like us at any rate, is that we're alive and well, and just remembering that there are some things we need to knuckle down and get on with as soon as we remember it's time to do them and to obey the jobs list in your diary, rather than procrastinate and then feel guilty! Note to self over, let's get on with some news shall we?

First item on today's agenda is:

I managed to electrocute myself whilst making dinner last night... twice!
You'd think it impossible, in fact I hear voices crying, 'But, Beth, aren't you cooking on a gas stove?!' And you'd be correct - I do have a double gas burner for cooking, which should make it near impossible for electrocution to occur at meal-prep, (though I'm sure you could manage if you were incredibly determined!). But, dear reader, I was feeling 'experimental' and was making a pork, ginger, bamboo and bean risotto style dish in the rice cooker. Which does use electricity. I still can't work out how I electrocuted myself, given that although the first time I had a knife in my hand, I made no contact with the metal inner bowl of the cooker, and the second time I simply dropped the chopped meat in from my hand, into the centre of the bowl, far away from every metal surface - albeit said hand was adorned by wedding rings. So, it would seem that electricity can and will jump short or longer distances with the express view of making my cooking experience more entertaining. Or something like that. I've been giving the cooker dirty looks today though it still hasn't apologised.

In other news... I've been reading Miranda Hart's book 'Is it just me?' on my Kindle, and laughing incredibly hard... crying in fact, and must apologise/explain that some of the more flamboyant style of writing you're witnessing may in fact be due to her influence, hopefully with no ill effects!

House move!
Some of you may know that we moved into a little apartment and out of the guesthouse we'd been staying in. While we loved having breakfast being included, as well as the use of a swimming pool, and the great staff and owners working there becoming real friends, we'd been umm-ing and aah-ing for a while over the possibility of moving into an apartment - so when the opportunity arose to move into an small open-plan apartment/room with minimum lease of 3 months (rather than a standard 6 months/1 year!) we jumped at the chance. And I'm loving it!! We, or I, can now cook most of our meals, returning the act of going out for a meal into a treat and not a twice-daily chore! I'm now shopping at the local markets, practicing my numbers in Khmer and generally providing amusement for the locals as I try to explain what I want and then haggle a bit. Shopping locally and cooking for ourselves means saving money too, which is brilliant, meaning we can justify the luxury of buying breakfast cereal and bread for toast!! It also gives us our own space, and our front door, which is just lovely! We miss being around the rest of the team on a daily basis, and are trying to become more intentional about meeting up with them, otherwise it's very easy to settle into 'normal' life, completing our roles for church, practicing and performing at gigs, and almost living life as if we could in the UK... which is more than a bit silly! So we're being purposeful in inviting over couples and individuals from the church, which is great fun, and is adding to the depth of connection and sense of belonging that we have with them, and hopefully that they have with us, and with the Freedom Church family!

Gigs and Pilates!
We've been getting more gigs and my classes have grown in popularity, meaning we are able to learn some great principles regarding money even more thoroughly. We're so blessed to have the support that we do coming from so many generous hearts looking to see relevant local church grow all around the world. Through both of these we're continually learning about stewardship of money, and are excited about  the ways God's showing us that He wants to use us both now and in the future. God has been using this time away to teach us about not burying our heads in the sand, but to knuckle down and sort out previous money decisions, and clear the way to give ourselves a better financial future, and I've heard Him say so very clearly on multiple occasions 'Let go, and I will bless you'. As we hand over the worry, the stress, the striving over money, and as we follow what He lays out as His best plan, God has stepped in and blessed us, allowing us the finance to not only cover what we sacrificially give in order to be generous, but beyond. And I write that not to pat myself on the back, but to show gratitude that God really has got our back, that He is never outgiven, and looks with pleasure to a heart seeking to be generous. He really is the God of the overflow, and we see that verse acted out in our day-to-day life, 'Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.' Luke 6:38
 This is something that we started learning before we came out here, and there's been a real sense of God stripping back everything so that He has our full attention and can get to the root of issues, and sort us out properly. With both of us having heard so much great teaching on stewardship of money, we've been amazed to see as we've honoured God more and more with our finances, we've seen increased provision, and the ability to sort out previous financial commitments, and get to the very exciting point of wiping out old debts - things like student overdraft, which can hang over your head for so many years after graduating. It's an exciting time. A continuing lesson in discipline which we're still working through, but we are so unbelievably grateful to be able to learn it!

What else...well it's tipped it down again briefly tonight - apparently there are patterns in the rainfall, it'll rain mostly in the morning for a few weeks, then over lunchtime, then in the evenings and then at night... I keep thinking that I've worked out the pattern, but then it changes on me and I'm as clueless as anyone else... though it definitely was raining early afternoon each day for a week - especially on days I'd put a load of washing on!! It now may have shifted to an evening downpour, but we shall see... another month or so of this and we'll be at towards the end of rainy season and the humidity should go down a little - which will also mean less hair product needed to stop me having a frizzy afro! And no... there won't be *intentional* photos!! ;)
On that note though - here are some of my musings whilst out in a massive rainstorm last week:

You know it's Rainy Season when...

...the sound of the rain making you need a wee is no longer a problem, because you've got so utterly drenched, no one would notice if you wet yourself. genuinely try cycling with your eyes closed, because it's simply too difficult to keep them open.
...tuk-tuk drivers park up in foot-deep puddles to use the rainwater for a free wash-down of their bikes and tuk-tuks.

And after all of those long overdue ramblings I shall sign off... I aim to write an incredibly amusing (in my mind) account of a conversation between Phil and I the other day before the end of the week, mostly because I'm still giggling over it! Do let us know how you are, we love hearing news from the UK/where you are!

Beth x