Scribbles in the Sand

All About My Life in Taiwan

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Moving House

My mums great blog.

Devon Country Diary Goes To Scotland!

Both Laurence and Verity have moved house recently, one in Taiwan and one nearer to home, in Bath. I was not able to help Laurie but he had his brother to help instead. I didn’t think that Verity needed me either as she had taken my advice and got some professionals to do the job but inevitably she had several car loads to move on top of the van load that had already been delivered so I was happy to go to the rescue. I stayed overnight so that I could take her to work the next day and get rid of the packing material that threatened to take over the house.

Matt is in Budapest for a short holiday and seems to have done very well with the apartment they have rented. Gwilym and Fiona have passed their Taiwanese driving test and are intending to purchase a car. Laurie…

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1st day in Japan

Woke at 4am for our 5:30am flight from Taipei to Tokyo Narita airport. We’ve been to Tokyo twice now so the trip in to town is more familiar, although we had a few hiccups early on.  Number one was forgetting to move our clocks an hour ahead and almost missing our train and the second was misreading the train ticket and thinking we were in cart 9 rather than seat 9, meaning we had to run half-way down the platform to get on the high speed railway.

The trip in to city centre is nice. Lots of green fields and country houses with cool blue tiled roofs.  We got off at at Shibuya station and got a taxi to the apartment we are staying in.



After a short rest we travelled to the new Tokyo studio to read through the scripts for the coming week of shooting.  The set is being built and we have our first 7 videos to record tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a 12 hour day, from 8am to 8pm. Let’s hope the first day of filming goes smoothly and can ease the nerves.



Below is a short hyperlapse of the famous Shibuya crossing made famous in movies. Still playing with the hyperlapse app so have not perfected the technique of filming.

>Steps taken:13,692

>Floors climbed:19


Last Weekend

This is actually a combination of the last couple of weekends, which we have recently made and effort to fill with lots of fun activities.

On a bright and sunny Saturday morning, I drove down to ShiPai石牌 MRT station on my scooter and met L on his newly bought second-hand bike.  Having past his test a week before, he was eager to explore the mountains that surround my flat, and the Northern parts of Taipei.  It’s only a short drive into them, and before long, you are towering above the entire city, and in complete wilderness.  It’s one of my favourite places in Taiwan, and something we should do more often.  In the mountains, which are part of YangMin Shan National park, you will find a multitude of hot-springs.

Beitou 北投 is famous for these warm thermal springs, and are visited by throngs of tourists from all over Asia.  I myself have only been a handful of times but last weekend was one of them.


After our short drive, we drove down to ChiangKai Shek Memorial Hall 中正紀念堂 and Joined F, Matt, and Kendrick for a spot of Archery at the municipal gym.

After this, we heard commotion outside, and witnessed a giant parade full of troops of school children, and old ladies in not very much clothing


After this we went to the old America embassy for a spot of food, then made last minute plans to travel back up into the mountains for some late night hot springs.  Laurie, Matt, F and I soaked in the volcanic waters until the early hours before returning home for a nice long sleep.


The following weekend, we had another date in the Mountains. This time we were in search of some roast chicken, baked in large outdoor furnaces.  It was impossible to find, but when we did it was worth it.  Two whole chickens later (and I mean Whole; head, claws, anus and all), we drove down to Shilin士林 for some casual browsing in B and Q.

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The next day, we arranged to have a picnic in Nei Hu 內湖。 F and I prepared cucumber sandwiches, egg mayo, and left over chicken.  With a kite packed and two bottles of wine in hand, we got a taxi to Neihu.  Forgetting to bring a corkscrew, L had to improvise with a fork and shoe.  After this we took 4 stops back on the MRT and went to watch “Judge” at the cinema, starting Robert Downy Jr.


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Life updates and restarting this blog

It’s been a long time since my last post.  Well that’s all going to change because I miss having somewhere to document what’s being going on in my life, and an easy way for people to pop in and see what i’m up to without having to write separate emails each time.

