Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A Link With The Past

As it's coming up to Halloween tomorrow evening, I thought I would write this short story and at the same time ask you if you have ever felt whilst sitting alone that you had company... yet you couldn't explain it?  This story say's exactly that..

The two girls arrived home, it was later than they expected. They were both exhausted and very cold, due to the car breaking down.. they ended up walking home. On arrival, Sheila removed the soiled dishes, from the early morning breakfast table and took them into the kitchen. As Sheila entered the kitchen a wee mouse scuttled across the bench heading for a safe haven...
       Meanwhile Sue cleaned out the ashes from the fire, re-set it, then put a match to the paper. The fire went out immediately. Sue decided a little paraffin or petrol might do the trick and went to look in the shed. She wasn't away long before returning with a can which she poured over the kindling sticks. Then striking a match she quickly threw it into the centre of the fire, at that same moment she leaped backwards followed by a belching cloud of grey-black smoke. "Veroomff'' came the sound as the flames shot up the chimney. Soon the fire was blazing. Sue built it up and brushed the hearth clean.  She stood up feeling proud with herself, when suddenly she heard an almighty scream from the kitchen, next came a banging and clattering sound and moments later ..  Sheila appeared with a large meat knife in one hand and a bright-red disgruntled face screaming, "If that mouse eats another piece of my bread I'll personally chop it's head off.. if I catch it.. she shouted.'
Sue was horrified as she loved all animals, and the thought of harming them made her want to cringe. She immediately dismissed the thought..

The cottage felt cold as they came through the front door but they were both chatting about the car and Sue said, she would contact the garage first thing in the morning. They re-heated the chips they had bought on their way home and sat huddled round the hot fire as they listened to the news on the television. Sheila, kept changing the channels looking for something of interest. They both decided to put the heaters on in their bedrooms and fill their hot water bottles. Sue put the kettle on and once boiled filled both bottles and placed them in each bed. They watched a film which Sheila had been given for her birthday. When it finished Sue decided it was time to get showered and ready for bed.  Sheila said, she would see if there was anything else on television. Sue came out of the bathroom in her pyjamas ready for bed and as she walked past the living room, she popped her head around the door, Sheila was switching off the television. Sue called out, "Goodnight!" and she made her way into her bedroom and closed the door behind her...
                        The air seemed chilly which she thought was strange after all the heater had been on a good few hours or more.  She decided she would leave the heater on but would turn it down a little. Sue climbed into bed and pulled the covers up over her shoulders and cuddled the bottle which was still quite hot. A short while later she heard the living door open and her friend's feet creaking on the floor boards as she made her way to her bedroom, calling "Goodnight, see you in the morning, Sue", Then silence fell upon the little cottage.

Sue lay on her side hugging the water-bottle, enjoying the heat and thinking over her day as she wondered, why her car had just stopped for no apparent reason. At that moment the temperature in the room seemed to drop quite rapidly. Her first reaction was, the heater had gone off. She lifted her head out from under the bed covers and was surprised to see the red bars from the heater burning brightly. Then she felt the air go very cold in fact she could see her breath in the air. Sue decided the temperature must have dropped drastically outside and that was the reason it had become so so cold.  She closed her eyes to try and sleep...  Then as if from nowhere she heard voices, first of all it sounded like two voices one was a high pitched voice while the other was deeper tone as though a man was speaking. She held her breath so that she could listen...  She just couldn't make out what they were saying. Moments later, Sue heard soft music and then as if a crowd of people had walked into a room a sound like gabbling geese filled the air  drowning out the soft background music... Sue was wide awake by this time, she wondered what the hell was going on and at that moment she heard the living room door being pushed open and footsteps in the hall way.. Her heart was pounding as she shivered with fear... what if they... what if it came into the room..  her room...' she heard her house-mate's bedroom door handle turn and the door open...
Aha she gave a gasp of relief it's only Sheila. Obviously, Sheila couldn't sleep and she has been listening to some music in the living room and has now gone back to her bed. She gives a nervous chuckle trying to convince herself that she had been letting her mind play tricks on her and the gabbling geese must have been "Wind up the lum". Eventually she began to relax and sleep finally found her..  She awoke early, dressed herself, put some toast in the toaster and the kettle on. By the time Sheila came through Sue was already sitting eating her toast and marmalade. Sheila walked over to the breakfast table and sat down opposite her. Sue, glanced at her and after swallowing a mouthful of tea said " Couldn't you sleep last night? You made plenty noise, did you have to put the television on so loud, it sounded as if you were having a party'. Sheila looked up from her bowl of cereal in surprise and said "Me, I said goodnight when I went to bed, I read my book for a short while, then I must have fallen asleep.' Sue couldn't believe her ears but she didn't want to sound foolish so she put it down to a strange dream.

It was about a month later that the girls arrived home from work both tired. They had lit the fire before they left and banked it up with dross to keep it alight until they arrived home.. They had their tea as usual and around 10 o'clock the said their Good night's and went to bed. The following morning Sheila was up early and when Sue came through to the living-room she noticed Sheila looking a little pale in the face. Sue jokingly said 'You look as though you have seen a ghost". Sheila replied, "What th' hell were you up to last night?  Couldn't you sleep? What was so important that you had to put the television on so loud in the middle of the night.. You must have left all the windows open too as it was freezing."...

Well what do you think happened that night??

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Autumn Leaves..

October's almost over and November is but a few days away yet we're well through autumn and heading towards winter now. With its crisp, sharp nippy mornings, which almost take your breath away. You feel the chill mostly as you step out of your front door and shiver as you watch your breath freeze in the still morning air. Tall magnificent trees, stand before you in full splendour of autumn colour. The clocks go back the days grow darker and most trees will have almost shed their leaves. Other shrubs and trees are bare. They retain their colour through their stems. They enlighten the bare undergrowth. A mixture of  leaves lie crisp at your feet and they crackle as you walk through them on a frosty morning.

Above your head the sunlight dapples its rays throughout the branches of the trees. Then casting  your eyes through the lower hanging branches, you see nature's own workers marking their own territory with mosaic masterpiece's of silken threads which sparkle in the morning dew.  Their fine threads, difficult to see until... "Oops' .. it's to late ... your face, is covered in their fine sticky threads. You're so busy trying to remove them from your face, when you almost stumble upon a tree root sticking up out from the undergrowth. Clearing your face you manage to gather yourself together and luckily restrain yourself from falling head long into the cold damp leaves.

The days drag by and with each day the temperature plummets down and down it goes. The cold frosty air laces itself upon anything that is metal and Jack frost dances round the doors and windows. The ground begins to harden and it's time for nature to sleep.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Woodhorn Country Park

Today whilst the sun was shining and warm I thought I would take my dad and his dog out for a drive. Although I have lived here awhile I am ashamed to admit that I have not visited the many Country Parks in the area around Northumberland as perhaps I should.

Today, I took it upon myself to visit Woodhorn Country Park, Ashington in Northumberland. Only a short distance from our home. As we arrived we were surprised to find that it was not only a Country Park but it also had a Museum as well.

As we entered through the main gate to our delight there in front of us was a huge lake surrounded by forestry, farmland and a Premier Inn.  Refreshments for all.

We parked the car in the main parking area looking out onto a lovely man-made lake with a variety of swans all happily foraging for bits of scraps thrown by the visitors. Nicely planned walkways with paths and seating in case you need to take a rest.

