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the really useful magazine expat-parent.com

December 2017

Christmas is coming! Everything for a fun, family festive season

Fabulous feasts Where to tuck in on Christmas Day

Great ideas for mum, dad and the kids

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Editor’s letter


School news

Happy Christmas!

VIPs and fee re-vamps

4 Contributors


School Christmas fairs

Meet the team

Cut it out, stick it on the fridge


What’s on


Open day

Busy times in the 852!

Gold Coast gig


Christmas Fairs


Life & style

Tear it out, pin it on your fridge

Party people


Things you need to know


Gift guide

Hong Kong’s wild cattle

Get it right this year

14 News

Goings on this month

20 Giveaways

Loads of free stuff


Debate of the month

Christmas tables


Me & My Big Idea

Soft landings for teens


Book review

Stocking fillers and book-of the-month

30 Cover story

Your complete low-down to the Big Day


My Hong Kong

Woolly moments in Sheung Wan


The big interview

Family club fun

Scan and visit our website expat-parent.com


60 Food


Fab feasts for the Big Day

66 Travel

London lit up


Flailing spouse

Jetting off for the holidays


24 56

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editor’s message

who’s in charge? Publisher Tom Hilditch tom@hongkongliving.com

Editorial editorial@hongkongliving.com Editor Carolynne Dear

Editor-in-Chief Shreena Patel

Managing Editor Eric Ho

Editorial Assistant Catharina Cheung

Design cindy@hongkongliving.com Design Manager Cindy Suen

Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Sales & Marketing talk@hongkongliving.com Sales Director Hilda Chan

Sales and Marketing Executive Venus Man

Sales and Marketing Executive Kiran Hiranandani

Sales and Marketing Executive Isamonia Chui

Digital cora@hongkongliving.com Digital Co-ordinator Cora Chan

Accounting charles@hongkongliving.com


nd finally we’re there! After weeks of preparation we’ve hit peak excitement as December kicks in and advent calendars all over the territory are eagerly torn open. I must admit to Christmas being my favourite of all the annual holidays thrown at us each year. As I write this, desperately trying to meet December’s print deadline, I am gazing at a sun rising over the stunning mountains and sparkling blue waters of the New Territories. It’s another crystal clear, blue sky day in Hong Kong and another pinch-me-perfect moment. This is absolutely my best time of year. And to add to the frenzy this year, the Expat Parent team was hard at work organising our first reader lunch, which took place at the end of November. I have never been more grateful to (or in awe of) professional events organisers. Who knew there was so much involved with a charity lunch? A big thank you to the Events For Life team! And all eyes ahead now for our Summer Lunch in June details to follow. In the process of putting together our last issue of 2017, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting a varied bunch of mums, entrepreneurs and families. I had a fascinating discussion with brand new start-up The Wild At Heart Project, which has launched a range of workshops to provide young teens and their parents with the right tools for navigating this tricky time of life. Find out more on page 24. I also caught up with Nicola Robb at Sheung Wan’s funkiest wool store, Yarn In The Works, to find out about her wonderful workshops. If woolly craft sounds like a new hobby for you, check her out on page 38. And of course we have heaps of tips and tricks for Christmas, including Christmas lunch ideas, comprehensive school fair and Christmas bazaar listings, plus tons of great gift ideas. Merry Christmas to one and all, and see you in 2018!

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Management Trainee Charles Lau

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 hongkongliving.com 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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Rebecca Simpson

Adele Brunner

Rachel Read & Kate Farr

After a busy year rounding up a heap of great schools stories for Expat Parent, Rebecca will be chilling out with her husband and daughters at home this Christmas. We would also like to welcome her to the Hong Kong Living team as from January she will be taking over as editor at Midlevels magazine. This month she headed over to Harrow. See page 46.

This month was party month for Adele as she headed over to interview events planners extraordinaire Jude Bailey and Mindy Tagliente. Find out how to give your next bash some sparkle on page 52. Adele has had a busy year contributing to Expat Parent, Midlevels magazine, Southside magazine and the South China Morning Post and will be putting her feet up at home this Christmas.

