Category — Travel

Yum + Cha : Fast Five Eats and Drinks in Macau / Hong Kong 1

March 21, 2017



I have returned from my whirlwind trip to Macau and Hong Kong. My head is still spinning. Being on the other side of the world, without my little tribe, submerged in a different culture, climate and language, had me feeling discombobulated. And then again, five days later, on re-entry to my family’s orbit – dynamic, fun, unpredictable chaos – I have been scrambling to re-adjust. Could life be busier?! It seems hard to imagine. But, you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The baby nudging her sweet, silky head under my chin, the middle child almost bowling me over on arrival, the eldest eagerly glancing behind me to spy the presents I bought her, their Daddy looking a little worse for wear and genuinely relieved to see me… it sure does make a person feel required / loved. I really missed them.


It was an honour to be invited back to China for The Script Road Festival by festival director, Helder Beja, and his team, all of whom worked very hard to take care of their guests, speakers, musicians, press and public. The very idea of co-ordinating a literary festival blows my tiny mind and they managed it superbly. I am sure, behind the scenes, there was much hidden calamity and downing of stiff drinks. As for me – aside from doing my best to speak about writing and books, in particular, ‘Marjory and the Mouse‘, of course I spent my time consuming every interesting looking thing in sight. I knew you would want me to. I felt it my duty to report back from the front lines.


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In: Food, From Hannah, Travel, Writing

Back to China 0

March 8, 2017

In a few days time I will be on a plane heading back to a place that has given me so much. Wonderful friends, my eldest child (“Made in China”, ahem) and a beloved career. Oh, and let’s not forget the unnaturally eager predilection for yum cha.



My last trip to Macau was in October. I took my two biggest girls back with me for the launch of the picture book, Marjory and the Mouse. Announcing the trip was a blast – two enormous fortune cookies with surprise messages inside – but the trip itself surprised me; it exceeded all my expectations. Travelling solo and long-haul with two kids make you think of that emoji face with the gritted teeth? I get it (I made that face many times before and during). But truly this trip was incredible for all of us. The girls got to experience a completely different culture, the sparkling lights of the casinos, the morning smogs, apartment living, fine dining, crazy taxi rides, heat and madness and a beautiful, heartfelt book launch with Marjory Vendramini, the inspiration and protagonist for Marjory and the Mouse. We were fortunate enough to visit Cradle of Hope, the orphanage Marjory founded and to which all the profits from the book go to, the day after the launch and the girls saw how the kids live and are cared for with all the love and support Marjory and her team provides them. Okay, so they still mostly remember the trip to Hong Kong Disneyland but perhaps, one day, the other experiences will be recalled and cherished. It was a joy, for me at least, to watch them experiencing so much for the first time. I didn’t expect to get such a huge buzz out of that.



But this time I am travelling solo. I have been invited by Helder Beja and his hard-working team to The Script Road – Macau Literary Festival. The festival schedule is jam-packed with authors, filmmakers and artists of all kinds; two weeks of dialogue, celebration and inspiration, which I am hugely honoured to be a part of. I am also very excited to be visiting two schools as part of the festival – International School of Macau (Monday, March 13th) and Zheng Guanying Official School (Tuesday, March 14th) as well as a public event with three other festival guests:


Writing from Within or Without – The Local vs the Universal

A discussion with Ciwanmerd Kulek, Sanaz Fotouhi and Grace Chia

Sunday March 12, Old Court Building, Macau


I am really going to miss my two tiny travel partners-in-crime (they have placed their present orders) but returning to Macau, to talk about Marjory and the Mouse and the incredible role model Marjory Vendramini is for us all, being part of such a dynamic, ambitious, trilingual literary festival such as The Script Road is an opportunity I could not pass up. Extra bonus – going to the bathroom by myself. Yes!! (Parents are nodding)


If you are based in Macau (or Hong Kong!) I would love to see you at The Script Road. It’s worth scrolling through the festival schedule for events, concerts and performances that tickle your fancy. And if you’re not near Macau I promise to post photos. Here, on instagram and on facebook. Without my accompanying travel duo I will have free hands for taking snaps! Imagine that.