There was a railway line with a red and black train which collected passengers and took them up to the old Colliery Museum.

Due to dad being almost ninety with walking difficulties I suggested I take him to the pub for a cool pint of John Smith's beer, whilst I walked his dog around the lake.  I must admit how beautiful and natural it was and only minutes away from the town of Ashington.  On return from the walk both dog and I had a cool soft drink.

As we left Woodhorn Country Park, we decided that on our next visit we would take a look at the Colliery Museum.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Taking The Plunge!

Have you ever felt your clothes are a little to tight or your skin is looking saggy and not at it's best. I recall a few years back when I was desperately overweight. Looking into a mirror and feeling ashamed of my body. I felt old, frumpy and my joints ached. Just walking or moving around began to feel impossible and generally my mental attitude took the plunge.

Two years ago, I was fit and full of energy, I was always busy, competing horses, swimming, visiting the gym and walking .. I never felt the need to check out my diet or keep an eye on my weight, until the past year when I felt that all of my energy and fitness had just got up and went.  Recently, I came across Indigo Horizons which at that time was covering a fitness regime. I thought whey hey, perhaps I should try this and see if it can help me.

Up until recently I lived in the country where I always felt at ease with plenty hill walks and moors to lose yourself on and  lovely people, I knew well. It's only been recently since moving - down to the north-east that everything has changed.  I'm not meaning to sound pathetic but since I became more involved with the Internet my exercise regime went out of the window. Time seemed to fly by and in very short space of time my muscles became soft, my body sagged and junk food became my diet.. In fact I gradually became a fat slob!

Since reading Indigo Horizons  I have been cutting out the junk food and eating a more healthy diet. I am walking regularly, riding my horse more often and although my joints are still painful  I am walking more and cycling when I have spare time. I feel now that it has improved my attitude for instead of procrastinating, I am sitting at my desk and writing this post which is long overdue.

I wonder if perhaps you have felt like I did and if you tried anything to improve your fitness and state of mind. I look back on it now and I'm pleased I took the plunge!!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Cross My Palm with Silver!

I wonder how many of you go and have your palms read by the Gypsies each year. I used to find the whole concept of having my fortune told very interesting. A friend of mine was visited by a gypsy one year at her place of work.  The gypsies gathered together preparing for their visit to the village of St Boswell's. They camped on the verges until the second last week in July when they were allowed to move onto the green.  People would queue for hours to see her and my friend swore by her accuracy. Each year Tina Lee would tell my friend not to see anyone else until she returned the following year. I visited her numerous times but she was never as accurate with me. Recently, due to transferring my horse to a new livery yard. I met with a young lad who talked of his visit to a Gypsy. It was during the month of June when the fair arrived at Town Moor in Newcastle. I had been going through a great deal and I guess I was looking for answers. Lee the young lad talked about the Gypsy and his past three years experience with her saying  - how accurate she was.  At first I thought it might be Tina but it wasn't. I decided despite the horrendous weather to visit this Welsh Gypsy.

On arrival there was a huge queue so we joined at the end and waited patiently. I couldn't help noticing how quiet the other caravans were. They all had boards outside advertising who they were and where they had come from. There were Gypsies standing at the caravan entrance beckoning people passing by to enter, "Cross my palms with silver they called and I will read your past, present and future." We seemed to be waiting forever. My back ached and due to it being  extremely wet with mud up to our calves, it made sense to stay still. Two hours later it was our turn. I urged my friend to go first, hoping I'd have time to loosen my joints before entering her caravan. Then my turn came, as I stepped up into the caravan with my wellington boots and two inch thick mud glued to them, I was embarrassed due to being stiff as I almost fell through the doorway. She sat with her big smile and pointed to the seat opposite her, I sat down. She was a young woman aged mid twenties and quite pretty with her oval coloured painted skin and her long dark almost black hair.  She sat there in all her finery with a huge artificial smile across her face.  From that moment I felt a victim as she began to interrogate me with her big painted smile   After one glance at my hands she said," I should take a look at myself in the mirror and that I should start acting and looking like a woman.before I reach my 50's " I explained that I had just come from seeing my horse but she shook her head continuously and said, "I should just go back to the horse and live with it in the stable. Then she went on to say I should wear make-up and perfume.There were many other insults throughout my ten minutes reading some of which I would prefer not to disclose. This reading cost me five pounds for ten minutes. I have had many reading from  psychic/ mediums alike and no-one has ever spoken to me like that. I know I shall never frequent another Gypsy as long as I live. It was the most appalling experience I have ever had. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Laced Flowering Cherry

It was raining earlier but despite the dull weather I thought I could see a glimpse of sunshine breaking through the clouds. With a bit of luck, we will be able to drink our iced lemon tea on the table under the parasol. "Hi, Virginia, so lovely to see you!  Hope you found your way - without much trouble.  I thought we might have iced lemon tea at the table with the parasol. Is that all right with you? Do help yourself to some home-made fresh cream scones and the cookies in the jar. Feel free to have a wander, I'll be with you in a short while." 


"I am so pleased you phoned to say you would come. You look wonderful in your long floating dress, it's very pretty. Silk is it?"..." I thought so! Pink suits you so well. Your sandals are very smart, such an unusual colour but Virginia they look fabulous with your dress! I hope you will excuse me in my casuals but when it is hot and I'm at home, I prefer shorts, vest and sand-shoes. "How is your iced lemon tea?"..."It is so refreshing on a day like today."... "I beg your pardon?"..." Oh, of course, I will take you for a walk around the garden. (I do hope she has something flat to put on her feet. I wouldn't like her to spoil those beautiful sandals.) ... "Sorry, you were saying?"..."  Oh, you thought you could hear music!"

The rustle of leaves, blow so gently in the breeze,
The sun shines down, from high above,
It sends its dappled rays, between the branches and the haze, 
As the limbs sway to and fro,
 And the water from the fountain sprays below.

"I often sit and listen to the sound of my garden.  It is amazing what one hears when one’s mind is
calm. Would you like another biscuit before we go?  They're quite yummy, Please help yourself! I believe you entered the secret garden from the south entrance, last time.  I thought perhaps we could walk by the North Gate from the court-yard. Then we would go immediately into herb garden and later into the rose garden.  Both gardens are quite unique in their own way but the herb garden is full of colour and delights! Would you like to take a look?"..." Good!!

"I'm so glad you have brought some flat shoes with you, I thought you might fall and twist your ankle." Now let me see, cast your eyes to the right and along the walls, we have the most delicious Espalier Pears and Victoria Plums." Apparently, it is a little early for the fruit but there is plenty blossom so hopefully the bees will be busy. Along the borders edge we have the traditional Buxus sempervirens hedging. Can you smell curry? That is Helichrysum Italicum, it has a strong aroma but I love its foliage! In the centre of the garden surrounded by the small hedging we have the usual herbs Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Fennel, Basil and other herbs.  I planted Rocket and Sorrel on the edge here. Don't you just love the radish taste of the Rocket and the lemon taste of the Sorrel? I believe the citrus flavour of the Sorrel improves the taste of the salad. Well I think so!  You will see fennel in other areas of our herbaceous borders too, it blends nicely among other flowers. 

