Tag Archives: food

Thailand Part 3 – Koh Samui

Chinese New Year holidays were upon us and we were off to Koh Samui, Thailand to escape the fireworks, cold weather and air pollution.

In true fashion, I had left it quite late to book this trip at one of the busiest travel times in China.  So, we ended up returning to Thailand – Koh Samui this time, and taking the kids out of school 2.5 days early.   So on Monday January 27th we set off for Shanghai airport to enjoy 12 days in the warmth, sunshine and clean air of Thailand.  We flew into Bangkok to connect with our flight to Koh Samui island and were totally amazed to bump into Sheila O’Neill who was checking in for a girlie getaway!  We only know 9 people in Bangkok, so to see one of them at that particular time was funny!  We had a quick catch up before we left for our different flights.

We were picked up at the airport by a lovely man driving a very luxurious, spacious van.  A good omen for a great holiday!  A short 15 minute drive from the airport and we arrived at our Villa at Kanda Residences at the north end of Chaweng Beach.  Owen had researched many places for us to stay and had picked a fantastic villa for us.  A 3 bedroom place with a private pool very close to the beach, in a facility that had a good restaurant and a couple more communal pools, plus a private beach.

We quickly unpacked and then all collapsed into our beds.  The last 3 or 4 months have been incredibly busy, stressful and tiring for me.  The last quarter of our year is always busy with major sales cycles coming to a close, a major customer event, plus planning for 2014.  I felt like I had not had a chance to take a breath and enjoy life or my family.  The year had also started in a crazy fashion with our sales kick off, year end reviews, bonus calculations and settling down organization changes.  I was exhausted!  I spent the first couple of days frantically closing HR and bonus issues before I finally was able to relax and completely switch off.  This is a rare time of year where China shuts down and I knew that I could decompress because everyone else would be off too.  So, for the first time in a year, I did not feel under pressure to check email or follow up on anything – it was bliss.

Oliver relaxing in the pool at our villa.  "This is the life, Mum!"

Oliver relaxing in the pool at our villa. “This is the life, Mum!”

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I slept late, worked a little and chilled by the pool.  The kids loved our pool and were perfectly happy to be entertaining themselves with endless hours of swimming and games.  Owen was exhausted from his trip to the UK and slept and read alot too.  We found a Tesco and stocked up on supplies so that we could enjoy our paradise cocoon.  I did not realize how stressed I had been as I could actually feel it lifting as the days went by.  I was sleeping better and enjoying the simple pleasure of being with my family with no itinerary and no agenda.

We booked the resort Spa experts to come to our villa and pamper us all.  The kids experienced their first massage (a “baby” massage – but didn’t tell them that is what it was called!)  We all had our treatments in the Sala by the pool.  They both loved their experience!  Owen had a lovely foot massage while I had a relaxing body massage.  How wonderful to experience that while chilling in the warm weather.

Isabelle and Oliver getting totally spoiled with massages in our villa!

Isabelle and Oliver getting totally spoiled with massages in our villa!

We went into Chaweng Beach a couple of times.  We spent a couple of hours wandering around the market stalls.  We bought a couple of bedside lights for the kids – made out of coconut and shaped into animals.  Isabelle’s is like an elephant and Oliver’s is shaped like a buffalo.  Oliver also got a lovely pair of Foakley sunglasses (that is Fake Oakley!)  We explored the wonderful beach by the villa.  It is very private (there was no-one else there when we were there) and a mix of interesting rock pools and small pebbles.  It is not a beach for swimming because of all the rocks.  But, it is a children’s paradise for finding things!

Rockpool exploration at Kanda residences

Rockpool exploration at Kanda residences

By the steps on the way down to the beach.  The kids are holding onto the shower (made out of bamboo!)

By the steps on the way down to the beach. The kids are holding onto the shower (made out of bamboo!)

Oliver found a coconut and Isabelle found a sand dollar.

Oliver found a coconut and Isabelle found a sand dollar.

It was so disappointing to see so much rubbish washed up on the beach.  This sandal had obviously been in the water for a while, judging by the shellfish that had attached itself.  This was one example of nature merging with man made mess.

It was so disappointing to see so much rubbish washed up on the beach. This sandal had obviously been in the water for a while, judging by the shellfish that had attached itself. This was one example of nature merging with man made mess.

