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the really useful magazine

October 2017

Hong Kong for littlies! Conquering Central with a stroller


Kids get cooking

Style file Indian arm candy

t s a e Br ncerss Cawareneh a

t mon



Editor’s letter

Pink horizons

4 Contributors




What’s on

Adventures for autumn

Things you need to know

Lantern fun


School news

New preschools and more exam results

Meet the team



Think pink


Open day

Education revolution in Aberdeen


Life & style

Bags of class


Big day out

Buggy venues

Support for breast cancer awareness month

63 Food

14 News

66 Travel

Days out in Sydney


Flailing spouse

Food guru

Goings on this month

18 Giveaways

Loads of free stuff


Debate of the month

Baby blues


Me & my big idea

Online activity reviews


My Hong Kong

Diwali and drop-ins


Book review

No stone unturned


The big interview

Box of Hope’s Sian Trodd


Modern family

School for tots



Brunch of the month


36 Cover story

Baby boom

Scan and visit our website


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editor’s message

who’s in charge? Publisher Tom Hilditch

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Shreena Patel

Editor Carolynne Dear

Editor Eric Ho

Editorial Assistant Catharina Cheung

Editorial Intern Jai Rane

Editorial Intern Jennifer Lee

Design Design Manager Cindy Suen

Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Sales & Marketing


his month we’re all about littlies. From giving birth, to entertaining toddlers, to selecting a preschool, we’ve devoted much of this issue to the under fives. It’s a tough gig being a mum of preschoolers, an unrelenting 24 hours-a-day profession of worry, guilt and exhaustion mixed in with moments of pure joy. Ultimately of course it’s worth all the sleepless nights, potty training and lugging strollers in and out of taxis. Strong, happy foundations create strong, happy individuals who are better able to cope with the challenges of becoming a teen and eventually a young adult. Of course October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. Unfortunately as we age life can start to become something of a skittles alley with regards health, with balls sometimes felling us for no apparent reason. I have spent much of this year living through the breast cancer battle of the sister of a good friend. Three times a week we’d meet for a run and I’d receive an update about this strong, brave woman who, for no obvious reason, was diagnosed with a malignant tumour last Christmas. She’s a mother of four young children, a marathon runner, a horse rider and all-round lovely person. Life can be very cruel. I’m happy to report that she’s winning her battle and recently received the all-clear. So for all the strong, brave women out there, please take the time this month to buy a special product donating to breast cancer awareness - there are lots of ideas on page 12, or attend one of the many events being held across the city. As mothers and as women, we all need a bit of support now and again. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram @expatparenthk

about the cover This month’s cover was shot by Natalie Forrestal of Hong Kong mum Alex Pilgrim and her two children. Pilgrim runs her own business,, sourcing beautiful clothing for women and children. She is new to the territory and reveals her initial reactions to life as a Hong Kong preschool mum in our Modern Family feature, page 32.

Sales Director Hilda Chan

Sales and Marketing Executive Venus Man

Sales and Marketing Executive Kiran Hiranandani

Sales and Marketing Executive Isamonia Chui

Digital Digital Assistant Cora Chan

Office Manager Office Manager Amanda Chia

Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 | Editorial: 2776 2773 | Advertising: 2776 2772 Published by Hong Kong Living Ltd, L1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong Printer Apex Print Limited, 11-13 Dai Kwai Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong

HONG KONG Expat Parent is published by Hong Kong Living Ltd. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Expat Parent cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or publishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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Kate Davies…

Kate Farr…

Adele Brunner…

… took her two-and-a-half year old son for a wander around Central for our Big Day Out feature, Central in a Stroller, on page 60. Despite the heat and the hills, she rounded up a heap of great ideas for days out with littlies in our city. When she’s not pushing a buggy, Kate loves to hike and can be often found up a Hong Kong mountain. Back in the air con, she’s also partial to the odd glass of bubbly…

...tied on her apron to round up the best cooking classes for kids this autumn (page 64). A regular contributor to Expat Parent, Kate is a freelance writer and mum-of-two adventurous boys. When she’s not racing around in the territory, she is also co-founder of agency Editors Ink with fellow writer Rachel Reid. Follow her adventures around the territory @accidental_tt.

...Adele is our life and style guru and this month she sits down with Indian bag designer, Yosha Gupta, who has founded accessories label Meraki supporting Indian heritage and handicrafts, see page 54. Adele is a former editor of Expat Parent and also a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post. She has recently completed a walk for charity along China’s Great Wall.

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact

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Photo courtesy of MLP Dresses Chinadoll Kids

what’s on

Enjoy lantern festival! Oct 4




Group exhibition using Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to construct a narrative spanning 20 years in post-colonial Hong Kong. Blindspot Gallery, 15/F, Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road,

Public holiday!

Enjoy the lanterns and mooncakes!



Tale of the Wonderland


National Day A day commemorating the anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Catch the fireworks as they light up Victoria Harbour, starts at 9pm.

The day following National Day

Pirates of the South China Sea Exhibit The Hong Kong Maritime Museum explores southern China’s seafaring history through the eyes of pirates. Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm, 10am-7pm on weekends and public holidays. Maritime Museum, Central Pier No. 8,

OCT 3-6

Mid-Autumn Festival

Pok Fu Lam Fire Dragon Dance See the fiery dragon dance its way through the village towards the sea. 7pm-11:30pm, Pok Fu Lam Village,


The day following Chinese MidAutumn Festival Public holiday!


Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance Festival

OCT 6-7

Ten kilometre race from Central Pier 9 to Peak Galleria with Family Team alternatives. All runners get a commemorative t-shirt, drinks en-route plus prizes for the fastest competitors,

For three nights and days, visitors can see the famous 67-metre-long ‘fire dragon’ as it winds its way through the streets of Tai Hang. 10:45–11:30pm, Oct 4, Victoria Park. All other dates, 8:15–10:30pm, Tai Hang,

Paintshop Eicó has teamed up with The Art House Asia to present a pop-up gallery showcasing art and photography from local artist Philippa Bloom. Evergreen Industrial Mansion, 12 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang. From 6pm, Oct 6; 10am-8pm, Oct 7, RSVP by Oct 1 to

Victoria to Peak Challenge


(Blurred) Lines

tell me more

mum about town

Splash down on Oct 14


TEDxTurtleCove: ‘Who are you...really?’ Organized by Southside resident Barbara Shaw, speakers include senior TED fellow and founder of HK MakerBay Cesar Harada, MIT graduate and CANA Elite tutor Timothy Lee, and World Marathon Challenge winning Creature Comforts vet David Gething. $200 entry, 18+ only, 8-10pm, American Club, Tai Tam, sign up at


Clean Half Extreme open water marathon starting at Stanley Main Beach and finishing at Deep Water Bay with an after-party BBQ and DJ at Deep Water Bay. This year sees a new race category: YakSwimmers (two swimmers, one kayak, 30-minute rotations the entire way). Main start time is 11am,

OCT 7-15

Hong Kong Tennis Open The Hong Kong Tennis Open returns for the fourth year. The first three days of the tournament are free to the public on a first come, first-served basis. Thereafter, tickets start at $160. Victoria Park Tennis Stadium, Causeway Bay, tickets from, Tom Lee outlets, or call 2111 5333.

OCT 8-29

Crooner Pete Moore in action, Oct 21

In the pink October is of course breast cancer awareness month. I am eagerly anticipating two fab events which promise to be great fun and a great opportunity to contribute towards a great cause. The wonderful Sai Kung Pink Ladies are laying on a lunch on November 2 (book now at the gorgeous new St Barts restaurant in Clearwater Bay. With pop-up shopping, a three-course meal and plenty of bubbly, it’s not to be missed and I’m hastily scouring my wardrobe for a suitably pink outfit. Tickets are $500 and proceeds go to the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation. Australian consul-general Michaela Browning will also be hosting a pink-themed charity event on October 12, at her official residence in Deepwater Bay. The Cocktails for a Cure Breast Cancer Pink Sunset kicks off at 6.30pm with sundowners overlooking the bay. The event has been organised by the Australian Association of Hong Kong, tickets are selling fast at pinksunsetcocktails2017.eventbrite. hk, $498 for Australian Association members, $698 for non-members. Proceeds will be donated to The Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation. I hope to see you there.

Scare School HK by Glitter and Gore

Get your groove on

A course of four workshops, created and led by professional Scare Actors from the UK. Each has a different focus, helping students create their own Haunted House walk through for friends and family to visit during the final workshop. 10am-12.30pm & 1.30-4pm on Sundays. Dramatic English Education Centre, Happy Valley. $2,500 per student. Email with enquiries.

Aussie singer Pete Moore will be bringing his band to Grappas Cellar on October 21 for his latest gig, Classic Hits From the Expat Songbook. A family friend, Pete’s been crooning classics to Hong Kong audiences for longer than I can remember, and they all end up as great nights out. If you haven’t experienced one of his gigs, you may recognise his voice from the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens commercials, as he is often asked to provide the vocals. Tables seat ten, so grab some friends, reserve a table and look forward to an evening of great food, drinks and a bit of a dance. Tickets are $288 and include one drink, the a la carte service begins at 7pm. Grappas Cellar, Jardine House, Basement 1, 1 Connaught Road, Central,

OCT 11

Wednesdays at the Winery

Embroidery workshop hosted by ‘Make & Do Hong Kong’. $465/person including free-flow Prosecco and snacks, 7.30-10.30pm, The Winery, G/F Kwan Yick Building Phase 3, 158A Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun, 7

what’s on OCT 12


Over 50 stalls selling handmade crafts, jewellery, accessories and books. The Helena May, 35 Garden Road, Central,

Join a tour on a boat trip that explores one of the largest and busiest container ports in the world. See ships loading, unloading, refueling, and being pushed by tugs. 11am3:30pm, $900 per adult, $760 per child, including a sausage sizzle, salads and vegetables, carrot cake and beer, wine, soft drinks and water,

Helena May Charity Bazaar

OCT 13-15

The Garden Gathering A three-day retreat into nature with classes offered from over 40 leading teachers and visionaries related to wellness, yoga, healing, ceremony, culture, wisdom, and earth knowledge on Cheung Chau. Sai Yuen Farm, Cheung Chau,

OCT 14

Malvern College Hong Kong Splash Loads of fun for kids aged seven and up, racing a variety of open water courses. This year, the event is open to adults too, with 600m and 1,200m race options. $280/event, 8.30am, Victoria Recreation Club, Emerald Bay, Sai Kung, register at


Container Port BBQ Boat Trip

OCT 21

Hong Kong Maternity + Baby Event A chance for expectant and new parents to learn about maternity and babies with speakers, exhibitors and partners. 9:30am– 4:30pm, JW Marriott, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty. Free admission when you register at thehkmaternitybabyevent.

OCT 21

Hong Kong International School Pumpkin Festival Hosted by the HKIS Parent Faculty Organization, seasonal activities include a pumpkin patch, a bouncy castle and slide,

games with prizes, a talent show, a usedbook fair, Boo-tique shopping and food. 11am-3pm, Hong Kong International Middle School, 700 Tai Tam Reservoir Road.

OCT 22

ESF 50th Anniversary Marathon In celebration of ESF’s 50th anniversary. Race categories include 1km to 10km runs and a 1km family walk. There will also be a community carnival, 9:30am–4pm at Edinburgh Place, Central, racing from 8am–10:30am, Central harbourfront,

OCT 29

The Sedan Chair Charity Race Race with a sedan chair to raise money for charity. All funds will go to local small charities which run education, health or social welfare community programmes. The Matilda International Hospital, Mount Kellett Road,

OCT 31

Halloween Boo!


TEDxTinHau Women ‘Bridges - Two Become One’ A brand new TEDx event and the only annual TEDx dedicated to women in Hong Kong. TEDxTinHauWomen pays homage to Tin Hau, the Chinese Goddess of the Sea, and recognises Hong Kong’s unique spiritual history. Held over a half-day, the programme includes exclusive streaming of talks from the global TEDWomen event in New Orleans, a line-up of local speakers with “ideas worth sharing”, networking and community activities. The Cube in PMQ, Aberdeen Street, 1pm-7pm,


Melbourne Cup Charity Long Lunch To coincide with one of the most anticipated dates in horse racing,

Ladies lunching at Farmer’s Market Melbourne Cup, Nov 7

Farmer’s Market is teaming up with local charity Angels for Orphans to host a long lunch at the Aberdeen Marina Club. There will be free-flow drinks and canapés, a threecourse meal, followed by transport to The Butcher’s Club Secret Kitchen for an after-party. Funds raised will go directly to Angels for Orphans to support their work with

underprivileged children. 10am2pm, and 2:30-10pm for the after party,

DEC 1-3 & 7-10

Aladdin The Panto The Hong Kong Players are back (oh yes they are!) with more fun and terrible gags with their take on classic tale, Aladdin. This is an

all-singing, all dancing extravaganza suitable for the whole family, from toddlers through to Granny. Expect glitzy costumes, men in drag, singing, dancing and a bit of acting. After a couple of years on the road, the panto also back at its usual venue, Shouson Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Wan Chai, 9


The largest lantern display is in Victoria Park. Grab a lantern, or make your own, and head over for the main carnival ( 8-11pm on October 4), and Youth Night (7.30-9.30pm on October 5). Expect elaborate lantern displays, fire dragon dancing, kung fu demonstrations and folk songs. Mid-Autumn Festival is a modern celebration of a centuries-old harvest ritual. These days it’s associated with mooncakes, shining lanterns and dragon dancing.

are ns t of r e t r lan ig pa al b tiv a fes e h t


Don’t miss the Fire Dragon Dance in Tai Hang to celebrate the Tai Hang villagers miraculously stopping a plague with a fire dance in the 19th century. The parade features a 67-metre long dragon and over 300 performers. It runs along Lily Street, Ormsby Street and Tung Lo Wan Road (with best viewing at Wun Sha Street), 8.15pm, October 3, 4 & 5.


