Posted by: Sarah Giles | 10 November 2009


‘The marvellous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.’

Helen Keller

Posted by: Sarah Giles | 10 November 2009

Church, chums and chimichangas

Good news. I now have some Christian friends in Thailand outside of our mission agency and CCD. Real people to go out with socially with, and have normal non-work-related conversations with, and everything. And it only took six months…

This past weekend, I went on the ECB women’s retreat. ECB is our church in Bangkok, and the retreat was held at a very nice hotel in Hua Hin, which is a 3½-hour drive south from Bangkok, on the east coast. (Map here.) There were about 100 of us, and it was great.

I was the ‘leader’ of minibus number five (of ten) for both outward and return journeys. This entailed finding all the right people and issuing them with goody bags, water, and the very-important-must-be-worn-at-all-times name badges, releasing said people at a lunch stop, rounding them up again, all that sort of thing, and keeping the retreat leaders posted on the bus’s whereabouts. Ever the control freak organiser, I quite enjoyed it, and it meant that I got to know some people very quickly.

People like Margarita-from-Mexico, who introduced herself as ‘a drama queen and a troublemaker’. She owns a Mexican restaurant, you know. Here she is in a rare quiet moment.

Margarita for web

Later on Friday evening, I met my roommate, Dani. Dani’s from Australia and is studying module three of a Thai course almost identical to the one we did (because, so the rumour goes, some teachers from school A absconded and started school B, using the same teaching materials). We were able to compare notes of despair about the placement of vowels and I shared a delight Dani was about to encounter – the fact that tone markers change, depending on the class of the consonant they’re on. Nice.

Anyway. We got on very well, finding that we shared a common outlook on life and sense of humour. This is Dani. She hopes to do nursing either in Thailand or a neighbouring country.



And another new friend, Melanie.


Meanwhile, the retreat content itself was about ‘valleys’ (challenges, disappointments, fed-upnesses, etc) of varying magnitudes and how to deal with/’climb out of’ them, referring to Samson, David, and others. The speaker was Janell Rardon (three adjectives: American, loud, hilarious). To be honest, it was all delivered at such a breakneck pace (and with so many random anecdotal diversions) that I still need time to sit down and process it all, but it was good. One highlight was learning about a type of prayer-journalling with words and pictures that was particularly inspiring for a certain writer/scrapbooker. :D

The food was also Very Pleasing. The advantage of having become re-vegetarian in recent weeks was the vast array of food that was provided at a special table… in addition to having the pick of whatever else on the buffet happened to be vegetarian. Oh yes.


So. Lots of interesting conversations had. Several friends made. And a small group of us who got on particularly well have plans to form a group to get together regularly… starting with a gathering at the Mexican restaurant. Result.

Posted by: Sarah Giles | 4 November 2009

Some things I’ve been creating lately (part one)

I’ve just joined Shimelle’s Blogging For Scrapbookers class so I’ll be incorporating ideas from that soon. First, though, here’s a little selection of what I’ve been up to in the last few days.



These cards are thank yous for the people who’ve organised the ECB women’s retreat that I’m taking part in this weekend. I’ll be ‘van leader’ for minibus number five (sounds like some sort of primary school monitory role, but I’m assured that it is Very Important…) and I’m hoping that it’ll be a good opportunity to get to know people, because at the moment I can name about six people and that is it. I plan to come back with lots of new girly chums.

More craftiness coming soon… including a little something I’ve put together for my Mum’s birthday.


Posted by: Sarah Giles | 29 October 2009

Today is an inspiring kind of day

I am being inspired by a sqillion things in the wonder that is cyberspace.

Stacy Julian’s ‘Sprinkles‘ idea. This woman is so full of inspiring ideas and she does them. Lives them all out. I love that.

Jillybean’s journalling sprouts. Delicious, no? I’ve added them to my wish list.

