To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Hong Kong

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I think #1 son's Julia is a treasure:She remembers to send geetings for Father's Day, Christmas, even Chinese New Year .... so this is for her.

Chinese New year is, like Christmas and Hannukah, a time for family. This year it started with #3 son's class party on Friday. I don't think he is a party animal yet.(I was also shy as a kid ...it passes) So I end up sitting on the floor in the corner quietly reading, albeit dramatically, a book to him .(Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth) As I finish I get a tap on the shoulder and this another kid insists that I read it again. "No" is simply not in his lexicon. So I start over and within seconds find myself surrounded with an audience of about 8 children all enthusiastically participating in the refrain "Shoo Fly!, Shoo Fly! Shoo! " and behind them a circle of really hot Chinese Mammas looking on approvingly. Now that's a buzz!!!

On Saturday I had breakfast with the Royal Thai Navy, Well I breakfasted.Unfortunately they ere 30 minutes late for another appointment down town and couldn't stop. It was a sort "ships that pass in the morning" moment. I was staggering about, fumbling with my coffee, when I realised there were two frigates charging up the Lamma Channel outside. For a moment I wondered if it was a show of force by the Japanese or Phillipine Navies in relation to disputes over to Spratly or Diaoyu islands but dismissed this as absurd: Every one knows these are in fact the (al extremo oeste de) las Islas Malvinas claimed by the Argentine Republic. This irrefutable and and undeniable claim is of course based on a codicil to the Treaty of Zaragoza (1529) recognising the colonization of the Phillipines by Philip II of Spain in 1565. A copy of this codicil was found in one of Imelda Marcos's shoe boxes which mysteriously has made its way to Buenos Aires after the downfall of her husband and which now resides in the Argentine National Archives (the bottom of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner closet).

Anyway I took photos; posted them online and identified them as ships made in China belonging to the Thai Navy, It then occurred to me that perhaps they were back because of a product recall (something wrong with their lithium batteries?)or maybe some other fault covered under warranty.You can tell that I am not at my sharpest first thing in the morning - there are obviously here to secure ongoing access to Hong Kong baby milk powder .When the penny dropped I was out like a shot down to the supermarket. Like Christmas eve in UK there is a last minute run on the shops before they close. Unfortunately there were no turkeys left (they went in December) nor any bread (distressed foreigners milling about looking lost)

So shopping finished, family Middleburgh went to catch the matinee (The Gruffalo) at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. I may have failed to give #1&2 son's a decent cultural grounding in the Arts but #3 is getting full works (Kidsfest 2013 http://www.kidsfest.com.hk/) And who should I run into there (no... not the Thai Navy) but my boss, his wife and their son. We would have held an improptu project meeting but the presence of our wives inhibited us so it turned into another "ships that pass at lunchtime" moment. Instead we went round the corner to Aassaggio's where #3 had pizza and we each ordered roast beef. It looked like beef ,smelled and tasted like beef and we are fairly confident that it was beef probably Austalian beef ...certainly not horse.(Assaggio Wan Chai is listed as one of the featured dining venues in the “Recommended Restaurant” section of “Michelin Guide Hong Kong & Macau 2013 ). Ironically when I left University (a long time ago) I went to work for Findus when it was located in Grimsby and during my internship was a supervisor on the pasta line that produced frozen lassagne.(this was before production was outsourced to France). Isn't that something to have on your CV!!!

After lunch we took the star ferry across the harbour to Kowloon to visit the Art Museum The intent was to quietly kill a couple of hours before going back to visit Rebecca's brother for a traditional new year's eve family meal. Imagine my surprise when we discovered that the Museum was hosting an Andy Warhol exhibition (on loan from Pittsburg). This changed the game completely and put me under pressure The expectation was that as a westerner I would know all about Warhol and his subject matter and thus be qualified to explain it all to my 4.5 year old son..Fortunately in my youth I spend a lot of time at the Tate Modern (when it was at Millbank) and I did know a little. I explained about the technique of silk screen printing, (Jamie listened intently and announced he was going to try it at home), about Campbell's soup and the cultural significance of Pop Art (he wasn't so impressed with this - he draws everyday things all the time) and about celebrity culture and all the portraits Warhol painted. (here I struggled because I only recognised some of the subjects 's either by sight or name) The easy ones were the pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali , Jackie Kennedy and Chairman Mao. It turned into a history lesson about the key players and events that shaped America in the 60-80s. Jackie Kennedy was a challenge because it involved explaining about the shooting of her husband in Dallas and the democratic concept of electing new presidents every 4 (Jamie was very concerned about President Obama's well being). One of the best bits however was the section with paintings which Warhol did for children. This really engaged Jamie: his favorite was the ship (mine the rhino) and he insisted on doing an inventory, counting all the fishes. Overall an eminently successful afternoon.

So back to Wan Chai for a simple family supper to see out the Dragon year. In a couple of days we do the full family lunch to see in the Snake. And unlike Europe we will wait till Feb 2014 to see in the Year of the Horse.. maybe with Julia and Aaron.

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