This gate on the right leads to the main garden but I would like you to see this garden first and then the rose garden. If we have time I'll take you into the main area."..."  Yes! As you say, there are indeed, so many different textures and colours. Let us continue round to the other side and you will smell the fragrance of mixed herbs."..." Yes, that is honeysuckle over the arch seat."..." Oh, thank you your so kind,... I do love my garden.  Let us go through this gateway covered with the Hops and continue into the rose garden."... "Yes, they can be made into beer but I doubt if we'll manage to get enough to make our own!"  

"There are some very old roses here, some of which range back to well before we arrived. They were in a poor condition and it is only in the last two years that we have cultivated them to standard  they are today. This one is Gertrude Jekyll, it's small buds look like scrolls which open into large pink rosette shaped flowers and have the sweetest fragrance. It is a climber and a lovely colour cerise pink. You will come across some rose shrubs like it throughout the garden.  The one on your right is Rosa Albertine, This climber like Gertrude Jekyll is much paler pink in comparison with a strong perfume. We have Felipe Kiftsgate which is a very robust rambler and a very prickly rose. Due to its prolific growth the one we have is growing through an old established Japanese Prunus serrulata (Flowering Cherry). It is a spectacular sight to see with its trusses of creamy white flowers cascading down through the branches and a delicate perfume filling the air on a summers evening.. It also means we have flowers from the tree twice a year instead of once in the springtime. The small roses in the centre are Hybrid Tea roses with standard roses in between which are also very pretty. I much prefer the Old English varieties but it is always good to keep up-to-date with the roses on the market."

"I am afraid I have run out of time. I am so sorry!  Perhaps you would  like to come by another time? When we can have a glass of Elderflower water and I'll show you a little more of the garden!"

Saturday, 2 June 2012


                     Designed by KATIE O'SULLIVAN

I know I have completed my post for random facts regarding both  My Lovely Blogger Award and Kreativ Blogger but it wasn't until now that I realised they are actually separate. So I have decided to give this Kreativ Blogger Award by Kate O'Sullivan the credit it is due together with seven random facts  also.

So here they are albeit a little shorter than before.
  • Although I'm blonde in the profile picture my hair is now actually dark with highlights which is my natural colour.
  • My eyes are hazel and my skin is quite brown due to being out in the elements.
  • I wear contact lenses but when writing I sometimes wear plus twos as well.
  • I enjoy reading and -writing my blog and would like to write my own book at some point. I I'm working hard to become a good blogger. I  enjoy reading but the book must have me gripping my seat with a twist in it. I have recently read Jim Browns latest Novel BOOM!! Which was awesome.
  • I was a bit over weight about nine months ago but now I'm slim to medium build Which I do prefer.
  • My favourite colours are green, pink, deep blues, Creams and greys except yellow and browns sadly - I don't suit yellows and browns.
  • I am a great one despite all my efforts for arriving late, I don't like to be late for anything

Well these are my seven random facts which give you a little information about me. To be honest, I feel this post is perhaps the way I should  go and avoid getting to intense. Well thank you for popping by and reading my post. The people I have nominated for this Lovely Kreative Award are as follows:-

Denise Mitchell http://www.cupcakesandcadenzas.com/
Bob Scotney - Bob Scotney
Shannon King - Shannon King
Mooderino - http://moodywriting.blogspot.co.uk/
Mama Diaries -http://sherryellis.blogspot.co.uk/
L Diane Wolfe - L Diane Wolfe

Friday, 1 June 2012

Keith's Pride


Isn't it strange when one particular situation can turn your life and everyone else's lives upside down.

Let me explain. Since moving south, I brought my daughters horse with me which has involved keeping him at livery. The yard where he stays is absolutely perfect. The horses all get on well together and it is a beautifully run yard with lots of good amenities. The owners Glenda and Keith are the ideal animal lovers and treat each horse with a calm relaxing attitude. Glenda is a keen horse woman, whilst Keith is a little wary of them but is a keener boatman.  Although Keith had a fear of horses when I first met them, I was pleased to learn that he and Alf gelled completely. Alf would head-butt Keith and Keith would punch him back. It grew into a regular game between them and over time Keith grew braver and  no-one else was allowed to do him.. Keith told me on a few occasions that Alf was his pride and joy. Well you can imagine his surprise look when I told him Alf's registered racing name - can't you, "Keith's Pride" Over the past four years Alf has become so chilled and has put on loads of condition. He had everyone bar one person wrapped around his hoof and everyone loved his character - who wouldn't have!

A few days ago I received a phone call from Glenda advising me that Alf was in great form, unfortunately however we have some bad news. Your thoughts of course are, "well if my horse is okay, then what on earth could be bad." Then she told me,  apparently the Equestrian Centre had been sold. They buyer wants it  as a private yard. The Equestrian Centre has been on the market for a number of years and since the recession, very few people were buying. I guess it was at the back of our minds but one tends to over look these things after awhile - don't we?. Suddenly everyone is in a mad panic to re-home their horses.

Alf won't be so easy to re-home, sadly. He is terribly insecure and worries when he is with no-one he knows. Some people would think he was crazy for he can't bear hanging around to be cleaned up and expects everything to be done ten minutes ago. However he is lovely to ride once you get him tacked up and your on top, then he is in his element.. One Christmas we did dressage to music, the run up to the big day was great fun and he absolutely loved it. His biggest problem is that he hates change and wants everyone to love him. He was twenty-one this year but he was a leap year foaly, so does that actually make him  just over five? He has the mentality of a five years old. One person  who wasn't so keen on him reckoned if he was human he would be on Valium. Alfie is a typical thoroughbred but we love him and I like everyone else  am now looking for the perfect home.

If you have any comments or have your own erotic horse I'd love to hear your views. Until then Thanks for stopping by. 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Baskets and Troughs

Today I am planting up my baskets and planters. I know your probably all saying I'm late but today is the first chance I have had since I have returned to Natural Twigs n Spices.

Just the other day, I came across two extra containers and baskets. I myself, prefer wrought iron containers as I like to fill them with lots of moss. I recalled seeing moss which was left over from Christmas, so I thought I would use it. I set to work and in no time at all the baskets and planters were lined.  

Next was a layer of cellophane or polythene to help contain the moisture therefore avoiding the container or basket from drying out. I snip the polythene to allow excess water to escape. I then filled each basket with a compost mixture. This year I have cheated and purchased  a 60 litre bag of compost. Previously I have always made my own.

I then covered the baskets to retain the moisture until I am ready to add the plants.
Having left over night to settle, I prepare my planting material.

Today the sun was shining so I pushed on with the planting. A few weeks ago I purchased a number of basket and container plants which included Fuchsia upright and trailing, Verbena,  Bacopa, Nepeta, trailing Lobelia and Suffinias of various colours and I have mixed them through.

I hope they will look as pretty as my other baskets which I have done in the past. I have some plants left over which I shall find homes in and around the garden alternatively I may give them to a friend. 