With love,


In: Books & Reading, From Hannah, Kids and Parenting, Travel

Good for you 3

February 14, 2017

Oh, the good advice we forget and forget and forget again. The things that cajole us out of a funk, that dust us off and yank us to our feet, that make life sweet again. Mum’s wisdom, your best friend’s sage counsel, the oldest of chestnuts. Sleep on it, take a walk, you need a rest, have a cup of tea, sit, breathe, just do your best and for goodness’ sake stop beating yourself up. You know the ones, don’t you? And yet, we forget.



I have a decent handful of these chestnuts, these tricks, for applying when the going gets murky and mucky. The remedial cup of tea is usually the first to be administered. But, like most of us, I’m really great at forgetting the things that are good for me when I am neck-deep in self-doubt and loathing. Of all the great tips I forget – taking a short break is a favourite.

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In: From Hannah, Kids and Parenting, Travel

Getting Away 1

December 1, 2016

Getting away…from the kids. It’s been a long time coming for DH and I. Which is kind of unbelieveable because we’re the sort of people who jump at the chance to go off and enjoy ourselves, even if it means leaving the little ones at home. And yet.

I was at work a few weeks ago when a co-worker commented that he hadn’t been to a movie in ages–“since that one with the blue people.”

Uh, Avatar?

“Yeah,” he said.

That was 2009. Seven freaking years ago. I know that DH and I, as pre-parents, would never have imagined we’d go so long without walking across a pop-stained, popcorn-crusted theatre floor. And while it hasn’t been that long for us, mostly because our first kid wasn’t born until 2011, I can now understand how that could happen. Seven movie-free years can just happen to you.




So we decided recently to take the plunge, as it were, and go away for two nights–58 hours exactly–so as to restart the Avatar Clock, as I’m now going to call it.




There are several funny things  about being away from your kids.

  1. How bad the last hour before you leave is. I’m sure it’s because you know you’re going away and there won’t be pee to clean off the floor or tantrums to calm in a coundown of minutes and part of you is already gone. Or maybe it’s that the kids sense something is up with their spidey senses. And that you forgot about three extra things you need to do before you can go. Whatever it is, the last hour is awful.
  2. The constantly swinging balance of how much you miss/don’t miss them. There are other people’s voices in there as well as your own, telling you not to worry, not to think about them. They’ll be fine! Just enjoy yourself. As if enjoying yourself is the thing you have to do with the most ardent furvour, no matter what. You must enjoy the hell out of every moment! Except that you think about their faces and wonder if you can FaceTime with them. But you shouldn’t–because you really are having a good time and seeing them might dampen that. Is that bad? Shouldn’t you be able to have a good old time without them playing with your thoughts like they’re marbles?
  3. The blessed honeymoon of coming home. The outstretched arms, the little voices, the sweet-smelling hair. The feeling of home after being away. Maybe, conversely, that’s the best part, the thing you do all the rest of it for. All the preparation, the departing angst, the frenzied enjoyment, the battle of guilt and bliss–it’s all for the first three hours, or maybe twenty-four, that you’re home. We missed you. No, we missed you. Squeezing all together on the couch, little knees digging into your ribs, the little one with his over-silibant S’s spraying into your face.
  4. And then they start hitting each other and an elbow knocks a cup of milk on the floor.





Here’s to getting away, and here’s to ice cream. Both noble and delicious pursuits.




In: From Ria, Kids and Parenting, Travel

A is for Adventure, B is for Birthday. 4

November 17, 2016

Last year around this time I wrote about the Jane Austen tradition I wanted to start for Little e, given that she was turning an impressive four years old and it was about time to get meaningful. (Yes, I have written this year’s letter.) And now that she’s five (FIVE!), I felt my creative birthday juices flowing again.

I decided the two of us needed to start a birthday adventure tradition. (Yes, I was partly inspired by Hannah’s brave trip to China avec kids.)

It needed to include transit—the more modes the better—and yummy food, most of which would be types of dessert, and going somewhere super fun, of course. I had hoped to make it an overnight thing, but there wasn’t a ferry off our island at a reasonable time, so we settled for the first sailing in the morning and a really long day. More on that later.





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In: From Ria, Kids and Parenting, Seasonal, Travel