The deserted beach.  This is the Kanda Residence Villas nestled into the hills.  A beautiful place to recharge!

The deserted beach. This is the Kanda Residence Villas nestled into the hills. A beautiful place to recharge!

Daddy with his little explorers.  The buckets came back full of shells, rocks and other interesting "stuff"

Daddy with his little explorers. The buckets came back full of shells, rocks and other interesting “stuff”

Isabelle as Queen of the Castle on the rocks.

Isabelle as Queen of the Castle on the rocks.

Oliver as King of the Castle on the rocks

Oliver as King of the Castle on the rocks

Owen pretending to eat a dead crab that he found in the rock pools.

Owen pretending to eat a dead crab that he found in the rock pools.

We poured over the island information brochures and told Isabelle and Oliver that they could pick 1 thing each that they wanted to do.  Isabelle chose Quad Biking (separate post) and Oliver chose Coco Splash – a water park (separate post), Owen and I chose a private boat charter (separate post).  We booked the boat charter for Saturday February 1st, the water park for Monday 3rd and Quad biking on Wednesday 5th.  This was a perfect combination of planned activities and then days with nothing to do except relax, swim, eat, drink, read and play.

Family in the infinity edge pool at Kanda Residences.

Family in the lower children’s pool at Kanda Residences.

The infinity edge pool at Kanda residences is wonderful.  The views from here are lovely.

The infinity edge pool at Kanda residences is wonderful. The views from here are lovely.

"Hey Guys"

“Hey Guys”

Owen horsing around with the kids!

Owen horsing around with the kids!

Our first meal out was to the Spirit House Restaurant.  We had asked our resort concierge for some recommendations for some good Thai food.  Owen and I both love this cuisine and were eager to eat authentically.  We had a lovely meal in a lovely location (but not sure how authentic it was, especially after our Quad Biking day!!).

Isabelle and Oliver at the Spirit House Restaurant.

Isabelle and Oliver at the Spirit House Restaurant.

Cuddle time between courses!

Cuddle time between courses!

One of the offerings at the Spirit House restaurant.

One of the offerings at the Spirit House restaurant.

Oliver & Isabelle by a wall sculpture in the Spirit House Restaurant

Oliver & Isabelle by a wall sculpture in the Spirit House Restaurant

Offerings to the Gods all over the place!

Offerings to the Gods all over the place!

We bought some Chinese lanterns from a beach vendor and let them off by our pool.

Isabelle and Oliver watching Daddy make sure that the Chinese Lantern is full before letting go.

Isabelle and Oliver watching Daddy make sure that the Chinese Lantern is full before letting go.

Up, up and away.  The white light to the right is the Moon.  This is very soon after the "New Year".

Up, up and away. The white light to the right is the Moon. This is very soon after the “New Year”.

A lovely meal out was at Tree Tops in the Anantara Lawana resort.  The tables are set on raised stages in the trees.  It is a molecular cuisine which particularly pleased Owen as this is what he is studying at the moment!  I had ordered a lychee martini cocktail that was made at the table and then served over dry ice – the kids thought this was really cool as my drink was surrounded in smoke!!  Owen’s cocktail was also made at the table but was not as visually stunning as mine.  A unique feature of our meal here was a Salt Guru/Sommelier.  She brought over a selection of different salts and then gave Owen and I a couple to try with our main meal.  It was a very nice meal.

A "smoking" Lychee Martini!

A “smoking” Lychee Martini!

Our Tree Tops "welcome" drink

Our Tree Tops “welcome” drink

Non-alcoholic version for the kids!

Non-alcoholic version for the kids!

We ate at Eat Sense after our day at Coco Splash.  This was a lovely beach side restaurant with some wonderful Thai food.  It was very busy the night we were there and I was glad that we had placed our order before a massive group of Chinese people arrived.  I had to laugh at the table next to us – it was a table of 12 and ALL of them were on their smart phones.  One of their group was obviously upset by this and made them all hand them over to him.  He wrapped them all up in a napkin and put it under the table!  Then, all of a sudden, the conversation started to flow, laughing and animated for the rest of their meal.  I guess some things are universal and you don’t need to speak Mandarin to understand that whole interaction!  I was pleased to see this – we have a “no technology” rule when we are eating too!

