Month: June 2016

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in June 2016

At the beginning of June it was raining quite frequently – at least once every couple of days.  But for the last couple of weeks it has only rarely rained.

A week ago I picked the last of the pumpkins from the present pumpkin vines, making for a total of almost 30 pumpkins this season.  So I still have enough pumpkins to last several more weeks. However, several small pumpkin plants have started growing out of the compost I put on the garden.  We’ll see if I get more.

The passion fruit vines have finished their hiatus that started around February this year and have started to grow again – particularly the ones that grew out of the compost and the seeds I germinated.  I usually keep some seeds of the best passion fruits and also put a few seeds in the compost just in case they come up sometime.

We had bought two grape vines. We put them in different locations.  One thrived, the other didn’t do so well, so we moved it, but wherever we put it, it wasn’t happy.  It died this week.  Unfortunately the remaining moringa tree seedling also died.  It was thriving until something bit its top off. I moved it, and it sprouted some more shoots, but then it was attacked again by something, and it didn’t survive.  A similar problem happened with a tomato plant and it’s now unhealthy.  Until now I have had no success with tomatoes here.

Otherwise it’s going well.  Pumpkin season may, or may not, be over, but passion fruit season is coming.

small mock orange are growing happily

small mock orange are growing happily

 

lime tree is slowly growing limes

lime tree is slowly growing limes

 

passion fruit seeds have germinated

passion fruit seeds have germinated

 

Passion fruit that germinated earlier this year are growing tendrils and starting to climb

Passion fruit that germinated earlier this year are growing tendrils and starting to climb

 

pumkin plants are growing from seeds in the compost I put on the garden. Also, the garlic I planted is now unhealthy - up till this week it was growing well; something chopped the top off the tomato plant and now it's dying

pumpkin plants are growing from seeds in the compost I put on the garden. Also, the garlic I planted is now unhealthy – up till this week it was growing well; something chopped the top off the tomato plant and now it’s dying

 

another young pumpkin plant is spreading

another young pumpkin plant is spreading

 

in another spot the tomato plant is healthy, as is the garlic

in another spot the tomato plant is healthy, as is the garlic

 

plumbago sometimes dies off a bit, but after pruning comes back

plumbago sometimes dies off a bit, but after pruning comes back

 

citrus trees like this spot

citrus trees like this spot

 

papaya in a pot - for decoration

papaya in a pot – for decoration.  I  have some water for watering. I don’t want mosquitoes so I use it quickly then dry the buckets in the sun.

 

lemongrass and hibiscus

lemongrass and hibiscus

 

tumeric plant and flower

turmeric plant and flower

 

ougainvillea

Bougainvillea

 

duranta - a thirsty plant

duranta – a thirsty plant

 

some herbs

some herbs

 

aloe vera - we drink its juice in the morning

aloe vera – we drink its juice in the morning

 

rosemary

rosemary

 

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crepe ginger plant has grown a lot

http://www.jaycjayc.com/costus-woodsonii-red-button-ginger/

one grape vine dies - it didn't like its location, and moving it didn't help. The other is very happy in this spot

one grape-vine died – it didn’t like its location, and moving it didn’t help. The other is very happy in this spot

 

herb

basil

 

mother-in-law's-tongue

mother-in-law’s-tongue

 

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today in Penang

This morning around 7.30AM there was a terrible traffic jam on Gurney Drive banking up past Gurney Plaza and along Northam Road as far as I could see from outside CIMB Bank on Northam Road.  This is very unusual.  Now, two hours later, it is still jammed.  I asked someone walking from the further up Northam Road, but she couldn’t tell me anything.  Yesterday evening the Penang Chief Minister was arrested and there were many people turning up in George Town to protest – was this the cause?

From about 8AM it rained heavily for about half an hour.  That wouldn’t have helped.

10.30AM – Indeed, the cause of the traffic jam was police roadblocks and road closures because they said they wanted to “ensure the smooth process of sending Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to the court.”  from The Star Mobile app.

 

Gurney Drive jammed

Gurney Drive jammed

 

Gurney Drive

Gurney Drive

 

Northam Road - motorcycles taking shortcuts downthe footpaths

Northam Road – motorcycles taking shortcuts down the footpaths – have to be careful walking

My Brexit experience

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At 12.34PM in Malaysia

This was one of the very few times in my life when my vote actually was worthwhile.  I had already voted by post a couple of weeks before.

I guess at the moment there is a seven hour time difference between Malaysia and the UK.  I woke up around 5.30AM and immediately checked the news on the Internet.  It seems Nigel Farage had already conceded defeat although the counting had only just begun.  Te vote was looking like a win for Remain.

So I just got on with my morning thinking that was the end of it.  Around midday I thought I would just look at the news, and commiserate, and then I found that actually the tables had been turned, and Leave was winning! The BBC was predicting a win! I was at Starbucks with the Live BBC page on my phone, hoping the battery would last, and watching as the results came in.  The page was telling me that Leave would win with 1,500,000 more votes. And this number kept on decreasing as the votes were counted.  And then it was over, and Leave had won!

The UK is finally free from the dictatorship in Brussels. And the major political parties, the mass media, multi-national corporations, international banks, the 1%, globalists, Obama, etc. had lost, and the people had won.

