Here I am sitting among boxes as I wait for the packers to remove our final belongings as we prepare to leave Singapore. It’s been an experience, mostly wonderful. We came here as refugees – from the emotions surrounding the loss of our daughter Louise and the wish to mourn in a private and fulfilling way, by adventuring and ringing the changes. The deep sense of grieving never goes away and, as I have said many times, time is NOT a healer; but it is possible to fill your mind and your heart with happy experiences that take the raw edge off that insistent nagging realisation that every day you wake up is another without her.
Always having fun…in Australia January 2011
Iconic Louise shot has app read all over the world
The sunbird that visited us everyday and we felt was Louise’s spirit
This blog arose out of the desire to record our adventures; but our new peace of mind was rudely shattered by my diagnosis and treatment for soft tissue sarcoma (and resulted in the birth of a new blog www.healthylivingwithcancer.co). Now two and three quarter years into remission we are looking forward to the ‘small party’ I am allowed after three years. Ross’s prostate cancer is now four and half years in the past and his latest radiotherapy earlier in the year has seemingly done the trick and his PSA counts are down to normal. Phew all round.
Cupping and acupuncture overkill!
Tommy to greet me as I come round
my neat little leg
the much improved leg!
My faithful companion throughout
So for both of us it has been quite a journey: Ross has simply adored his work here, building and being part of a great team that checks up on Novartis all over SE Asia. His travels have taken him from India to Korea, via China, Japan (one of our favourite places) Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia and of course Malaysia. I have seized the opportunity and gone with on many occasions, and of course we have had wonderful holidays. It’s a big wrench for him to leave.
the team at Ross’s farewell party
In Tongli Water Village, China
The pathway to one of the shrines
30 years later, buying some wedding bangles
Farewell with the team
Ross posing in front of Yotei
Enjoying the sunset on the Ayurawaddy
The original Din Tai Fung in Taipei
The birthday couple!
By Fort San Domingo, northern tip of Taiwan
For me the highlights have been visits to Myanmar, Mumbai and India to stay with friends, Laos, and the fantastic diving trips we have had, including two on the luxurious Dewi Nusantara to Raja Ampat and, recently, to Komodo and Flores. Tommy and Olivia visited us two years ago and it was fun sharing our new city with them. And I almost forgot about a recuperative post-op visit to Cyprus to stay with chums Penny and Mike…not SE Asia, but close enough!
With Pen in the taverna
Mike in the taverna
Chilling by the pool in Cyprus
Walking Sugar in Cyprus
Sing: R with JB and Clare on the walkway between the Supertrees
The Great Wall: boopy doop do do (my Marilyn imperonsonation)
Indonesia: Borbudur at sunrise
Mandalay: Coming back from Mingun, Ross, Rick. Jane and Lucille
Sydney: On Bronte Beach
Bunaken, Indonesia: Scenic shot with John and Christina Benson
Satpura: with Cindy – Champagne this time!
Sing: Botanic Gds w Chrsitine and Diego
Mumbai red light district: Cindy getting down to work, kids looking on with rapt attention
Sing: Cambridge reunion l-r Simon Rigby, Tubby Shenfield, MArk Greaves, Fi, me, Ross
Inle Lake: The team assembling in the hotel
Sing: At Ku De Ta, Marina Bay Sands celebrating Liuise’s birthday with Dot
Cebu: Ross on the last morning – the sun is briefly out after the typhoon of the night before; but the waves were big on the way back
Tanjor: with Hilary
Bagan:Early morning mist rising from the paddy fields
Bangkok with Lylie, Hugo Fi and Richard
Borneo: On the Headhunter Trail
Hanoi: new friends
Dewi Nusantara: Wonderful holiday – thank you Ross!
Lijiang: Ross and I posing with our Beijing friends, all dressed up…
Luang Prabang: with Guy, Cindy, Diego and Christine
Tong-Li: Selfie with Jess
Satpura, India: our tiger!
Sing: Tommy and Olivia under a bower of yellow orchids
Koh Samui: first post op outing
Joining up! Taiwan
Mumbai: curious slum child – head shaved for lice, Dharavi
NE Shan: Me and Mama
Perhaps my greatest thrill has been becoming a Trustee of United World Schools and the visit to the school in Kiri Vong Sa that Ross and I sponsored. While in Singapore I have engaged with both Singapore schools to forge partnerships and the corporate world to encourage CSR sponsorship. We held two large events, plus a dinner, to beat the drum.
Being proudly shown round..
the team at Kiri Vong Sa
David Florijn and Janet Dobson
Chairman Chris at our China Club dinner
Andrew Dobson and the Peking duck
In May some girlfriends and I popped up to Phnom Penh with 120 kgs of duplo for the schools – and had a great weekend!
My luggage waiting to go…
On the terrace the FCC
Tol Sleng: pictures of the disappeared…
Toa Sleng: The cells where prinsoners were shackled
Girls night out
Phnom Penh: Tuk tuk selfie w Sabiha
We have loved all of it in fact – from visiting Shanghai and Beijing, The Great Wall and the Forbidden City in temperatures of 45 C; following the Tea Horse Trail in Yunnan culminating with the rather disappointing Shangri La; skiing in Japan; hiking in Taiwan and travelling round Tamil Nadu. Many of these trips we have done with dear friends and family. We have been, and remain, truly blessed in so many ways. Despite all.
Tamilnadu: Hilary contemplates the architecture
Nemo – or anemone fish -guarding his patch
Bao: Posing in the bath, shaking a (bad) leg
Borobudur on a bike
Bagan ballon trip
Yunnan: With Nini in Baisha
Laos: Nam Tha temple
Laos:Typical local hat!
