Where were you born? Merseyside, England. We moved to North West Wales when I was five and I grew up in beautiful — but incredibly rural — Snowdonia, before escaping for the bright lights of London as soon as I could! As such, I now have one of those “non-accent” accents that people can never really place!
Where else have you lived? London and Shanghai
How long have you been in Hong Kong? Seven years, on and off. We lived a very typical kid-free, party-heavy lifestyle in a funky Sheung Wan walk-up for a couple of years before leaving for a stint in Shanghai, where my eldest son was born. We returned to Hong Kong four years ago and our youngest son was born here last year.
Which part of Hong Kong do you live in now? Discovery Bay, Lantau. I moan about “the bubble” to pretty much everyone I meet, but the unavoidable fact is that you get far more space for your money than on Hong Kong Island and it has a lot going for it when you have small kids! Much like the mold in my air conditioner, DB has grown on me over the last few years.
Children and ages? Two noisy boys — Alex, age five, and eighteen-month-old Zach.
Are you working in Hong Kong and what do you do? Constantly! I’ve been a writer for over seven years, and after leaving my previous job as editor of a HK parenting website, co-founded Editors’ Ink along with fellow writer and blogger Rachel Read. We’re a small writing and editing agency that work with Hong Kong’s English language media to provide editorial content — e.g. articles, columns and interviews — for their publications, as well as copywriting. This means I’m definitely more used to asking other people questions than answering them myself!
When I’m not writing for clients, I like to relax with… a bit more writing! I blog about Hong Kong family travel, food and kids activities at accidentaltaitai.com.
What work did you do in your past lives? Something completely different. After many years spent as a recruitment consultant for the not-for-profit sector, I became an executive appointments consultant for a charity that helps officers leaving the British military into civilian jobs. Working in employment consultancy taught me a huge amount about what motivates people, how to interview people, and how to best present information in an engaging way.
What brought you to Hong Kong and why have you stayed? The same old story, really — I arrived as a trailing spouse when my husband landed a job here. Once we arrived I very quickly realized that I wasn’t cut out for life as a lady-of-leisure and, after a good friend who also happened to be a magazine editor commissioned me to write a couple of articles for her, it started to dawn on me that I was a decent enough writer, and that I might actually be able to make a living from doing something I really love. Living in Hong Kong has enabled me to pursue this career and I’ll always be grateful for that opportunity.
What time of day do you check Hong Kong Moms? I dip in and out throughout the day. It’s my go-to distraction if I’m working from home (it keeps me from raiding the biscuit tin!), and I’ll often check in on my commute too — putting that free Wi-Fi on the DB Ferry to good use!
What posts do you comment on and why? I try to comment wherever I have useful information to impart and tend to stay away from the more controversial posts as I’m firmly of the belief that opinions AREN’T facts! I’ve been here a while; over the years my job has involved researching a vast amount of information about this city. I can’t write articles about it all, so I try to share it wherever it’s relevant.
What is the best thing you have learned from Hong Kong Moms? That, despite the perception of the internet as a black hole of trolls and bullies, most people are actually very kind, and will go out of their way to help you if they can. For example, I redecorated my eldest son’s bedroom with an underwater theme and was really struggling to find matching bedding without breaking the bank. I posted for suggestions on Hong Kong Moms and within a few minutes, Jacqueline Renee Cohen, whom at that point I’d never met, offered me some immaculate underwater-themed duvet covers that her son no longer used! I was so touched by her generosity and, since then, I try to adopt the same approach if ever I can.
What is your favorite Hong Kong Moms post? So many! Of course the bun-fights can be entertaining (I’m sorry, but I’m being honest here!), but I think my absolute favorites are those heart-warming posts that show the best of people, e.g. lost phones being reunited with their owners and members offering support to the wider community.
On the flip side, as someone who writes for a living, I get really annoyed when I see articles in other publications that very obviously mine Hong Kong Moms for information or un-credited quotes. It’s lazy journalism and reflects badly on the entire profession. I promise we’re not all dodgy!