It is beginning to warm up outside, they are hanging in the greenhouse waiting for the weather to settle and frost to subside.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Seven Random Facts About Me

I would like to say thanks to Siv Maria. for this  Lovely and Kreative award and I love it. However I must continue circulating it throughout the land of blog which of course means I must share Seven random facts about myself and then pass these awards onto other blogger's. The awards were designed by two lovely ladies, with beautiful personalities. I  hope I can do the award justice and to include any random facts that may make you smile. So here's "looking at you all!" 
  • Well I'm not sure if I'm very random these days, although perhaps I should leave it for you to decide. Some years ago I decided to do things for me instead of everyone else. I have a desire to cure my tremor. This is not perhaps the medicinal way of curing the problem but it's my theory and I shall leave it for you to ponder on whether you think it's a good one or not! 
  • For my 50th birthday, I decided I would try everything I had never done, at least once. I have always been interested in living on the edge and I am very competitive once I have the hang of it. The first experience was to fly a glider which I did and loved. The second was to zip-wire off the Tyne Bridge, this one I have yet to carry though. Most of all I have a desire to para-glide on my own.. I just cant wait for the thrill. My friends and family think I'm bonkers!
  • As I love being outdoors, I'm at my happiest when out visiting friends, riding my beautiful thoroughbred grey horse Alfie. Neither of us are spring chickens but we both enjoy a good power stroll through the forestry. Once a year we parade fully plaited and turned out looking frightfully smart for our five minute jaunt at Christmas time where  show everyone how stiff we both are to the melody of "Here Comes Santa Claus," its Alf's high light of the year and if he is happy then I am too!
  • I look after my father, as well as taking orders, making bouquets and delivering them. Writing my blog post, keeping my website up-to-date.  Riding, teaching, healing, and  the usual chores. However, when the"sun his hat on," I'm off with the work clothes and on with the shorts, jump into the car, shades on and head to the beach". To the wide open spaces, the ocean and golden sand and me. At that time of the day either, "No-one will have surfaced or they will have all gone! That's my idea of peace and most importantly "freedom" together with Cream and the music;  Dance floor is like the sea, Ceiling is the sky. You're the sun and as you shine on me,  I feel free, I feel free, I feel free.                                  Lyrics by Jack Bruce
  • When I was younger I loved my job and ended up giving every minute I had to it, eventually becoming its slave. I worked long unsociable hours and the years passed me by. I had my family I miscarried my first, a little sadness on my part there. Later my daughter arrived. My marriage dissolved so I ended  struggling to bring her up on my own. Now I look at my daughter and I'm so proud of her, she has accomplished all the things I'd want her to. It would be lovely if she met a nice man to give me some grandchildren.
  • I love socialising, going out for meals with friends and occasionally a handsome gent but that doesn't happen very often. I'm not a red meat fan. I love fish which is my main diet. I love all fruit and vegetables and can eat fish raw or cooked, I'm easy. I like All types of food provided its not swimming in grease, Hot and spicy, Cantonese, Chinese, Italian and Indian is good too.  I love good full bodied red wine Merlot which is my favourite but white is okay on occasion too. Champagne is delicious but I'm not rich enough to drink that very often - sadly!
  • I love all types of music, "Smooth" music, BBC 3 Classical FM and radio BBC 4, Where would we all be with out them. and still do but I have found I'm becoming more fond of Radio four. Is that a sign I'm getting old, do you think. I love listening to a good story on radio four. If all else fails I read a book. Although recently I tend to live sleep and drink on the Internet and in that order.

Thank you funny and beautiful  Siv Maria for these lovely awards. Please make sure to check out Siv's blogs post, with her interesting fairy stories from Norway and visit Judy Garland with her magic red shoes.  Also the  LOVELY MELYNDA and CREATIVE KATIE O'SULLIVAN  together with their great blogs. Here are my picks for random exposure, no pressure feel free to use them as you wish.
These are the blogs I think are creative.
Bob Scotney - Bob Scotney
Shannon King - Shannon King
Mooderino - http://moodywriting.blogspot.co.uk/
Mama Diaries -http://sherryellis.blogspot.co.uk/
L Diane Wolfe - L Diane Wolfe

Friday, 11 May 2012

My Reflections!

April 30 2012, the April Blog Challenge came to an end.

My theme was Cambodia although I wont say it was an easy theme. I am happy to say that it was both enjoyable and it took me back down memory lane. Due to the different themes which were chosen not everyone would have managed to complete every letter  but we all gave it our best shot. Cambodia seemed to be the one thought that sprung to mind when I first signed up to the Challenge. Not sure what I was getting into I went along with the theme.

I enjoyed the researching of each letter, it certainly gave me something to get my head into and I met some of the most  delightful people at the same time. Which made it so much more worthwhile. Since the start I have covered everything from flying experiences to travelling in junks, visiting temples, finding information on birds, animal, fish and reptiles most of which turned out to be endangered or red listed.

I appreciate that Cambodia is not everyone's cup of tea. This has been a first time I have ever applied myself to writing regularly every day since I was at college. It has been very good for me, as like many of you, I am inclined to procrastinate. Whilst on the challenge I have worked my way through so much more than I would have done in a normal day. From here on in, I am hoping to write and post each day with new topics and planning each of my days as though the challenge is still running. I would certainly pick a theme again for 2013 if I am still around. There were some interesting story posts. which I thoroughly enjoyed reading

So let us all pop open a bottle of Champagne, Wine or Sparkling water and whatever your tipple and pour ourselves a glass of whatever appeals and let us raise our glasses.;-

To our Hosts
Thank them for making the April 2012 Blog Challenge so enjoyable, and thank them for all their hard work.
Let us also raise our glasses and thank every one who joined in for all of their support and guidance and Last but not least

"3 Cheers" to everyone including ourselves and a big pat on the back for all our hard work. 

Oh and before I go. 

Sorry I'm four days late but doc say's I will be in bed for at least another five days!! 

Friday, 4 May 2012


Sick Bay

Hi everybody, sorry I haven't been around since Monday to read all your posts but I was mowed over by a virus. I have managed to switch on the laptop today, first time this week and I'm looking forward to reading your posts on Monday when I return.  Congratulations to everybody on making it through your A-Z.See you Monday! 

 Jenni   x

Monday, 30 April 2012

Z: Zosteropidae palpebrosus( Oriental White Eye Warbler)

Oriental White-eye - Zosterops palpebrosus
Oriental White Eye Warbler
Zosteropidae palpebrosus (The Oriental White eye Warbler )

This sub-tropical bird is found mainly in  China as well as Cambodia and throughout Asia. It is a migratory bird and they do their mating in northern China. They migrate in the winter season to South Asia.

These pretty little birds are only 8-9 cms and are very distinctive with their yellow marking over their heads, necks and plumage. This makes them easy to be seen.

They go around in small groups and live on nectar from the flowers and small  insects. There are several different species and they all come in a variety of colours. Which places them in the sub-species.
To find out more Click on the link here http://www.avianweb.com/orientalwhiteeyes.html

Chestnut White Eye Warbler

Zosteropidae erythropleurus Chestnut Flanked White Eye Warbler

This species is Red listed Endangered and can be seen in Cambodia's bird sanctuary where they are safe.
These birds make theirs nests high up in the trees of the Poplar, Alder, Willow and both varieties of deciduous and evergreen trees and forest. They will lay up to three eggs per nest.

To learn more check out the link here http://www.avianweb.com/images/birds/ChestnutflankedWhiteeye.jpg

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Y: Yellow ((Hieremys annandalii)

Y: Yellow (Hieremys annandalii)  which I hope you will find interesting, I certainly did.