Nisekko: Another poser in front of Yotei to end with…
Photo opp in roadside market
Lijiang: Vicky with Women in Black Yi costume
Lijiang: Ross with admirers
Raja Adapt: Titanic!
Dali: Union Jack scooter in Dali
Pondicherry: Beautiful girl in the street
Myanmar: Another fabulous sunset
Myanmar: Shan countryside, planted with maize and rice
Mandalay: Ross had to wear a longyi to visit the pagodas
Cambodia: village woman
Borneo: I felt scared doing this, one slip…
As for Singapore itself – well it’s not unlike Switzerland, clean, regulated and runs like clockwork. But not without its charm either. We have adored the delicious food, ranging from fine dining to hawker centres and, while supermarket shopping is exorbitant, taxis are cheap – hence no need for a car. Our apartment was functional and central, with a lovely pool; though had we stayed longer I think I would have liked to live Somerset Maugham-style in a black and white house, with open verandah and Balinese furniture.
This is a brothel I think – Louise would have loved that!
Lovely leopard (?) outside a Buddhist temple in Little India
with the Marina Bay Hotel in the background – there is a pool on the roof
the old and the new
At the zoo!
China town shop houses
Fi and Richard in Maxwell Hawker Centre for lunch
The city is green – a city within a garden – and full of wonders: the Gardens by the Bay; the Botanic Gardens with its sumptuous orchids; the Marina Bay Sands boat; China Town and Little India; the canals and quays and of course the shophouses, always in the shadows of the tower blocks. And there is always some sort of religious festival – Buddhist, Muslim or Christian, all celebrated with garish street decorations.
Gardens by the Bay Cloud Forest Dome
Supertrees with the Cloud Forest dome in the background
Mirror image – bougainvillea, lantana, hibiscus, heliconium, ginger, orchid and also a little chilli plant
Orangutang in the zoo
White-faced Saki Monkey
We have made some good friends here too, ones we will cherish for life, as well as reacquainting with some old ones from university days – you can’t take Cambridge out of the girl even if you take her out of Cambridge! And my time here was not wasted either, as I managed to write and publish a book…there are some advantages to being an accompanying spouse!
Ross with Sabiha
with Dr Lim and Pino
Ross with Arin
with Mark Erdmann
Sing: Cambridge reunion l-r Simon Rigby, Tubby Shenfield, MArk Greaves, Fi, me, Ross
Farhana, Samar and Sabiha
Padar Island with Andrea
Phnom Penh: Cocktail and The China House
While Ross has mixed feelings about leaving (the perils of big office society loom large in Switzerland), I am thrilled to be going home to our newly renovated but not yet completed house (groan). Gonna kick a bit of ass when I get back – be warned!
Carolyn Pottinger and Christina Benson
David Palmer (ex Queens w Ross) Fiona Pearson and Vasso Hadwen
Mario and Farhana Aquino
Sachiyo Hori and Hugh Ellerton
Arin wont let Ross go!
Sabiha with Sanjay Sharma
with Vasso in Little India
Our last night! with Arun Sen
Employees Only bar!
But first we are off to Western Australia to swim with the humpback whales, snorkel and dive the Ningaloo reef and sample the wines of Margaret River. We will raise a glass (or several) to the past three and a half years. Cheers!
You can read about our three and half years here by scrolling through this blog! And the latest adventures will be in the next one!
I am a writer and traveller. Our darling daughter Louise died on 2 March 2011, aged 21 (www.louisecattell.com) and I started writing as therapy. We never know how long we have on this earth, so I live for every day...in November 2013 I was diagnosed and operated on for a malignant soft tissue sarcoma in the calf, followed by 6.5 weeks of radiotherapy, so am embarking on a different kind of journey which you can follow here. I also have another site www.healthylivingwithcancer.co with my blueprint for health and well-being.
August 31, 2016 at 11:31 am
Dear Vicky – I have tears in my eyes as I read about your feelings, as you grieve every day for Louise. But also I am uplifted reading about how you have made life worthwhile by filling your mind and your heart with new experiences and love. I have so much enjoyed reading about your travels (most of your blogs) and brilliant photos. I wish you and Ross everything good in your new lives back at your converted home in Belsize Park. And I look forward to seeing you. I am still here at Hanover Gardens. Are you working on the second lot of Sheila’s letters ?
Love, Jill x
August 31, 2016 at 3:47 pm
Thank you Jill. I shall look forward to seeing you when I am back mid-September. Next book about my father’s family but includes stuff gleaned form Mum’s letters!
August 31, 2016 at 12:07 pm
Lovely pics Vicky! Much love xx
August 31, 2016 at 4:05 pm
really hope to see you when we get back. x
August 31, 2016 at 12:12 pm
Hi Vicky Love this blog and your take on grief – that the pain does not recede with time but that you can try to fill your heart and head with happy experiences – you have been brave enough to do that and I hope you are feeling more at peace these days Lots of love Janet xxxx
August 31, 2016 at 3:48 pm
Yes, I think on the whole it has worked. Mind you recent shenanigans with house have not helped peace of mind. Hope your works are not driving you dippy like me! Vx
August 31, 2016 at 5:49 pm
lovely to read how positive you are and how you have filled your life with other blessings, one of which is of course finding a sister!
Your reference to a black and white house in Singapore with a verandah and balinese furniture made me smile; we lived in two! One in Changi and one in Nee Soon; and the disadvantages were the cockroaches and the visiting monkeys…. still nicer than a hi-rise apartment I guess.
Hope to catch up with you soon. love Adela
September 1, 2016 at 12:36 am
Indeed finding Bonnie has been a light in the gloom. Re b & w houses – the monkeys must be a real menace, so in some ways clean living and being able to shut the door (lift enters directly into apartment) has suited our peripatetic life style. No doubt we will meet up again soon!