As with many Chinese festivals, flowers play an important role. The Osmanthus is particularly significant as its blooming season coincides with this time of year.

Things you need to know Mid-Autumn Festival This year’s Mid-Autumn Festival falls on October 4, with a public holiday the day after. Lanterns at the ready...


Mooncakes play a significant part in festivities. The pastry-based treats are believed to have originated from 13th century revolutionaries who are said to have used the cakes to pass secret messages to each other. Mooncakes are traditionally filled with egg yolks and lotus seed paste, but these days the sky’s the limit.

Our pick of the best Agnes b Select from cream cheese & egg custard; nutty chocolate; äand fruity chocolate from $190 for a two-piece box. Häagen-Dazs A huge range of ice-cream filled treats Star comes with four character-decorated cakes, including two chocolate, one summer berries and one vanilla, with a Winnie the Pooh cooler bag, $268. Starbucks Three sweet flavours, including Vanilla Custard, Earl Grey Tea Mochi and Caramel Lava & Coffee.


Maxim’s Maxim’s has teamed up with Marvel and Disney to bring you Iron Man (green tea & red bean); Spider Man (egg custard); and Minnie and Daisy (fruit flavoured snowy mooncakes) - all come in a specially designed tin, Marvel $198/box, Disney $98/box.

Photos by Katie Chan and Dinkum via Wiki Commons


Photo by HenryWBee via Wiki Commons

things to know 11

breast cancer awareness month

In the pink

Support Hong Kong’s Pink Revolution this month* Limited edition Dry & Style from Amika

Sugar Sweet Handbag from FolliFollie

Foldable tote from Citysuper

ICE Loulou (dolce) from ICE-WATCH

Blissey Super Serum from Carrie Carries

Rose Collection from Pandora

Geronime Ballerinas from Repetto

Small Love Crossbody from Rebecca Minkoff

Belgian heart chocolates from Fine Foods

Shygirl luggage collection from Samsonite RED

* a portion of all sales will be donated to Hong Kong Cancer Fund’s Pink Revolution 12

Artisan Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer from Kitchenaid 13


Vietnamese refugee families disembark at Canton Road Government Dockyard in 1979

Shelter seekers Centre for Refugees is launching Under Our Shelter this month, an exhibition examining Hong Kong’s history as a place of refuge. From post-second world war White Russians, to mainland Chinese in the 1950s, Vietnamese in the 1970s and the current influx of asylum seekers from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, the project tells the story of Hong Kong’s complex relationship with displaced peoples. On display will be archived or privately held images, many of which have never been

seen before in public. Further images have been sourced from the archives of Christian Action, an organisation that has been providing assistance to Hong Kong’s refugees since the 1950s. Contributions have also been made from former refugees themselves. The Centre for Refugees was set up in 2004 by Christian Aid and is the only drop-in community centre for refugees arriving in Hong Kong. Many are victims of torture, war and genocide and the centre provides a muchneeded support system.

October 19, ticketed opening preview, $288, 6.30-9.30pm, underourshelter October 20, 2-5pm, October 21, 10am-8pm, October 22, 10am-4pm, Loft 22, California Tower, Lan Kwai Fong, suggested $100 donation. October 23-28, 12-5pm, St Andrew’s Church, 138 Nathan Road, TST, suggested $100 donation.

BBC World Service axed There was outcry from Hong Kong’s expat community last month following public broadcaster RTHK’s decision to replace its 24-hour BBC World Service programming with state radio from China. The decision was taken by RTHK following the axing of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio by the government earlier this year. China National is a state controlled news channel broadcast in Mandarin with some Cantonese content. According to an RTHK spokesperson, there were no political considerations in the decision over the introduction of China National and that it will “enhance the cultural exchange between the mainland and Hong Kong.” 14

But critics believe the decision highlights the encroaching control of China over Hong Kong. Under the “one country, two systems” formula established when Hong Kong broke ties with Britain in 1997 the territory was promised wide-ranging autonomy. The World Service had been broadcast in Hong Kong since 1978. An online petition was quickly set up in a bid to keep round-the-clock programming from the BBC. “I’m so mad,” said mum-of-two Mel Brown, a teacher from Sai Kung. “Being informed on my drive to and from work just got messed with. But I guess that was the point. It has made me so angry.”

“I really miss it,” commented another expat. “I know it’s available on digital apps but that’s not really the same as switching on a wireless.” In a press statement, the BBC confirmed that RTHK has retained BBC World Service overnight between 11pm and 7am on RTHK’s FM frequency Radio 4 (FM 97.6). RTHK has also agreed to consider including some BBC World Service English programmes in its daytime schedules. BBC World Service remains available 24 hours a day online at, via the BBC iPlayer radio app and on the RTHK Radio 4 website.


In brief‌ ...Hong Kong Police has reportedly issued over 150,000 parking tickets in a territorywide crack-down since July. This is an on-going attempt to clear Hong Kong’s busy roads of illegally parked vehicles. The roads around schools are often particularly clogged while students are dropped off and picked up by private car. Co-founders and sisters Andrea and Philippa Wong at the launch

New academy tunes in (Music International) Academy launched last month in Wong Chuk Hang. Co-founders and sisters Andrea and Philippa Wong set up the academy to address what they perceive to be a lack of premium music learning options in Hong Kong. The sisters grew up in a musical household, learning the importance of practice and perseverance at an early age. Both are musicians themselves, Andrea a flautist and

Philippa plays the piano, violin and oboe. Instructors for the academy have been recruited from top international music conservatories and all have studied under renowned musicians. The Academy accepts young learners from the age of three years, with private classes available for piano, violin and wind instruments, as well as introductory singing lessons for youngsters. will also provide GCSE and A-level music classes for

older students. The 6,000 square foot Wong Chuk Hang space comprises 17 practice rooms and three classrooms, including a chamber music room and an early years exploration room. An auditorium is available for recital performances. 19/F Casey House Aberdeen House, 38 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 15


Gender neutral clothing hits Hong Kong Ethical kids’ clothing company Minimal has launched in Hong Kong. The brand was founded by New York fashion industry veterans Molly Leis-Cornelius and husband Jason, employing simple designs that are comfortable for active children. “The pieces are modern basics for little individuals,” said Leis-Cornelius. “Minimal design and maximum freedom.” As new parents themselves, the couple believed it was important for children to have access to stylish, gender neutral clothing with an ethical twist. “Prior to launching, we spent one year scouring Asia, from Thailand to Tokyo, for the softest fabrics and experienced artisans. We finally landed in Bali, where we spent four months creating Minimal and the perfect children’s capsule collection, continuously refining cuts, colours and craftsmanship,” says Leis-Cornelius.


Best dressed at Minimal

The couple hand-picked the organic cotton and brushed bamboo fabrics, and selected a small, family-run dye-house where the materials are hand-dyed and sun-dried. The fabric rolls are then collected by motorcycle and taken to laundromats to be washed, dried and pre-shrunk before being cut and sewn into garments. The entire process is meticulously overseen by the couple.

“Our clothes are designed to be shared by boys and girls from two to eight years. We have minimal production runs, direct to the consumer, creating for demand rather than the stockroom. And we produce using global organic textile standards and fair trade principles - fair pay for fair work.” The Minimal children’s capsule collection, with free delivery in Hong Kong, is available at

Sponsored feature

Learning leaps into the future

Dalton Learning Lab opens at Cyberport with courses teaching your kids important future skills and how to think out of the box Dalton Learning Lab, located at the Cyberport, is a new and innovative afterschool programme that aims to close the gap between formal education and the real-world needs of the future. The courses offered are all Englishlanguage and teach students the skills and knowledge that will be relevant in the techdominated economy of tomorrow. Technology shapes our world. Robots and AI are already replacing humans in the workforce, and this trend is accelerating. Formal education, with its antiquated emphasis on memorization, exams and standardized tests, fails to properly equip students with skills crucial for tomorrow’s economy. That’s where the Dalton Learning Lab comes in. The courses focus on skills like divergent thinking, design thinking, collaboration and digital fluency, in a framework of project-based learning and interdisciplinary education. For example, students undertaking the Coding courses learn to design, write and debug their own computer programmes. But in the process, they also learn about logic, problem solving, creativity, communication, working with others, storytelling and more. Dalton Learning Lab is a collaboration between technology innovator Outblaze and two cofounders of Dalton School Hong Kong (DSHK), a non-profit, child-centred dual language primary school integrating the heritage of Chinese culture with the progressive Dalton Plan. The Lab offers a variety of courses in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) for students aged four to 13. The Lab is the brainchild of technology entrepreneur Yat Siu (founder and CEO of Outblaze) who, as a father of three children, observed a gap between what students are being taught and the needs of our technologydominant future. He was concerned by the low priority placed by schools on divergent thinking, and realized that successful entrepreneurs and innovators embrace curiosity, empathy, creativity and risk tolerance - which are fostered by an approach that encourages divergent thinking. But Yat noted that Hong Kong schools instead rely on old-fashioned and uninspiring learning techniques like rote memorization and preparation for standard tests.

So Yat partnered with Eva To and Peggy Yeoh, two of the DSHK co-founders, and set up a learning centre to emphasize divergent thinking and project-based learning. Every course is taught by a professional who is currently active in his or her field, supported by a teacher or mentor. By marrying technologists with educators, Dalton Learning Lab offers hands-on courses that address realworld needs.

Courses offered Coding The Lab’s courses are more than just coding they teach the fundamentals of programming and algorithms, and encourage students to identify problems, think logically and divergently, design, write and refine programmes, debug programmes, use programming as a tool to achieve goals and apply algorithms to solve problems by logical reasoning. Courses available for ages 6-8 and 9-13, one lesson x 8 weeks. Choice of focus in Cubetto or Scratch.

Robotics The Robotics courses teach principles of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as students design, build and programme their own robots. Skills learnt include collaboration, problem-solving and divergent thinking. By the end of the course they will have learnt how to understand the essential functions of different robots, build, assess and improve prototypes, and programme and control the movements of a

robot or invention. Courses available for ages 6-8 and 9-13, one lesson x 8 weeks. Choice of focus in Lego WeDo or Micro:bit.

Digital Art Creativity and creative thinking are of great value as AI and robots become common, and these courses teach students to be digitally fluent, think divergently, utilize technology creatively, and understand and apply the elements of art. Students will becomes familiar with software like Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop CC as they build their own digital art portfolios. Courses available for ages 5-7 and 8-13, one lesson x 8 weeks.

Music Learning music leads to improved academic performance, confidence, and ability to concentrate. But most music education is focused on conformance-based learning rather than creativity, easily leading to boredom and disinterest. The Dalton Learning Lab therefore takes a non-traditional approach to teaching popular instruments like the guitar and ukulele as well as music software, so that students are able to quickly develop a passion for music and its benefits. Courses available for ages 4-13, one lesson x 8 weeks. Dalton Learning Lab, Unit 301, 3F, Core A, Cyberport 3, 100 Cyberport Road, Hong Kong. Tel: 2362 9003 Email: 17

giveaways WIN HERE! Click the Giveaways tab on our website: Academy

Co-founded by Hong Kong sisters Andrea and Philippa Wong, Academy is the city’s newest premium music academy. It strives to provide personalised top-quality classical music training and create an inclusive musical community. We’re giving away five private classes valued at $4,600 to one lucky winner. Choose any instrument from the programme, or even mix and match classes. For more information, visit

Mothercare Grand prize: FAMILY STAYCATION Summer holiday feeling like a distant memory? We’re treating one family to a staycation at the Hyatt Regency Sha Tin, worth over $8,000. Relax and enjoy a night’s stay in the two-bedroom family suite, with a complimentary breakfast buffet and one activity for two children at Camp Hyatt. Plus, with the heat finally wearing off it’s


Hong Kong’s biggest music and arts festival is back for its 10th edition. Growing rapidly in size since 2007, many global acts have graced its stages. This year’s star-studded lineup features Massive Attack, The Prodigy, MØ and many more to be announced. We have three pairs of three-day weekend passes, valued at $1,940 each, to give away.


a great time to get outdoors, so we’re also throwing in an Ultraspire hydration vest— perfect for trail running and hiking—and a copy of The Sai Kung & Clearwater Bay Hiking Guide. Enter now to win both prizes, worth a total of $10,000! Get a free chapter of the Sai Kung & Clearwater Bay Hiking Guide upon entering.

Leading British retailer of products for mothers-to-be, babies and children Mothercare presents “Mothercare 1st Baby Expo”, a four-day convention running from November 2-5 at KITEC, Kowloon Bay. Over 90 companies will take part in the expo, where families can find great bargains, including $1 products and free gifts. For information, visit We are giving away one Snapkis Transformers 0-4 Car Seat, valued at $1,199. The first 60 entries will each get a pair of free tickets to the expo. 19

debate of the month

Let sleeping babies lie? Newborns turn your schedule upside down. So how do you manage your new reality?