The Wet Bar at Akaryn Samui Resort and Spa was upscale Pizza night for us all.  82 different pizza’s on the menu and we were spoilt for choice.  This was another fantastic beach side table in another lovely resort.  Our table was right by the ocean waves crashing on the sand – so soothing and relaxing to eat with the music of Mother Nature playing behind us.

Pizza by the beach

Pizza by the beach

After one particular hard afternoon of shopping, we realized that it was getting late.  As we walked down the main strip, we were debating about getting a taxi, when Owen saw Red Snapper restaurant across the road.  We did a quick Trip Advisor look up and saw that it was rated high so headed in for our dinner!  Owen and I both had yummy flank steak followed by limoncello spheres for dessert.  This restaurant had some very colorful lights behind the bar.

Our Red Snapper dinner

Our Red Snapper dinner

Lemoncello Spheres that burst in your mouth!  Owen is going to attempt to recreate these at home.

Limoncello Spheres that burst in your mouth! Owen is going to attempt to recreate these at home.

The lit up bottles at the bar in Red Snapper restaurant.

The lit up bottles at the bar in Red Snapper restaurant.

Our last night in Koh Samui and we ate at Coco Rock.  This restaurant is located in the Coral Bay resort very close to Kanda.  It was a beautiful location and the evening light was fantastic for some good photos.  The menu had a combination of Thai cuisine and International favorites.  Owen and I both chose Thai options – Phad Thai for Owen and Massan Chicken curry for me – yummy!  Owen finished off with Tiramisu, Isabelle had ice cream.  Oliver and I were too stuffed for dessert!

On the beach by Coco Rock restaurant.

On the beach by Coco Rock restaurant.

Beautiful light for photos.

Beautiful light for photos.

Me and my girl in our matching vacation dresses bought the day before in a local Koh Samui shop.

Me and my girl in our matching vacation dresses bought the day before in a local Koh Samui shop.

After our wonderful day on the boat, we decided to eat at the restaurant in Kanda (Rockpool Restaurant).  They had some interesting evening entertainment serenading us to help celebrate the Lunar New Year.  Owen and I were not sure how many of the group were ladies or if they were all part of the famous Thailand lady boys that often entertain tourists.  Either way, it was a pretty average performance!!

Entertain at Rockpool Restaurant.

Entertain at Rockpool Restaurant.

Isabelle and Oliver liked sitting up at the big bar table overlooking the ocean at Rockpool restaurant.  Owen took this cool shot of the wind capturing her hair!

I like this photo of the wind in Isabelle's hair.

I like this photo of the wind in Isabelle’s hair.

Even though we were in a private villa, we still had some of the amenities of a hotel/resort.  When we returned from dinner on Lunar/Chinese New Year, we each had a fortune cookie and a delightful little colorful purse with a shiny new coin in it.  A very nice touch from the resort!

New Year gifts

New Year gifts

Thailand is a beautiful Country.  The food is delicious, the people are welcoming and friendly, the air and the ocean are clean (relatively!!) and the pace of life is relaxed.  We all enjoyed a very relaxing holiday here and will definitely try to return to visit another area of this wonderful part of the world.

Happy New Year 2014 Brunch

With Christmas behind us and the New Year just starting, all our friends who had been away for Christmas were returning.  The new School term was about to start and we decided to get a few families together to celebrate all that.

We settled on returning to the Le Meridien because they not only have a delicious brunch selection, but they also have a good children’s area.  They have a mix of different Asian foods, fabulous seafood selection, traditional carvery station and the most yummiest desserts (salted caramel mousse is THE BEST!)

Jo and Scott with their 2 girls, Saskia and Georgia; Rob & Jen with their 2 boys, Freddie and Theo; Mike and Jane with their 2 girls, Ciara and Caitlyn; and Paul and Tracy with their 2 girls, Bethan and Imogen – it was quite the area in the restaurant!

The Le Meridien also has entertainment throughout the long, leisurely brunch.  The kids end of our sitting area was entertained by a rather good magician.

The magician making a rose for Saskia.

The magician making a rose for Saskia.

Saskia was special assistant and had to help with some of the card tricks!

Saskia was special assistant and had to help with some of the card tricks!

He even made his wallet light up in flames when he opened it to check for the missing card.

He even made his wallet light up in flames when he opened it to check for the missing card.

Saskia, Isabelle and Caitlyn

Saskia, Isabelle and Caitlyn showing off their artwork from kids club

The “nurses” were on call again for the margarita shots – all the males partook.  It was also Rob’s birthday so it was a double celebration.  We all sang to him to embarrass him!

