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Welcome to Happy Babies World!!!

Many people have wondered how I actually earn my crust, so here is a little video showing what I get up to every morning! I have three classes, B3 which is the 2/3 year olds, B2 1/2 year olds and B1 which are the real babies who can't even talk! Wot larks!

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

January 2011

After a fantastic December(weather wise), January brought in the rain and freezing cold weather....

I was ok however, armed with my oil radiator and thermal flatmates froze and Edwards was permanently nursing a cold!

February 2011

Chinese new year was not something I was particularly looking forward to given that on every other occasion it had poured with rain. Edwards took off for the sunny Phillippines whilst Keelung Dave and I stayed to brave the conditions. But this year things were different, The sun shone, temperatures rose, I went out hiking and biking whilst Keelung Dave stayed up all night, slept all day and played computer games in between times! We went to the pub on alternate days and ended up getting wasted and coming come at ridiculously late hours but it was fun and gave us a chance to sample the new On Tap which has moved into much bigger premises.
Started going hiking regularly again and made another trip to Teapot mountain at the end of the month...Naomi enjoyed it but her legs nearly fell off!

March 2011

Funds had been low in February due to a lots of cancellations in January and March was bad due to a weeks lay off for chinese New Year in February. Still, one doesn't have to spend copious amounts of money drinking so I limited my trips to the pub. Got introduced to Herbal Life's nutrition shakes and the their little club. Now, I've always avoided such organisations like the plague before but this time I think the danger of being brainwashed is limited. I have however, been invited to attended various meetings which I've politely declined...drinking shakes will do for now.
Finally made it to Man-Yue-Yuan which has been a hiking target of mine for months. Unfortunately didn't get there till 2.45 and couldn't find the path to climb the mountain I wanted, so ended up doing a BIG hike where we didn't hit the peak till 5.30....oops, meant two hours of hiking back in the darkness which young Naomi wasn't very happy about as she fell on her ass three times. Check out the webpage and video!. Went straight from there to the pub where there were some very drunk people. I was too tired to participate in such frivolities!

And here was one of the very drunk people...Big Andy being held up by Russell!

Next day went cycling to Danshui, which on a Sunday if the weather is nice has to be seen to be believed. Hordes of people take to the cycle paths and the number increases the closer you get to Danshui.

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

Hiking again!

Last weekend in March and the weather was pretty grim. Didn't want to sit around the house all day so went on a hike to warm up and get some exercise

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

April 2011

I was scheduled to go to Kenting for the annual Spring Scream knees up...there was even a battle bus going down with 35 folk signed up. I however, er, didn't make it and went to Yingge to make myself a pot and after that popped down to the local stadium to see none other than Bob Dylan!

I went to Yingge once years ago and never got the chance to craft myself a nice pot. This time was different, made my way past all the shops flogging plates and found myself a place where they teach you to use the potters wheel. I knocked up something passable but in truth, the guy in typical Taiwan fashion did most of the work. Still I'm getting the result posted out to me in a couple of weeks!

Went along with the Bear and Jason to see His Bobness at the Big Egg and while The Bear snaffled up an 8000nt ticket for 3000nt off a tout, Jason and I contented ourselves with 1800nt tickets at the back...the scalpers were getting desperate to sell and I could see why when we got in. The place was half empty. Still the sound is much better than the Nangang exhibition centre, which is awful, but Bob's voice was ropey to say the least.

The Bob Dylan Show

Jason and I were sat miles from the front and to be honest it could have been anyone up on stage as they didn't have a big screen. This video is much closer than we saw it!

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here


I decided to head back to UK for 5 weeks or so to visit the folks, friends and see the mighty Reading in their push for promotion! To be honest I was in need of a break as Taiwan was starting to do my head in.

This is where Nick and I stayed over Easter when we went up to see Leeds play Reading

Well, good trip though it was, the footy wasn't quite up to scratch....0-0 draw and Reading were lucky to get a point. The pub wasn't good either and I overate on some crap curry that made me feel most uncomfortable for the first half!

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

Next day, we set off for the Yorkshire Dales and a 3 pub hike! Good exercise though it was a shock to meet "Happy Barry" (as he's known!) in the George Inn

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

Day three saw us leave Yorkshire and head down south to the Peak district where we tackled the "Roaches", an area of unusual rock formations. Yet another cracking hike which took about six hours to complete....check out the 20 minute video

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

May 2011

The other footy games I saw weren't great either but at least we made it to the play-offs. Anyway, I was browsing through a jobs website when I came across a language school for sale in Caziz province, Spain. so more HOT NEWS, I decided to fly over to check it out! But before I flew there was a family do in the Retriever pub between Bracknell and Crowthorne. There had been big forest fires just a few days before and the road was closed with access to the pub only. fire crews and Police were camped just across the road! Heather didn't want her picture taken so my spoon conveniently hid her...