What do you ask Hong Kong Moms? Anything that I can’t research myself first! Before posting, I always try to filter by asking myself “is this something that Google would tell me?” If not, or it’s something so obscure it needs in-depth local knowledge to understand, then I go straight to the incredible hive mind that is Hong Kong Moms!
What is your biggest Hong Kong fave? Now I’m a mom, I believe the safety, convenience and outdoor lifestyle that Hong Kong offers makes it a great place to raise my kids. Where else can you hail a cab in the city center, only to be halfway up a mountain in a country park just an hour later? My eldest son attends a lovely local kindergarten where he’s learning Cantonese, Mandarin and English at the age of just five — what an amazing gift to be able to give him.
And frustration? The brutal rents, tiny apartment space and — if only for the sake of my poor frizz-prone hair — the sweltering summers!
What is your craziest Hong Kong experience? It’s a real wonder that I live in DB, given how seasick I used to be. Not long after we first arrived in Hong Kong, my husband and I took a snorkelling trip out to Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung. All was fine as the boat cruised out of Sai Kung, but as soon as we reached the open waters, I became horribly, horribly seasick, and spent the next hour or so hanging over the edge of the boat with my husband rubbing my back. Usually getting in the water helps quell the nausea, but the sea was really choppy that day and, even after we’d moored up and I’d jumped in, I still felt terrible. So terrible that I couldn’t bear the idea of getting back onto the boat to Sai Kung, and so we were dropped off on Tai Long Wan Beach for the hour-long hike back to the closest minibus stop.
We were laden with dive gear but pushing ourselves hard, as the last bus to Sai Kung was due soon, we had no mobile reception, and there was no other transport for miles. Unfortunately, just as we rounded the corner to the bus stop, we were attacked by a pack of wild dogs that had made a home in the shelter and had to sprint back the way we’d just walked to avoid being bitten. By this point, I was a nervous wreck, as I was envisioning us being stuck up a mountain forever or else eaten by rabid dogs. Just then, another hiker rounded the corner brandishing an umbrella. We warned him about the dog, as which point he shrugged and wandered on whistling, opening his brolly. The open umbrella seemed miraculously to ward the dogs off to a safe distance and we were able to board the bus.
The relief was unbelievable… and temporary. Arriving back in Sai Kung, I realized that I had the WORST sunburn of my life, as I’d been too busy throwing up on the boat to apply sunscreen. My shoulders were peeling for about a week. Needless to say, I’ve yet to return to Tai Long Wan!
Does anyone ever recognize you or your name from Hong Kong Moms? Yes, I often get “Are you that writer?” although less so since I changed my hair color! I had bright, pillar-box red hair for a number of years, which of course is pretty distinctive in Hong Kong. When I fancied something a little more grown-up earlier this year, my lovely hair stylist, Rennie Fensham of Hollywood Hair, did a fantastic job of restoring my color to a natural looking brunette, so I tend to blend in a little more these days!
What kind of friendships have you made through Hong Kong Moms? I’ve been fortunate enough to meet inspiring women from a huge range of backgrounds, careers and nationalities through Hong Kong Moms. Many of them are now good friends, many are clients and many more are people I refer my clients to.
Which Hong Kong Mom would you like you to see featured next? There are so many women I’d love to read about! Rennie Fensham of Hollywood Hair, ex-Hong Kong Mom Nicole Webb who writes Mint Mocha Musings (although she now lives in Xi’An, her China tales are fascinating!), Rebecca Jo-Rushdy of BaoBae, Nicola Burke of family travel blog Jetlag and Mayhem, Claire Yates of Lion Rock Press, Jennifer Heathfield-Lee of Athena Life, Sarah Fung who publishes Liv Magazine, Hui Huang of Sooq, parenting expert Orla Breeze, Jasmin Blunck, also of Liv Magazine… I could literally go on all day!