The feathers flew as our intrepid reporters dug out Hong Kong’s best family Christmas lunches on page 60. As for the ladies themselves, Kate will be spending the big day at home with her sons. Her husband will be taking the helm in the kitchen with a home-cooked lunch. Meanwhile, Rachel will be enjoying a boxset or two with her two Yorkshire Terriers, and enjoying a welldeserved break.

Want to write for Expat Parent Magazine? Contact editorial@hongkongliving.com

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what’s on

All the fun of the fair, Dec 21- Feb 25


Exhibition: The World of Tintin Landmark exhibition exploring the internationally-known cartoon reporter and adventurer. The exhibition showcases eight albums from The Adventures of Tintin series and much more. Wednesday to Sunday, noon8pm, ArtisTree, 1/F, Cambridge House, Quarry Bay, horca.org/the-world-of-tintin


Hong Kong WinterFest Seasonal displays spread across several landmark buildings, including the Christmas tree at Statue Square and also the two dazzling multimedia shows: A Symphony of Lights and the Hong Kong Pulse Light Show, discoverhongkong.com


A Disney Christmas Disneyland has been transformed into a magical winter wonderland for the holidays. Enjoy shows and events such as Mickey and Friends Christmastime Ball and the Christmas 6 expat-parent.com

tree lighting ceremony. 10:30am-8pm, $419/ child, $589/adult, disneyland.com


11th Annual Community Carols The Hong Kong Singers will be performing from the beginning of the month until Christmas. Admission to the community carols is free for all. 7:30pm, Lan Kwai Fong Amphitheatre, Wo On Lane, Central.

DEC 1-2

Father Christmas Play An adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ children’s book Father Christmas by international

theatre company ABA Productions. Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, hongkongticketing.com

DEC 1-28

3D Pulse Light Show at the Harbourfront A series of holiday themed light shows in eightminute blocks, on display each night from 8:20-9:40pm, The Hong Kong Culture Centre and Clock Tower, discoverhongkong.com

DEC 2, 3 & 23

Kids Holiday Treats Decorating Classes InterContinental Hong Kong’s executive pastry chef Cyril Dupuis will lead three sessions of festive treats decorating. Classes are inclusive of a storytelling session from The Nutcracker and a cup of hot chocolate with a visit from Santa with cookies. Five to 11 years, $380, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com

tell me more

mum about town Tram rides with reason

Christmas cheer

It’s easy to get lost in a tide of tinsel, school concerts and long turkey lunches at this time of year, so I’m fighting my way out to support the We Are Here Refugee Tram this month. The tram will be ding dinging its way around the streets of Hong Kong Island throughout December to raise awareness for asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong. The project has been inspired by French artist JR and is part of the global, Inside Out, project. And the highlight of the month-long event takes place around International Human Rights Day on Dec 10 with a dinner hosted by Bibo, 163 Hollywood Road, Central on Dec 12. Tickets are $1,590/ person and are available from eventbrite. com. More information about We Are Here can be found at weareherehk.org.

I am eagerly looking forward to the St John’s Cathedral tree lighting service on Dec 5. For the 27th year, the event will be held in support of Light Up A Life hospice care, with a reading from special guest Nelly Fung JP. This is always a gorgeous occasion - think huge tree, sparkling lights and music to raise the roof - and for me marks the true start of Christmas. As always, the magnificent Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir and ESF Island School orchestra and choir will be performing under the tree. All that singing certainly works up an appetite, mince pies and mulled wine will be served in the leafy cathedral courtyard under the soaring skyscrapers of Central at the conclusion of the service. 7.30-9pm, 4-8 Garden Road, Central. Tickets cost $250 and are available from the cathedral bookshop.

