I’ve now arrived in London after a busy second week in Singapore. On Tuesday I spent the day teaching writing at St Joseph’s International School with the students from Year 5 and Year 2. The children were delightful and they produced some great work over the course of the day. SJI is a relatively new school but is extremely well resourced and in the secondary school is attended by many local students as well as expat children. I went there last time I was in Singapore and was really taken by the warmth and professionalism of Louise and Deidre, the Head and Deputy Head of the Junior School. It was great to go back again. One of the teachers presented me with a card from her niece who lives in the UK, telling me of her love of Alice-Miranda – it’s so lovely when things like that happen.
Wednesday saw me at UWC Dover where I was working with Year 3 and the fabulous librarian Pamela Males. Again I had met Pam last time I was in Singapore and really loved the feeling at UWC. I had a ball working with the Grade 3 students and their teachers (equivalent of Year 4 Australia). The children produced some great writing too.
On Wednesday night Sarah and I met up with Dave Seow and we headed down to Clarke Quay for dinner and a walk. Dave is so much fun to spend time with and he and Sarah then arranged to take a walk to the Botanic Gardens on Thursday morning. We ate at a place called Indochine – Thai inspired food so a little different to what we had been eating at other times.
The area around Clarke Quay used to be quite down at heel but now it’s a bustling hub of activity with lots of places to eat and other entertainment on offer. There’s a reverse bungy for the more adventurous (not me that night) and you can also take trips along the river from there in one of the traditional boats.
After Clarke Quay we caught a taxi over to Little India to see the lights for Deepavali (or Divali as we more commonly say in Australia). They were so pretty. Little India is busy, and has the most amazing smells – with so many great restaurants it will definitely be on my list of places to eat next time I’m in Singapore.
There is a department store there called Mustafa’s which is the only 24 hour department store in the city. We didn’t get there though because after a week of wearing the same shoes (which are usually quite comfortable but by this stage were having a rebellion against the humidity), my feet were so swollen that walking was proving very difficult. Next time.
Thursday was a busy day with four sessions at the Canadian International School – two at the very beautiful purpose built Lakeside Campus and two at the older and smaller Tanjong Katong Campus. Both were fabulous and I had such a warm welcome from Lisa and Isabel the Junior School Librarian and Head of Library at Lakeside – which has one of the most incredible librarians I have every seen. Set over two floors it’s literally breathtaking. The 500 seat theatre where I talked to the children was right beside the library and is a magnificent facility too.
I was telling Lisa that there was possibly a student there who I had met on my previous visit to Singapore. I couldn’t remember the little girl’s name but her mother is an Australian diplomat. I couldn’t believe it when I picked one of the children to come out the front and do some drama and the little girl said, ‘you’ve met me before – I’m
We had a delicious lunch in the cafeteria where the school was hosting visiting chefs. I had chicken pad Thai. The cafeteria is huge too and it was great to see lots of the older students dressed up for Halloween. There had been a Halloween dance the night before too which is apparently always fantastic.
The Tanjong Katong Campus is not too far away. The librarian, Audrey had arrived in the position from Canada in August and told me she was struggling with the heat a little – I can imagine, seeing that the school is set over four storeys and there is no lift. I was struggling too by the time we reached the classroom at the top. Audrey was lovely and very excited about my visit.
I talked with a much smaller group of children but certainly no less enthusiastic. They were fabulous and it was a fitting end to the tour. While I was giving the talk there was a huge thunderstorm – the clap of thunder and lightning made me leap into the air which gave the kids a good giggle.
Cheryle and I then headed back to Bookaburra to sign some more books and complete some orders. I have been so thrilled with the book sales on this trip and apparently the book fair at the local school, CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity was something to behold.
Sarah and David had a great walk to the Botanic Gardens and saw the orchids, which I hope to get to next time I’m there.
Wonderful Cheryle drove Sarah and me to the airport where we had a fabulous dinner before saying goodbye to Sarah who was catching a very late plane home to Sydney and I was going to another terminal to meet Ian before heading to London.
I have really fallen in love with Singapore. It’s a beautiful place, safe and lots to do, with amazing people and an enviable lifestyle. I can’t wait to go back again and will be planning a longer trip probably around the same time next year.
It was great to see my gorgeous husband as he got off the plane from Sydney about 9pm. We had a while to wait before we boarded for London. The flight was just that way I like it – uneventful and I managed to sleep quite well – I’m definitely getting better at that.
We arrived in London at 5.15am and met up with Charlotte, one of the fabulous publicists from RHUK. We went to breakfast at a stunning place called Daylesford – a café in Pimlico. The shop is gorgeous and is quite like a farm shop that you’d find outside of London. The food was beautiful although there was some unexpected excitement when one of the light globes exploded overhead, showering glass all over the place. Fortunately we were sitting away but I felt for the two women who were almost underneath it. It was a bit of a shock.
Ian and I then went for a walk to Victoria Station and down towards Buckingham Palace. We were trying to adjust to the time zone and climate. It was quite mild for this time of year – about 13 degrees. We decided to have a look through the Palace Mews and met some of the Queen’s beautiful horses and saw the carriages, cars and the facilities of the working stables adjacent to the palace. The gold coronation coach is something to see – it’s over 400 years old and has been used for every coronation since it was built. It weighs four tonnes and they have to spend about three days taking the room apart in order to get it out of the stables.
We arrived at the RH flat just after 1pm and spent the next few hours getting organised for the week ahead. I managed to stay awake most of the afternoon and get a good night’s sleep. Today was grey to begin with but the sun is now shining and Ian reported that it’s not too cold out either. I’ve been catching up on emails and the blog and am about to start the final page proofs for Alice-Miranda In Japan. Tonight I am so excited that we are going to see Matilda the Musical. A full report to come!