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02 March 2012

Best Laid Plans ..... All's Well That Ends Well

I was meant to be in Sri Lanka this week but at the eleventh hour the trip was cancelled.  My husband, like lots of people, travels a lot for work and for a while he had known he was due to be in Sri Lanka at the start of March.  When we fly back and forth to the UK we generally fly Emirates, mainly because they are cheaper than the other airlines and also because they stop in Dubai which breaks the travelling up.  Initially this stopover seemed an inconvenience but actually the journey of roughly seven hours and then another seven where you can get off the plane at that half way point and properly stretch your legs etc. makes a huge difference.  That said though flying directly has a lot of advantages too.  Us using Emirates also played a part in determining our honeymoon destination after we were married and we had a lovely week in Dubai.  It made a change to see the place rather than just the airport each time.

Some of the flights from Dubai to Singapore make an additional stopover in Colombo, which when you are flying back is sometimes a pain (though thankfully we don't have to get off the plane) as all you really want to do by that stage is get home to Singapore!  However when my husband found out he would be travelling to Colombo for work he realised that if his company chose Emirates they'd be saving money compared to the other airlines they were considering.  They heeded this advice and duly booked him on one of the Emirates flights that was stopping over in Colombo.

I've travelled with my husband to Bangkok a couple of times when he has been there for work but obviously with the amount he travels I couldn't go all the time to every place, as much as I'd love too.  With his flight being with Emirates though and us both collecting airmiles with them he hit upon the idea of seeing if I could get on the same flight with the miles and if he could alter his flight back, so that we had the weekend there too, us having a bit of an impromptu break.  He managed to do it and only a couple of weeks back I suddenly found myself heading to Sri Lanka, cue much excitement from me, lots of Internet browsing etc. to find out a bit more about this place I'd never even thought about taking a break in.  However as I said at the eleventh hour (literally the Friday before we were meant to be going the next Tuesday) my husband's clients cancelled and the trip was off as suddenly as it had been on.  So our 'best laid plans' really were put to an abrupt halt.

With my husband being here this week though (amazingly they did not send him elsewhere) we've managed to organise a few things that have been on the 'to do' list instead.  Firstly we needed to buy a new fridge/freezer.  When we moved into our new place there was no fridge/freezer, this wasn't a problem as we had our own.  This was incredibly useful both in London and our previous flat here when we had visitors staying, were entertaining, having parties or just as another fridge for keeping drinks cold.  Unfortunately though, and of course when we really needed it, the seal on the door got damaged during the move and although items were cool the fridge obviously wasn't working correctly and there was nothing for it but to replace it.

The new fridge/freezer (complete with magnets)

In the UK you'll often find that when your new fridge/freezer is delivered you can arrange for the old one to be taken away by the delivery men and disposed of correctly.  Or else some councils will collect them and dispose of them for you, depending on where you live, or you can take them to a council tip for appropriate disposal.  We obviously didn't know if we could do the same here though or if it was solely our responsibility to take the fridge/freezer to the appropriate place for its disposal.  After making enquiries on both Twitter and Facebook we established that most shops will arrange to take away your old one - phew!  We'd initially not given much thought as to where we'd buy a new one from, just assuming it would be from one of the major high street electrical retailers.  It was then that a local friend pointed us in the direction of a firm called Parisilk which have a handful of stores across the island and she suggested might be a little bit cheaper.  Luckily for us they have a store at Katong Village so last weekend we wandered up there to have a look.  As soon as we got there we noticed there was a sale on and it didn't take us long to find something at a good price which suited us perfectly.  Even better though when we enquired about delivery and collection costs we were informed there was no additional charge!  On the day of delivery they arrived early took out our old fridge/freezer without fuss and installed the new one and we now have a wonderfully cold fridge/freezer again.  Drinks really do taste better chilled, butter is better firm and cheese is better when it does not seem just a little sweaty!

Our other major change (well minor really but it's been a long time coming) was to improve the TV channel selections we have here.  As I've said before I didn't move out with my husband when he first arrived in Singapore so all the decisions on that type of thing were up to him.  When it came to a TV package he went with Starhub because Mio was not actually available at that point in our area so there was no choice (though I should add it has been available in our area for sometime since).  My husband enjoys watching sport but unfortunately all the sport he was interested in was only shown on Mio, so the only way initially we were (or more him than me) able to watch cricket, football (Liverpool in particular), the Grand Prix etc. was by going to one of the many pubs showing the sport and we've just continued to do that ever since.  Not that that is any great hardship or hard to do, the Premier League is big here both with expats and locals and various clubs have official supporter pubs dotted all over the island and pubs/bars will show most matches and a lot of other sporting fixtures as well.  Once taxi drivers know we are from the UK it is pretty standard to then be asked what football team we support and much debate on teams, management etc. will then follow.  With the football though and the time difference between here and the UK, the thought of going to a pub at 11pm or later at night was sometimes not all that appealing both for him (as good as the atmosphere may be and as much as he loves his team) or me when I go.  Likewise if they are playing late on a Sunday or during the week it really isn't practical to be watching it in a pub somewhere when you have to be up for work the next morning.

Our array of viewing options

For sometime now we've talked about improving our Starhub selection, as we only tended to watch one or two of the channels regularly, and also getting a Mio box for the sport.  So we have the option to watch it at home, or he can and I can be doing something else.  In addition also getting rid of the cricket channels my husband subscribed to originally and has been paying extra for.  Mainly because they only show England matches if they are playing India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc. and in the two years we've been here I believe this has only happened a couple of times so it really is a waste of money for us.

I know a lot of expats who have VPN and various other ways of accessing TV from their home country in Singapore, indeed Crystal recently wrote about how she gets her fix of American TV here.  Despite my wish to get better channel selections we've never bothered to invest or do any of that (perhaps we should).  This is really because I've never been that bothered about missing shows in the UK (and my husband definitely isn't).  I do at times crave that familiarity (mostly when it is an annual TV event in the UK) but normally I'm just happy to watch what I can here, indulge when I'm back in the UK, invest in box sets back in the UK to bring back and keep up to speed on things via my Twitter and Facebook feeds.  That said, now we finally have a couple more channels on our Starhub selection and with the addition of Mio, that show programmes I used to watch in the UK I am very happy about it.

Sorting out Starhub was our first job of the week and then getting a Mio box was the second.  It could not have been more simple, Starhub just involved a phone call and an appointment was made with Mio and the box was fitted in no time at all.  When we made enquiries about getting a Mio box when we were in our old flat we were advised we needed a letter of consent from our Landlord for any additional work that might be required.  We arranged to get this this time but weren't actually asked to provide it, just something to keep in mind though if you want to do the same.  The only slight hiccup on the day of instalation was that they needed to get into the mains cupboard in the corridor outside our condo and no one had the key.  Anyway this was eventually sorted and we now have all the football action etc. that my husband could ever want, plus some extra channels showing a mix of UK and American programmes that I know and enjoy.  So 'all's well that ends well' but I do wonder if we'll ever leave the condo again???

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