Hong Kong’s refugees are in the spotlight this month

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what’s on

DEC 15

Christmas Jumper Day Launched in the UK in 2012, Christmas Jumper Day has finally launched in 852. Don a Christmas jumper today to show off your festive fashion and also raise awareness for international NGO Save the Children, christmasjumperday.org.hk

DEC 16-17 & 23-26 The Nutcracker

The Hong Kong Ballet brings us its sixth annual production of the festive ballet The Nutcracker. Follow the magical adventures of Clara, Fritz and the heroic Nutcracker in their quest to defeat the evil Rat King and reunite true love. Tchaikovsky’s timeless score will be accompanied live by Hong Kong Sinfonietta. From $180, Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, urbtix.hk

The Nutcracker, Dec 16-26

DEC 18-25

Christmastime at The Mandarin

DEC 3 & 10

DEC 10

The SAR Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual interactive concert introduces children to classical music and lets them try out the instruments too. $295, 2.15pm and 5pm, Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre, HKAPA, Wan Chai, hkticketing.com

Head to St Stephen’s Chapel for festive songs and carolling to get the whole family into a Christmas-y mood. 6pm, 22 Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley, ststephen.org.hk

Drop by The Mandarin Oriental for a host of festive entertainment including magicians and face painters, choir and ballet performances and an appearance from Santa. Enjoy fresh roasted chestnuts, mince pies and mulled wine, 5 Connaught Road, Central, mandarinoriental.com

DEC 11

DEC 21– FEB 25

DEC 7, 14, 21, 28

Shrewsbury Hong Kong will be offering an exclusive opportunity to view the progress on its brand new campus in Tsueng Kwan O. The private primary school is scheduled to open in August 2018. 11am, register at shrewsbury.hk

This year’s offering is filled with rides and roller coasters, game stands for all ages, plenty of food stalls, live music and performances, as well as the famous Gandey European Circus staged in a 1,200 seat big top circus tent. Central Harbourfront event space, tgec.asia/ registration

Classics for Kids Christmas Concert

The Pete Kelly Trio Pete Kelly and his band have come from Australia and will be playing live jazz every Thursday till April 2018. 1/F On Hing Building, No. 1 On Hing Building, Central, reservations at reservations@studioclub.asia


Christmas Carol Concert Appeal Join the festivities with drinks, canapés and carols to benefit the Society for Community Organization. From $600, 6:30-8:30pm. Helena May, 35 Garden Road, Central, ticketflap.com

Christmas Lessons and Carols by Candlelight

School Site Welcome

DEC 11–JAN 1

Ocean Park Christmas Sensation Headlining the festivities is Hong Kong’s first ever virtual reality rollercoaster Mine Train, VR game zones and a Christmas village on Waterfront Plaza. Daily Light Up the Night ceremony and choir performance. Kids can also participate in the interactive Whiskers and Friends Winter Games at Whiskers Harbour. Ocean Park, Aberdeen. oceanpark.com.hk

DEC 14

Deadline for letter to Santa via Hong Kong Post Send your letters in before this date to get a reply in time for Christmas—don’t forget to address it to ‘Santa Claus, Hong Kong’ and include your return address -

AIA The Great European Carnival

DEC 24

Midnight Mass and Family Crib Service The vigil service at St Stephen’s is intended to remind attendees of the true meaning of Christmas. For the kiddies who can’t stay up for Midnight Mass, there will be a crib service for young families with carols earlier on the same day at 5pm. Midnight mass starts at 11pm, St.Stephen’s College Sports Ground, Wong Ma Kok Road, Stanley. Ststephen.org.hk

DEC 25

Christmas Day Public holiday. Hopefully Santa will have filled your stockings!

DEC 26

Boxing Day Another public holiday. 8 expat-parent.com

BOOK NOW JAN 14- FEB 11 Kidsfest 2018

A fun festival full of different plays adapted from books for children, including The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler and Ugly Duckling by Emma Reeves. For a programme of events and more information, see kidsfest. com.hk. Tickets can be booked at hongkongticketing.com.