“Eventually I tried to let her cry it out - at six months I was just exhausted and willing to do anything to get a full night’s sleep! But it was hard going.” Nicki, Clearwater Bay

Routine, routine, routine. Otherwise you end up in a mess. Kate, Clearwater Bay

“I must admit I employed an overnight nursery nurse. I had to be up for work and no sleep just kills me.” Tara, Mid-levels “I followed the Gina Ford method - a strict routine for sleeping, feeding, etc. It worked with my first child, but with my second I found it impossible to achieve with a toddler running around.” Sarah, Stubbs Road

“My baby slept with me until about one month. It was easier to breastfeed on demand overnight as it meant I didn’t have to get up.” Daniella, Pok Fu Lam

Pick them up and give them a cuddle! This stage doesn’t last long! Christine, Mid-levels

Lazy days sleeping while my baby slept and occasionally venturing outside - happy times, Annabel, Cyberport

We want to hear from you! Next month: Keeping in contact with granny - how do you do it? Email your views to or go to 20

“We’d just get him in a routine, and then there’d be a flight home or somewhere, and with the jetlag we’d be back to square one! It was a hazy time of utter exhaustion!” Katerina, Southside 21

Sponsored feature

Streamlining life on the move

Market Place by Jasons is now delivering a fast, fresh and friendly grocery service right to your door. Kate Davies logs on If you’ve got preschoolers, you’ve probably been here: You’ve dropped off the kids at pre-school or popped them on the bus and you have three (or so) hours to get what you need to get done. Your time starts now… What do you do first? Finish that piece of work for your part/fulltime job, pick up the shoes you took in to get fixed a month ago, pay the rent or run to the supermarket? Or, do you do what I often do and sit in the car and think for half an hour, probably ending up on Instagram, Facebook or on the phone to a friend. Only to realise an hour or so later that it’s probably too late to finish up my work, the traffic will make picking up the shoes impossible (again) and so the decision becomes… rent or supermarket? Rent normally wins and the supermarket shop is normally done with a tired tot in tow who just wants to sleep, eat or whinge meaning I probably abandon the shop halfway through armed only with bare necessities and chocolate.

My supermarket shop is normally done with a tired tot in tow, meaning I’ll probably abandon my trolley halfway round


Sponsored feature Speedy delivery Sound familiar? Well Market Place by Jasons has figured out a few ways to help streamline your day. Their newly revamped ‘fast, fresh and friendly’ online shopping experience can be accessed simply by tapping in ‘Market Place Delivers’. They offer same day delivery if you can get your order to them before 11am, and they can even specify the hour that they will deliver so there isn’t any waiting around all morning or afternoon. But if you miss the cut-off, don’t worry. Because if you can get your order to them by 5pm, for an extra fifty dollars you can still get your shop delivered in four hours.

It’s a fast, fresh and friendly grocery service

Personally curated They are also now getting their staff to hand pick produce for online shoppers from the shop floor so it’s as fresh as it would be if you were there in person. Plus, the team at Market Place Delivers are determined to try and have everything you need from the supermarket available in one place, so there’s no more running around trying to source ingredients. Finally, if you’re stuck for dinner ideas, every Tuesday they’re collaborating with the hugely successful Hong Kong instructional cooking video “DayDayCook”, and others to inspire people to get into the kitchen with easy recipe ideas. So now the shopping can get done from the car, I suppose I’d better pick up those shoes!

If you get online now and spend five hundred dollars or more they’ll even throw in some fresh produce for you! 23

me & my big idea

Whizpa’s the word Looking for after-school activities? Want quick and easy recommendations? Look no further, says Jennifer Chin, founder of Hong Kong’s first activities review website So what’s the big idea? is Hong Kong’s first education review website that allows parents to review education providers in Hong Kong. It also functions as a comprehensive database, allowing parents to search, compare and choose education providers or activities for children. The name came from the concept ‘word of mouth’, which became ‘whisper amongst parents’ and then ‘Whizpa’. Studies show that 90% of Hong Kong parents rely on word of mouth recommendations when it comes to education and activities for their children. So the Whizpa platform is similar to TripAdvisor, but covers education in Hong Kong. Parents can search using generic terms like “ballet”, “soccer”, “Chinese classes” and so on, and a list of relevant providers pops up, with a short amount of information and location details. It is an open platform, so parents are free to rate the various services. How did it come about? I have two older children in their teens, and a much younger sibling who was born in 2015. When he turned one-and-a-half, I found myself having to go through the process of finding playgroups, activities, schools and so on all over again. Over the past ten years, I had lost touch with what was available for young children. These days we have almost too much information at our fingertips, so we use social media sites to sift through and find what works and ask for suggestions or recommendations. But group forums are open discussions where questions can easily get lost and superseded by other comments and questions. So I thought it would be great to have a platform where information is neatly categorized and easily searchable. How long has it taken to come to fruition? It’s taken eight months from having the idea, to setting up the company, running a crowdfunding campaign, building the website and finally launching it. I started on my own


Founder Jennifer Chin launched Whizpa earlier this year

last October and then moved to an office in Causeway Bay with two employees at the beginning of this year. We are now a team of eight and we officially launched over the summer. What were the challenges? The biggest challenge was finding good web developers in Hong Kong without breaking the bank. Hong Kong is a smaller and less mature IT market than in the US and China and it was difficult finding a developer who could build the site to my specifications. The next challenge was finding good, creative people who are able to roll up their sleeves and work in a start-up environment where the salaries are lower. There’s a lot of short term-ism in Hong Kong where young people want to make as much money in as short a time as possible, irrespective of whether they are passionate about the job.

How do readers get involved? If you’re looking for activities for your child, type in what you’re looking for and a list of relevant providers will pop up. Contact details are available for you to move forward. If you have something to say about an experience or are looking for reviews, simply find the provider on the Whizpa homepage and give your rating. We have over 5,000 providers currently listed. If you can’t find the one you’re looking for, you can make a recommendation to us at the bottom of the homepage by clicking on ‘Recommend a Business’. If you’re a provider who would like to join our platform, email - listing is free. We’ll be rolling out more features over the next six months, so stay tuned! 25


My Hong Kong - the entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Mehroo Turel at home in Pok Fu Lam

From modelling to motherhood, Mehroo Turel tells Expat Parent how she juggles family life with managing a business I married the boy next door. We’re both from Mumbai and we’re both Parsi Zoroastrians. We moved to Hong Kong first time around in 2007 and my youngest son was born at the Matilda hospital. But in 2009 we moved to London. I remember frantically buying up Chinese porcelain and paintings as momentoes - little did I know two years later we’d be back. We now live in Pok Fu Lam, an area of Hong Kong that I love. We have mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. I learnt Cantonese the first year after I returned and I’ve been using it in the wet markets and supermarkets of Wah Fu ever since. 26

After school I worked as a model, coming fourth in the national Miss India contest in 1992. I then studied for an MBA at Mumbai’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and went on to work in sales and marketing. My parents have supported and encouraged me through everything. When my eldest son turned two, I quit my job and became a stay-at-home mum. I have never regretted that decision. I now have two boys aged nine and 13 years. The oldest qualified as a Zoroastrian priest when he was 11 (Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest religions, founded in ancient Iran

around 3,500 years ago. The basic maxims of Zoroastrianism include good thoughts, good words and good deeds; that there is only one path and that is the path of truth; and to always do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do. Its theology also includes a duty to protect nature, and it has been described as the first ecological religion). I started writing a blog about five years ago. It’s very personal and I write about anything and everything. But mostly motherhood, family, festivals and holidays. I’m passionate about being a mum, I treat it as seriously as any other full-time job.

PEOPLE in 1842 and later developed by Dorabjee Naorojee from 1888. The Ruttonjee Sanatorium was founded by Jahangir Hormusjee Ruttonjee. Large numbers of Indians served in the Hong Kong military, police and prison services until independence in 1947. I set up ‘Indian Mums in HK’ on Facebook two years ago. I was still quite new to Hong Kong and was uncomfortable asking where to buy Indian provisions here in the larger Facebook groups. I didn’t realise it would be so popular. Maybe there was a latent need for us to have a forum to voice our opinions or concerns without the fear of being judged. This month we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. It’s the biggest festival in India and is celebrated on the 15th day of Kartika (October/ November) on the Hindu calendar. It involves five days of festivities, each day signifying a different purpose and celebrated in a different way - from buying gold, to lighting diyas (Indian oil lamps), to having a feast or performing religious ceremonies. Diwali is all about dressing up and looking pretty in colourful clothes and beautiful jewellery. I usually stock up on my Indian wardrobe when I travel home, but there is certainly no dearth of Indian clothes and accessories in Hong Kong. Most Hong Kong Indians live in Kowloon and the Indian bazaars there carry heaps of Diwali-related products. There are also plenty of entrepreneurial Indian mums who sell decorations, kids clothing and accessories at this time. With such a large community, Indian cuisine is well represented in Hong Kong. My favourite North Indian restaurant is Jashan on Hollywood Road, and for a taste of southern India, I like Saravanna Bhuvan in TST. Turel with her husdband and two sons

I launched a clothing business last year, operating mostly from home. I used to introduce a few new pieces every time I returned from a trip to India. My clients were friends and friends of friends. The quality of the cotton fabrics were greatly appreciated as they work really well in Hong Kong’s hot and humid weather. I started having more time as my boys grew and began selling in bazaars and markets. I slowly increased my quantities, bringing in more variety and sizes. The range is called Summer. I brand it as ‘summer style that makes you smile’.

Eventually I decided to have my own bazaar, using neighbouring Cyberport as a venue. I started out with a group of nine friends and our team has been growing since. We have received a great response as word started building though our friends who have been our main support group. I am part of a huge Indian community in Hong Kong. Indian Zoroastrian businessmen have played a significant role in building Hong Kong through philantropic contributions Hormusjee Nowrojee Mody figured prominently in the building of Hong Kong University. The Star Ferry was founded by Abdoolally Ebrahim

As a family we enjoy going to the Hong Kong Cricket Club. My husband plays rugby for the club and my boys have reached a fairly mature level of play at the Sandy Bay club. I’m just the cheerleader. We also enjoy walking to the Peak - there’s a trail right behind our building. I love family dinners in Discovery Bay, watching the sun go down. There are some lovely restaurants there. Turel’s blog is at For more information about Mums At Play, see Her Summer collection is available at This year Diwali will be celebrated on October 19. 27

book review

Out this month

What’s new for little bookworms this autumn

Ten Little Elves Mike Brownlow & Simon Rickerty (Hachette) As we begin to count down the days to Christmas, Ten Little Elves will put you in the festive mood as they set off on a mission to rescue Christmas. But what will they do when they meet a growling polar bear, a yowling yeti and a scary ice queen? With rhymes-a-plenty and lots to spot and do on each page, this is a perfect start to the Christmas season.

ET - The ExtraTerrestrial

Harry Potter - A Journey Through A History of Magic

Kim Smith (Quirk Books)

British Library, Bloomsbury

A fun and colourful story based on the hugely popular 1982 film, with retro-style illustration by illustrator Kim Smith. ET is stranded on earth and takes refuge with Elliott, a lonely young boy needing a friend. As Elliott and his siblings help ET phone home and return to his spaceship against all the odds, they learn important lessons about courage, friendship and imagination.

A romp through the history of magic, from alchemy to unicorns, ancient witchcraft to Harry’s Hogwart, packed with unseen sketches and manuscript pages from JK Rowling and wonderful artefacts magically released from the archives at the British Library. Find out about herbology, defence against the dark arts, astronomy, divination and more. Learn about mandrake roots and discover what witches really use their brooms for.

When I Grow Up Tim Minchin (Scholastic)

Inspired by Minchin’s hit song When I Grow Up from Matilda the Musical, this fun book takes a humourous look at adult life from a child’s perspective. Surely grownups must eat sweets every day, climb the biggest trees, and watch cartoons til their eyes go square? But do they really?

On the road Let mini Marco Polos marvel at the world with a specially designed, kid-friendly travel journal Whether you’re on a great adventure, a school trip or a big move to another country, this is a great time to get kids to record their thoughts and experiences. Not just as a way of making sure these moments don’t get forgotten, but to process emotions and to be able to re-live the experience at a later date. Expats spend much of their time on planes and trains and this travel notebook has been designed specifically with smaller travellers in mind. My Travel Notebook has space for written accounts as well as drawings and collages, with extra durable folded pages, and all secured together using Japanese binding. There are travel-themed stickers to channel enthusiasm - or disappointment - in the face of new experiences. And the book comes with a travel pouch, great for holding extra material such as tickets, programmes, pamphlets, postcards and 28

Out and about with My Travel Notebook

other paraphernalia gathered on a big trip. The project has been a collaboration between Enjoy Citizz, a specialist activity book provider for globe-trotting children, and Aoyama Notebooks, which crafts stationery inspired by Asia.

My Travel Notebook is available from Bookazine, The Kiosk at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Parenthese Bookshop, Staion A, and

In the red From Maharajas to today’s big name jewellery houses, the ruby is the focus of a new hardback launched in Hong Kong

Author Joanna Hardy launches Ruby in Asia

If you’re a jewellery buff, you’ll love Ruby, a new publication just arrived in Asia that tells the tale of the popular gemstone. Put together by author and jewellery specialist Joanna Hardy, Ruby takes readers on a journey from the ancient mines of Burma to the silk trading routes of China and to the most exciting recent ruby discovery in Mozambique. “There’s no coloured gemstone that fuels passion more than ruby,” enthuses Hardy. “Place a ruby in front of any man or woman and there will be an instant response to this vibrant red gem.” No stone is left unturned (quite literally) as she examines ancient cutting and polishing techniques, and then takes readers on a tour of historical courts and palaces where rubies have been bought by royalty, dignitaries and the social elite throughout history. A total of sixty pieces are featured in the book, many of which are previously unseen designs from royal and private collections. Inclusions from modern jewellery houses include Boucheron, Cartier, Chaumet, Graff, Mellerio dits Meller and Van Cleef & Arpels. Ruby has been commissioned by global gemstone supplier Gemfields and is published by Thames & Hudson in association with Violette Publications. Its Hong Kong debut follows a successful launch in London last month and will be available from October 12, 29

THE big interview

All boxed up

Sian Trodd has been busy organising this year’s Box of Hope charity event since Easter

This year, Sian Trodd and the Box of Hope team will deliver Christmas to thousands of impoverished children throughout Asia. She tells Carolynne Dear how a recycled shoebox can be a thing of joy


ne minute you’re lazing happily on a junk with a sea-breeze in hand, the next there’s tinsel and mulled wine everywhere you turn. Each year, Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier, and particularly so for Sian Trodd, the new director of Box of Hope. Now in its tenth year, the local charity has been beavering away since Easter to ensure its infamous gift boxes reach those most in need this festive season. 30

The charity distributes shoeboxes full of Christmas cheer to disadvantaged children throughout Hong Kong, Macau, China, Cambodia and the Philippines. What started as a mini-project at former director Nicole Woolhouse’s children’s school has now mushroomed into almost 30,000 boxes of hope being handed out to children via over 40 charities throughout Asia. Trodd and her team are effectively bringing Christmas to almost 28,000 poverty-stricken children every year.