Happy Birthday Rob! Cuddling with his boys - Freddie and Theo.

Happy Birthday Rob!
Cuddling with his boys – Freddie and Theo.

Owen getting "treated" from the nurse.

Owen getting “treated” from the nurse.

Mike's turn.  Scott is laughing at this, but he was next to go!!

Mike’s turn. Scott is laughing at this, but he was next to go!!

Scott finishes up this nurses round.

Scott finishes up this nurses round.

Paul, Imogen, Tracy and Bethan

Paul, Imogen, Tracy and Bethan

Scott, Saskia, Georgia and Jo

Scott, Saskia, Georgia and Jo

The girls: Caitlyn, Georgia, Saskia, Ciara and Isabelle

The girls: Caitlyn, Georgia, Saskia, Ciara and Isabelle

Freddie, Jen, Rob and Theo

Freddie, Jen, Rob and Theo

Ciara, Mike, Jane and Caitlyn

Ciara, Mike, Jane and Caitlyn

Family Jones

Family Jones

Shanghai Christmas 2013

I am amazed at how fast this year has flown by.  All of a sudden, (it seems!) it is Christmas once again.  Owen did most of our Christmas Shopping this year and I am very grateful for that.  Work has been so very busy that I have had little free time to juggle anything else with.

I rushed home from work on Christmas Eve so that we could all go over to Tim & Marie’s house for a few hours.  We were home by 7:30 so it was a lovely way to excite the kids enough without anyone getting over-whelmed!  For the first time, I forgot to take my camera (I am never without that usually!) so I have no photos from Christmas Eve.  However, it was the same group of Ex-pats staying in Shanghai over Christmas so we saw quite a bit of them!!  And, I remembered to take the camera to the rest of the events.

Once we got home, of course the children were excited.  We got mince pie cookies and brandy ready for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph.  They had had such a busy day that they actually went off to sleep relatively well.  Disaster struck at 12:30 though as Owen could hear voices coming from Isabelle’s bedroom.  I was already in bed, but Owen was downstairs.  Sure enough, Isabelle had woken up and then woken Oliver up and they both decided to start opening stocking presents that had already been delivered!  Oh no!  It was time for Daddy to have some stern words and send everyone off to sleep again until a decent time in the morning.  Goodness knows how Santa managed to sneak past Owen to deliver presents AND eat the cookie, drink the brandy.  It was quite the discussion in our house in the morning.

It was a leisurely morning opening presents, playing with toys and eating breakfast.  I absolutely enjoyed every minute of this precious morning.  Watching the kids excitement and pleasure at everything they opened and received was delightful.  They were also just as excited to watch Owen and I open our presents. They had managed to keep the presents for Daddy a surprise and he certainly was surprised this year!  He also totally surprised me and made me cry with his thoughtfulness – a perfect gift for me!  Tetley was also treated to a stocking full of treats:

I know I can get my head in there - I can smell goodies!

I know I can get my head in there – I can smell goodies!

I knew it!!

I knew it!! Yummy treats for a special girl.

Christmas Tree and kids  2013

Christmas Tree and kids 2013

Family including Tetley Christmas 2013

Family including Tetley Christmas 2013

We e-biked/biked around to Rob & Jen’s house at 12:30.  Our 2nd Shanghai Christmas and a repeat of our experience from last year.  This year, Rob and Jen hosted us in their beautiful home.  They had welcomed the Intercontinental Catering team into their kitchen and they had provided all the food for our Christmas dinner.  We were totally spoiled!  Again!!

Champagne ready on ice!

Champagne ready on ice!

Turkey ready for carving (and ham, beef and sausages)

Turkey ready for carving (and ham, beef and sausages)

Salads for starters.

Salads for starters.

Pasta, seafood, vegetables, potatoes - yummy!

Pasta, seafood, vegetables, potatoes – yummy!

Desserts - mini Christmas Puddings, fruit tarts, stollen, chocolate mousse log and fruit.  YUMMY!

Desserts – mini Christmas Puddings, fruit tarts, stollen, chocolate mousse log and fruit. YUMMY!