JAN 25- 28

Disney on Ice The show returns to Hong Kong to celebrate “100 Years of Magic” (Walt Disney’s 100th birthday). The program includes 50 memorable Disney characters and 30 great sing-along songs including the hits Let It Go, Hakuna Matata and You’ve Got A Friend In Me. Ticket prices range from $300 to $780, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai, disneyonice.com

MAR 8-18

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time An adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time written by Mark Haddon by Britain’s National Theatre. The play has won five Tony Awards and seven Oliviers including Best Play, Best Design, and Best Director. Ticket prices range from $180 to $580. Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, hk.artfestivals.org

MAY 2- 6

Swan Lake Performed by Russia’s critically acclaimed St Petersburg Ballet Theatre, which is visiting Hong Kong for the first time. The 60-member ballet arrives in the territory fresh from sell-out performances in Europe, USA and Asia. Tickets range from $445 to $995, Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, hkticketing.com.hk

Kidsfest 2018

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what’s on

Christmas markets


ShoppingHongKong Holiday Bazaar


Jewellery, luxury pashminas, ladies fashion, accessories, gourmet foods and much more. A free glass of chilled prosecco will be served to all guests. Email shoppinghongkong@gmail. com to be added on the entry list, 10am-6pm. Vista Ballroom, The American Club Tai Tam, 28 Tai Tam Road, shoppinghongkong.hk


The Hive Christmas Pop-Up Market

Grab a gift at one of the many Christmas markets

Come along and jingle while you mingle, with loads of stalls for gift-buying - think jewellery, crafts, food and homewares, 6-10pm, 5 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung, thehivesaikung.com.hk

DEC 1-3


DEC 9 &10

A fun and festive three-day event with dining, decorations, handmade accessories and live music. Free, 5-11pm (Dec 1), 11am-11pm (Dec 2), 11am-9pm (Dec 3), 50 Pigeons Courtyard, Hullett House, 1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Road, TST.

Santa will be popping along for what is the third in the Prestige Fairs Christmas series, plus loads of opportunity to stuff those stockings with a huge array of stalls. Free, 10am-6pm, Grand Ballroom, The Conrad Hotel, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, prestige.com

Loads of Italian treats and delicacies, fine wines, fashion and accessories. Cosy and welcoming, this event is la dolce vita! 11am7pm, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, icc.org.hk


DEC 2-3

Swire Properties brings us festive shopping, food and drinks, DIY workshops, and live entertainment. Free, Tong Chong Street, Taikoo Place, facebook.com/SwireXmasFair

Over 40 ceramic artists from Hong Kong and abroad will be showcasing original ceramic pieces, with fun demos held throughout the two days. Free, noon-7pm, LUMP Studio, 11A, Gee Luen Hing Industrial Building, 2 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, lumpstudio.com.hk

Hullett House Christmas Market

White Christmas Street Fair


St. Stephen’s Chapel Annual Christmas Fête The annual Christmas fête is one of the highlights of the year with a bouncy castle, game stalls and a visit from Santa via helicopter at 12:30pm. Free for children, $20 for adults, 11am-4:30pm, St Stephen’s College Sports Ground, Wong Ma Kok Road, Stanley, ststephen.org.hk


Il Mercatino Charity Fair Hosted by the Italian Women’s Association. Browse Italian food and wine, branded clothes, toys and accessories, sportswear, plus an Italian gourmet corner. Funds raised will help projects at the pediatric The Duchess of Kent Children’s Hospital, $20, 12 Sandy Bay Road, Pok Fu Lam, iwa.org.hk

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Christmas Gift Showcase

LUMP Christmas Ceramics Market


Christmas Southside Market and Long Lunch

Italian Christmas Market

DEC 9-10 & 16-17

Stanley Plaza White Finnish Christmas Market Browse over 80 festive white timber-framed stalls, see the Glass Dining Dome, and enjoy traditional Finnish food and mulled wine. There will also be an interactive zone where guests can watch an aurora VR show in an igloo and experience a Finnish jacuzzi. Performances include Santa Lucia, Finnish folk dance, Christmas carolling, and a Nativity play. Noon8pm, Stanley Plaza Amphitheatre & Public Open Space.