Tina Coburn’s descriptions of three types of people when it comes to writing:

Pile one:
Writers. These people love their words. When you read their words, you are transported. They can be witty, clever, evocative, precise. They see the world in word pictures. In their minds, there is a verbal description commentary that runs on everything they see. For them, words are art.

Pile two:
Good with words. This pile of peeps can hold their own. They can move past the who what where and when, to the why and the how. They describe details. They are not afraid of words. They can neatly and appropriately capture the events, and the mood.

Pile three:
Scaredy cats. Afraid of grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and the rules of writing. They can speak and communicate, but when the pen is in their hand, they begin to doodle, pretending that the alphabet was invented for others. Writing, for them, is something other people do.

(Quoted from Write. Click. Scrapbook.)

Also available here on the WorldWide Web (the set dated October 25), our pastor John Eckrote’s recent sermon which includes an encouragement to try singing prayers (thankfully, he suggested we do this in the privacy of our own home). Accompanying music is also provided here. I love, LOVE this idea. I tried it out last time I was working from home. It was great. Also listen to the song he wrote, setting Habbakuk’s words to music.

I think it’s going to be a good day. I’m feeling creative, and there’s one last chocolate muffin in the kitchen. Excellent.

Posted by: Sarah Giles | 27 October 2009


I am enjoying this picture (though I am not a fan of Halloween – here’s why). 

I am doing a page plan for the CCD magazine.

I am filling in tax forms.

I am hoping for some time to be creative Just For Me.

That is all.

Posted by: Sarah Giles | 17 October 2009

Time for an update

It is six whole months since I last posted here.

Since then I have been blogging with Dave about our adventures in Thailand. That blog is about our life here and all the dramas and challenges we’ve faced, along with what’s happening work-wise. But I’ve been missing this blog and the space it gives me to be me –  not the Thailand version of me, who has to smile all the time despite feeling way out of my comfort zone (in terms of language, culture, and just spending so much time with other people) and worries about making huge cross-cultural mistakes every waking minute, but ordinary English me who likes scrapbooking and cake-making and growing vegetables and recycling and fairtrade and the English language and being silly. I’ve not been able to let that version out much recently, apart from a few blissful scrapbooking sessions and a visit to a ThaiCraft fair trade fair in Bangkok. I’m hoping that will change in the weeks to come. I am planning on reinvigorating my crafting/baking/green-things mojo, starting with this blog.

So. To mark the change of scene, here’s what’s going on today. (You might like to compare it to this version from October 2008.)

Outside my window… I can see very little – the view is blocked by the leaves of the mango tree in our front yard. (Is yard the right word? It’s tiled, so you can’t call it a garden. Any suggestions? Yard seems the most appropriate. I wonder if the Thais have a name for it.)

I am thinking… about going out for pizza tonight. After three days away in a very Thai environment with very ‘interesting’ Thai food I am craving Western something-or-other. 

I am thankful for… having a clean house and our own bed to return to. Definitely appreciating a cockroach-free bathroom. 

From the kitchen… not much today. I had a dragonfruit for brunch. We don’t cook as much here as the food from the stall at the end of our road is so good and cheap. I am considering going veggie for a few weeks, and pondering doing a raw food trial. We recently read The Hallelujah Diet and while it sounds a bit extreme, the testimonials about the healing properties and general increase in well-being are too good not to try it. Still at the thinking/researching stage on that one.

I am wearing… a red t-shirt and blue jeans. No shoes, obviously, as I’m in a house in Thailand and shoes are Not Done. 

I am creating… the ‘my life now’ scrapbook page inspired by Stacy Julian’s project (see my creation from last year here). I haven’t taken all the pictures for this year’s update yet, but hope to do that this week.

I am going… to a birthday party (bowling and ice cream) tomorrow afternoon.

I am reading… 1 Chronicles and struggling a bit with the application/relevance.

I am hoping… the parcel of scrapbooking stash I ordered last weekend will be waiting for me in the office on Monday. (It’s a bit more secure to have parcels sent there.)