Y is for Yellow and today, I will introduce you to my little friend the -Yellow headed Temple Turtle. These are very large aquatic turtles and they live in the pools and canals around the Buddhist Temples. They have no teeth  as they live on the vegetation and water lilies. Their colouring is interesting with yellow decorative stripes around its head. and under his shell. The top of his shell has two black spots one on either side when young. As he becomes and adult the spots become larger and blend together.

In Cambodia they are found in pools and canals close to the Buddhist temples. They prefer damp wet  evergreen forests and flood plains. when in the rivers, they prefer slow running water.

Friday, 27 April 2012

X : Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis

Horned Green Frog

Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis | Aural Horned Frog

There are four new species of frogs which have been found in the Cardamon Mountains and here I hope to tell you a little of Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis, as this post is about the letter Xenophrys.

Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis is the latest species found on the "Phnom Aural" Cardamons highest mountain in Cambodia and is to be viewed at the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary.  This frog has green blood and purple bones and measures 76.7 mm long. They prefer a damp moist area where it is cool, under leaves at the edge of green forests and approximately 250-300 metres from the river. The small tadpoles of this species were seen on the rocks in a fast flowing river.

I couldn't find a picture of a Xenophrys (Megophrys) auralensis. I have therefore posted a  Horned Green frog instead.

Reference Ohler, A., S. R. Swan, and J. C. Daltry. 2002

Thursday, 26 April 2012

W; West Baray

West Mebon Baray – a vast man-made lake

As we were staying a few days in Siem Reap we took a trip to see the West Baray reservoir.  This is one of the largest man-made lakes in Cambodia. It looks extremely natural and measures 8 by 2.1 kilometres. It was constructed east-westerly and is close to Angkor Thom. It's water is contained by high wide dyke's and  both the baray/ reservoir and the island were built by the Khmer soldiers and on it stands the West Mebon Hindu Temple.

The French believed that the West Baray was built to hold large tanks of water with irrigation pipes to feed the rice fields. After careful architectural research it was found that on the base of the lake, walls, steps and pottery objects were found with an inscription on them with 713 AD showing signs of early day settlements.

The east dyke runs down and around the Angkor Thom the capital city of King Yasavarman with the Bethang temple at its centre. There were some places submerged beneath the water. The south dyke partially covered a brick section of the A K Tung temple.

The water is clean and the local people visit to swim  and sail the boats. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

V: Vulture - Bird of Prey

Vultures Birds of Prey

Here we have our favourite bird of all time. The Scavengers of the Jungle. 

Vultures found within the province of Stung Treng in Cambodia are between 70-85 cm high. This is classed as medium size. Their heads are darkish with a pinkish grey colouring with silver beaks. They have quite large round eyes and their necks are thick and short, with a white collar around the bottom, a dark black plumage covers the top down to the rump  lower feather which are a silver colour..

The main threat to these birds of prey is caused by lack of sustainable food. With the continual hunting and poaching of buffalo over the years there has been a decline on numbers of vultures in areas of china and Eastern Asia. This was partially caused by a drug used on domestic farm animals to reduce inflammation.  Unfortunately the drug residue remains in carcasses and the vultures were poisoned when consuming the meat.

Apparently the drug is absent in Cambodia and a group of supporting  farmers have set up vulture restaurants to help feed these critically endangered birds. There are two restaurants one in Stung Treng province and the other Siempang and Seasan. These restaurants have been set up by local agricultural farmers by dropping off cows that have not been treated with the drug dichlofenic. Rangers are monitoring and supervising each  restaurant. It has been noted since 1980 that 171  vultures were counted at vulture restaurants.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

U: Ursus thybetinus

Cambodia Black Bear

There are eight species of bears throughout the world but Cambodian has the black and Sun brown  bears. These are beautiful animals with large bodies and thick sturdy legs. Their heads are broad between the ears with a long snout and smallish eyes. They have flat padded paws with five sharp non-retractable claws.

With an acute sense of smell, it helps them to find berries and other tasty snacks which is their main diet. They have a quick athletic build and are excellent swimmers and climbers. They make their homes in burrows and caves and some do hibernate in the wild. They are naturally very unsociable but have been seen in small groups. This is generally mother bears with their cubs.Ursidae (The Family)

They are nocturnal but some can be crepuscular becoming active (Dawn and Dusk) or diurnal active during (daylight hours).

These beautiful animals are taken as cubs, put in cages and basically tortured and starved only to entertain tourists and travellers or used for medicine. Some are kept tied up and their body parts are removed when still alive and are used for soups, medicine and other awful cruel painful extremes. These beautiful animals are being hunted and butchered as we speak.

Keeping or poaching bears is illegal in Cambodia and despite recent efforts to increase penalties both hunting and killing of the Sun bear and Asiatic black bear continues.

There are many ways to help save these lovely creatures -  at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Monday, 23 April 2012

T: Tonle Sap

Tonle Sap Sunsets

Tonle Sap is a large freshwater lake situated  not far away from Seim Reap and the Angkor City. 

During the wet season the Tonle Sap lake becomes swollen and  the people who live there during the wet season move back to the flood plain. Their homes are made of wood and sit upon stilts. Tonle Sap is the largest fresh water lake in the whole of Asia.

In the dry season the lake is 2500km wide and one metre deep but during the wet season  the lake expands to a massive  12000 km and three times the depth at least.. The home of the villagers  is 16km South East of Seim Reap and the lake is surrounded by mangrove forests. This whole area is the home to a large variety of crab eating birds.

Ang Trapeng Thmor is a Reserve for the Sarus Crane.of which  there are 300 of this species and 200 of other wild bird species.

Prey Taol is the Wild birds Sanctuary, it is the home of many of Cambodia's large wild birds and is the perfect home for bird watchers. The best time to see these birds is in the dry season, when the birds arrive to breed. The local people rely on the fish and shrimps which are harvested.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

S: Sihanoukville


The history of Sihanoukville goes back only as far as 1955 when the area was then known as kampong Saom. In August of that year a group of construction workers made camp in an area of the jungle which they decided was unoccupied. This was to be the base camp for the building of the new port of Kampong Saon.   1954, Indochina,  Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were one unit within French authority. It was during this time that Cambodia continued to  maintain control of the international sea trade on the Mekong river. The dissolution of the French Indochina in 1954, meant that the Mekong Delta could revert back to the control of the Vietnam. The Vietnam administered support to access the ocean by putting into action the construction and building of the port. They decided on Kampong Saon because of its depth of water and because it was more accessible.

Sihanoukville has since become a resort which is offering a wide scale of activities and top class holiday accommodation. It is five minutes away from Sokha beach and is about a kilometre long. it is well kept and  and open to the public.

Siamese  crocodiles

Wildlife National Park

Siamese crocodiles have been in decline for a number of years. According to experts, they say there are only 250 Siamese crocodiles left that are roaming wild in Cambodia. Some have spread themselves over a wider area than what was originally thought. The area now cover includes Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam and possibly Thailand.

It was recently noted, that a nest of 22 eggs had been found, out in the Cardamom mountains in Cambodia. The nest was found in the jungle by a researcher who had been on the look out  for crocodile eggs... Fifteen of the eggs were removed from the nest and taken to safety. They were then placed in a compost heap incubation area to stay until they hatched. The others were left behind as the researcher thought they might not hatch at all. A camera  trap had been set up to keep an eye on the eggs in the nest in case of predators.

