Rain and Caldas da Rainha

It rained this morning but this didn’t dissuade the girls from going outside and playing in the sand. Eventually when we’d all got it together we drove down to Sao Martino, a small seaside town about 20 minutes away. There’s not much there; a few restaurants, a sandy beach, ice cream. It felt like a seaside resort in the UK in the 1980s, except it was sunny. In between bursts of rain, that is. Continue reading “Rain and Caldas da Rainha”

A parkrun in the rain


It poured with rain last night, so much that it couldn’t possibly rain any more today. So I was surprised to wake at 6 this morning to the sound of further rain. I got up, careful not to wake anyone, and crept from the house to the car, just as the rain stopped. Then I drove out to Busselton for the Parkrun there, just as the rain came back again.
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Alone in the dark

I’ll often complain, but Singapore does have some beautiful weather. This afternoon I was in meeting after meeting, and just after five, as I looked out of the floor-to-ceiling window towards the west, I saw a patch of vehement orange yellow, growling up from the horizon. Above it, acres of dark grey, and then a little round hole of blue, adorned with cotton wool puffs of white. It was beautiful, and it meant I wasn’t going running tonight.

In the space of ten minutes, the dark grey swallowed up the blue, the orange turned a little redder and then vertical slashes of lightning began to flash. The meeting ground on.

Wednesday is girls’ night out. Tomorrow my wife and I are going to the cinema, and Thursday is too late in the week for me to do a speed session if I want a fast 5k on Saturday. So I looked out the window with the faint but fading hope that the storm would be gone by 6:30 and I could go to the track.

At 6:30, still humming and hawing, the sky had turned black and most of the buildings vanished in mist and darkness. My wife was reporting that La Serpiente was down with a fever again, and I didn’t want to go to a waterlogged track, slip over and drown. I peeled myself away from my computer and went downstairs, intent on going home. And yet…
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Partied out

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This morning I awoke feeling crapulent, apparently the result of one pint of beer last night. We went downstairs to a 4th birthday party in the mezzanine area of our building, on an incredibly hot, humid day. The girls ran around playing with water pistols, or drew with chalk on the ground, or slid around in puddles of soapy water, for two hours until La Serpiente faceplanted and we all went home for a nap.
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Nocturnal manoeuvres

As San Francisco is not my favourite city in all of America, after work today I didn’t stick around in Palo Alto but went off to the airport to catch a flight to Seattle. Consistent with the last time I did this, Alaska’s plane was an hour late taking off, because of rain. Which is a dreadful excuse given they have a big hub in Seattle, and so should be accustomed to precipitation. Maybe it was the wrong sort of rain. 

In the waiting area, there were a very few electrical outlets, monopolised by the kind of prick who uses one to charge their laptop and the other to charge their phone, when they could just as easily plug their phone into the laptop and charge it that way. But I imagine they enjoy having a diffident Englishman hover in their peripheral vision, trying to work out how to politely broach this subject. 

Still, when I boarded the plane (full of people with crap tattoos, because Seattle, and also grumpy middle-aged businessmen who didn’t seem to want to let me get to my seat without actually clambering over them, again, because Seattle) I could plug my phone into the power in the seat, and because it’s a Samsung, enjoy watching it charge incredibly slowly. I think the best it does right now is an hour’s worth of battery if you charge it for three hours. Is this the best Korea can do, or am I at fault here?

Wondrous to discover though, Alaska Airlines have a deal with Gogo Internet right now where you get free access to the internet as long as you’re only using Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp or Apple’s iMessage. (And through some loophole, you can also update your status on Facebook from 30,000 feet.) So I could not only stream movies to my phone, I could chat with my wife as she perambulated around the Botanic Gardens with the kids in tow. 

The flight was delayed, and then we were slow getting on the runway and queued up behind other flights on the way into SeaTac, so my 930 arrival became 1055, and rather than wait up, my friends went to bed, letting me know to call them when I got to their place (another half hour from the airport) to let me in. After all, I may be the conquering hero of social media, skipping blithely from continent to continent, but people need to get up to work in the mornings, not wait for some mug to roll out of a Lyft at midnight. 

The weather was atrocious driving over; the Lyft driver deposited me at my destination, and then I called my friends. 

No answer. 

I called again. 

No answer. 

One persistent worry when travelling internationally is whether you’re calling the right number or if you need to add/remove the country prefix. If I don’t put +1 at the start, would I be calling somebody back in Singapore? Or would adding the +1 while dialling locally just confuse things?

I tried both. 

No answer. No answer. 

I knocked on the door. No answer. The rain continued. I began to worry that a public spirited neighbour would see a suspicious black-clad individual standing on my friends’ porch and ring the cops. A spider began to descend from the brim of the hood of my coat. The rain intensified. Was it now sleet?

I called again. 

No answer. 

I knocked again. 

No answer. 

I thought about tapping on their bedroom window but it is round the back of the house and since December they’d put up a seven foot fence to dissuade black clad ne’er-do-wells from getting in the garden, so no go there. I was still cosy and dry, thanks to a waterproof coat and my hoodie and the overhang on the porch, but the rain and wind were both picking up and, after an aggravating dream this morning about having to run from Cornwall to Gatwick to catch a flight, trapped behind slow-walking ladies with iPhones, I was hankering for more than zero hours sleep. (ok, I got four this morning and a micro snooze just after takeoff, but still…)

I advised my wife of my predicament and she pointed out they’d given us the code for their garage door when we stayed in December. 

Which she could no longer remember. 

Thanks, love. 

Happily, a bit of sleuthing through messages and social networks reminded me, and somehow I figured out how to use the control on their garage door, and after more time I managed to get the door to shut again, and then all I had to do was go into the basement and up into the kitchen and not be mistaken for a burglar (housebreakers and people trying to avoid waking small children are often functionally indistinguishable) and then go up to their spare room where the bed was already made for me to collapse into and write this screed. 

And now I can relax.