Good to see everyone but the best part of the meal was the pudding!!

Anyway, the next day I was off and typical me, I had booked the flights, hotel and Parking and was just getting onto the shuttle bus to take me to the airport proper having driven all the way to Stanstead, when I received a phone call from the schools owner to say he'd accepted an offer....Somewhat taken aback I decided to go anyway and that night was strolling the streets of Chipiona on the Spanish Atlantic coast.

This church was 2 minutes from my hotel and the bells rang every 30 minutes which I thought was going to be a worry but they turned them off after the midnight chimes!

My little jaunt certainly helped refresh my Spanish, but I'm still far from conversational and as a consequence was left to my own devices for the entire one speaks English! Went out one night with the boss of the school and got a bit drunk on Sherry(Oloroso) but that was my entire social calendar

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

Back to UK on the Thursday and the important business of the play offs on the Friday. Reading drew 0-0 first leg do Nick and I drove down to Cardiff for the 2nd leg. Met Gareth in Cowbridge first for a few ales and was feeling a bit drunk when we arrived. The game was an absolute classic as you can see on the video and we won 3-0. The best atmosphere at a game I have experienced for years....Now for Swansea City and third time lucky at play off finals!

With a week to pass before the Wembley trip I took the chance to visit old friends and went up to London to visit Loree her husband, Michel and two sprogs. They've bought a new house which is a definite upgrade compared to their previous place. Maya the daughter is now a cheeky four year old and I had some fun playing with her in the tube!

The next day I went to visit Eamon just outside Marlow and we went on a local walk taking in the local sights such as the M40 and a wicca man....beautiful countryside actually.

As playoff fever started to build, I went to the pub with Paul and Mum to discuss the upcoming game. My mum was caught up in it all and demanded I take her over to the Madjeski Stadium to buy some RFC products...who was I to refuse?

Well, the big day came and somewhat to my consternation we didn't leave until 11am. I was dying to get there early to savour the atmosphere...but anyway. We arrived close enough to Wembley where Mike and I got out and walked to the pub as the traffic wasn't moving. The main pubs were all full so we ended up in some overflow pubs where the atmosphere wasn't that great but we did proceed to get drunk! Nick the Perv arrived as it was close to where he now lives in London. He was originally just coming for a quick beer but after walking with us to the stadium managed to blag a discount ticket!

The atmosphere inside the ground was electric, as you'd expect from 86,500 fans, half in Swansea white and half in the blue and white hoops.

Anyway, after going 3-0 down at half time the atmosphere subdued a little but when we pulled 2 back in the second half it was mayhem in the Reading end. Lost 4-2 but incredible game with plenty of heart pulling emotion.
Here's my take on the game. The trip up, the pub, walking to the stadium and most of all...the CROWD.

THE GAME HIGHLIGHTS...painful viewing for myself it has to be said.

June 2011

Next day I was on a plane back to Taiwan...head was in a bit of a blur! Day after that I was back to work...didn't know where I was! At the weekend went to a pool party on the Saturday a big White Monkeys hike to ShenKen on the Sunday with the Bear and Alex. We visited a waterfall, drank tea at a tea plantation and later saw some monkeys swinging from the trees. Monday being a holiday had me playing football for the first time in about 15 goal and I, ahem, had three shots at me and conceded three goals!
Went to another pool party, this time down in Xin-Dien which was supposed to be a beer olympics or something of the sort. The bear and I did not participate but did play some water volleyball without ripping my feet to shreds like in previous years. Swifty bought a poker set down so that soon took over as the entertainment for the afternoon...I received a lot of stick for some of my calls and was soon 400nt down but ended up even.

Bye bye flip flops

My flip flops broke on the way to the pool party, so please allow me to show you a quick vid of the shoe disposal!

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

After that it was On Tap with the Bear where we had a tussle over whether to go to Revolver and see the "Deadly Vibes" or not. The Bear was resisting and in the melee my phone was knocked off the table and is now broken.....
I ended up going to Revolver alone which was OK as the band were good as always. Big Andy made an appearance later before it all became a bit of a blur. Pub choices are getting difficult to make these days as Swifty, Russell and Big Andy won't go to On Tap anymore due to a falling out over money, shares etc(remember kids, never go into business with your mates!)
Anyway, the Revolver looks a good bet these days as it has live music and cheap drinks...what more could you want?