The Butchers Club Secret Kitchen is hosting its yearly holiday shopping and long lunch. Grab the kids (or some friends) and head down for a buffet lunch, a best holiday jumper competition, lawn games, live music, face painters, temporary tattoo artists and a variety of F&B vendors. $250, noon-4pm, 16/F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, thebutchers.club

DEC 10


DEC 10

Come and enjoy this annual event with artisanal food and drink, crafts, jewellery, kids clothing and more. All indoors so don’t worry about the weather. Free, 11am-5pm, Hong Kong Academy, 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung, saikungmarkets.com

The DB Sunday Market will have many stalls filled with handmade products – perfect for unique Christmas presents. 11am-6pm, Discovery Bay Main Plaza, handmadehongkong.com

Sai Kung Markets

Christmas Gift Festival Back for one final last hurrah, Prestige presents a fourth shopping opportunity at The Conrad. Loads to peruse and the 15% shopper’s discount at the Garden Cafe opposite the event still stands. Free, 10am6pm, Grand Ballroom, The Conrad Hotel, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, prestige.com.

Discovery Bay Handmade Sunday Market

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things to know


Three quarters of Hong Kong is composed of country parks and nature reserves which are home to a plethora of wildlife, including approximately 1,200 brown cattle and 120 water buffaloes.

try oun c 3/4 arks p

nfold pulation is te po le tt a c n brow aloes e water buff th to d re pa com


The two main groups of wandering bovine include water buffalo and brown cattle.

Things you need to know Feral cows le att c wn bro

3 4 5

Cattle were used for centuries in Hong Kong as draught animals by local farmers to plough rice fields. Water buffalo have large hoofed feet which prevents them from sinking in mud - perfect for tilling water-logged rice paddies.

The territory’s wandering water buffalo are hitting headlines this month with plans to relocate them to a deserted island


Water buffalo originate from South Asia and China and are the largest bovine.

As agriculture declined in the 1970s, the cattle were abandoned and their descendants are regulars in the New Territories and on Lantau Island.

The cows have no ‘owners’ and it is the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department that is responsible for them.

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A number of local groups look out for the cows, including Sai Kung Buffalo Watch (facebook.com/skbw) and Lantau Buffalo Association (facebook.com/lantaubuffalo).


wa bu ter ffa lo

If you object to Lantau’s cattle being relocated to the uninhabited Soko Islands, sign the petition at supporthk.org


expat-parent.com 13


Don’t forget your helper this Christmas They’re there in the background, quietly beavering away. And at this time of year it’s a great opportunity to say thank you to domestic helpers. Social impact start-up agency HelperChoice suggests a trip back home often hits the mark. “Just make sure she would like to spend time in her home country before booking,” the employment agency recommends. Another easy alternative is offering an extra rest day. “The majority of migrant workers come to Hong Kong to support their family members and make sure that their children have a better future so a Christmas bonus is always well received. Or offer something she might not usually buy, like a box of high-quality chocolates, jewellery or even a course to learn a new skill. Paying her mobile bill for a month, new winter clothes or even a gift card to go shopping are all good alternatives. “And don’t forget to add a personal touch by writing a message to show your gratitude. Often the nicest reward for a helper is to be considered like a member of the family.” Domestic helpers in Hong Kong are legally entitled to a day off on either Chinese Winter Solstice Festival (Dec 22) or Christmas Day (Dec 25). For more information regarding the employment of domestic helpers in Hong Kong, see helperchoice.com.

Art competition for kids Hong Kong children are being invited to take part in the Beautiful Colours of Sight painting and colouring competition. The event is being run by art materials specialist Faber-Castell, with support from Dream Cruises, Academy of Arts Art Playground and Van Gogh Senses. All proceeds will be donated to Orbis in support of global access to quality eye care. The competition will be cojudged by a local academy of arts and prizes include a Dream Cruises getaway. The winning picture will also be printed on the Faber-Castell colour pencil box available for public sale across Hong Kong. 14 expat-parent.com

All works will be shared on Facebook where the public can vote for the ‘most liked’ piece. The winner will be awarded a five-night Dream Cruises getaway. There are six categories - kindergarten, primary (P1 to P3), primary (P4 to P6), secondary (F1 to F3) and secondary (F4 to F6). There is also an open category. The competition is now accepting submissions until December 15. A second competition will be held in January 2018 where selected artists will have the opportunity to participate in a live colouring competition at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. See faber-castell.com.hk for details.