“The boxes used to be packed in Nicole’s apartment,” explains Trodd, who took over as director in April after Woolhouse moved back to the UK. “It grew and they were offered space in the offices of lawyers Allen & Overy in Exchange Square. But when they started moving in on desk space it became evident that the project was really taking off and Allen & Overy kindly persuaded their landlord to offer a vacant space for a couple of weeks from which we could pack the boxes.”

THE big interview Ten years on and the gift drive is one of the bestknown events on Hong Kong’s charity calendar

The raison d’etre behind the project was for kids to help kids. Woolhouse’s own children, plus classmates from Kellett School, simply got some old shoeboxes together and filled them with small but useful gifts. The idea stemmed from similar projects Woolhouse had seen in action in the UK. In the first year they distributed 800 boxes to underprivileged children throughout Hong Kong. Ten years on and the gift drive is one of the best-known events on Hong Kong’s charity calendar. Each year around 140 preschools and schools take part, along with corporate organisations, church groups and individuals. “There are a team of 12 of us,” explains Trodd. “We get together in April to talk dates and start planning, and then when everyone returns from the summer holidays it’s all systems go.” Schools are sent stickers and instruction packs and children are invited to bring in

their packed and wrapped shoeboxes full of gifts from the end of October. If schools have over 50 boxes to contribute, Trodd and the team will organise for a truck to pick up the donations - this year collections will take place between November 6 and 10. If there are under 50 boxes, the school is encouraged to partner with another school, or for a parent or teacher to volunteer to run the boxes into the packing space in Exchange Square. Then, over the following three weeks, around 200 volunteers will open and check every single box in order for it to pass through customs. “We say no to liquids, but yes to toothpaste,” says Trodd. “We recommend that every box contains a bar of soap, a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush, some sort of stationery - something to write with and something to write on is a good starting point - and then a treat, such as a small toy, or some Lego, or a pack of playing cards.” Memorable boxes include one filled entirely with the proceeds of a lemonade stall - four children organized the stand in their building so they had the funds to donate scores of filled boxes, each one lovingly packed and decorated. Woolhouse recalls another little girl who saved up her pocket money for a year and packed it up along with a handwritten note. “She so wanted to share some happiness,” says Woolhouse. “Every year our volunteers were simply overwhelmed by the generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness of Hong Kong’s schoolchildren.” “A huge amount of thought goes into some of these boxes,” admits Trodd. “We safeguard the integrity of the boxes as much as possible when we’re checking them, but sometimes we do have to step in. We get the odd box where someone has basically emptied the dregs of their stationery drawer, stubs of pencils and so forth. We ask for everything to be new and unused, a proper Christmas present.” Local charities Clean the World ( and Soap Cycling

( donate thousands of bars of soap, which are also added to the boxes. “One year we ran out and one of the volunteers put the word about. Lush very kindly stepped forward and a huge parcel of goods was delivered the next day. You could certainly smell those boxes arriving in the Philippines! Hopefully we’ll be partnering with Lush again this year.” While all the charities Box of Hope delivers to are in need, some are more in need of certain items than others. “The Hong Kong kids all need stationery, anything goes from notebooks and pens to rubbers and packets of coloured pencils. In places like Cambodia and the Philippines, they’re happy to receive anything. These children have absolutely nothing. It’s heartbreaking to see them treasuring even the cardboard box.” The delivery trucks are provided freeof-charge by Red Box Storage and Crown Relocations for a certain number of days, after which a courier company jumps in at a discounted rate. “The boxes destined for the Philippines and Cambodia are shipped and we are currently looking for a shipping company to offer discounted transportation,” says Trodd. “It’s humbling to see how excited the children are to receive these gifts,” admits Trodd. “They are living in such impoverished conditions yet all are smiling, all are so happy to see us each year.” If you, your school or preschool would like to take part in this year’s Box of Hope campaign, contact Follow the charity on Facebook @Box of Hope and on Instagram @boxofhopehk.

Matilda Trodd spent time in the Philippines last Christmas delivering boxes to school children “I was lucky enough to have been able to travel with Box of Hope to Bacolod in the Philippines last January to hand out the boxes. The trip was an eye opening experience. We travelled through ultra poor slums to three different preschools to hand out the brilliant boxes everyone here in Hong Kong had made for them. It really showed me that such a simple thing could make a difference to these children’s lives. It has encouraged me to help as much as I can and to persuade all my friends and my school to donate. I am grateful to Box of Hope and International Care Ministries ICM for giving me the opportunity to see the children’s faces light up when they saw the boxes and also how thankful the parents and the community were.” 31

Modern family

Kindie catastrophes

Mum Alexandra Pilgrim wonders at the wisdom of Hong Kong’s competitive - and complex - preschool system


n the lead up to our big move from Australia to Hong Kong earlier this year, I searched high and low for a mummy blogger of young children living in the territory who might shed some light on kindergarten and preschool experiences here. I could not find such a blog so, six months in, here are my thoughts. Let me start with this disclaimer; yes, we do have an excellent live-in helper. I work from home with my two girls who for the last six months since the move have been home with me all day, every day. I try not to complain because I know how lucky I am having a job that allows me to work from home and spend so much time with the


Alexandra Pilgrim with her daughter Indi

children, and how lucky we are to have help. But for someone who is new to Hong Kong, or a new parent, the differences in childcare and education systems are overwhelming. There are accompanied playgroups which run for an hour or so, there is prenursery for children aged from two-and-ahalf years for two to three hours, three to five days a week. And from three-and-a-half kindergarten starts for around three hours a day, five days a week. But I just wish Hong Kong had something called long day care. Back ‘home’ in Australia, the majority of working parents rely on childcare centres. They are open for a full, 12-hour day and

most centres provide morning tea, a hot cooked lunch, afternoon tea and a late snack. Or, if you don’t work, or work parttime, there are community kindergartens that operate shorter days and are cheaper. And in Australia, kindergarten is not a competitive sport. Of course parents want their children to attend a school with a good reputation, but this is mostly based on a warm vibe, clean facilities and fun activities rather than academic achievements. Now I know I sound jaded and the truth is I am a little. But there is not one single part of me that is ok with paying HK$7,000 (almost AUS$1,200) a month for my daughter to go a largely unheard of ‘middle of the 33

Modern family road’ international kindergarten. But it’s that or a local kindy which for myriad reasons is not an option for us. And I won’t even begin to go into debentures or capital levies, as that might send me right over the edge. And many of these facilities don’t even have an outdoor play area. But that’s enough bagging the Hong Kong system. Let’s just say I was overwhelmed by the options, the cost and the differences when I first arrived here. After madly looking at different options, listening to different people, hyperventilating over fees and flip-flopping about what was important, I just stopped. I would never be this concerned in Australia, so I reasoned I shouldn’t be losing sleep over it here. I was determined not to get wrapped up in the competitiveness of it all and was not prepared to continue to apply and pay application fees for a bunch of schools I wasn’t even sure I liked. My priorities were a warm and loving environment, a ‘learn through play’ approach, a proper outdoor play area with grass and dirt, reasonable fees, a convenient location


and a kindy that was just a kindy and not on the campus of a through train school. It took a few months but eventually I found ‘the one’. It’s not completely perfect, but it meets our criteria and we think our daughter will be happy there.

There is not one single part of me that is ok with paying $7,000 a month for my daughter to go to kindergarten

Undoubtedly there are better kindies than the one we have chosen, ones with a better academic record, ones with a better Mandarin programme, ones with more modern buildings and facilities, maybe even ones with a better playground. But the point

I’m trying to make is that while the education system in Hong Kong is complex, try not to let that cloud what you actually want for your children. We are now three weeks into the term and it has been a mostly positive experience so far. We’ve had only two massive meltdowns at drop-off (which is pretty good for my daughter!) and missed two days due to typhoons. But Indi is coming home happy, and most days with new Mandarin words, which is pretty cute. One thing she is struggling with is the injustice of having to go to school every single day - little does she know this is just the beginning. I run my own business and I am struggling to fit in everything between drop off and pick up and some days I am tempted just to keep her at home, but then I remember the fees. But we are both getting used to the rush out of the door every morning and although we are late more days than we’re on time, I think we’re getting there. Keep up-to-date with Pilgrim’s adventures at

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Victoria Reeves Samra with children Everett, four, and Audrey, six months. Both were born at Queen Mary, a public hospital



Hong Kong hatches Mum-of-two Victoria Reeves Samra tells Carolynne Dear why she rejected a private birth in favour of the public system


itting in Central with a coffee, it’s hard to follow what mum Victoria Reeves Samra is telling me. Don’t get me wrong, she’s explaining herself beautifully, but I am being continously distracted by her gorgeously beaming six month old daughter Audrey, bouncing around on her mother’s lap while I try to delicately extract the full details of her birth. She is completely beguiling, cheeky grin and all. Her mother smiles proudly. Born in the UK herself, Reeves Samra moved to Hong Kong eleven years ago, fell in love, and four years ago found herself delightfully - pregnant with her first child, Everett. “At that stage I hadn’t even registered with a GP. I’d been working full time and, apart from the odd bout of ‘flu or whatever, had never really needed a doctor,” she explains. “So because myself and my husband had just used his health insurance for a full check up at the Adventist ahead of trying for a baby, I ended up using the same doctor and thus a private, Adventist-based obstetriciangynecologist (OB-GYN). So we were tracking through the private system quite happily, but at around sixteen weeks it became clear that my husband’s medical cover wasn’t going to stretch to the full cost of giving birth privately in Hong Kong.” At this point, other thoughts were also starting to crowd in on Reeves Samra. She questioned whether she really wanted a caesarian-section, of which statistically there are a higher percentage in the private system. “I didn’t have any friends with experience of giving birth in Hong Kong, so I was having to do a lot of speedy research myself. We were living on Conduit Road at the time, so did a tour of the Canossa and also the Adventist maternity units (both private). The other thing that struck me was that if there were to be any kind of complications - and pregnant for the first time I had no idea what was in store - I would be defaulted back to the public system. So I thought, well, we’ll be paying all this money, but it seems the most up-to-date care is actually to be found in a public hospital.”

She then discovered a group called Annerley that was offering free information sessions in Central. “The meeting was fantastic. I was handed a lot of information which meant I could go away and start making some good decisions. The session was free and nobody seemed to be pushing me in one direction or another. It was a group meeting and I was able to talk to other women in the same boat as me. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to switch to the public system but using (private) Annerley midwives as a backup.”

I found the public system to be efficient with a high level of care, albeit slightly clunky

Reeves Samra discovered the first drama with registering at Queen Mary was having to do all her medical tests all over again. But she found the system to be efficient and with a high level of care - albeit slightly clunky. “It’s all very streamlined, you register with your HKID card and a proof of address, have the blood tests done and then you’re given an appointment and you’re in the system. But there’s no choice with the appointment times, it’s very much a case of you get what you are given.” The early appointments took place in a satellite clinic in Sai Ying Pun, with later appointments at the Queen Mary itself. “There’s also no continuity with regards doctors, you are seen by whoever is on duty. And there are no bells and whistles, you have to bring your own urine samples to appointments, for example - there are no special containers provided by the clinic.

The most unpleasant appointment was the blood glucose test when you have to drink this revolting sugary drink - the waiting room was absolutely packed. But I couldn’t fault the level of care at any point during my pregnancies. They also dealt extremely efficiently with my rhesus negative diagnosis” (which can cause problems if the baby is rhesus positive and the baby’s blood enters the mother’s bloodstream). When it comes to giving birth in Hong Kong’s public system, only one person is allowed to be present in the delivery suite, and nobody outside of visiting hours is permitted on the labour ward. While staff is happy to accommodate birth plans, there are no water births or home births permitted. “I’d drawn up a plan with the help of the Annerley midwives. With both babies we opted for private midwifery care from Annerley both ante and postnatal, which I’d highly recommend,” says Reeves Samra. “I left home as late as I possibly could with both babies, the Annerley midwives were checking on me at home. When we arrived at Queen Mary I was left to labour alone on the ward, which was fine. You’re not locked in! With my son I went into the corridor to sit with my husband, and that’s where my waters broke. You’re only allowed one birthing partner in the delivery suite, which was my husband. With Audrey, she crowned in the labour ward and I would say you need to be quite assertive about your needs. I knew things had progressed faster and further than the nurses were giving me credit for, and when they discovered I’d reached the second stage they were very surprised and I was rushed extremely quickly into the delivery ward. Looking back I should have been more vocal.” Reeves Samra also remarked that the hospital was slow to administer epidurals. “It’s not a route I wanted to go down. But if you did want one, you have to have blood tests taken first - which I understand in the private system they take in the days prior to labour - and they won’t set it up until you’ve been admitted into the birthing suite, at which 37

Photo by Plus903 (via Wikimedia Commons


Hong Kong’s Queen Mary Hospital

stage it’s often too late. So it’s a pretty slow process.” Post birth, the nurses were helpful with breast feeding and happy to take direction from the mother over feeding arrangements. “They were also fine about my husband bringing food in for me - I just couldn’t face any congee!” Usefully, Reeves Samra was


able to leave the baby’s cot by the nursing station while she took a shower or used the bathroom. She returned home after just one day for each birth. “Which was great,” she says. “If you’re looking for a birth experience with Western food, a dedicated OB-GYN, beautiful rooms and a longer hospital stay, the public

Only one person is allowed to join you on the labour ward - and only if it’s inside of visiting hours

system is not for you. But in terms of levels of care, the public system was second-to-none. And you can’t fault settling the medical bill with a swipe of your Octopus card!” Under the government system, antenatal appointments are free. Two ultrasounds are carried out during pregnancy at a cost of around $300 each. Each day spent in hospital for the birth costs from around $100. See gov. hk for more details and hospital locations. Annerley offers non-judgemental private antenatal and postnatal care. Free talks are held every Friday at its offices, 17 Floor, 17-19 D’Aguilar Street, Central, 2983 1558,


Birth matters Cuddling your newborn isn’t just instinctive, it’s essential. Reproductive health expert Dr Howard Sobel explains why


newborn dies every two minutes in the Western Pacific region. High newborn mortality rates are associated with common, harmful birthing practices that currently occur in health facilities throughout the region. The Western Pacific Region is home to approximately 1.8 billion people, more than one-quarter of the world’s population. It stretches from China in the north and west, to New Zealand in the south, and French Polynesia in the east. It includes highly developed areas such as Hong Kong, Australia and Japan, as well as fast growing economies such as China and Vietnam. Early Essential Newborn Care (EENC) is the simplest solution to significantly improve the quality of newborn care. EENC focuses on the critical first 24 hours after childbirth and is the most cost-effective measure to reduce newborn deaths.