I've been looking for new hikes and one big challenge I haven't done yet is the Sh-Ding to Muza ridge which is a linear 6 hour job. I went out with the intention of completing this trek but left it far too late and only had time to do a section which was still very tough and took about 4 hours! Anyway, apart from the views I also saw a Stick insect, Giant Millipede and the tail end of a large sake disappearing into a hole under a tree. Managed to get a snap of Sticky boy but the others were too fast for me!

Mr Stick

The little bugger just dropped down in front of me, probably blown out of the tree as it was blowing quite a gale. I had to encourage some movement from the chap with the aid of a real stick!
It was only when I watched the video that I realised there were two of them! If you watch closely you can see that the smaller one is riding on the back of the bigger one and falls off...he then sprints back to jump onto the bigger one again.

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

My plans to hike the complete Sh-Ding ridge were scuppered when a typhoon side swiped Taiwan and deposited large amounts of rain over the whole island. Well, luckily my plans for the weekend were not entirely ruined because "Revolver" once again came up with the goods and provided some top live music. A Black Sabbath tribute band no less! They were excellent musicians, (especially the drummer) and were all wearing long wigs to look the part. At the end of the set they removed the false hair to reveal bald palates one and all.
I even took a couple of my students along to see it and they seemed to enjoy it...Rock n' roll!

July 2011

Having been "laid off" by Happy Marion I was forced to go out and look for another job and managed to bag myself a kindergarten at the local Montessori starting in August. That meant no more Happy Baby!! Sad to say farewell to the little munchkins but the place had become a bit chaotic with the new teachers unable to control the kids. As I don't see myself as a law enforcer the kids were running riot in B3, opening cupboards, clambering over each other, ripping things to shreds and using me as a human climbing frame!
In the middle of the month I got first a phone call, then a text from Mia coyly asking me if I wanted to go on holiday with her. After picking myself off the floor I first declined as I'm a busy man but then as it was only for a long weekend thought why not. After some desperate searching on the internet we took off on a four day trip to Thailand which I have devoted a page to. It went quite well really, no serious arguments! The only trouble was the first hotel was a bit isolated, the weather was a bit crap and time was up before we knew it. I literally had to dash from the airport to the Eurocentre to teach the evening classes!

The following week Bear and I tackled the hitherto considered impossible Sh-Ding to Mao-Kong trek which took a soul sapping six and a half hours. A video of the heroics will be posted soon enough!

The Long Hike....

August 2011

New month, new job! Started at Jason Montessori and was somewhat underwhelmed. Organised it aint! A vague schedule to fill the day interspersed with water breaks, toilet breaks, play breaks and food breaks....I'll get used to it! First weekend of the month and golf was on the agenda. Edwards, Keelung and I headed off to the well manicured fairways of Xindien for the MinZu classic. A full video of the entertainment can be found here

The weather has been constantly hot with frequent thunderstorms in the afternoon. I was caught out in one....near the top of a mountain and with thunder and lightning flashing all around me I had to take refuge in a tiny shrine for an hour...gave me a chance to check out the games on my mobile.

Temple Boy

Here I am stripped to the waist waiting for the storm to pass. There was incense burning so I had to stub that out. The constant chanting of "Oh-Mi-Tou-Fu" was doing my head in but I didn't have the heart to chuck out the little machine that was making the noise. So it was just me and the "goddess of Mercy" for an hour, quite a handy refuge!

Had my first ever yoga class and some of the girls present had to stifle their mirth at my inept attempts to bend my body into the most basic of would appear that I am quite stiff! Hoping to continue this and gradually transform into a contortionist.

Looks like my time at Jason Kindergarten's centre of learning has come to an agreement that this was not the best place for me to work!! No co-teacher, unfriendly staff...chaos reigns...get me outta here!!

September 2011

Good God!! September finds me still employed by Jason's...shows how much I need the money!! Moon festival was a good holiday, not because of any celebrations but because the three day weekend was so looked forward to! However, at the Daniel Pearl concert(live bands playing vibe) I broke a tooth eating a nacho and subsequently found out I needed a root canal operation...four visits to the dentist to fix it. The last ever pool party at the Country Club was a roaring success, crowded as I've ever seen it and I managed to get very drunk...but over a long period of time.

Jason and I were drinking cocktails in the pool for a while...until we were ordered not to!
It was one busy pool party...possibly the best I've been to...
The Bear, Mini Me, Lowe, Myself...all the faces were there! Shayla loves to wear as little as possible so pool parties are perfect for her!


