Hello. Apologies for the unusual silence around here.... I've been off in Oxford for a few days doing some actual work for a change as well as eating an awful lot of pies and drinking an awful lot of booze. It's all good.
I thought I'd swing by to offer my compliments of the season to you and to yours. I've been off running this morning in the beautiful pouring rain wearing a santa hat, and as you can see from the picture, when you've got a hooter that big and red, who needs Rudolph to guide their sleigh tonight?
As ever, I like to make a donation at this time of year to people less fortunate than me. This year I'm going to donate to a charity that we discovered for the first time when we were travelling in Cambodia in 2010: HOPE - harnessing opportunities through play and education.
"With first hand experience volunteering in Cambodia the founding trustees set up HOPE to give the underprivileged children and young adults in Cambodia a chance to have a childhood and/or permanently improve their lives. HOPE intends to seek and support existing programs in Cambodia assisting young people with their education and social development where there is a need for further funding to expand either the variety of their activities (eg. provision of English classes or computer classes) or increase the number of young people they can support, where we strongly believe it will make a permanent difference/improvement to the young people in the programs, and where we can monitor the progress and results of the program. For further information please see www.hopeforcambodia.org.uk"
We saw their work at first hand, and were shown around one of their schools in Siem Reap and had dinner at a restaurant they run purely to give local kids a chance to pick up the skills they can use to get a good job at one of the hotels that the town has to cater for the thousands of tourists who pass through on their way to admire Angkor Wat. It was a lovely evening and it's a really excellent charity. Cambodia is only just emerging from conflict and is noticeably more third world than Thailand or Vietnam on either side. It also has something of a reputation: when we were there, there are signs up as you cross the border requesting tourists to let their children be children, and one night when we were taking a picture of a sunset from a beach bar, a seedy old white guy with a very young looking local girl covered his face with his hand. Yeah..... So, anyway, on behalf of everyone who passes through here from time to time, I've made a £50 donation to this great little charity.
If you'd like, you can also donate here.
Happy Xmas, everyone. War is over if you want it.
Still the same old songs
They fill the air
We drink we sing oh the state we're in
Here's to another year.