It's amazingly difficult getting decent candid shots of Thai people because at the first glimpse of the camera their smiles freeze up and they snap to attention in a line and stare at you with the tragic demeanour of political prisoners facing a firing squad.
Cat's no better so I've been trawling around for a decent picture that really captures her essence and I've just found one I took when we were camping in Wales. I'd been moping around in the tent looking for my toothbrush and she was sitting just outside when I suddenly realised that with the morning sun it'd make a great photo. If only I could find the camera without her seeing what I was up to. I chanced upon my toothbrush hidden in a plastic bag inside another plastic bag and was just celebrating this, when I sat down hard on the camera. The camera looked okay and with a split second to take take aim before Cat had time to ruin my picture, I managed to get this one of her.
We've had two camping holidays in Wales and they were both hugely successful. The first was in North Wales, the highlight of which was the fish shop in Aberystwyth where Cat bought the biggest crab she's ever seen... it's claws are on display in the cabinet downstairs even as I write this. And we climbed Snowdon, Wales's highest peak and it was spectacular. I was disappointed as we went up into the mist towards the top as there'd be no view, but as I photographed Cat by the cairn at the top, she was entranced by it all.
'Andrew, this much better than a view. I've never been inside a cloud before!'
That night there was a torrential downpour and the next day when we crossed the Menai Straits to Anglesea and stopped at Conway Castle we got a crystal clear vista of the mountains of Snowdonia across the sparkling water of the straits.
Some kids were fishing for crabs from the end of the pier and then Cat's happiness was complete. We bought a line and a bucket and fished happily, but when the bucket was full, I told her the awful truth.
'Cat, you're going to have to throw them all back again like everyone else does.'
'Why?' she protested. "Farang crazy! Why they not make som tam?'
Last summer it was unavoidable that we go back to the fish shop in Aberystwyth but then we headed south and camped at St Davids. Again we picked the best week of the summer.
'Why does anyone go for holidays in Thailand when you've got places like this?,' she asked me. 'Wales is much more beautiful. Never too hot and plenty of crabs.'
'You just try camping in the rain, my flower. The water trickling through your sleeping bag... packing the wet tent into the back of the car in the pouring rain. We've been lucky this time but for me a bamboo hut's a dead cert every time.'
I have to admit though that the European summer at its best is incomparable... it's just a pity about the winter! And England's paeng jing jing! Just so desperately expensive. To cross with the car from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight costs about fifty pounds but to take the car on a similar crossing to Koh Chang costs less than three pounds.
That's one reason why as a poverty stricken pensioner I'm an exile in Thailand. But really I'm here by choice and anyway, I'm sure you're not going to sympathise with my predicament!