Yesterday, Lek and the kids woke up the unholy hour of 4 a.m. and took off to the wilds of Chanthaburi, a province some 180 kms east of Pattaya – about a 3-hour drive.
Chanthaburi is famous for the excellence of its durian fruit, and Lek has been there on several occasions to gather those ever-popular, but foul-smelling fruit and bring some home to eat.
But on this occasion it was mushrooms. My wife is pretty crazy about Durians, but she is a total fanatic when it comes to mushrooms. Everywhere we went in England, particularly when we were out in the countryside, she would look for mushrooms.
It transpires that Chanthaburi is also famous for its mushrooms. They grow wild in the jungle and can only be found once a year for about two weeks. These mushrooms are very special mushrooms, quite rare and are extremely expensive to buy in the market – a bit like truffles, not that I know what a truffle tastes like.
The Thai name is het-khon, and the Thais use them as an ingredient in all kinds of Thai delicacies.
She told me that before she went into the jungle, she made a vow to herself that if she found any het-khon, she would genuflect three times to the Buddhist spirits.
And so it came to pass. She walked about ½ kilometre into the Chanthaburi jungle and there they were, in a small clearing near some trees. She then duly prostrated herself before the Gods before gathering up all the mushrooms in sight. She had to work quickly because many other het-khon addicts were also out and about in the jungle looking for their own bunch of het-khon. Everyone had made various promises to the spirits, so the Gods must have become very confused.
So after being out in the jungle all day, she returned last night with a large stash of her precious het-khon. I don’t think I have ever seen her so happy.
Today she is busy sorting them and cutting them. Then she will lightly boil them before freezing. Apparently they will last for months in this frozen state.
‘Azzy’ Progress Report.
I am continuing the editing work on my novel, Azzy, and have completed the third draft and I am now working on the fourth draft.
I am spending up to ten hours a day on this. It is line-by-line, painstaking work. There is barely a sentence that has not undergone some kind of change, even if it is only the addition or removal of a comma.
Every time I read it, the more text I find to amend, change or simply cut. When I started the third draft, I thought that it would be the final edit. I now find that there is still a lot more work to be done, and I can’t be sure that the current, fourth draft will be the last one. So I am not at all sure that I will achieve my target of July 31st to have the book ready for publication.
It is for this reason that I will be keeping my blogs quite short for the coming weeks.
Whither the Weather?
Every morning when I wake up, one of the first things I do is check the two weather Apps I have on my phone. And every day these two apps try to tell me that there is an 80 – 100% chance of thunderstorms. They even state the precise time it will rain, and the time it will stop.
How and why these weather apps keep predicting rain every single day when the last time we had in any appreciable rain was several months ago, is totally beyond me. OK, fair enough if it simply stated 20 -50% chance, but 80-100%?? Yet nothing. Zilch. Dry as a bone….not even a distant thunderclap…
Can someone out there explain it?
Despite all these optimistic meteorological predictions of rain, most of Thailand (including Pattaya) is suffering the worst drought for more than 20 years. Even Bangkok is running out of water and we are now told that Thailand’s major reservoirs only have enough water remaining for 2-3 more weeks.
I have no idea what we are supposed to do when the water runs out. We have a well in our village, so we do not rely on city water, but even the well is running low and if we didn’t have a water storage tank in our garden, we would be without water for large parts of each day. For some time now, the water only flows into the tank at night.
I have written in an earlier blog that we have found a large ‘park’ within 5 minutes’ drive of our house. We try to go there on most days at sundown. The whole family takes some exercise – including our three dogs. The dogs go berserk and run themselves silly and by the time we get back home, we are all completely exhausted.
Last Tuesday we were playing with Micky, the Labrador, making him chase a tennis ball which we throwing around to each other. If anyone missed the catch or allowed the ball to bounce, Micky would snatch it and be off.
Lek made a long throw to me, and before I could catch it, the ball bounced. I ran to grab it before Micky got there and bent down very low- still running – to grab the ball with both hands. Mickey was only inches away.
I should have known better. Sixty-nine-year-old men should not try to emulate the antics of cricketers or baseball fielders.
The inevitable result was that I missed my footing and went crashing onto the ground. I lay still, aching all over. The last time I slipped and fell over (on wet tiles) I smashed my wrist so badly that I had to have a major operation and a metal ‘T’ inserted in it, so I was pretty sure that something serious had happened to my ageing body.
Poor Lek and the kids came running over. I think they thought I was unconscious – or even dead – because I didn’t move. Lek knelt down next to my face and started crying. I opened my eyes.
“I’m okay, darling.”
“Are you sure?”
“I think so, let me check.”
I moved my legs and arms and apart from a few flashes of pain, I seemed to be fine. I was still a bit groggy, so Lek and her son set about pulling 90-kilo body Mobi to his feet.
Remarkably – there were no serious injuries – Just a little stiffness in my legs and shoulder.
Later I developed a pain in my inner thigh, but even that disappeared after a couple of days.
I have already learned to tread carefully on slippery or wet floors, and now I must remember not race Labradors for a tennis ball. Micky is in his prime and runs so fast I think any human – let alone an old fogey like me – would struggle to keep up with him.
According to Mr Google, a fit Labrador can run up to 30 mph in short bursts….