However, since i’m very busy of late, these posts will hopefully be regular, short, and a mixture of pictures and text. It will act as a journal to mark some of the small yet important events so that I can look back on them some day.

Anyway, enough of that. Where have I been for so long?

Well when you saw me last, I was probably teaching you how to ‘hack your mac’ or fine tuning the perfect cup of coffee.  After two semesters of Mandarin school at ShiDa, I found that it was about time to get a job since I had spent all my money on tuition fees.

Before the end of last year I was busy preparing to get married and working out all of the legalities of getting paper work ready for my wedding in Hong Kong and visa for Taiwan.

After a nice long stay at home in Devon, I returned to Asia and got married in Hong Kong on 12th December 2013.  Returning to Taipei, F and I found jobs at Kojen English in their adult department.  This was a great job since it involved travelling around big companies in fancy suits, teaching people from all different walks of life, and most importantly, avoiding teaching children at all costs.

During our weekends, Fiona and I would film and edit regular episodes of MandarinMadeEZ.  Because of this, we one day received a Skype call out of the blue from Sean at ChinesePod, and offered the chance of setting up a Taipei office.  Having listened to ChinesePod every day when I first arrived in Taiwan, I couldn’t really believe my ears that they were contacting us.

We were flown out to Singapore, then Tokyo, and finally accepted a job with them.  Sometimes life offers you these chances, and you can either choose to take them or not. In this case, we jumped 4 footed in to it.  While it was risky, it paid off.

It’s now been several months since we took this job.  The Taipei office is set up, and I was actually offered a promotion and made Chief of Operations for the company…

On Tuesday next week, F and I will fly to Tokyo to do an intense 4 days of shooting a series of lessons in the newly made Tokyo studio.  Since this will be a rather exciting and entirely new life experience, I have re-started this blog to document them.  I’m pretty busy most hours of the day, so a lot of the posts will be short and sweet, but it’s important that you all hold me to my regular posting schedule.

See you soon…


Me a few days ago

Me a few days ago

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The Wedding Day


Wedding GIF


We met Laurie on the day of the wedding (12th Dec 2013) and walked to our local brunch restaurant that we have now been almost every day since arriving.


After eating gorgeous eggs Benedict and orange juice, we all headed back to our hotel room to get ready together and use the iron that the staff had provided us with. I couldn’t decide on whether to wear a bow tie or a normal tie, but decided on both in the end, pocketing the bow tie for later use.


Laurie and I decided to learn once and for all how to tie a Windsor knot, but as you can see from the picture, my first attempt failed terrible. The knot is quite a hefty thing, but looks nice and solid.


It was quite surreal knowing that in a few hours we would be married, but it was nice to be getting ready with my brother and wife-to-be without all the stressors of a normal wedding such as wondering if the bride will even turn up. Fiona headed out for an hour to find some place to wash and style her hair while I practiced doing up my bow tie.  Luckily, I can still remember how to do it from my graduation day and can even do it without a mirror!


When she came back we all went down and asked reception to call a cab. The staff escorted us out onto the street and tried to hail a taxi for us. We had to wait for over 10 minutes on the curb, as the concierge seemed to pick the most inconvenient place for a taxi to pull over.


Luckily the drive to the Cotton Tree Drive located in Hong Kong Park is only 15 minutes and we arrived in good time. Here we met Fiona’s cousins, and walked up to the registry office. There was already a wedding party 50 strong who were taking the opportunity to take pictures in the beautiful park, and the guests were all dressed to the nines. We were very lucky that the marriage registry was located in such a lovely place and it saved renting out an expensive venue for the occasion.


Linda and Patrick, Doris’ parents arrived shortly after and we headed inside to check in. Once checked-in, we headed back outside to take some pictures and have a quick Skype with my sister and parents.


at 4:30pm we were called inside, and entered into the ceremonial room where we were told the process. A few moments later, an unusually young and attractive official came in to do the legal bidding. We each had to stand and listen attentively to the countries rules and regulations, as well as the conditions of marriage etc, and then we had to read a statement to the tune of ” I hereby take thee….” .