Shortly afterwards the fifteen eggs began to hatch naturally, and  it showed that the other seven were hatching also. Only a small amount of these crocodiles will survive and it will take up to fifteen years for each one to reach maturity.

Due to the decline in numbers these crocodiles have been listed critically endangered reptiles. The Chouerng people believe that the crocodiles are forest spirits and should not be harmed in anyway. Hopefully the young Siamese crocodiles will be taken care of until they are a year old. They will be allowed to return to a wild but somewhere where they will hopefully be protected. The harsh world of hunters are out there who love their soft skin, also the breeders who stock them to cross with larger crocodiles. This will weaken their species and the fear is that they may become through time extinct.

The operation to protect and hatch the eggs was mounted by United Kingdom-based Fauna and Flora International, for whom conservation of this once-abundant species is a key program.

Friday, 20 April 2012

R: Ratanakiri

Ratanakiri's  History

From the Stone Age to the /Bronze Age in the 4th century, the towns and regions of the highlander people were invaded by armies of Annamites, Chams, Khmer and Thai during the early years. Between 13th - 18th centuries, Highlands and villages were raided and prisoners were taken as slaves by the kings slave traders.

The French arrived 1893 and incorporated French Indochina area with a communal rule replacing slavery. Rubber plantations were built and the local people where forced to work.They did not like communal rule to begin with but later became weak and accepted it. Ratanakiri province was created 1959, the land in and around it had originally been Shing Treng Province and the name Ratanakiri was made up from the word Ratana = "Gem"  and Kiri "Mountain" both from Sanskrit giri) two features for which Ratanakiri is known.

1950-1960 Khmer campaigned in north-east Cambodia to bring the villagers under government rule.  They were put to work on roads and the rubber plantations. The working  conditions were horrendous and the people forced to work.  If they didn't cooperate the Khmer burnt the villages and killing hundreds of people.

In 1969 - 1970 The United States moved in and bombed the region, forcing Khmer  people out of the town to forage for food as they ran to escape the Khmer. 1970 Central government withdrew their troops leaving Khmer Rouge regime to pick up the pieces. These were harsh times but then  life became much worse. Khmer Lao were not allowed to speak in their native tongue nor practise their religious faith, schools were closed, which were believed incompatible with the communists.

In 1979 the Vietnamese defeated the Khmer. after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, its rebels remained in the forests of Ratanakiri.

Female Baby Elephant

Ratanakiri Wildlife National Park

Ratanakiri with its monsoon climate, lowland tropical forest and it mountainous hilly forestry make it the ideal home for some of their wild animals within the asian mainland. There are two provinces, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri where its been recorded that there are over 40 species of mammals, which include Asian elephants, gaur and monkey's. 76 species of birds, and  9 reptile species. Within the Virachey National Park alone there are 30 species of ants, 19 Katydid species, 37 species of fish, 35 species of reptile, 26 species of amphibian numerous others which not been observed enough yet.. Areas have been placed within the park for the different species including the endangered species of birds, giant ibis. The floral ground cover of around 320 types of ground cover and 189 tree species including young saplings. Almost half of Ratanakiri has been put out to endangered species to protect them, these areas include Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary. and the Virachey National park.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Q: Queen

There have only been two Queens that have been documented during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, from the year 1181 AD and during that time were recognised as very good years. He was a great king leaving his stamp on Cambodian history.

King Jayavarman VII and his two Queens created a wonderful Khmer Empire. His first Queen Jayarajadevi was his first wife with incredible talent in architecture but later died and he married her sister Queen Indradevi, both sisters and devout Buddhists. The second queen was also an architect, they both advised in the structure and designs of  the temples. They nurtured social changes for the people of Cambodia helping in the organisation of religious education for the future generation. The king built different functions and memorials for his parents. They were great war leaders as a triad. Together with the King not only did  he cover architecture but places of education, hospitals and rest places for weary travellers. Wherever the king went his queen's were close behind him.

In 1989 the World Monument Fund spent a great deal of time and money doing such good work  to maintain this beautiful temple Preah Khan. They classified these two Queen's were apsaras or deities.  This allowed the locals to deface these queens, so that they could worship them. Hence the statues have lipstick, powder and incense around them. These were the only sculptures to have precious stones encrusted in their crown, and other areas of their bodies as well as golden hoops in their ears. All of which have been stolen or lobes hacked off.  It is believed that these two statues were indeed queens and not apsaras after all.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

P: Preah Kahn

Preah Khan temple is within the Angkor Wat City. It was built in the twelfth century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. This temple was built in a flat design with rectangular galleries. It was both Buddhist and Hindu religions, which historians thought must caused some conflict. Angkor Thom lay to the north-east of Preah Khan, with Jayataka Baray, which lay to the west. The temple was run by a very large type of organisation accommodating up to 100,000 officials and servants.

King Jayavarman gained his victory when in combat with the Chams in 1191. The word Chams, stands for "Holy Sword", the original name was Nagar Jayasari - which meant "Holy City of Victory".
It was believed that the area where the temple stood had once been occupied by Royal Palaces for the King Yasavaraman II and also Tribhvranadityvarman. According to history the statue of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvarary, had been carved in the image of the King's father was dedicated in 1191 by his mother who later was commemorated at Ta Phrohm.  History has given lots of information and any independent  statue's found within the temple were removed to safety. In the foundations of the temple, stood a tall and wide, block of stone or wood which was inscribed with bas-relief. This was used for funerals and commemorated purposes, it also had titles and names painted onto it.

In 1927 - 1932 the temple jungle was cleared but in certain areas tree shoots had grown up through the foundations of the buildings. Little could be done to return the beautiful  temple to its original form. Apart from the trees and vegetation the temple structure was in a poor state of decay. Despite its condition the temple was believed to have been quite magnificent in its day, with its gold statues, silver, gems, pearls and perfume.

Discovery of this beautiful temple, being found under prolific conditions of jungle vegetation, it was agreed to leave the temple as it stood but to run a maintenance program to help restore it without falsifying its history.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

O: Ox Cambodian or Kouprey

The Ox (Kouprey) - is an animal who is shy and evasive.  He stands 5'6" to his shoulder and is grayish in colour. His horns split at the age of three and become frayed as he grows older. He is solid in build and has a large piece of skin which hangs from his neck.  His appetite is huge as he enjoys a good feed of hillside grassland in the open spaces, with dense forestry close by to cool him from the heat of the sun  and protects him from predators.

He and his family group together enjoy a nice muddy pool. There is nothing better, than a mud pool for him and the heard to cool themselves. Another strong part of his personality is that he stays very close to the herd which can be anything up to 20 Oxen, The herd consists of cows, calves and young bulls. The average bull weighs between 680-910kg (1500-2000)lbs.

The Ox (Kouprey)was first known in the West around 1937. It  became knowledge that the Ox had been seen in the north eastern countries including Cambodia. During the years from 1940-1960 there was a notable decline in the numbers of the Ox and by the 1970's due to hunting these beautiful beasts were thought to have become extinct.

However over the years and by 1986, news brought hope, that the Ox  had been seen in southern Laos, eastern Thailand, western Vietnam and southern China, that the breed was still existed. It was believed that the breed had disappeared from Cambodia, but due to hoof tracks being seen and their horns and skulls being sold in the open markets, it was noted that there is still Ox out on the plains of Cambodia.