I am hearing… one of the mobile food vendors’ tunes playing through a loudhailer-type arrangement. Lots of them come up the soi each day, selling vegetables, ice creams, Thai sweets, all manner of edibles. I’ve only ever bought eggs from one of them.

Around the house… the washing machine is on with the third load from camp. Dave has just bought a new bike. There’s some paperwork from home to attend to (tax forms, electricity accounts to get refunded, etc). I want to clean and paint the walls. It still doesn’t feel very ours.

One of my favourite things… in Thailand is going to the cinema. We go so much more here because it is affordable (ranging from about £2.00 for a normal seat to £7.00 for a posh seat at the IMAX). Any film we like the look of, we go and see. In the UK, we went once or twice a year, and it cost about £8.00 each. Here, I am totally up for a couple of hours of escapism every week or two.

A few plans for the rest of the week… work, sorting out the hundreds of photos from Rainbow Camp, a public holiday on Friday, our wedding anniversary on Sunday (25th). Don’t know what we’re doing for that yet.

A picture to share…

This is where I am sitting at the moment. It doesn’t feel quite like home yet, but I’m working on it.

Posted by: Sarah Giles | 23 April 2009

Ten things

Here are ten of the things I’ve been up to this week:

1. We had our new friends Trevor and Jackie round for dinner on Monday, and got to know them a bit before we go away. That was good. Turns out they are old friends of Dave’s aunt and uncle, who also used to live round here. Small world.


2. We’re reading The Purpose Driven Life (which is crying out for a hyphen and doesn’t have one) with our cell group, and loving it. Challenging me – especially stuff about relinquishing control. Hard. Parting with belongings is fine with me, but parting with my plans is much harder. Painful. But I hope in a good way.

3. We’re doing visa applications. Photos. Forms. Documents in Thai that we don’t understand at all. Dave’s in charge of that one, so not too much for me to stress over (though I like to try).

4. We have signed our wills, so it is now safe for us to die, not that it is high on our agenda! It does seem to be a requirement for missionary types, though (the will-making, not the dying). Haven’t paid the solicitor yet, and we wondered what the legal status is if you die at this stage. Presume they still stand… anyone?

5. On Friday I ordered a new suitcase (we only owned one proper big one) and a cabin luggage type bag. Both blue. They arrived today. Lovely. My cabin bag was only £20, reduced from £99. Bargain. Debenhams, if you’re interested. They’re made by Tripp.

6. Using Twitter a bit more. Think I get it. Took a while, but I like it. You can follow me at, or just read the updates on the right. They’re also on our mission blog.

7. I have started organising the stuff we’re taking to Thailand on to four shelves of the cupboard in my study: two for taking with us, and two for shipping. The Marmite has been added to the shipping shelves. Think I’ll last the first six weeks without it.

8. Spent a little while by Alton pond on Tuesday, just sitting and taking everything in. Lovely. Very calming.


9. I’m just finishing off writing 30,000 words of project updates for World Vision – the reports that are sent to child sponsors so they can learn about how their sponsorship money has been spent and all the development work that’s going on in their sponsored child’s community. It’s hard work, taking the field reports, picking out stories and statistics and writing them for a completely different audience to that of the original. And then doing that again and again, about five times for each country, once for each area development project. But it’s definitely worthwhile. I like working for World Vision – they have a real integrity about what they do, and are accountable through the whole process. And some of the stories are amazing. Wells. Toilets. Education for those who couldn’t access it before. Tools and seeds and polytunnels, so parents can feed their children and earn a living. Caring for people with HIV. And loads more in the same vein. I think if I collected the stories myself I’d cry all over these people. They’re wonderful.

10. Very thankful for the help of lovely people. Lots of pledgers for the coming months. Jan, who had us round for a lovely lunch, told us all about our new job (which she did until recently) and gave us the key to her bike, which she left at CCD.  Really generous. Thank you, Jan! Our lovely cell group, who rallied round when our freezer misbehaved yesterday. Thanks, Jane and Helen and Lynn and Janet. And thanks too to Jane F, for providing helpful info on Thai embasses and where to get cheap scrapbooking supplies in Bangkok (Chinatown is apparently scrappers’ paradise – I can’t wait)!