We were thrilled to share Christmas day Dinner with Rob and Jen, with their 2 children, Freddie and Theo, plus Kevin and Jane and their 2 children, Amelie and Joseph.  It was a huge feast and the set up was perfect.  1 table for the 6 children right next to the adult table!  Crackers and chocolates were extra treats on the tables for all of us:

The kids are all ready to eat!

The kids are all ready to eat!

Our Christmas Day "Emerald Family" Jane, Rob, Jen, Kevin, Sara & Owen Isabelle, Amelie, Theo, Joseph, Freddie & Oliver

Our Christmas Day “Emerald Family”
Jane, Rob, Jen, Kevin, Sara & Owen
Isabelle, Amelie, Theo, Joseph, Freddie & Oliver

It was a long, relaxing, fun dinner.  We all made multiple visits to the buffet for plate refills!  Good conversation, good company and flowing fizz.  The kids wanted to swim after their food, so they were all in the pool for a dip and a splash.

Oliver and Joseph firing off the water pistols!

Oliver and Joseph firing off the water pistols!

Meanwhile, the adults were having fun too!

Jane, Jen and Sara

Jane, Jen and Sara

Rob, Kevin & Owen

Rob, Kevin & Owen

Oh, how we laughed through most of the day!

Oh, how we laughed through most of the day!

After the adults had finished eating and the kids had finished swimming, it was time to play Charades.  Lots of fun with all participating and some very funny gestures.

Owen, Jane, Jen and Freddie

Owen, Jane, Jen and Freddie

Freddie, Amelie and Isabelle (with her new mini Furby who talks non-stop!)

Freddie, Amelie and Isabelle (with her new mini Furby who talks non-stop!)

We all totally enjoyed our Christmas day with Rob, Jen, Jane and Kevin.  All too soon it was past 6:00 and time for us to get home to get ready for the evening get together.  We raced home, got changed and then arrived at Suzanne and Brien’s house to find the party already in full force.

Suzanne, Jane, Marie and Mike

Suzanne, Jane, Marie and Mike

Jane and Mike have just arrived in Shanghai to start their new assignment.  They were both relieved to be welcomed into the Emerald Ex-pat family!  The wonderful thing about living like this is that everyone is in exactly the same boat and are super supportive, friendly and welcoming.

Brien with some of the boys!

Brien with some of the boys!

More friends to play with! Isabelle, Siobhan, Seren, Oliver, Ciara and Caitlyn.

More friends to play with!
Lia, Isabelle, Siobhan, Seren, Oliver, Ciara and Caitlyn.

Rob, Tim, Marie, Jen, Owen and Sara

Rob, Tim, Marie, Jen, Owen and Sara

It was a wonderful Christmas Day celebration.  If you cannot celebrate with your family, then an Ex-Pat “family” get together is a great choice.

I am very grateful for our friends in Shanghai that make this whole experience so much fun and who are so supportive.

After a few too many glasses of fizz on Christmas evening, I invited a few friends over to our house for Boxing Day!!  So, we woke up late and then had a whirlwind around the house getting ready for people to arrive.  As the Chinese do not celebrate Christmas, all the shops were open and it was just another working day for all the locals!  This worked in our favor because I could run to the shop to buy a few snacks for our impromptu gathering.  It worked out well, with Marie and kids, Kevin & Jane plus kids and Rob & Jen plus kids stopping in for a few relaxing hours.  It was a nice way to close out Christmas 2013.

Welcome back to Shanghai and Birthday Brunch

Right before school started, it was time for yet another Sunday Brunch!  Everybody was back to Shanghai after the long summer break so it was time to catch up with everyone and also celebrate my birthday!

The Emerald gang headed off to an old favorite – The Intercontinental.  I absolutely love their chocolate lollipops!

Chocolate lollipops filled with delicious yumminess!  I think I ate at least 10 of these......

Chocolate lollipops filled with delicious yumminess! I think I ate at least 10 of these……

I also love their free flow champagne!  It was a leisurely 3-4 hours of eating, drinking, laughing, talking, and then eating some more and drinking some more.  It was just a shame that there was not enough time to really get caught up with everyone’s busy summer.

The food here is all good – cuisine from around the world so plenty of choice to suit every palate.  So many different buffet stations, you definitely need 3 hours to get around to each one!

Owen, Sara & Earoel in between Champagne courses!

Owen, Sara & Earoel – in between Champagne courses!