Monday, 16 April 2012

N: Neak Pean

Neak Pean temple, on a circular island in the centre of Preah Khan Baray. This very small temple was constructed by King Jayavarman VII, who ruled Cambodia towards the end of the 12th century.

The water surrounding the temple was constructed to provide its support workers with plenty water. The Neak Pean was built as a reservoir, east of Preah Khan. The reservoir was large enough to supply water to irrigate the rice fields during the dry season.  The water went into the first main pool, then it was broken into four smaller pools, finally a further eight pools. The island  was in the centre with a single tower made of sandstone. The reason for building this temple was unknown. Khmer kings, however were known to place islands within Lakes (Barays).  It has been suggested that Neak Pean represents a shrine commonly placed on an island at the centre of a Baray.

It is said that Neak Pean represents a mythical lake in the Himalayas, where waters were thought to cure all illness. Descriptions of Anavatapta include references to four surrounding springs spewing forth from the mouths of a lion, an elephant, a horse, or an ox. This closely corresponds to Neak Pean—its central pond drains into the four surrounding pools through gargoyles shaped like a lion, an elephant, a horse, and a man. It is uncertain whether one gargoyle is a man or an ox.

The shrine has the head of a flaring serpent and its head is similar to a lambshead. There are two serpents and they are brothers. Each has its own name which is Nanda and Upananda. Both of these brothers live in the mythical lake Anatapta, This name is given for the main pool which is close to Mt. Meru. These two serpent brothers are responsible for making it rain.  The rain fills the main lake and then pours into the four  rivers of the world. This is symbolised by the four smaller pools. Then a further eight pools Between the heads of the two serpents is a horse with men hanging onto it. This symbolises the Balaha,  spirit of the Buddha Avalokitashvara who he rescues men from wrecks in the Indian Ocean.

It was believed that pilgrims used the dark chamber to stand in, believing their sins would be washed away by the water pouring through the chamber into the smaller pools. They would pour water into the sphinx from the main pool. This would then feed into another pool.

There are several headed serpent's also known as Nagas, around the outside of the shrine. Originally the shrine had four entrances but three of them have been closed and the access was by the south entrance representing Avalokiteshvara. There were stone lions and triple headed elephants in each corner  of the shrine.

Neofelis nebulosa (Clouded Leopard) Red listed Endangered

This particular endangered species is a nocturnal cat which lives most of it's life up in the tree tops. It prefers to stay hidden and it is near impossible to get photographs of this beautifully marked cat. The clouded leopard seeks solitude and its history is unknown.  The presence of this beautiful carnivore has only been confirmed by camera traps in Mondulkiri province in Cambodia. Like most large cats, the clouded leopard is under threat due to hunting for the wildlife trade.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

M: Mondulkiri with it's Waterfalls

Mondulkiri is located  eastern border with Cambodia and Vietnam. The scenery and the climate are quite unlike anywhere else in Cambodia. In dry season the weather is  hot with sunshine and during their summer the weather maximum between 27-31ºC.  The hills are covered in grass and you will see pine trees clumped together against the winds. The night temperature can drop considerably and  it can get quite chilly.  It is a hilly and forested area and home of the Phnong people. Its low density population (three inhabitants/km2) coupled with the road situation make it a remote and isolated area with various consequences for access to health care.

The Monorom Waterfall is perfectly located in Deum Sral Village,in the Sèn Monorom District; 5 km away from the main town. It can be accessed by road. There are industrial plantations like rubber, coffee, and cashew nuts on either side of the road.  There are around 277 families living in the Monorom area and their main occupations are farming. Its main points of interest are a spectacular waterfall, dramatic mountainous forest, and fresh air.

The Monorom Waterfall is known by two names, firstly Monorom Waterfall and also “Damnak Sdéch Waterfall” which is located 300-400 m away from the Preah Norodom Sihanouk’s pavilion which was founded between 1960 -1962.

Mondulkiri is located in the north-east of Cambodia bordering Vietnam. Mondulkiri province consists of numerous waterfalls, indigenous culture, national parks and elephant trekking.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

K: Koh Kong

Koh Kong province is located in the south west from Phnom Penh. The coastline stretches approximately 273 km and consists of mountains and beaches with 20 outer islands. There are many other attractions including, forests, waterfalls and fishing.  Koh Kong, with its many tourist attractions seems to be the place to go on holidays and is well advertised.

However, my trip to Cambodia was somewhat different as my niece had decided we would backpack down to Tonle Bati, it was off the beaten track and we were to spend so many hours walking and some on the boat sailing down the river. On our arrival at Tonle Bati  we visited the two 12th century temples which were very close to the beautiful  Bati Lake. We didn't stay long but the beautiful lake was well worth seeing. Due to the huge amount of temples you reach a stage where you can end up feeling  templed out.

There were days when we did have some rough rides on the river but the view made it all the more worth while. The people were lovely and the children's happy little faces, shone like beacons, with their dark olive skin and bright white teeth.  At one point we came upon a young family with their three children. They were having tea and they were living in a dilapidated remains of a tin hut. Sitting on a cloth, on the earth floor. When we first arrived in Phnom Penh, we visited the market and as we walked along the road I recall seeing families sleeping on the street pavements, father, mother and children and babies lying flat out on the ground in the hot sun.

It opened my eyes and made me aware how fortunate life was for me.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

J: Jungle Child

On the 13 January 2007, a young woman was reported, emerging out of the jungle at Ratanakerii Provence in the remote north eastern part of Cambodia.. She was naked, filthy, and to crawled on her hands and feet. A man was later seen and he was naked and filthy too. The woman had stolen food from a worker's lunch box. He had followed and tracked her into the jungle. A family from a nearby village claimed she was their daughter "Rochom P'ngieng" (born 1988) that they had lost 18 or 19 years previously at the age of 8 years. She and her younger sister were watching water buffalo in the jungle near to the Vietnam border when they both disappeared. The 6 year old was never seen again. The woman was called the feral child as she could not say any words.

A journalist thought she had been possibly kept in captivity. She had scars on her wrists and ankles. They thought the scars were due to rope injuries. The man who said she was his daughter, Rochom Soy, recognised her by scars she had on her arm, which she had received from a knife injury prior to her disappearance. Her father said her facial structure was similar to that of her mother's. It was arranged for blood tests to prove they were related  but the family backed out at the last minute. They found that after a few weeks later the girl struggled to  come to terms with a civilised way of living. She was timid and kept trying to run away back to the jungle.

A reporter who visited one day, thought it purely coincidence and that she had probably been the victim of sexual torture of some kind. By the condition of her feet she had not been in the woods for that many years. Apparently, she could eat with a spoon without needing anyone to show her. Through time she could speak three words, mother, father and stomach ache.


I seem to have a shortage of some letters and so I have spread my wings and have flown south to the coastline.

In 1955 the french/Cambodian construction team made a base camp in a part of the jungle which was unoccupied in  Kampong Som. This was to be the beginning of the construction of the new fishing port. A few years prior to 1955, Cambodia had maintained control of International sea fishing via the Mekong river. After the dissolvement of Indochina,  Mekong Delta took control of Vietnam. This gave them access to the ocean, control of fishing and the building of a new fishing port was agreed.  In 1955-1960 a new road was built. The funding for the road came from France and USA. The workers for the construction of the fishing port, lived in Kampong Som and once the project was completed it was renamed by the King, Sihnoukville.