New app pairs helpers with employers

Daily grind

Two postgraduate students have created a free app that matches domestic helpers and drivers with employers. MamaHelpers allows employers to review, connect and hire a helper or driver directly and has also established partnerships with “ethical agencies” (those it has determined are reliable, considerate and responsible) for those who wish to save time on filtering candidates. “We started MamaHelpers to help employers and helpers alike. We believe in order to improve the current employment system, greater transparency is needed,” said co-founder Amanda So Tsz-yan. “We encourage users to contribute to the community and write reviews for every helper they have employed, ensuring future employers know who they’re hiring.” Employers only pay once they’ve successfully signed a contract. Those hiring domestic helpers via the app are charged from $1,598 to $5,200, depending on the type of contract. Those looking to hire a part-time helper do not have to pay because no contract is needed.

Toast Box has launched an upcycled planting pot made from waste coffee granules. The popular coffee chain has partnered with social enterprise EcoGreenery to put together a Pots of recycled coffee grains limited edition ‘Sprouting Kit’. The kit includes a coffee ground-made pot, fertilizer, basil or parsley plant seeds and a selection of Toast Box vouchers. All materials are 100% bio-degradable. Simply cut and open the seed packet and plant. The partners will also be hosting coffee grounds upcycling workshops, teaching participants how to turn recycled coffee grounds into handcrafted soaps. The Sprouting Kits are available from Toast Box outlets until Dec 31, priced $88. Five per cent of the campaign proceeds will be donated to the Zero Ground Coffee Campaign which supports a sustainable, eco-friendly future in Hong Kong, toastbox.hk

Two students have launched a new app


Support sought for Lantau buffalo

Photo by Minghong (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Child support in Wong Chuk Hang

Water buffalo roaming free on Lantau

Lantau’s bovine population is again making headlines following new moves to banish the herd to the uninhabited Soko Islands. Fed-up with cattle-related issues on what is Hong Kong’s largest island, rural chiefs and the Islands District Committee are lobbying government to remove Lantau’s cow and buffalo herds. This is despite the government issuing the Sustainable Lantau Blueprint earlier this year which calls for the conservation of rural Lantau’s cultural heritage and more specifically for the protection of Pui O wetland, which is the home to the local water buffalo herd. At a recent Islands District Council meeting, it was argued that the cows pose a danger to the public and to traffic on Lantau’s permit-only roads. Some sectors of the community are also reportedly angered by the animals trashing farmland and gardens. But according to opponents of the herds’ removal, accidents caused by speeding traffic is much more of a problem than cattle on the roads. The removal of the herd to the Soko Islands, which lie approximately 12 kilometres south of Lantau, presents its own issues for 16 expat-parent.com

the animals, which can weigh up to a tonne. “You’d need specially designed boats to carry them, regular monitoring by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, which of course currently doesn’t exist out there,” said Merrin Pearse, chairman of Living Islands Movement. “The islands are largely uninhabited, there’s limited water supply available and no wetland to support the cattle.” “We are opposed to any kind of forced removal of cattle,” said Lantau Buffalo Association in an online statement (facebook. com/LantauBuffalo). “It separates them from their traditional foraging trails and is psychologically stressful.” A petition has now been set up. “With the government’s strong intentions to ‘develop’ Lantau Island, the cows and buffaloes to them are undoubtedly obstacles to be removed before any construction commence,” it states. “These cows and buffaloes are actually facing a grim future and disappearance from Lantau Island, unless appropriate conservation measures be taken.” The online petition can be found at supporthk.org and is open for signatories until Dec 25.

Child psychology and learning centre Sprout in Motion has opened a new branch in Wong Chuk Hang. The centre offers support, assessment and intervention for children with learning, emotional and behavioural challenges, and their families. Sprout is headed up by Dr Minna Chau, one of only a handful of child clinical psychologists in Hong Kong. The centre’s expansion from its Central headquarters means Southside families now have convenient access to a staff across multiple disciplines. Chau has gone to great lengths to create a warm and nurturing physical environment to put children and families at ease. The reception features a treehouse and toys, while a large group room and many of the consultation rooms overlook the mountain-scape behind. Sprout offers speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, psychoeducational assessment, applied behavioural analysis, Orton-Gillingham literacy remediation and counselling. For more information, visit sprout.hk or call 2563 4183.