She then said I could kiss the bride and exchange rings, and that was that. After this, we collected our wedding certificate and walked around the park some more, snapping pictures along the way, until we made it to a bar where we had champagne, beers, and warm whiskey with honey.


After a merry hour we decided to get out of our restricting clothes, and headed back the hotel room to change. By this time we were all quite tired, but we met up again in search of nice food and more fun times in the evening.IMG_2471-TWINKLEIMG_2351-MOTION

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How To Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee (Using the Aeropress)

While fancy capsules and expensive coffee machines might have been all the rage a few years back, there is a renaissance in the classical methods of coffee brewing which are much simpler. The Aeropress is a massively successful invention from a company that originally made sports toys and is the coffee maker of choice amongst connoisseurs, bloggers, and regular travelers. It’s so popular that there is even a world championship!

The other thing that makes it great is that for a fraction of the cost of regular coffee makers, one can make some of the best tasting coffee in the world.

The advantage is that you can control each step of the coffee-making process and tweak it to your desired taste, changing the amount of coffee used, water volume and temperature, as well as pressure, and if you perfect the art, will produce a fine cup of espressoesque or Americano coffee each time.

I first heard about it in Tim Ferris’, “The 4-hour chef“, and then I started seeing it referenced everywhere online from sites such as Lifehacker and The Guardian. After tracking down a seller in Taipei I came home and tried my hand at the art of coffee-making. This required watching many a YouTube video, but the fun of it is that you can track how each coffee comes out and fine-tune them to your taste.

Here are the steps that I use to make the perfect cup of coffee each morning (See pictures below)

1. Source good beans from a local vendor and ask for medium/fine grounds or do it yourself using a Hario burr grinder for the freshest flavor.

2.Set the Aeropress in an inverted position and place on some electronic kitchen scales and set the scales to 0. Measure out 12g of coffee for 1 cup which is about one large scoop.

3. Boil water to 79 degrees. You can use a kettle that has preset values or just wait for the water to cool slightly. Temperatures between 78-85 tend to reduce the bitterness of the coffee while maintaining the flavor.

4. Pour water into the Aeropress and stir until you get a slightly frothy caramel head and then leave for a total of 1 minute.

5. Add the paper filter to the cap and rinse under water to remove any residual flavor from the paper.

6.Secure the cap, flip over the Aeropress onto your favorite mug and press firmly on the plunger for 20/30 seconds until you hear the rush of air begin to escape from the vacuum.

7.Wait for the last drips to enter the cup, remove the Aeropress cap and pop the coffee “puck “into the trash or read up about other uses of coffee grinds.

8. Enjoy your cup of coffee.

If you want an Americano,  just add some water to the cup


  • Relatively cheap compared to alternatives.
  • Can take with you on holiday and recreate identical coffee wherever you go.
  • Can control each step of the brewing process.
  • Is a nice ritual that teaches you mindfulness.
  • Comes with hundreds of paper filters that can be used several times if thrifty, (you can also buy a reusable metal filter).
  • Quick and easy cleanup.


  • Inconvenient for more than two cups of coffee at a time, (add 24g for two cups and split the filtered coffee into two cups near the end).
  • Labour intensive.
  • Hand grinding can be tiring, (get the coffee shop to grind them for you).
  • True espresso requires much greater pressure than the Aeropress provides, but it’s the next best thing.

Enjoy folks.


D.I.Y Fusion Drive – Mac Mini 2012 – How To Guide

Disclaimer:  I’m not a tech genius, just an Apple enthusiast, and want to try and give  layman’s instructions on how to make a DIY fusion drive.  I’ll put links to all the Youtube videos and articles that I used and encourage you to follow them step by step. This procedure can be done by anyone but might involve  lots of pausing of  videos, lots of double checking for spelling mistakes in Terminal, and some moments where I though I had broken my new computer-I didn’t.  I would recommend reading all the source material that I use in this blog as a guide, and accept no responsibility for any date loss Continue reading