Due to the fishing port being a great success they also built a hotel on Independence Beach or Sihanoukville and named it Independence Hotel.  Sihanoukville, is situated south west of Phnom Penh the capital of Cambodia.

The beach is long and narrow but when the tide is low there is enough space to relax and enjoy the peaceful sound of the ocean waves. What could be nicer, than wide open space, warm blue waters and soft white sands together with occasional palms to shelter you from the hot sun-rays. As you meander along the sand, the grass umbrellas and cool drinks are available to quench your thirst. Making your way north along the waters-edge, you feel the warm breeze from the ocean gently caressing your shoulders and the sand creeps up between your toes.  Further ahead is a fresh water lake, which is the fresh water source for the town of Phnom Penh.

It has been said, "Crocodiles have been known to bathe there!" 

Monday, 9 April 2012

H: (Hyelaphus porcinus annamiticus)

Hog Deer

Hyelaphus porcinus annamiticus (http://www.arkive.org/hog-deer/axis-porcinus) (http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Hog+Deer&f=hp)
Hog Deer is a native of Cambodia. It is in fact a sub-species of the (Hyelaphus porcinus.) Here we have a handsome, strapping male stag, standing approximately 70cms to the shoulder. The female (hind) is smaller in comparison standing only at 60cms. They are both solidly built with long backs and comparatively short legs, unlike other breeds of deer. Their back-line gradually rises from the shoulders and up over their rump. Their ears are round in shape. The older deer are lighter in colour around their faces.

During the winter months their coats are brown to yellow colour, thick and woolly fur with a dark brown to yellow dorsal stripe, down the centre of their backs.  At the beginning of summer season, light brown spots appear on either side of the dorsal stripe from the shoulder to the point of their tail. Their tail's are brown with white long hairs at the tip which they use like a fan, this acts as a warning if a predator is close.

The male (stag) is only sociable during the mating season, otherwise they remain solitary darting off in different directions and rarely in a herd. When danger is close they give a whistling or barking sound. Males are aggressive and territorial, they mark their boundaries with glandular secretions and are always ready to defend their mate at any given time. Their young fauns are a light sand brown in colour and this species may not have spots when young.

These Hog Deer are almost extinct in certain regions and Cambodia. This is mainly due to the loss of wetlands because the land is being used for farming or building construction. Some of their main threats are hunting, lack of habitat and predators. These are another animal species red listed.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

G: Giant Gourami

The Mekong river begins in Vietnam, flowing down into the Mekong basin in Cambodia, there it continues down into the Tonle Sap river. Over the years the Tonle Sap river has become one of the largest freshwater productive fisheries in the world. It helps to support and diversifies from the species and has become the home to some of the worlds, most endangered species of fish as well as reptiles and birds.

Giant Gourami - this fish is 50 cms when fully grown. Its scientific name is (Osphronemus exodon) Its natural habitat includes East Asia, Cambodia. China, Thailand to name but a few. It has been introduce to other countries because it is well liked. It's habitat is in cool lakes and rivers of the Mekong. During the wet season it makes its way up stream and does not return until after the wet season. When the river is low the Gourami migrates and in stagnant water it lays it's eggs near to the shore.

Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) all of wild life enclosed are red listed which puts them into the category for critical endangered species to name but a few. The last giant catfish which was caught in the Mekong, it weighed approximately six hundred pounds and was eight feet long. The catfish similar to the salmon swim up stream to migrate. The difference between the two fishes is that the giant catfish lives in the muddy water at the bottom of the river where as the salmon swim in from clearer waters, yet the still both swim thousands of miles up stream when they migrate. Over recent years due to over fishing, pollution, lack of damming, these fish are now in decline.  It is believed that over one hundred years ago there were around 1000 individual species. Due to the rapid decline in numbers they are trying to catch  and tagging them before setting them free.

The people of Cambodia rely on the Mekong to provide fish for market but if the Mekong river can't support the fish, then it wont be able to support the people either.

Birds, Reptiles and Monkey
The Redheaded Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) The vulture has been in decline over the years and the professional's feel this is possibly due to the the local farmers treating their live stock with the various drugs. The vulture's are being poisoned when eat the dead carcasses. According to recent facts there are only 300 vultures left in Cambodia.
Sarus Crane (Boeung Prek Lapouv Sarus Crane) This beautiful bird has red markings to its face and grey body,  it stands approximately 5'9" high and is the largest flying bird.
The Bengal floricans (Houbaropis bengalensis) looks similar to a large duck with black plumage to the head, neck and belly. Its wings look white against their black bodies or when in flight. A very rare bird and there are only 500 are left.

One of the reptile species is the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) this is a native to Cambodia. Since the late 1990's this crocodile was thought to be extinct, however due to surveys there are more scattered throughout several other countries.
The Douc monkey (Pygathrix cinerea) which is grey, can be seen close to areas in Angkor City Complex. Their numbers have dropped also.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

F: Flying

Prior to my trip to Cambodia I have a tale to tell.  A friend booked a lesson gliding for both of us.  The date was arranged and off we both went to the aerodrome in Northumberland. Perhaps I should mention here that my friend had been in the army and had flown all over the world.  However, at this point I had never been in a plane let alone flying in one.. My friend took her lesson first then on return went for a drink. I was kitted up and climbed on board. The engine started and off we went. I must say, I had no idea what was to follow. We were towed along behind another plane and  as it left the ground, what a strange feeling being tugged up into the air like that. It was worse than being towed behind a broken down old banger. However, once up in the sky we were on our own and it was amazing.

I booked my trip to Cambodia soon afterwards. My flight from EDI-AMS-HKG took fourteen hours. I stayed with my sister in Hong Kong for five days, then flew on to Phnom Pehn, Cambodia.  On arrival I was met by my niece and taken in a tuc-tuc to the Raffles Hotel where we were to stay for one night. The journey was a real culture experience.  My night at the Raffle's Hotel was lovely, I enjoyed being waited on hand and foot. It was hard to comprehend passing all those derelict building's one after the other - later to arrive at this very Grand Hotel. My room was enormous, cold marble stone floors with en-suite. The bath was absolutely humongous and took forever to fill. I think we seemed to be the only visitors that night but it was very nice.

Our flight from Phnom Pehn to Seim Reap was the following morning. As we waited for our flight I couldn't help noticing my niece's face each time I mentioned anything about the plane, occasionally I'd hear a chuckle, but she always avoided eye contact. When it was time to board to my horror, parked in the dock was this tin bucket shape with wings attached to some wheels (It reminded me of the tug-plane that I went gliding with back home.)  This was so dirty you couldn't make out its colour.  Once on board we belted up and the pilot a youngish looking man started it's engines. Very gradually we began to move off. The tin frame work creaked as we moved off down the runway. After two or three attempts the plane eventually lifted into the air but as it did so the engines seemed to cough and splutter like a farting cow with severe wind.  As we flew overland you could see the tops of trees through the cracks in the door of the plane. Every now and again it would lose altitude and we'd drop and then it would pick up and be fine.. It was only a forty minute flight but it felt much much longer!!

Cambodia was not very commercialised at this point.