Scribbles in the Sand

All About My Life in Taiwan


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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Summer Update

1st August 2013

It’s mid summer and hotter than a dogs bollock. We live on the top floor of our 5 story apartment and hence, the sun rises at 5 each morning and bakes the patio roof, making the rooms below feel a lot warmer than the outside temperature. Each morning I wake in a sweat and reach for the air-con to cool the room for 1 hour. Imagine waking up at a music festival everyday in a tent with a hangover, that’s how I feel each and every morning. Continue reading

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Christmas and New Year

Christmas has now passed and tomorrow brings with it New Years Eve, and despite being thousands of miles from home for the first time in 25 years, we managed to make a festive atmosphere in our apartment that made Xmas 2012 a special one none the less.

This blog was initially set up by Fiona, Laurence and I, to document our travels, but after 70-odd posts, I have become the main author and editor, and so Fiona has been booted out and has had to set up her own blog at Continue reading

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Thunderstorms approach

Thunderstorms are a’brewing. All across Taiwan there is flooding and storms. Here, it is rather milder, but for overcast skies and clammy conditions.

Particularly unlucky because our friends from Edinburgh are visiting this week. Just their luck to come to the sunny isles in the only week since March to be poor weather. However, it brightened today so they had a good chance to explore a bit.

This evening after lessons, Myself, Fi, Laurence, Fraz and Giulia, along with our friends from Talkeasy, Chlöe and Bella went for outdoor BBQ at a new place that we hadn’t tried before.

We got there one and a half hours before closing and had all-you-can-eat; oysters, clams, chicken hearts, and unverifiable meets that were either reconstituted fish or pork. Laurie attempted a chicken throat but said it wasnt worth the trouble, and rather a pain in the neck, (badum chh).

The table and chairs were seemingly built for children and the heat from the table-top grill was insanely hot on my hair-clad legs.

Just as we were finishing the final dregs of Aorta and Vena Cava (that’s a wine innit?), the thunder began, and it was a race against the heavens back to the guest house for our friends. It’s now pretty impressive but the rains have yet to come.

Holland Vs Germany tonight. K.O is 245am my time which is too late. My guess: 1:2. Thoughts?

Habit formation progress. Woke early. Was in the gym by 830 and doing military presses and cleans. Have flossed each night since 2 days ago, but have not reached a full hour of mandarin study…yet.

Blog writing is increasing exponential with my new IA writer app. Recommended.


Breaking News: Earthquake in Taoyuan County of 4.4 magnitude. Didn’t fell it but perhaps a giant Tsunami is on it’s way to consume our small island chain.

–Update:My prediction was correct and Germany won 2:1–

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Sneezing Vitamins

Yesterday whilst changing in the store-room, I discovered a whole host of health tablets such as cod liver, calcium, vitamins, glucosamine, etc.  Having been hitting the gym regularly, I thought it would be good to pop a few of these overly large, orange tablets. I stored up about 6 tablets in my mouth and headed to the kitchen for some water.  I usually struggle to swallow even just one aspirin, so I’m not sure why I tried so many in one go. Upon swallowing, a droplet of water went down the wrong hole causing me to cough and splutter for several seconds. With the tablets swallowed, I proceeded to take the washing out and hang it.  Some minutes later I could still taste the bitter pill and though it strange that the taste lingered.  My nose was also rather runny.  At that moment I sneezed, and a massive, fully formed but partially dissolved tablet came flying out of my nose and into the palm of my hand. Not something that has happened to me before.

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Breaking the Habit

I’m going to watch Prometheus this evening. It’s not a film i’ve been dying to watch, but something I feel i should see, having grown up watching the Alien movies.

-Edit: I’ve just come back from the cinema and I was rather underwhelmed. While enjoyable, it did not satisfy my expectations. The reviews by the Observer and Wired were very good indeed so perhaps I’ll have to give it another watch at some later point.

I’ve recently stumbled upon a very good blog called zenhabits  which is all about decluttering your life, appreciating the simple things and creating habits that you stick to. His blog’s are motivating and to the point. Rather paradoxically, I stayed up very late last night reading his article about the benefits of waking early. This meant that this morning I definitely did not heed his advice and woke up dehydrated, red-eyed and sore from the gym. Not the best start to my day. I’ve already followed some of his advice and decluttered my digital life by deleting old emails, duplicate mp3’s, badly shot photos, and cut down on my computer programs. I’ve even downloaded a good writing app called IA writer which is very minimalistic, and focuses on the words rather than fancy operations, and I recommend Iniftforthehoney and Devoncountydiary buying it for your iPad’s. The focus mode which greys out text previously written is a very good idea.

So here are a list of the habits that I shall attempt in the next 30 days. I will use the famous Jerry Seinfeld productivity theory called chaining to keep me doing them.

  • -Wake earlier each morning, pushing it back 15 mins each day until i’m hitting 530/6am.
  • -Go for a swim at pool opening at 6/ go for a run/ skip
  • -Use the gym at 8
  • -Go to the library for Chinese Study
  • -Eat Lunch, plan lessons, get on with rest of my day
  • -Read more.

Jerry’s Idea is that you print out a 30 day calendar and mark a giant cross for each day you complete your goal. Not massively original, but the idea is that the chain of X’s must not be broken. Once you’ve built a good chain of X’s it makes it very difficult and disheartening to break the chain. After 30 days of habit-forming, it should become intrinsic in your daily life and something you don’t need to think about, much like taking a shower or brushing your teeth. I’m also now having cold showers and flossing each night. Lets see if I stick to these targets.