The optimal environment for a newborn is on its mother’s chest

Central to EENC is ‘First Embrace’, a protected and prolonged skin-to-skin cuddle between mother and baby. It comprises four steps, which allow proper warming, feeding and cord care. This First Embrace reduces infant stress levels and strengthens the natural bond between mother and baby. However, the benefits of this simple act achieve much more. Immediate drying of the baby after birth keeps them warm and stimulates breathing, thus preventing hypothermia. This is then enhanced by early and sustained skin-to-skin contact until the completion of the first feed. Not only does this transfer protective bacteria and warmth from mother to child, it also allows premature babies to use their energy for 40

‘First Embrace”, a prolonged cuddle between mother and baby, is the simplest solution to significantly improve newborn care

growth instead of for regulating their own body temperature. The third step, appropriately timed clamping and cutting of the cord, reduces anaemia for all babies and prevents brain haemorrhage in smaller babies. Lastly, the initiation of exclusive breastfeeding is the first immunization for newborns as the breast milk provides them with important nutrients and antibodies. It is extremely important for expectant parents and families to not only be aware of EENC practices, but also to know the steps of the ‘first embrace’ and understand the benefits that each step brings to mother and child. The World Health Organisation (WHO) encourages all parents to enquire about the first embrace and include it into their birthing plans. Simultaneously, we wish to see the medical community fully adopt the First

Embrace practice, instead of placing babies in nurseries or observation areas. Shifting decades of routine postnatal procedures as well as possible cultural perceptions requires a supportive environment and informed individuals. Through its campaign, the WHO strives to engage the general public, health workers and policymakers to champion the adoption of EENC and First Embrace in all healthcare facilities across the Western Pacific. EENC could help significantly reduce death and illness in the region. The optimal environment for a newborn is truly on its mother’s chest. Dr Howard Sobel is WHO coordinator for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health for the Western Pacific Region. 41


Bloom Coco Go Baby 3-in-1 Lounger $1400 from Baby Central

Endangered animal onesie $156 from BabyMoso, available in four prints

BabyNesÂŽ Slim Touch Screen Machine $2,088 from Wyeth Retail points across Hong Kong including SOGO Causeway Bay,

Nursery essentials By Catharina Cheung

Atelier Child Blanket $450 from Retykle Classic Star Muslin Blanket $128 from Little Starters

Audrey Doll $320 from Mirth Stores in two locations including B T Centre, 23 Wong Chuk Hang Road,

Baby Bath and Room Thermometer $190 from Philips Avent Available in department stores across Hong Kong

Clothing Subscription Box Approx $98 per item from Little Starters 42

Pure Love Curly Toy $498 from natures purest 4 locations across Hong Kong including SOGO Causeway Bay,

Lorena Canals Clouds Grey Floor Rug $1890 from Baby Central


Bamboa cushion Baby Kimono Haruki $389 from Naomi Wear L/1 Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road Central,

Jojo Maman Bebe Hat $30 from Retykle

Pom Pom Belly Basket $365 from The Indi Co., also available in pink and blue

dreamgenii® Pregnancy Support & Feeding Pillow $625 from Picked by Poppins

Skip Hop® Moonlight & Melodies: Night Soother $479 from Picked By Poppins

Love To Dream Designer Swaddle Up Starry Night $297 from Mothercare 8 branches across Hong Kong,

Sleep Safari Cot Tidy $398 from natures purest 4 locations across Hong Kong including SOGO Causeway Bay, Mini Tee Pee Basket $300 from The Indi Co.

Tutti Bambini CoZee® Bedside Crib $2,799 from Mothercare 8 branches across Hong Kong,

ABC Book $375 from Smart Mama

Pure Love Bunny Hug Pillow $358 from natures purest 4 locations across Hong Kong including SOGO Causeway Bay, 43


School news

Malvern hosts official opening

SIS ‘best ever’ GCSE results Thirteen students at ESF South Island School (SIS) scored nine or more A* and a further eight achieved ten or more. For the first time, the Aberdeen-based school recorded an A*/A pass rate for all exams taken of over 60%. The school’s average grade for all GCSE passes was an A. Over 31% of all exams taken were passed at A*, which is also a record for the school. “This is a year group that deserves the accolade ‘best ever’ in the history of South Island School,” said principal Graham Silverthorne. “In our 40th anniversary year, they take a proud place in the story of this great school… I salute the entire cohort.” SIS is a private co-educational international school founded by the English Schools Foundation of Hong Kong.

Party time for Leapfrog

Staff and official representatives open Malvern’s pre-school in Yau Ma Tei

Malvern College Pre-School Hong Kong welcomed representatives from the UK and Hong Kong for its official opening. The Yau Ma Tei-based school put on a colourful display, with performances from students, a ribbon cutting ceremony and a celebratory cake. The event was attended by around 150 pupils, plus teachers and representatives from the British ConsulateGeneral, Sino Group and Invest Hong Kong. School representatives included chief executive of Malvern College International, Jacqueline So, and Malvern’s director of international schools, Allan Walker. 44

“It’s amazing to see how the pre-school evolved from just a plan, gradually to this beautiful open-plan campus,” commented So. The preschool offers a play-based programme focused on the UK’s Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum for children aged one to five years, embracing a Reggio Emilia philosophy. It is also the first school in Hong Kong to run the Forest School programme. Children will enjoy regular field trips to nature-based facilities partnering with Malvern College in the New Territories.

Leapfrog Kindergarten in Sai Kung Country Park is celebrating its 25th birthday this month with a party for the whole community. The school was originally set up in 1992 by the Hong Kong Pre-school Playgroups Association in collaboration with six local families who wanted to start their own playgroup in Sai Kung. It spent its first four years at Li Po Chun United World College and then moved to the Sai Kung Community Centre. Its present site is inside the Sai Kung Country Park gates and was covered in dense foliage. It took the help of the local police and volunteer parents to get the school shipshape and ready to open in January 1997. The school will be celebrating with an anniversary party on Saturday October 21 at Victoria Recreation Club, Emerald Bay, Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung. The event is open to all and starts at 3pm with family activities and games. From 7pm there will be live music from parents past and present, food and a bar,


Bump up your knowledge

Woodland Pre-schools will be hosting a series of ‘Bump Club Chats’ with useful tips on breastfeeding and child development. The chats will be led by health visitor and lactation consultant Yvonne Heavyside. The first session runs 6.30-8pm, October 4 and will concentrate on breastfeeding, covering areas such as maintaining supply, effective latching and returning to work, with a Q&A session at the end of the talk. A second session on November 1 will look at the role of domestic helpers with

babies, with tips on effective communication, exploring how to find a helper most compatible with your family, suggestions on how helpers can be trained and course recommendations to achieve this. Heavyside teaches domestic helper first aid and has worked with mothers and babies in Hong Kong for over 20 years. The sessions will be held at Woodland Montessori Academy, Caine Road, Midlevels and are open to all. Limited places, register at

Ruby celebrations ESF South Island School will be hosting an event for the local community to celebrate turning 40 this year. The TEDx style talk asks ‘what happened next…?’ of seven returning alumni. Speakers include district court judge Amanda Woodcock, war veteran James Lewis, founder of Marriage Maestros Evelyn Mills, US dentist Abdul Abdulwaheed, CEO Waidehi Gokhale, senior pastor at Hong Kong’s The Vine Church Andrew Gardener, and director of corporate partnerships at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, Amit Aggarwai. Having graduated between 1984 and 1993, the speakers hope to tell their tale and celebrate the school’s diverse history. There will be a Q&A plus further entertainment and the event is open to all. It takes place on October 27, to register go to detail&id=74910&meid=54943

Diary dates Oct 3, 5 & 26

Oct 14, 21 & 26

OCT 21

The Lohas Park-based primary school will be holding open house general overviews for all year groups, 1-2pm on October 3 and 5, and from 6-7pm on October 26. There will be special sessions looking at Mandarin at Shrewsbury, 1-2pm and 6-7pm on October 19 and 1-2pm on October 20.

Parents are invited to view the campus and talk with staff. Midlevels, Peak, Harbourside (Aberdeen) and Beachside (Repulse Bay) venues open their doors on October 14, Happy Valley and Sai Kung on Oct 21 and Kennedy Town on Oct 28.

The Harbour School’s preparatory school, The Harbour Village, is holding an open house. 10am-12pm, 2/F, 23 Belcher’s Street, Kennedy Town. Sign up at

Oct 14

Dalton School Info Session

Shrewsbury open days

Small World Christian Kindergarten open day Meet the principal while littlies enjoy playbased activities. Try the playgroup and Mandarin sample sessions. 10am-2pm, 10 Borrett Road, Mid-levels.


Woodland Pre-school open days

Oct 14

Principal Larry Leaven will be on hand to share an overview of the school, plus the opportunity to tour the Kowloon-based campus. 10am-12pm, Dalton Primary School; 11.15am-12.30pm Little Dalton/ Mini Dalton

Harbour School Open House

OCT 22

OWN Future Fair Presented by OWN Academy, a fair for secondary students to explore career ideas. Free for ESF students and parents, all other students $100/student and $200/parent. 11am-5pm, Renaissance College, 5 Hong Ming Street, Ma On Shan. 47


My teacher hates me!

With the new term underway, students are facing their first feedback of the year. But what to do if the comments are less than encouraging, asks Jerome Barty-Taylor?


s teachers begin to give feedback which shows room-forimprovement, too often students externalize this, putting the subject in their mental “too hard” basket. Thus, “my teacher hates me” becomes an excuse for poor understanding of concepts, sloppy work and less than adequate grades. As parents, how should you respond to this situation? It’s worth noting at the outset that very few teachers hate their students. Yet, having taught and mentored hundreds of students, from precocious five year olds to Oxford undergraduates, I can confirm that this excuse rears its head at all ages. Most of us are sensitive to criticism from authority figures and when delivered in the group context of a classroom, this can seem particularly piercing. But parents also need to remember that a public reprimand from a teacher, such as “why is your homework late again?”, rarely signals hatred, rather that the student is engaging


It’s difficult to know how to respond when children complain of tension in class

It’s worth noting that very few teachers hate their students

in a behaviour that most reasonable people recognize as unacceptable – coming to a class unprepared. All that being said, it is difficult for parents to know how to respond when children complain of such tension. The inner disciplinarian, who remembers previous generations’ rejection of such excuses might want to admonish the child. Simultaneously, we can all remember a teacher at school with whom we struggled to engage, or more recently a manager we

found challenging. At the back of the mind sits the fear that perhaps the teacher does indeed dislike our child. There are three main responses which parents routinely employ; it is worth reviewing each one and analyzing their respective ramifications for the child’s mindset. Ignore the bad grade, brush aside the explanation (sympathy) - phrases like, “never mind, I’m sure you’ll do better next time” are good example of this approach. The response is well-intentioned and seeks to discourage the criticism against the teacher. But its implication for the student is that the parent sanctions failure and that non-performance is an acceptable academic outcome. Ignore the bad grade, identify with the explanation (emotional empathy) - phrases like, “he’s a harsh marker, isn’t he? When I was at school, I just could not get on with my history teacher either” are equally well-intentioned. They seek to address the student’s disappointment and provide

schools sympathy and comfort through relatable experience. But as soon as parents display such emotional empathy it legitimizes a barrier in the student’s mind – parent and student on one hand versus teacher on the other. This undermines the authority of the teacher and the motivation of the student to learn. Reject the bad grade, probe the assertion (cognitive empathy) - the third option, cognitive empathy, forms the foundation of my mentoring programme. Put simply, it validates individuals’ emotional response while inviting them to reflect on why they feel that way. The conversation could go like this: Child: “I understood the algebra when I was revising, it’s just the test and my teacher. She’s so mean to me.” Parent: “Gosh, I can understand how disheartening it is to feel that way. What makes you think your teacher dislikes you?” Child: “She’s always asking in front of the class if I’ve understood and that’s embarrassing.” Parent: “Can you think of any other reason she might do that?”