Matilda drops labour costs

Matilda International Hospital has dropped the price of its maternity package prices by over 20%. Hospital prices for two-night normal deliveries in a shared room now start from $21,500 (previously $29,500) while fournight caesarian packages now start from $29,500 (previously $41,500). No deposit is required for booking a maternity bed and tours can be booked by phone at 2849 0355 or through emailing psc@matilda.org. Matilda International Hospital is located at 41 Mount Kellett Road, The Peak.

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Fun run raises funds for cancer

Enthusiastic competitors at the Terry Fox Fun Run

Over 2,000 competitors took part in the fifth annual Terry Fox Run in Hong Kong in support of cancer research last month. The event was held at Renaissance College in Ma On Shan, New Territories. “As a volunteer-organised charity event with 100% of proceeds going to cancer research, you are part of a very, very rare event in Hong Kong,” said Professor Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health, at the start of the race.

Canadian Terry Fox inspired the annual event when in 1980 he embarked on an east to west cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The spread of his own cancer eventually forced him to end the run and he died the following year in June, 1981. But his efforts sparked the annual Terry Fox Run, which today takes place in over 60 countries. The Hong Kong event was also attended by Jeff Nankivell, consul general for Canada

in Hong Kong, who said he was “pleased to see so many Canadians participating, especially youngsters. Your contributions will be supporting cancer research at leading local medical research institutes.” Along with the run, competitors and their families enjoyed a carnival with balloon twisting, scavenger hunts, games and more. Over $50,000 has so far been raised through online donations, register for next year at terryfoxrunhk@rchk.edu.hk.

Brit expat sets swim record Simon Holliday, a learning and development manager for a Hong Kong law firm, has successfully completed a solo swim around Hong Kong Island. The event was part of an attempt to set a new record for the world’s first solo swimcircumnavigation of Hong Kong Island by a male swimmer. It also raised money for Holliday’s charity-of-choice Splash, which has taught more than 700 domestic workers, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, to swim and be water safe. While no official record for this particular challenge exists, it was first attempted by former Australian Olympic swimmer Linda McGill in 1974. She swam the 48km around Hong Kong Island in 17 hours. Halliday’s new record is 12.5 hours. 18 expat-parent.com

To set an official record, Holliday had to follow rules set by the Channel Swimming Association. These include wearing shorts as opposed to a wetsuit, wearing just one swimming hat and a pair of goggles, and not touching any of his team’s boats. He was permitted to stop to tread water and eat snacks if they were thrown to him in the water. With tides, currents, marine traffic and potential for adverse weather conditions, the swim was predicted to take anywhere between 15 to 18 hours. Holliday started and concluded his swim at Sai Wan Swimming Shed, finishing at 3:32pm. Splash Foundation surpassed its target of raising $1million through the event. Make a donation at splashfoundation.org.

Simon Holliday emerges triumphant from Victoria Harbour

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giveaways WIN HERE! Click the Giveaways tab on our website: hongkongliving.com/giveaways

Picked by Poppins

Scooter by Meekboyz

This new, user-friendly mummy, baby and child online store is full of brands that parents trust and kids love. From organic foods and natural bath bubbles, to toys and gift vouchers, you’re sure to find something here. Find out more at pickedbypoppins.com We’re giving away an Ergobaby Original Carrier in Black and Camel, valued at $990.


Classified has launched a new range of Christmas hampers ready for this year’s festive season. Choose from three homemade gourmet hampers, all filled with treats and nibbles, perfect for Christmas party gatherings with family, friends or co-workers. Order from December 1 at classifiedfood.com, or purchase from any Classified outlets. We’re excited to give away an indulgent ‘All I Want For Christmas’ hamper, valued at $2,400. Enter by December 15.