Jane, Sara, Jen and Emma

Jane, Sara, Jen and Emma

Scott & Jo

Scott & Jo

The boys were totally hooked on all their electronic devices!  We rationed their time on these as there is an awesome kids club at the Intercontinental on Sunday.  All the kids got to do loads of different activities, run around outside and get arty  crafty.  Great for the adults to extend their "adult time".

The boys were totally hooked on all their electronic devices! We rationed their time on these as there is an awesome kids club at the Intercontinental on Sunday. All the kids got to do loads of different activities, run around outside and get arty crafty. Great for the adults to extend their “adult time”.

Oliver and Isabelle love Miss Earoel!

Oliver and Isabelle love Miss Earoel!

The Prestons, Steeles, Davis, Jones, Bartons, and Kennedy!

The Prestons, Steeles, Davis, Jones, Bartons, Rhinds and Kennedy!  Plus Kids!

 

Fathers Day Brunch celebration

Father’s Day sneaked up on me this year and came around very quickly!  Nevertheless, I managed to find a card, which is no mean feat in China!  The kids made beautiful cards for their Daddy.

To celebrate, we went out to the Kerry Parkside Hotel for brunch with 2 other families.  This was a new brunch location for us, and it did not disappoint.  All of the food stations were marvellous – I especially enjoyed the noodle soup station.  All of the kids loved the pasta station (plus the fantastic kids club area).

Georgia, Isabelle, Ava, Saskia, Ethan and Oliver at the children's area of brunch.

Georgia, Isabelle, Ethan, Ava, Saskia, and Oliver at the children’s area of brunch.

In the photo above you can see the abundance of sweeties and goodies for the chocolate fountain behind the kids!  The kids area also had a big screen tv, beanbags, face painters and other activities.

Isabelle getting her face painted at the Kerry Parkside Brunch - children's area.

Isabelle getting her face painted at the Kerry Parkside Brunch – children’s area.

The end result!

The end result!

Ethan and Oliver chilling out on the bean bags!

Ethan and Oliver chilling out on the bean bags!

All of the girls getting pampered.

All of the girls getting pampered.

Shanghai can be such a small city sometimes!  While we were at Brunch with Jo, Scott. Emma and Matt, we bumped into Rob and Jen who were out with their boys.  After we had all eaten, they joined our table to socialize!

Jen, Matt, Jo, Scott, Emma. Owen, me and Rob

Jen, Matt, Jo, Scott, Emma. Owen, me and Rob

The Fathers on Father's Day - Scott, Matt, Rob and Owen

The Fathers on Father’s Day – Scott, Matt, Rob and Owen

Georgia, Saskia, Ava and Isabelle - good friends enjoying a lovely day.

Georgia, Saskia, Ava and Isabelle – good friends enjoying a lovely day.

After a very leisurely long lunch (4+ hours!) we finished with some lovely family photo shots – it is great when you have friends who can take photos of the whole family 🙂

Saskia, Scott, Georgia and Jo

Saskia, Scott, Georgia and Jo

Emma. Ethan, Ava and Matt

Emma. Ethan, Ava and Matt

 

Sara, Oliver, Owen and Isabelle

Sara, Oliver, Owen and Isabelle

Then, it was back to Jo & Scott’s home to continue the party!  Lots of water fights, trampolining and running around screaming at the tops of their voices – well, that was the kids anyway!

For us adults, it was more fizz and bubbles!  A lovely Sunday with friends 🙂

Get ready for the water......

Get ready for the water……

It's coming......

It’s coming……

 

YEAH!  Drenched and soaked!  And.... repeat for many, many times!

YEAH! Drenched and soaked! And…. repeat for many, many times!

WOW - that was AWESOME!  Let's do it again.....

WOW – that was AWESOME! Let’s do it again…..

Round 105.......

Round 105…….

What a fantastic way to end the day :-)

What a fantastic way to end the day 🙂

 

Sunday Brunches at Le Royal Meridian and Westin

 

We have had a couple of lovely Sunday Brunches out recently.  We had an extremely leisurely, drawn out, stuff-your-face-full, drink-lots-of-champagne, eat-too-much brunch at the Le Royal Meridian with our friends Earoel & Graham.  This brunch location has a fantastic children’s area set up with face painting, movies, balloon animals, clowns, a separate children’s buffet area and awesome desserts!