Child: “Because she wants me to learn?” Note that the parent here does not rush to draw conclusions. The first response provides emotional validation to the child who is clearly disappointed. The following question refuses to affirm the child’s negative characterisation of the teacher and instead invites the child to reflect more deeply on their conclusion. The subsequent response follows the same pattern of validation and investigation. Teenagers especially will not hear you until they hear ‘heard’ themselves. That’s why reserving judgment and questioning in a respectful and sincere fashion is so important, although the answers – as in the case of the dialogue above – may well be blindingly obvious to the parent. Feedback on an assignment, whether good or bad, is a key external input in a child’s learning. The challenge in parenting is to employ cognitive empathy to help children and teenagers reframe negative feedback as something beneficial with which they should engage further in order to achieve a growth mindset and academic success.

Jerome Barty-Taylor BA, MSc (Oxon.) is an expert teenage mentor and counsellor who helps students achieve academic success and families improve their communication. He is the founder of tutoring company BartyED. 49


Different strokes Preschool curriculums have come a long way in recent years. Fairchild Kindergarten tells Carolynne Dear why it has taken the Italian route


t’s a hot, bright day when I head down to Sai Ying Pun to take a look at the latest Fairchild campus, which opened earlier this year. A relative newcomer to the Hong Kong education scene, Fairchild has embraced the Reggio Emilia approach to educating littlies at both its Tin Hau campus - Fairchild Junior Academy, which opened last year and at Sai Ying Pun. The area is light and bright and extremely well-designed - Hong Kong’s hidden-away spaces must be an interesting challenge for architects. It is also conveniently located near to Sai Ying Pun MTR and close to family-friendly suburbs Kennedy Town and Pok Fu Lam. Embracing a natural, Scandi-style with lots of pale woods and pastel colours, the calming space welcomes students from prenursery (two to three years) through to K3 (five to six years). Fairchild is part of The Fairchild Group, a Canadian-based conglomerate which was founded by Hong Kong expat Thomas Fung 25 years ago. His son, Joseph, returned 50

Preschoolers embracing Fairchild’s learning approach

to Hong Kong and set up the Fairchild Canadian Academy group as a non-profit school, his way of ‘giving back’ to Hong Kong. His family has a lot to thank Hong Kong for - his grandfather, Fung King Hey, having arrived penniless in the city from Guangzhou in the 1930s, went on to found the multi-million dollar Sun Hung Kai group. Fung approached ex-Canadian International School educator David McMaster to head up the academy, along with McMaster’s colleague Kathy Nutting as head of early childhood education. McMaster, who admits he was heading back to Canada at the time, says he was interested by the non-profit aspect. “Look, obviously we don’t want to make a loss, but this school is not about making money. This is not Joseph’s retirement plan. It’s about providing a great education in a city otherwise obsessed by financial gain.” Fung’s own childhood in Canada was very much based outdoors. “My backyard was a forest and returning home with cuts, scrapes and a smile on my face was a part of my daily life,” he recalls. “Numbers, ideas

and analysis came naturally later.” It was this experience that he wanted to bring to Hong Kong, tailored to meet the limitations of an urban environment. And this is the crux of the Reggio Emilia approach. It’s an enquiry-based, self-directed experimental learning method, which encourages children to ask questions and find their own ‘voice’. It was developed in the 1940s by psychologists and parents in the villages surrounding the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy. So how does it differ from similar approaches, most notably the Montessori system?

schools “Montessori is more prescriptive,” explains principal Betty Yau. “With the Reggio Emilia approach, teachers take a step back and let the child take the lead.” She shows me a wooden rainbow puzzle as an example - the toy can be pulled apart and pieced together like a jigsaw, an arc at a time. “With Montessori learning, the child would be left to piece the toy together, as a puzzle, the way the toy was intended to be used. But we would leave the child to come to their own conclusions about how to play with it. Maybe the arcs are mini telephones, maybe they’re helmets, maybe they’re bridges to push cars under. Basically, the child takes the lead.” A key concept of the approach is to bring nature into the classroom. One busy group has been let loose with paint and sticks and a blank sheet of paper taped to the floor. “I assumed they’d use the sticks as brushes, to draw something on the paper,” admits the teacher. “But instead they painted the sticks and then used the paper for hand and foot prints.” The easy-clean kindergarten has been designed specifically for little bodies -

lots of tiny chairs, low tables and a huge naturally-lit area at the far end of the space with long, low workbenches for cooking and craft activities. The Reggio Emilia system is supported by Canadian and British early year educational principles, with literacy and numeracy woven into the learning process. But this is a play-focused learning approach

where the happiness of the child is paramount. The school’s motto is ‘a smile on every face.’ “Children need to be excited to learn,” says MacMaster. “Learning should be fun”. Fairchild Kindergarten, G & 1 Floors, Kong Chian Tower, 351 Des Voeux Road West, 2803 2638, 51


Sign of the times

Rebecca Simpson finds out how one Hong Kong school is facing up to the education revolution 52



here’s been a lot of talk about ‘innovation’ in education in recent years. Educators across the globe are discussing the changes required to deliver a modern education and leading schools are evolving their offerings to meet these revised needs. These changes are often framed to us as technology-driven – more and more we hear about innovation labs, maker studios or technology centres in schools. These are impressive, modern additions to education facilities that excite students and parents alike. And it’s fair to say that when I say ‘innovation’, you are likely to think ‘technology’. It’s a natural association when much of the innovation in our world is driven by technology. We’re constantly learning about the latest and greatest tech-driven changes like automation, robotics and so forth. However, it’s important to distinguish that innovation and technology are not interchangeable terms, especially when it comes to education. The leadership team at the Canadian International School (CDNIS) is well versed in innovation and technology, having delivered a tangible history of innovation since the school’s inception in the early 1990s.

The future is not something to fear

CDNIS was indeed the first Apple Distinguished School in the region, and it’s been a proud tech-savvy community for many years, with established one-to-one iPad and laptop programmes. This forward-thinking approach to technology is well supported by a resource called One Door, a service centre located at the school that helps students and parents manage the technologies embedded into school life. That support itself is innovative, but more about that later. But let’s remember, innovation isn’t just about technology. Project Innovate, launched for the 2017-2018 school year, is a framework that the school refers to as ‘future-ready learning’. Project Innovate works to help students develop the skills, mindsets and

dispositions required to be successful in our ever-changing world. “It’s about providing students with the opportunities they need to be future–ready,” says Helen Kelly, CDNIS Lower School principal. Kelly is a leading educator at CDNIS and one of the leadership team that has trained in Design Thinking and used Design Thinking principles to craft this latest iteration in the school’s educational approach. Future-ready learning encompasses three pillars. Pillar One is the foundation skills of literacy, numeracy, science, information and communication technology and civic and cultural literacy. Next, the school adds Pillar Two, the 21st Century competencies of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. Finally, Pillar Three covers character building, which works to help students develop resilience, initiative, curiosity, empathy, leadership and adaptability. At its heart, Project Innovate is about creating a new generation of leaders. As Kelly explains, “the World Economic Forum is referring to what it calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where there is going to be change beyond what we can possibly imagine. In order to be ready for that, our students need to have certain sets of skills, mindsets and dispositions that will enable them to cope with the world they’ll find when they leave school.” It’s a tough brief for modern educators – prepare a generation of young minds for a future we can’t yet comprehend. David Baird, CDNIS Head of School, muses on this role. “What jobs can we foresee five years from now? We have to create students with a willingness to be flexible. The jobs they may go into may not exist 15 years from now.” He highlights the characteristics CDNIS is instilling into students via Project Innovate, which aim to prepare them for such a broad future, “Adaptability, flexibility, being ready and not being afraid of challenges,” he says. He explains that students CDNIS will prepared to be “comfortable with an unstable economic environment.” “We’re looking to develop students into innovators,” says Kelly. “That means providing these future-ready skills and providing opportunities for hands-on learning, for creativity and developing critical thinking.” The pace of change in the future will be ever more swift than that which parents face today. “Not only will the jobs be different in 15 years times, but the jobs won’t stay the same five or 10 years later,” says Kelly. The ramifications of such fast-paced innovations means students will need to be adaptable and 53

schools be ready for a lifetime of constant learning and career-change. CDNIS faculty are walking the talk of continuous education and inquisitiveness. These are a group of professionals who are constantly learning and evolving their skills. The team has recently completed Design Thinking training with Stanford University’s, a design centre that, among many other projects, is looking at provocative ways to evolve education. The faculty also has a group of teachers completing their Masters together. These initiatives help promote a natural culture of continuous learning and are a great inspiration to students. The world has gone STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) crazy in recent years. We see it everywhere and for very good reason – engagement in STEM subjects, specifically exposing and supporting young girls in these subjects, is important to our world. At CDNIS, the focus has always been on STEAM, that’s with an added ‘A’ for Arts. Tim Kaiser, CDNIS Upper School Principal explains, “there are so many great opportunities through the world of technology; but not necessarily ONLY through the world of technology; to create a new learning experience for our students and make them ready for the future.” At CDNIS, the arts is central to futureready learning, so much so that faculty leaders driving resources like the Makers Centre originate as arts educators rather than technology leads. Additional training bolsters these educators with technological expertise but their passion lies firmly in the arts, and that makes for a very different approach. Kaiser, an established CDNIS teacher, explains that creativity has always been celebrated at the school and notes that innovation plays an important role in Project Innovate. In the lower years, creativity thrives through programmes like the primary years dance programme, which works to foster creativity from a young age. In our space-starved city, CDNIS is smartly repurposing existing areas on campus to reflect the new ways of learning implemented through Project Innovate. “To carry out Project Innovate, we’ve allocated areas with all the latest innovative tools so that students can go in and be exposed and not be afraid of technology,” says Baird. “To work with it and fail at it.” The experiences of trying and failing is an important part of future-ready learning. One example is the redesign of traditional 54

corridors to become collaboration spaces for group projects or study. The new corridor features group seating facilities designed around whiteboards mounted on the walls. In these spaces, students can together on projects during their free time. The multi-purpose spaces along the corridor also offer modern standing desks and charging stations for technology, making them a go-to destination for students. This year the students will also benefit from a new Maker Studio that offers multi-purpose use. This modern learning space offers an area for students of all ages and teachers of all subjects and specialities to explore and create. The classroom has wide benches for working, an incredible array of equipment from hydroponic kits to Lego and even ovens that the smallest of CDNIS students will be cooking up some delicious experiments in. If you’re reading this and having a secret panic about your own technological capabilities, you’re not alone. For parents who sit towards the analog end of today’s tech scale, the tech support of additional devices can feel overwhelming. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t be the first parent who’s struggled to connect the Apple TV. Never fear, no family gets left behind at the CDNIS, with a facility called One Door which works in a similar way to a Genius Bar at the Apple Store. It’s a one-stop shop of technical support for the CDNIS community. But of course the big question for all parents is how will these changes driven by Project Innovate benefit my child? “Our students are going to be creative and creative thinkers, they’re going to be exceptional communicators in a whole range of media. They’re going to be able to think critically and solve problems. And they’re going

to be able to work together in teams,” says Kelly. “They’re going to be resilient. They’ll be used to failing and picking themselves back up again. They’re going to take initiative, they’re going to lead. And, they’re going to be adaptable. It isn’t enough to go to University and just be clever, you need to be interesting as well. “The future is really exciting and we feel optimistic about it. It’s not something to fear.”

School Report

Established: 1991 Class size: 18-25 Curriculum: IB and OSSD Fees 2017/2018: $103,500-$187,100 Non refundable capital levy: $32,000 Address: 36 Nam Long Shan Road, Aberdeen Tel: 2525 7088 55


Holiday fun

Keep ‘em busy this mid-term break Maggie & Rose Get little ones get in the mood for Halloween at Maggie & Rose with loads of ‘spooktacular’ activities. From conjuring up ghoulish snacks, to creepy crawly craft and other interactive activities, kids get to leave the three-hour sessions with scary cakes, spider pies and skeleton gingerbread men. Maggie & Rose is a family members’ club based in Repulse Bay, but Halloween camps are open to all. Sessions cost $810, including lunch and snacks; members can use class credit and add $300 on top. 2638 7191,,

OWN Media OWN Academy will be running its very first media camps throughout the autumn break and into the winter term. This is set to be Asia’s first online media channel produced for students, by students. As part of the production team, each student will help to bring content to life, from story creation to filmmaking and post-production, copywriting and strategy. The course runs throughout October, November and December on Thursday and Saturday afternoons and costs $450/hour., sign up at

through songs and visuals, while the Kids in Motion Soccer Camp teaches ball control, kicking, dribbling and spatial awareness. Camps run on October 3, 4 and 6 at a variety of Woodland campuses.

Story Clan Boost confidence and speaking skills with a Cantonese and Mandarin storytelling camp. Kids can work on their Chinese speaking abilities using picture cards and creating a mini kamishibai (paper theatre). I Can Tell Stories! Runs from October 23-27 for children aged one-and-a-half to 12 years.