So, all is well, despite a few dramas along the way.  Five weeks on Saturday is D-day. Eeek. Still Quite A Lot to do.

Posted by: Sarah Giles | 16 April 2009


Inspiration, originally uploaded by anamama.

I’m working on country reports for World Vision at the moment. Busy busy busy. But good.

Am also finding myself thinking a lot about decorating-type ideas for our new place in Pakkred. This is ridiculous for at least four reasons.

One: We will be house-sitting when we arrive and aren’t likely to start house-hunting until mid-June at the earliest. Two: We have no idea yet where the house will be or what it will look like (though we do have a wish list). Three: We’ll be renting so will probably be unable to do anything major. Four: We’re going to be on a pretty tight budget.

Nevertheless, I am still daydreaming about cheap-and-fun-and-lovely ideas, a desk at a window, white walls, postcards and photos, a little box of stationery and lots of inspiration. Oh, and a fan. Definitely a fan…

Other pictures currently doing it for me include this one, this one and this one.

Posted by: Sarah Giles | 8 April 2009

Multiple blog disorder

I haven’t forgotten this blog. It’s just that I’ve been spending a bit more time on this one.

Trying to decide how to divide my posts. Whether to put everything over there, or put the more creative stuff here, or make this blog more personal and that one more work/mission-related, or what. If you have any pearls of wisdom/preference/opinions, please do comment.

I’m not growing any vegetables this year – and feeling the loss of spring in the garden as a result – but hope to have a little growing space in our home in Thailand. I miss the little green shoots and the feel of compost. Watch this space. Or that one.

Likewise, have hardly scrapbooked at all for months, but have something out on the table downstairs at the moment, so might squeeze a page in later. It’s about chocolate scrumpets.

Meanwhile, I’m a bit behind with my work (deadlines Tuesday and Thuesday next week, which means I’ll be working over the weekend). I’m a bit behind with packing and planning and sorting everything else out too, which is Not Good. I am living on mini eggs – the permanent sugar rush prevents me falling asleep when I have all this stuff to do.

Blogging also helps to keep me sane, if only for the length of time it takes to write a post. So. Back to the sorting out. And the mini eggs. Any other sanity-saving tips appreciated.

Posted by: Sarah Giles | 9 March 2009

A Wittering, a walk, and some weather

I tried to be healthy yesterday. I didn’t like it.

The weather was lovely all weekend, and we had decided to drive to West Wittering – which is about an hour away, on the coast just south of Chichester – for a Sunday afternoon walk on the beach. All healthy and pleasing.

That was the plan. But the reality conspired to make it rather less appealing. We set off from home straight after church with not a cloud in the sky. A bit of a breeze, but still very acceptable walking weather. But by the time we reached the coast, however, it was completely overcast, and as we arrived in West Wittering, it started to rain. And hail. Deliberately.

During a lull in the torrent, we ventured forth from the car. Having refused to pay to park in the car park, it was about a mile’s walk to the beach. During this fifteen-minute trek we were roundly assaulted by hail-in-the-face, a particularly pungent aroma of cow, and the distinct feeling that this was a Bad Idea. But still we persevered.

When we arrived on the beach, the wind was even stronger. It was helpfully whipping up the sand and using it to exfoliate my face. I discovered what it is like to be a house with unwanted pebbledash as the sand/wind combo stripped off a layer of skin. We tolerated this for about ten minutes before retreating. We got back in the car, and as we drove home, the sun came out again. It did appear to have rained at home too, but by the time we got back the sky was cloudless once again. Bah. I hid under a blanket with a hot chocolate and a hot water bottle for the rest of the day, rueing the waste of petrol, time, and effort. And that was Sunday gone. Hmph. I have decided that healthy behaviour is overrated. If that is how I am rewarded for my efforts, I will stick to cake.

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