Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pooko the Cricket

Pooko likes to meeow like any cat. She just doesn't like to make much effort when she does it. She does meeow on demand though...

Pooko Having Dinner

TO commemorate nearly a year since Pooko made her web vid debut... here's another...

Cat does not live by dried biscuits alone...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Big Bug

Look what we just found crawling around our balcony...

That's some beastie, fat as your finger and green as a toad. Now he lives across the road in the bushes ;-)

Monday, February 26, 2007

In our New Place

We've finally moved and the dust has just about settled. More news on that later. For now, a retrospective series of panoramic photos of our old place can be found online. Click the pic below to see the series.

INFO: our phone number remains unchanged. From outside Korea call +82 2 796 8629. All post/mail should still be sent to John c/o
The British Council
Hungkuk Life Building
226 Shinmunro 1-ga
Jongro gu, Seoul
South Korea

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Housing Crisis

Well, a bit of news from us: we're moving in three days.

Yeah, bit of a shock for us too. We haven't got any choice. Landlord phoned the woman at work who deals with rentals etc and told her that he was planning to demolish the building. Can't argue with that really can you? We're at the end of our tenancy agreement anyway but three weeks' notice isn't really the ideal amount.

So, that was a week last Friday. We immediately set about praying first of all. Nothing happens that God does not allow. We knew that this was "meant to be." Couldn't do anything until Monday but we hit the estate agents big time then. Saw a ton of places on Monday some we liked a bit and many that we wouldn't house a dog in. Seemed prices had risen since we'd last had to look. We upped our budget.

Tuesday we were out to see an agent that work had set up for us. Their office was locked. A nearby agent turned out to be full of promises which she couldn't fulfil culminating in showing us something that looked like it was in North Korea, not the South. And then it started to rain on us. The next agent kept us waiting while he finished his game of "go" on his pc. Then all six properties he had in his database drew blanks as they'd all gone already. The final agent took us up the road to a moldy hovel he swore went for what I get paid every month. Not likely mate. And we stumbled home through the drizzle, disheartened, discouraged and devoid of hope.

Thursday was our next opportunity and early in the day we saw a great place. We looked at a couple more (including one agent who showed us the nice place again) before contacting the first agent and asking him to get the ball rolling on the one we'd liked. He was having trouble contacting the landlord, he said, and he'd email us in the evening. We went home confident we'd found what we wanted.

The email we eventually received though was disappointing. Apparently, the house had been signed to someone else just as we'd been trying to call the landlord and that was why we hadn't been able to get hold of him. When the email came in, I was disappointed naturally but I knew that God had good reason for letting this happen. I had no idea what it was but I trusted Him. I actually prayed that God would bless whoever moved in. Sheena took it slightly harder. Very frustrated with herself for prevaricating and not making a decision while we'd viewed it, she was hard to console. If the property had meant too much to us, it was a good thing that He had taken it away. I assured her that God knew what he was doing.

And boy did he...

Friday and we hit the streets with renewed hope. Surely we'd find something to replace our loss. The first three agents couldn't show us anything that suited us. There was at least one major thing wrong with everything we saw. Finally, on emerging from a particularly unenthusiastic agent, we met a woman in the street. She explained that she worked for an agency we'd tried the door of. She apologised that it had been locked and led us inside. Twenty minutes later, we were on our way to view a property.

This one was in the same area as the one we'd really liked. In fact, it turned out to be on the very same street. Finally, it turned out to be the very same flat. We looked puzzled and questioned whether it was still available. Of course, we were told, the landlord just told her to show us it. Beside ourselves, we told her we'd take it and we headed back to the office. On the way, we tried to contain our delight at finding it still available. We tried to prepare ourselves for disappointment again.

Having called the landlord and got him on his way to the office, we were told some less than pleasing news. They were asking 20% more than we'd been told it was going for. Convinced this was a typical trick, we wanted to leave the negotiating to the agent. The landlord came and brought his wife. It was her who insisted on the extra money. He was ambivalent. We held our ground simply and humbling insisting that we could not afford the extra. As it was we were almost at double our current rent with this new property.

The discussion went back and forth for nearly 30 mins. Suddenly, with no indication, the landlady suddenly capitulated and agreed on the original price. We were overjoyed although we tried to keep our poker faces. It turned out that the landlady had initially been skeptical of our characters but, during the discussion, she said, she'd discovered that we were "warm-hearted."

It took about half an hour more to do all the paperwork. Within a minute of signing everything over, she got a phone call. It was another agent asking whether the property was available. The prospective tenant was willing to offer her more money. Should have seen her face! But I think, in the end, she was happy. We were beside ourselves.

I guess the moral of this tale is that God does know exactly what you want but that His timing and plan is perfect, no matter what we might think. We went through the difficult process of giving that property up on Thursday night. 24 hours later, He gave it right back to us and I'm sure it was because He saw that we were willing to let it go and settle for something else. I wonder what he has in store for us over the next year in living there.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Parking in Seoul

This was the scene just fifteen mins walk from our house during this season of goodwill to all. Usually drivers park up and rely on people calling their mobile (the number's often on a little cushion on the dashboard) or leave the car in neutral so that others can push it to get past. Perhaps this guy had his mobile switched off cos when he returned to his car, someone had laid into it with a hunting gun.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Baking Revival

Sheena's been baking recently but not like before. Our kitchen has been buried under mounds of mince pies. She bagged an order for 200 pies for the British Council Christmas party and so has spent the entire week making huge batches of them...

Click the pic!


Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Shocking Seoul Winter

Seems funny that we haven't written about this before. I guess it's just so much a part of life here that it didn't strike us as something others wouldn't know.

As you're well aware if you're anywhere north of the Tropic of Cancer, it's blinkin' freezin' at the moment. It's been dipping below zero regularly here in Seoul. We've had two days where snow fell. Okay it didn't settle but it still snowed so that counts...

Anyway, the fact that it's cold can hardly be called riveting. What is unique about the Seoul winter though is that along with the cold, the air gets incredibly dry. Sore throats sweep the nation and forest fires are a very real threat as precipitation drops markedly in comparison to the rest of the year.

Along with this bout of dry air comes a phenomenon that we love to hate: static. I've been cursing my hirsute-ness recently as every time I put on a jumper that is more than 0.000000000000001% polyester it clings to me like I'm the mother it never knew. Door knobs become live electric sockets, wheeling your chair across the class is a recipe for death to any student who so much as dares to close the circuit and touch you, and you should see what Pooko does if you touch her nose!

Ah well, it'll only last for another five months or so. In the meantime, can someone send me one of those earthing strips you get to go on the back of cars that supposedly stop people being car sick? I'm thinking of sewing it onto my trousers.