ESF Multi-sport camps

Woodland Pre-Schools Woodland Pre-Schools offers wide range of October camps Three fun camps for three to seven year olds are available, including Kids In Motion Sports & Games Camp focusing on fitness, strength, flexibility and endurance and sessions on the importance of healthy eating and hydration. The Phonics Fun camp takes a look at syllables, rhyming, sounds and phonemes 56

through to dedicated sailing courses, including Optimist Stage 1&2, Race Training for Beginners and Sailing with Spinnakers. It’s a great time of year to be out on the water. Camps run Monday to Friday, from September 25 to October 27. 2719 7931,,

Hebe Haven Yacht Club The club will be running sailing courses for members and non-members, including an Adventure Watersports week where kids can try out a variety of different watersports,

Loads of fun and games for kids aged two to nine years (they are allocated age appropriate groups). These camps run on October 3 & 4, and October 6 & 7 - book for the whole week or just two days either side of the public holiday. Littlies aged two to five years must be accompanied by an adult. The camps are being held at ESF Kowloon Junior School and West and South Island schools on Hong Kong Island (swimming is available at South Island). 2711 1280,, 57

life & style

Bag lady Yosha Gupta tells Adele Brunner how she’s putting her heart and soul into saving traditional Indian folk art


hether you’re a tote carrier, satchel wearer, clutch holder or backpacker, prefer a gym bag, like a string bag or never leave home without an oversized designer hold-all, it’s hard to go wrong with a great bag. Bags make statements, can instantly lift a look and are an easy way to experiment with the latest trends. In their purest form, they are supremely functional. But bags from Indian-born Yosha Gupta and her label Meraki (which means ‘heart and soul’ in Greek) are true works of art. A self-confessed workaholic, who had a successful career in mobile banking (even launching her own mobile app, which once boasted over a million users), Gupta realised that her true passion was for Indian classical art forms. As well as spreading awareness of Indian traditional dance and music through voluntary events in schools and universities, she would often get her bags, jewellery and clothes hand-painted by Indian folk artists. Yet it was only when she offered up a red Gucci bag to be customised that the idea for a new business was born. “People could see it was a Gucci bag but with this beautiful artwork on it and they kept 58

Yosha Gupta toting one of her stunning bags

asking me if it was a limited edition - which, of course, it was as nobody in the world had one except me,” she recalls. “Hong Kong people love the idea of having something that is one-of-a-kind and all my friends wanted one. I started completely randomly in November 2016 with a small pilot project, using 40 high-quality bags I’d sourced in China and getting Indian artists to hand paint them. Suddenly it wasn’t just friends who were buying, and the bags all sold out within a few weeks without a dollar spent on marketing.” Although the intricate folk art designs, all of which have a story behind them, have been around for generations, Gupta has had to modernise them to a certain extent to make them desirable to the modern consumer. A traditional peacock pattern, for example, might now be painted against a backdrop of muted tones, rather than the bold, bright colours of yesteryear, to suit contemporary tastes. Her mother, who is based in India and was also an artist, helps her. Her understanding of aesthetics enables her to work with the 70-odd artists Meraki currently has on its books, as well as find new ones.

“It’s a co-creation process - I can’t honestly say that these are my designs. It is the artists’ traditional work and we are simply enhancing it,” she explains. Although Gupta is finding that the generic themes - flowers, birds, trees and dragons - are the most popular, no two designs are exactly the same. “Each artist has a slightly different interpretation of a traditional design and you might also get tiny accidental splashes of paint, which is part of the hand-painting process,” she says. “They are what give the

life & style

designs and the bags their individuality. If you want something perfect, go for a print.” Every bag comes with three postcards, bearing written details about the significance of the chosen motif, a bit of background history about the particular folk art form and some information about the artist so you know exactly who painted your bag and what it means. “We make sure the artists are invested in the process - that they receive commercial value for their work but also get due artistic recognition, which they love,” she says. “In the beginning, I got the artists to record messages to each person who had bought a bag. One lady was so touched that she sent her artist a message back. He literally jumped around with excitement because someone so far away had appreciated his work.” The bags, which are truly stunning, are painted in indelible leather paint and layers of acrylic, all of which are water resistant and don’t fade. “I use my bags very roughly and the designs look as good now as when they were first painted several years ago,” she says. “But every leather is different and reacts differently to paint so we guarantee that if there are any issues, we will get the bag repainted and fix it.” The bags cost from US$200-$300 (about HK$1,400-$2,100) depending on the pattern and the artists are paid for each bag they paint. In addition, when a bag they have painted is actually sold, they also receive five percent of the sale proceeds, which generates a bit of healthy competition among the artists. “If one artist earns more money than another, it means people like his or her designs so it breeds a desire in the artists to consistently better their work,” says Gupta. Gupta is also running a crowd-funding campaign and, after recouping her costs, she

Artisans get to work in India

donates the rest of her proceeds to a small non-profit arts school for girls in an Indian village. The school building is made of mud, a distinct disadvantage in a region where flooding is common, and Gupta’s funding is going towards the construction of a more concrete structure. About 20 girls a year attend the evening arts courses, which empowers them to be able to eventually earn money through something other than manual labour. “We are not a very profitable business yet but we want every part of the value chain to see the benefit of something that we’re doing. Plus, if you don’t get the younger generation involved, these art forms will die out,” says Gupta. If you think you have enough bags lying around without adding another to your collection, fret not. Gupta is also into upcycling. You simply give her a bag you already have in your wardrobe (it doesn’t have to be a designer number, even something from Zara will do), choose your artwork and she will find an artist to paint your design. An upcycled bag costs about US$150 (HK$1,050) and takes about six weeks to two months from order placement to completion because of the logistics involved. “Most of us have got way too many bags but upcycling a bag, which I did as a bit of an experiment, really works. I love

the concept of upcycling - it promotes environmental consciousness as well as the arts,” she says. “If I was a designer, I imagine I’d have been too bogged down by my own ‘brand’ to even consider upcycling. I don’t know what aspect of Meraki will take off more. My mission is to create a platform to create and raise awareness of folk art so whether that’s via my own bags or upcycling, it doesn’t matter.” Meraki bags will be at the annual Conrad Christmas fairs and can also be purchased from For upcycling orders, contact 59

big day out

Central with a stroller

Fun days out on the town with preschoolers. By Kate Davies

If you look carefully there’s loads to do for tots in the city

Rosie Jean’s Cafe If you’re keen to start the day with a nice cuppa while keeping the little ones amused, Rosie Jean’s café should be on your list. It’s open all day serving breakfast, lunch and everything in between so you can relax while your kids explore the toys on the terrace. For a mere $20 extra can also have access to the neighbouring Woodlands school playground. And if you want to stretch your legs, there’s the option of strolling down to the Caine Road public playground. 119 Caine Road, Midlevels, 2549 9718

FunZone As indoor playrooms on Hong Kong Island go, FunZone has you covered for kids up to 12 years old. The 10,000 square foot space boasts climbing frames, slides, a ballistic air 60

ball zone, ball pits, arts and crafts, tunnels and a specially designed toddler area for children under three. There is also a small café to grab yourself a drink and tap into some free wifi while your littlies run, explore and play. $140 for one non-member adult with one child on weekdays, $180 on weekends and public holidays. Shop 121, The Westwood, 8 Belcher’s Street, Kennedy Town, 2258 9558

you’ll find a 1,000 square metre playground on six levels. There’s a toddler specific level at the top, sandpit, huge slides, swings and something for all kids under 12. There’s also the option to pop into the aviary on the way back if you’ve got time. And for rainy days the Tea Museum has a variety of touch and play exhibits for little ones. 19 Cotton Tree Drive, Central

Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

An oldie but always a goodie if you’re looking for some fresh air, the park is best entered from Pacific Place. You’ll pass the water features and the big ponds on the way in - kids love seeking out the terrapins - and you can then work your way to the big play area on the other side of the park. There

Right in the middle of Central is Hong Kong’s oldest park, which Hong Kongers have been enjoying since 1871. Divided into two parts connected by a pedestrian subway, the Eastern side is mainly home to a large children’s playground, aviaries, and a green house. The Western side of the park houses

big day out

monkeys, raccoons, reptiles and flamigos. If you’re in need of a rest after walking around the park’s hilly 5.6 hectares, head down to the fountain terrace and grab an ice cream. Albany Road, Central

Baumhaus If intimate indoor soft play and a cuppa is more your game plan for younger kids, Baumhaus, opposite Pacific Place Three on the cusp of both Admiralty and Wan Chai is a great option. For $100, you can let your little one/s discover the beautiful birchwood treehouse while you watch on from the attached coffee shop. If you are also interested in Kindermusic classes, Baumhaus is definitely worth a visit. While they don’t accept drop-ins, you can book a trial for your little one on their website. 1/F Kar Yau Building, 36–44 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, 2321 5898

Little Beetles As toy stores go, this one is happily hands on. It sells German HABA toys and is a great spot to let little kids come and get tactile in their playroom. It’s not a huge space and will probably keep the toddler set amused more than any other age group, but it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area. The playroom is open between 11am and 6:30pm and costs

Lots of ‘dine-and-play’ opportunities at Kennedy Town’s Butcher & Baker (above) and Baumhaus (top)

$60 for 30 minutes and $120 for an hour. It may be worth calling to book a session if it’s a rainy day as it might be busy and don’t forget to bring socks. G/F, 7 Yuen Yuen Street, Happy Valley, 2512 6353

Butcher & Baker This is no ordinary restaurant - it’s a florist, a butcher’s, a pastry shop, a café, a pizzeria and has a plethora of things to keep the kids busy at the back of the 4,000 square foot space. Kids can help themselves to ice cream at the self-serve ice cream bar, have a go at playing ping pong, pick up a puzzle or chow down on something yummy from the kids menu. These guys have you covered

from breakfast through dinner with helium balloons for all. On Fat Building, 57-59 Cadogan Street, Kennedy Town, 2591 0328

Central Library Playroom Did you know that Hong Kong has a public toy library? You can find it on the second floor of the Hong Kong Central Library between Causeway Bay and Tin Hau. Aimed at under eight year olds, it has four play corners. It opens for 45 minute sessions and caters for a maximum of 40 kids per session - call ahead to reserve a spot. 66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay, 2921 0378 61



Food news In the pink The global gin revolution continues apace this month with the arrival of Pinkster Gin in the territory. And to celebrate its debut, Michelinstarred restaurant Duddell’s will be serving up exclusive Pinkster cocktails in aid of Hong Kong Cancer Fund’s Pink Revolution. The subtly hued pink cocktail has been crafted by Tokyo mixologist Masumi Tomioka, who will be taking over the Duddell’s bar. Containing a heady mix of sakura liqueur, elderflower tonic, pomegranate juice and fresh holy basil, the ‘Mao’ cocktail has been named after pioneering Japanese journalist Mao Kobayashi who succeeded in opening the dialogue around breast cancer with a blog called Kokoro (Heart) until her death earlier this year. For each sale, $10 will go towards Hong Kong’s Pink Revolution in aid of breast cancer awareness. Pinkster Gin is sold exclusively in Hong Kong through online pantry, Crafted 852. It originates from Cambridge, UK, and uses eight botanicals and fresh raspberries which give it its pink tint. Leftover raspberries have been made

Mixologist Masumi Tomioka conjures up a Mao cocktail

into Gin Jam and jars of Boozy Berries - sure to add a kick to cakes, desserts or cocktails. Duddells, Lvl 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central.

Crafted 852, 2/F, 35 Bonham Road, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong Cancer Fund’s Pink Revolution,

Brunch of the month with the Taste Buddies It was Sunday morning, we’d been at rugby training for the Hong Kong Football Club since 9am, and we were hungry, really hungry. So when we were told we’d be checking out a new Italian brunch we were pretty happy - Italian usually means yummy pizza, pasta and great desserts. We were led through a nice restaurant to a table towards the back of the restaurant. It was pretty busy with lots of other families, which is nice as it lends atmosphere. There were plenty of other kids and parents enjoying their Sunday lunch. The kids brunch menu included access to the antipasti buffet, plus a main from a special kids menu, and a pudding from the dessert buffet. We ploughed straight into the buffet, and we were happy to see lots of great options. Mum went for the seafood and salad as usual, but we really enjoyed the pasta and meatball options. There were also these really yummy mini sandwiches filled with delicious Italian meats. To be honest we were a bit full by now,

so we had a breather and ordered some dishes from the main menu. Dad went for beef (beef filet ‘Rose of Parma’ Style stuffed with ham, Parmesan and Lambrusco), mum ordered fish (poached seabream with white wine and parsley) and we ordered chicken and pizzas (pizza Margherita and ‘Chicken Milanese’ - breaded chicken breast cutlets). It was all really good - the pizzas were proper Italian pizzas like you get on holiday in Europe, not like takeaway. The children’s menu was great as it didn’t have the usual boring stuff like chips, it was a proper menu. For dessert there was a lady twirling candy floss which was fun, plus some absolutely amazing gelato. Mum said she was full but managed some tiramisu, and dad had some little cakes. We really enjoyed this brunch and it was handily located in Pacific Place, so afterwards we headed off to the cinema. We hope to be taken back and we would definitely recommend it - especially if you’ve

been doing Sunday sport. Operetta Sunday Brunch runs every Sunday, 11.30am-3pm, Shop 112, 1/F, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, 2115 8080, If you have a brunch you’d like our Taste Buddies to try, contact 63


Little chefs Kate Farr and Rachel Read tie on their aprons for a smorgasbord of children’s cooking classes in the city – bon appétit!