Isabelle's body art at brunch

Isabelle’s body art at brunch – Butterfly and Dolphin

Scorpion and web for Oliver

Scorpion (on his cheek) and Angry Bird for Oliver

There is a prominent pink theme at this location, pink chairs, pink table clothes, pink champagne and pink uniform on the Margherita Nurses!!  They have nurses who come around with big syringes filled with the Margherita mix.  Of course, Owen had to partake!!

"It had to be done!"

“It had to be done!”

The Pink Champagne lounge

The Pink Champagne lounge

"Check out this Champagne Tower, Mum"

“Check out this Champagne Tower, Mum”  “What happens if I pull this bottle out…..??”

The restaurant is located on the 3rd floor of the hotel and has a lovely terrace with great views across the city.  After our very long brunch where we made way too many rounds around the stations, we enjoyed the sunshine outside.

Oliver, Earoel and Isabelle

Oliver, Earoel and Isabelle

Sara & Owen enjoying the sunshine (while feeling rather stuffed!)

Sara & Owen enjoying the sunshine (while feeling rather stuffed!)

The food was very good: a great seafood station that was stacked high with sushi, lobster, crab and prawns.  The noodle station was one of the best I have seen and I enjoyed a delicious soup with lots of different herbs and fillings.  The carvery had plenty of lamb, chicken and pork.  The salad bar was one of the most varied I had seen and then the desserts were out of this world.  I went back for 4, yes 4, of the salted caramel chocolate mousse!

Another Sunday and another Brunch!  This time we were back at the Westin with our friends from Emerald.  Table for 25 please!  We all like the Westin because the entertainment there is first class.   They have opera singers, an orchestra, gymnastics display and face changing display.

The Emerald Girls: Jane, Marie, Sara, Suzanne, Emma and Jenny

The Emerald Girls: Jane, Marie, Sara, Suzanne, Emma and Jenny

Brien, Marie, Matt, Emma and Kevin

Brien, Marie, Matt, Emma and Kevin

The Emerald Minis: Seren, Isabelle, Lia, Siobhan, Ava and

The Emerald Minis: Seren, Isabelle, Lia, Siobhan, Ava and Amelie

The kids had so much fun with so many friends to play with after the food!  They all had balloon animals or swords made.  They loved the margarita machine that made non-alcoholic slushy drinks.

Playing on the balcony and pretending to be singers (after the Opera).

Playing on the balcony and pretending to be singers (after the Opera).

Oliver and Ethan

Oliver and Ethan with their slushies!

You caught us!

You caught us after we raided the Popcorn machine!

Fantastic Gymnastic Display

Fantastic Gymnastic Display

I love this photo of me and Owen.  The sunshine is streaming in through the windows and we are caught mid-laugh.

I love this photo of me and Owen. The sunshine is streaming in through the windows and we are caught mid-laugh.

The Sunday Brunch (especially the Champagne Brunches!!) are a strong part of Shanghai weekends.  It is not just for Ex-pats – many Chinese enjoy this too!

Thanksgiving – British (American) Chinese style

Thursday November 22nd 2012 is Thanksgiving (the 4th Thursday in November) – a traditional American holiday but one that we have celebrated since 1995 when we first moved from the UK to America.  The first few years, Owen and I were always invited to the homes of our friends in Atlanta.  Then we started hosting at our house – opening our home to people who could not make it home to be with their families, or those who just wanted to be somewhere different.  It is one of our favourite holidays because it is all about sharing quality time with people who are special to you, good food (Turkey with all the trimmings, apple pie, pumpkin pie) and giving thanks.  I am thankful for a wonderful family, brilliant friends, my health and a job that I love and that has offered such a fabulous opportunity to live and work in China.

This year, the kids were in school and it was a work day for me!  But, we had decided to invite some friends from the Emerald to share our Thanksgiving meal in the evening.  Owen had found a western shop that would deliver a Turkey to – deep fried ready to eat – at a cost of £100/$150!!!!  We made green bean casserole, traditional stuffing, roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots, mange tout and sweet corn.  I made pumpkin roll (very yummy) and we also had the store deliver apple pie and a chocolate mousse cake.

A delicious meal shared with friends – all that Thanksgiving is about!  Lots of laughter and a new experience for our British friends.  It is good for Isabelle and Oliver to be reminded of American traditions, as they are both citizens of the USA having been born there.

Our Thanksgiving gathering. 11 people suitably stuffed!