By the time I took this brief vid, I was very drunk so it doesn't have the greatest insight...but there is an appearance by Alex Hart!!
If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

October 2011

My God, not another birthday! Decided to keep a low profile this time around and so, on my birthday, nothing happened! I did get my first ever birthday phone call from Nina though which was super nice. I was supposed to go out for a meal with, ahem! a certain young lady, but after some phone drama, that didn't happen. September and October have been the season of the tooth for me. Weekly trips into the dentist thinking it would be the last time and SIX trips later, I'm still going! Supposed to be getting a cap fitted but after drilling, buffing, syringing blue stuff into my mouth, yanking, squirting, clamping my teeth over some clay like stuff, putting in nails, telling me to bite over stuff, more's still not over.

Halloween reared its ugly head at the end of the month and yet again I dragged the old shirt out of the cupboard and became a punk once more. Can you tell which of the pictures above is from 2009 and which is from 2011?
No, I thought not!! The bottom picture is this years!! Started in On Tap which was fun to begin with, then got boring so moved on to the Red Building in Shi-Men-Ding where I saw none other than Natasha and her wild friend Jennifer. Glad they were there actually as it would have been a crap night otherwise!

November 2011

Jason Kindergarten

The last Day

My stint at Jason's came to an end after three harrowing months. After one particularly out of control class the director, Anja started complaining about the the lack of control so I said they could find another least I managed to put a bit of cash away but I won't miss the afternoon class from hell!
If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

I wasn't exactly looking forward to the trip to Snow Mountain as it was being squeezed into two days and to my mind this was insufficient for the arduous nature of the trek. Needless to say only two out of the eight made it to the peak.

Two days of pain on Snow Mountain

A weekend into the heart of Taiwan's high mountain area which turned into a gruelling uphill trek

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

To see the webblog click here

With the lightened workload the rest of the month was spent getting some chores done, getting up late...general dossing, reading books and studying Chinese. Handed in my notice at the Eurocentre because I've decided to take an office/teaching job for the business teaching side of Happy Marion called "Round Table." Not sure if i've made the right decision....I've been at the Euro on and off since 2002!

December 2011

Re-visited a hike last done...oh, 20 years ago! Starting from up past the National Palace Museum, near where my ex,ex,ex girlfriend, Jeanette used to live, there used to be an old amusement park that had been abandoned for sometime even back then. Now, there are only a few remnants like a pair of goats and this statue of Guan-In (Goddess of Mercy) hidden away in the trees. It's Taiwan's version of Ankor Wat...but, er...not quite as impressive! Still, interesting to see and a good hike all the way to Neihu.

Latest news on the job front: Yann has now offered me a full time job at the Eurocentre!!
Just as I'd got my head around the fact that I was leaving, I'm faced with a dilemma yet again!

Insane weather on 7-Stars Mountain

Headed up to Yang-Ming-Shan on a grey Monday afternoon. The weather looked OK, but on the way to my original destination the wind and rain appeared. I headed back and decided to climb 7 Stars because it seemed clearer. Once above 800m it became very bad and when I got to within 300m of the peak I was on the main ridge and the wind was howling across. I could barely stand up and had to abandon the mission!

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

Decided to stay with the Eurocentre...means another month of idleness...Can I cope???
Well, they are going to open another floor in the same, because of its excellent teaching staff, it seems the place is taking off!!
I went down to investigate.

They are having the whole 8th floor stripped and redecorated. So, as you can see the place is currently a mess. However, once finished an extra seven classrooms will be added. I will be full time from February on a fixed salary, no mornings and no weekends. I guess I will be working pretty hard in between times!

Had a bit of a Christmas dilemma. Due to the politics surrounding On Tap (i.e. Swifty and Russell no longer being part of it) I had to decide whether to go for the annual bash at the new On Tap or attend Russell's Xmas do at his house. If I'd thought about it carefully I'd have gone to the Tap first and sneaked out to go to Russell's later. However, I didn't. I went to the house party where Russell, in his inimitable style, put on a lavish spread which we had no chance of finishing. There were a lot of Ellen's friends there plus The Big A, Swifty, Russell and myself...still enough for a poker game!!

Hike through a military cemetery

In deepest Nangang there is a huge military cemetery complete with this striking monument. The only problem is, Taiwan hasn't had any wars so the cemetery is, er, empty. Rows and rows of grassy, sectioned off areas with no dead heroes to fill them. Still it's quite imposing looking and the start of a good hike over to Elephant Mountain.

Drama at the flat!

I was just going for my afternoon nap when I was first awoken by the sound of fire engines and then by Keelung Dave banging on my door. Went to investigate and it seemed that the entire Taipei fire department was lined up outside our building to investigate a blaze.....

If you can't see the embedded vid, click here

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