I Can Cook at Spring Learning

Spring Learning This Wan Chai learning hub serves up a veritable feast of children’s cooking classes, with special programmes dedicated to exploring the world of food, aimed at a wide variety of age groups. For 18- to 24-month olds, Playing With Food helps to develop language, motor and cognitive skills by taking little ones on a sensory journey through the tastes, textures and smells of food; whilst Learning With Food has programmes for two- to three-year-olds, and three- to fourand-a-half year olds that introduce basic cooking skills and nutritional awareness. Finally, I Can Cook empowers four-and-a-half to six-year-olds to cook either on their own or in groups, building confidence in the kitchen and teaching them how to make delicious and healthy dishes. Newbies can sign up for a trial class to get a taster of what’s cooking, whilst the full programmes are available in eightclass blocks. 64

Spring Learning will be hosting a fun Halloween party on Sunday 22 October, which includes some spooktacular cooking activities; running from 9.30am-12pm, it costs $500 for members and $580 for nonmembers, with the fee inclusive of two adults and one child. 3/F, Centre Point, 181-185 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, 3465 5000

ABC Cooking Studio Founded in the Japanese city of Shizuoka back in 1985, ABC Cooking Studio now numbers over 130 branches in Japan, as well as 15 overseas, including three right here in Hong Kong. ABC’s children’s programme offers classes at both the PMQ or brand new Cityplaza branches, and the aim is to teach the basics of cooking in a fun way, inspiring the next generation of chefs – or at least

ensuring their basic nutritional needs are met when they leave home. Lessons are suitable for four to eight year-olds, and with class sizes limited at just four participants, everyone is kept under close supervision. Opt for a package of either six or

food twelve sessions, or try out a ‘taster’ at one of the studio’s regular trial classes. This month’s kids’ trial has a Halloween theme, with kids whipping up a pumpkin chiffon cake that’s perfect for a haunted house party. Various locations, including H110-112, 1/F, Block B, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2915 1022

The Patsy Over in Wong Chuk Hang, The Patsy is on a mission to get kids cooking while simultaneously polishing up their table manners, with their programme of children’s culinary and table etiquette classes. This 3,500 square foot space offers up three fully equipped kitchens where kids from five up to teens can whip up fresh healthy meals while learning about basic food hygiene and essential kitchen prep too. Classes include all ingredients, take-home recipe cards and nutritional information, and, for those joining for the full eight-week term, a personalised apron to encourage them to replicate their masterpieces at home. The upcoming half term PatsyCamp runs between 11am and 3pm on 2-6 and 23-27 October, and is aimed at kids aged from seven and up. The camp focuses on nutrition, with daily sessions on protein, carbs, desserts, vegetables, and on the final day, a special Halloween party session to put the spook into those seasonal snacks. 7A Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang (enter via Heung Yip Road), 2503 3198,

Teens whip up healthy dishes at the Patsy

Le Méridien Cyberport Held within the hotel’s PROMPT restaurant, Le Méridien’s kids’ culinary classes cook up plenty of fun every weekend. Enabling junior Masterchefs to get hands-on (and, dare we say it, a bit messy in the process), the classes teach tried-and-tested family-friendly recipes that are certain to appeal to young palates. But it’s not all just sugar and spice – the sessions are great for sensory and motor skills development, as well as encouraging children’s creativity with activities such as cream cake decorating and fruit pizza-making. Classes run on Sundays and Public Holidays between 3-4pm and, while there are no specific half term or Halloween classes on offer, October’s programme features the aforementioned fruit pizza and cake decorating, along with chocolate tart, cheese sticks and smoked salmon rillettes. Sounds like a mouth-watering way to get kids up and running in the kitchen. PROMPT, Le Méridien Cyberport, 100 Cyberport Road, Pok Fu Lam, 2980 7417 Class_LMC-checkout-en.html

Baking fun at Le Méridien

The Mixing Bowl Get your kids mixing, rolling and kneading with the best of them with a private workshop at The Mixing Bowl in Sheung Wan. Running on a weekly basis, these two-hour classes are designed to be as hands-on as they come, meaning participants should be able to easily repeat their culinary successes back at home; children get to take home everything that they make (if they manage not to eat it all on the journey back that is!), with recipes sent via email after the class – and with a lovely spacious kitchen space complete with patio in Sheung Wan, this is a great alternative for children’s birthday parties too. Check The Mixing Bowl’s website for details on all their latest classes and keep a look out for some special Halloween cookiemaking sessions in October, too. 23/F, The Pemberton, 22-26 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, 2524 0001 65


Days out down under Keep the summer vibe alive in Australia’s harbour city, writes Carolynne Dear


travel Cool days out Paddle the harbour Idyllic Sydney Ha.rbour just screams “paddle me”, and at Manly Kayak Centre the north harbour is your oyster, with single or double kayaks available for hire, plus stand up paddle boards for the less vertically challenged. Guides are also on-hand to teach you the basics and show you the best hidden beaches, spectacular look-out points and pristine waters. We are also loving the romantic picnic addon - if you’re lucky enough to be “a deux”, paddle your way to an exclusive beach where a romantic picnic spread will be laid out ready and waiting for you. Seaplane adventures For a luxe day out, enjoy your own island on Sydney Harbour for the day. Historic Shark Island is located at the mouth of Rose Bay in Sydney Harbour National Park, and Sydney Seaplanes are now running Brunch Picnics. Board your flight at Rose Bay, jet over Bondi Beach enjoying an aerial view of Sydney’s top attractions, then alight on Shark Island with a yummy brunch hamper and sparkling wine. Lie back and enjoy the views out to the Opera House, or have a dip on the foreshore - the island is yours. History tour Wander around The Rocks district of central Sydney, where convicts were first set to work in the earliest days of the colony. Now chockfull of cafes, boutiques and cobbled laneways, the area also boasts The Rocks Discovery Museum, a free, family-friendly attraction that tells the story of The Rocks from preEuropean settlement days to the present, Taronga Zoo Occupying a prime waterfront location on the northern side of the harbour, Taronga Zoo is not to be missed. Catch a ferry from Circular Quay - ask for a return trip with zoo entrance for the day - and sail over in style. The zoo is on the steep slopes that rise out of the harbour, so the way to play it is to catch a cable car to the top and wander down, meeting the animals and gazing at the views (the giraffe enclosure is particularly spectacular) along the way. There are plenty of educational shows and chances to get up close and personal with the animals throughout the day and at the halfway point is a fantastic outdoor play park with water play and a petting zoo. Take a picnic or re-fuel at the various cafes en route. 67


The Bondi coastal walk

Hyde Park Barracks The World Heritage listed Hyde Park Barracks is one of the most significant convict sites in the world. Here, Prisoners of Mother England (it’s how the POME moniker first came about) were unloaded and set to work. The museum does a great job of bringing history to life, with exhibits, talks, exhibitions and live demonstrations specifically aimed at youngsters, Get active Hit beautiful Centennial Park in the Eastern Suburbs on a bike or roller-blades. The wide, flat, shady paths run for a circular 3.6km and are just made for activities that involve wheels. Skater HQ ( will have you strapped up and ready to go in no time, while Centennial Park Cycles (info@cyclehire. has a range of mountain bikes, kids bikes and pedal cars. The park will also be hosting the annual summer Moonlight Cinema ( from next month. Bring 68

a picnic and enjoy a movie under the stars, Park life Stunning harbourside Nielsen Park in the city’s upmarket Vaucluse suburb is perfect for sunny days en famille. The beautifully shaded grassy area is ideal for picnics or just enjoying the sunny outdoors, while the harbour beach boasts caramel sand, a shark-netted swimming area and the odd rockpool. Perfect for a morning swim or spending time with littlies, this is a real jewel. There’s also yummy beachside dining at the Nielsen Park Restaurant & Cafe, perfect if pinning down a picnic has proved too much like hard-work, Walk with a view If you’re looking to soak up some of Sydney’s famous beach views, the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk is a classic. Start at laid back Coogee Beach and head north along the cliff walk, passing through the glorious beach

suburbs of Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama and tiny Gordon’s Bay, until you swing around the headland and the sweeping sands of bustling Bondi appear in all their laid-back glory. Carb-up first with a meal at beachside Coogee Pavillion ( - think classy kids menu and a great kids play area with table tennis, huge blackboard, pool table and scrabble board. At the other end, feed rumbling tums at Da Orazio Pizza e Porchetta ( - a fab Italian in a trendy new development in the heart of Bondi. And make sure you drop into Messina Ice Cream ( for dessert - nobody should leave Sydney without trying their salted caramel and white chocolate special. October sees the return of the city’s annual Sculpture By The Sea, a 2km long temporary sculpture park featuring over 100 works from artists across Australia. October 19 - November 5, Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk,

travel Eating with kids

Shop ‘til you drop

Night Markets October sees the return of the popular Night Noodle Markets to Hyde Park. Part of Sydney’s Good Food Month, over 40 hawker style-stalls will be serving up street food from across Asia. Included in the fun will be family-friendly live music and LED-lit dragon dancing,

Balmain Market Artisanal markets abound in Sydney. Balmain Market is held every Sunday and is one of the oldest and biggest weekend markets in the city, with heaps of locally produced items to browse. Catch a ferry from Wharf 5, Circular Quay to Darling Street,

The Grounds Highly recommended by more than one Sydney-based mum-in-the-know is The Grounds. The word is you can’t beat this venue for breakfast or lunch, boasting great coffee, an artisan bakery, fresh food, a cool vibe, a small animal farm and some seriously cool shopping - the deli and flower shop are particularly good, The Paddington Inn Popular local The Paddington Inn has recently undergone a makeover. It’s now a cool, gastro-pub in the heart of trendy Paddington, a chic area in the city’s Eastern Suburbs (think cool boutiques and great art galleries - it’s also home to an eclectic market every Saturday at 10am,

October sees the return of the annual Sculpture By The Sea

au). This kid-friendly venue specialises in rotisserie chicken and lamb with imaginative sides and salads - so simple, yet so good, The Newport Arms After a couple of years under the radar, The Newport Arms Hotel on the city’s Northern Beaches is back and fabulous again. With amazing views across The Pittwater, this historic family pub (it’s been pulling schooners since the 1860s) is a great hang-out for all ages. Soak up the sun and surf with Sydney’s rich and famous on Palm Beach during the day, then head to The Newport for cocktails and dinner in its lush pub gardens come nightfall,

Bondi Markets Shop jewellery, arts, crafts, retro furniture and vintage clothing at Bondi’s weekend market, which runs every Sunday in the grounds of North Bondi Public School. The school opens its canteen to serve up barbecued sausages and other treats to hungry shoppers, sydney. com. Manly Markets Manly offers a huge range of locally produced handicrafts, inspired by its oceanside locality. Browse jewellery, paintings, photography, sculptures, homemade body care products and souvenirs. There are Australian ceramics and indigenous crafts. Every Saturday and Sunday, 69




To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.


To advertise, email or call 2776 2772. 71

flailing spouse

Food for thought

Teatime traumas have reached new levels for our struggling mum


hen the children were tiny, I spent a not inconsiderable part of my day preparing nutritious food for their growing bodies. I read all the books, consulted early childhood nurses and spent hours (hours!) peeling, cooking and blitzing a wide range of vegetables, fish, legumes, dairy and meat to pour into ice-cube moulds and freeze so I would have a constant supply of tasty and healthy meals available for tiny tums. No packets and jars for me, oh no! My babies were fed a balanced diet of organic, homemade delicacies following the most recent best practice and medical advice. Which is why I am so confused as to why these days every single one of them is so flippin’ fussy. A few months ago the Teen Child announced she was embracing vegetarianism. Which is fine, I have nothing against being vegetarian, in fact I wish I had the willpower to give up bacon sandwiches myself. Except that very same weekend she was caught on Snapchat by the Tween Child tucking into a juicy Triple O burger with her friends. “Oh,” she said airily when she returned home later that afternoon. “That doesn’t mean anything. They’d just run out of veggie burgers.” The trouble is, it’s kind of punctured my enthusiasm for finding the inspiration to shop and cook for one entirely separate, vegetablebased meal every single night. But (being a good mother) I am loosely experimenting with a more meat-free kind of diet, except the Tween Child has an aversion to anything green. Which is kind of annoying as she loved mashed broccoli as a baby. She also refuses to eat onions, chicken and anything with eggs in it. I mean chicken. Seriously? Everybody likes chicken. And the list goes on. The Blonde Child won’t eat sausages, potatoes, anything saladbased and also appears to have inherited her older sister’s non-vegetable eating gene. The Boy Child is only happy with plain pasta, white rice, cheese, bacon, pancakes and Nutella. He’s ok with chicken, but not if it’s roasted. Go figure. And all that advice about cooking with your children to encourage them to eat? Well, 72

Our columnist is a long suffering expat wife, and mother to several energetic, third culture children. She lives in Hong Kong.

We’ve eaten so much spaghetti bolognese that I think I’m owed honourary Italian citizenship take it from me, this is foolish talk. I don’t know how many times I’ve had the Blonde Child and the Boy Child happily trashing my kitchen with spilt liquids, broken eggs and sauce-splattered walls, for them to then casually turn their noses up at everything put in front of them at the dinner table. In an attempt to get the Boy Child to give pesto a

try, I even planted a basil bush in the garden. He’s happy to pick the leaves, chop them up and whizz them with a few pine nuts, but he will still not go near a bowl of pesto pasta. The other day the Blonde Child asked if she could make a lemon drizzle cake using a lemon from our little tree outside. On the face of it, it sounded like perfect mother territory and I was inwardly high-fiving myself - my child asking if she can put aside the tech, pluck a home grown piece of fruit from the garden, and lovingly mix it into a treat for the family. But from bitter experience I know that Enid Blyton-esque moments such as these can be disappointingly deceptive. “Do you actually like lemon drizzle cake?” I ask. “Oh no!” she replies cheerfully. “I hate lemons but the Wifi’s just gone down and I haven’t got anything better to do.” It turns out there is only one (one!) meal that nobody has a problem with - that good old favourite, spaghetti bolognese. With white pasta and no hidden vegetables. In fact, we have consumed so much spaghetti bolognese since the Teen Child started eating solids back in 2003 that I think I’m practically owed Italian citizenship. Or at least a free Tuscan villa holiday. And so I am greatly anticipating the arrival of guests to dinner this weekend. Finally I can unleash the full power of my creative, culinary skills. A three course meal with not a single small child whining about tomato ketchup, or why they can’t eat the delicious homemade quiche because it might have ‘touched’ a piece of the asparagus in the salad. But then the RSVP emails start rolling in. “Tom’s training for an ultra, so he’s not eating any gluten. Or dairy. Or any red meat. Hope that’s not a problem?” trills one friend. “I’m only eating red meats at the moment, it’s this new diet. But I can eat pork. And dairy. Hope that’s ok!” replies another. “Don’t forget I’ve gone totally vegan these days! And no eggs!” says another. Wearily I type “gluten free dairy free meat free egg free recipes” into Google. Not much comes up. Being able to conjure up a spaghetti bolognese to general approval is beginning to look like a very happy memory. 1


Expat Parent Oct 2017