It’s no surprise that the above-mentioned delivered what their fear campaign had promised – since they control the markets – and the markets and pound went down.  But we’ve started on the road to freedom – the first positive step in that direction for a while.   Now people in other EU countries are demanding referenda.  Britain may be helping to free Europe.

Retiring in Sri Lanka?

Last year I made a trip to Sri Lanka.  Edward has asked me a couple of times if I would write a rough and ready evaluation of whether I would consider retiring there.  So, just off the top of my head, here is a quick response.

I might consider it, but I would need to do a lot more research, and I think at the moment for me the answer would be , “no”.  I liked travelling there, and kept on meeting people and families (often from the UK) who were having their third holiday there.  But I am not sure about living there.

I don’t know the visa situation, nor the cost of rental, or the possibility of property purchase.  Hotels were relatively expensive.  Having only been through Columbo I don’t know the availability of any goods that I might want to buy if I was staying. This is also a problem in Malaysia – if it’s not a mobile phone or its accessories  you want then it may not be so easy to find.  I also don’t know if importing one’s household goods would be easy and tax-free.

Being an island I find Sri Lanka a bit isolated.  I don’t know how many flights out there are, their availability and costs.  I think there is now a ferry to India, too.

I don’t know how good Internet access availability is in general, but mobile Internet was cheap and speeds reasonable.

Domestic transport was cheap, but crowded, although the country roads seemed quite empty and the standard of driving reasonable. I haven’t checked the statistics on that, though.  I’d have to check car prices.  Tourist sites can be expensive to enter.

And it was quite annoying that it was too risky to use a credit card as reportedly so many people will copy the numbers and use them.  So I never used a credit card there. And I only used an ATM there twice – the second time the bank stopped my ATM card as the ATM machine I’d used (in the middle of Kandy) had been used in the past for fraud.  I had a backup card with another bank, but this could have caused a terrible problem when I was doing everything right, correctly, carefully and honestly.

What about the future of the economy and the stability of the currency?  I don’t know.

Alcohol prices and availability are not so good, which may or may not be an issue.  And I don’t know about health facilities, either, but apparently malaria is not a problem now.

Certainly it was easy just to communicate in English,  the food was good and inexpensive, and the scenery and variety of scenery wonderful.  It seemed safe enough, although there is sometimes political violence.  If you don’t attend demonstrations you would likely have no problems.

So, after doing my research on these and other matters I still imagine probably would not want to retire there under current conditions.

And it’s a fond farewell to Tesco crisps

Got to eat crisps. But have to avoid all the nasty chemicals and genetically modified ingredients.  At the supermarket there are whole aisles dedicated to crisps, but almost all have aspartame, MSG and or other dangerous ingredients, or are very expensive.

 

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But I discovered Tesco crisps, which had just potatoes, salt and oil as ingredients.  The problem was that they were almost always out of stock – but one could order online.  However, the other day as we were almost out at home, we discovered Tesco had discontinued them.   But today we discovered another brand, and they are on special this week at Cold Storage for less than RM6.

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I suppose the catch is the expiry date.  But for the moment it’s a good deal and no nasty chemicals.

Gurney Wharf Project progress photos No. 5, 9th June, 2016

The Gurney Wharf project started at the end of February, 2016, which so far is manifested as putting a fence along Gurney Drive.  So I will photograph progress from the same standpoint – in front of Bali Hai, which is around the middle of Gurney Drive.

Not much seems to be happening.

 

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some gravel

 

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gravel

 

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from the bottom of Gurney Drive

 

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From the bottom of Gurney Drive

 

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dredge?

 

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Dredge?

 

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reading ebooks

Finally at this stage of my life I have some time to read, and while I like actual physical books and can borrow from a library when I wish, the choice of ebooks is far greater, and they offer quite a few other advantages.

So this blog is simply about how I read and organise ebooks at the moment – until better choices come along.

Ebooks can be quite cheap from Amazon.  But unless you have actually downloaded the book you never know if you will lose it, despite having paid for it.  If it’s in the cloud you don’t control it. So you need a local copy of whatever you pay for. Amazon is famous for secretly removing “1984” from readers’ Kindles a few years ago.  Just yesterday, according to the BBC , Amazon’s cloud failed in Australia, possibly because of severe storms at the time.

Apple can now automatically remove swear words out of streaming songs and replace it with generated background music. They can also do it with audio books.  So are ideas they don’t like next?  You want to have a local copy.

I don’t have a Kindle as I really don’t want any more electronic devices, and read on my tablet, using the Kindle app sometimes. But actually I prefer the Google Books app.  So I tend to convert the Kindle book to an ePub document and put it on Google.  Then Amazon can’t take it away from me, too.

With Google books I can upload ePub and PDF books, and  highlight and make notes – for me this only works on ePub – and then the notes are saved in a file on Google Drive.  And for non-fiction I very often do want to make notes.  Unfortunately sometimes uploads to Google Books fail, though.  For novels I am happy to read using Google books even if they are PDF as I won’t be making notes.

When I want to make notes on a PDF I read the book on my tablet using Xodo.  And when I want to read ePub and can’t get it to upload – or am on a plane – I use PocketBook

And for storing books locally I use Calibre, which works really well as a database, so all my books are organised.