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Insight School

Insight School of Interior Design is the city’s only school dedicated to design. It offers a year-long diploma as well as over 20 short courses for anyone with a passion for design. One lucky reader will win the opportunity to attend a one-day course valued at $2,600.

Founded by the adventure sports-loving Meek family, Meekboyz scooters are created using light-weight parts which makes it easier to do tricks—use the flat deck on the sides to pull off an impressive finger whip. The Meta X-1 Scooter is ready for any skate park or street spot! We have one Meekboyz Meta X-1 Pro Park scooter in black, worth $1,999, to give away.

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debate of the month

Turkey tantrums

Do you pander to fussy little Christmas diners? Or plough on with the roast turkey and sprouts regardless? “I spend many hours preparing a fantastic Christmas dinner. They know it would mean the ends of their lives if they asked for anything else!” Tracy

I don’t even go there! I have enough trouble agreeing on the correct fare with my (American) husband. Janet

“Everyone eats the roast, but the Christmas pudding isn’t very popular so I usually have a chocolate dessert on standby.” Nicola

“Our little one gets a portion of our meal which she can eat or leave. That’s the rule when it comes to food in our house.” Shaunie

I make an Eton Mess for my daughter as we both hate Christmas pud. Sandra “Our Christmas dinner never, ever changes. Turkey, ham, two kinds of stuffing, roast spuds, sprouts, carrots, parsnips, gravy and cranberry sauce. And Christmas pudding with brandy butter.” Niamh

I’ve been known to have burgers or nuggets for Christmas dinner… Kyla

“It’s Christmas - give everyone what they want! So far the kids have all been happy with turkey and gravy. Although one year we had a veggie family over and the nut roast ended up on the floor - they had to make do with tofu chicken breasts!” Jane

No Christmas presents until at least one sprout has been eaten - the rule still applies even though they’re now grown! Claire

We want to hear from you! Next month: Boarding school: a necessity as an expat, or an outdated colonial notion? Email your views to editorial@hongkongliving.com 22 expat-parent.com

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me & my big idea

Wild child

Life coaches and local mums Tara Bennett and Karen Nathanson have launched The Wild Heart Project So what’s the big idea? We wanted to create a safe space for teen girls to come together to connect and share compassionate conversations about the many pressures they face. We also wanted to support parents during this emotionally challenging time to nurture healthy family relationships. Thus, The WILD HEART Project was born. Through interactive workshops and one-on-one coaching, we help girls get in touch with their intuitive wisdom and quiet their inner-critic. Some of the issues we tackle include anxiety, friendship challenges, academic pressure and social media overload. We encourage girls to identify their unique strengths and values, boosting self-esteem, confidence and resilience. Our mission is to empower teen girls and help them feel connected to and inspired by their wild heart.

What prompted it? As life coaches we were seeing many individual young women struggle with the pressures of transitioning from tween to teen to young adult. Fitting in and feeling “normal� are huge motivators for teenagers, even though they are striving for independence and discovering their true self. Having spent most of our lives learning to embrace our own wild hearts, we wanted to inspire young girls to uncover their own identity and understand the power of self-acceptance. The energy created in a group setting encourages to build trust, enhance empathy and support each other. Once the girls learn they are not alone, it allows their free spirit and wild heart to shine.

How long has it taken to come to fruition? We have both learnt through the process of creating The WILD HEART Project how incredibly rewarding and empowering it can be when you have a vision that comes from the heart. Although it has taken us six months to develop the program, it has gone so quickly because we have been so excited 24 expat-parent.com

The Wild Heart Project founders Tara Bennett and Karen Nathanson

and engaged. What is so lovely, is that we have both been dreaming about it in our own corners and serendipitously we came together to bring it to life.

What do you hope participants will gain from the project? Our mission is to create compassionate conversations and provide effective tools to navigate the ups and downs of the teenage years. Teens will increase their selfconfidence and self-compassion, allowing them to explore who they are and who they really want to be? We will also be creating compassionate conversations amongst parents to tackle the issues they face with their teens in a warm and non-judgemental setting. Our workshops for parents will have different formats including round-table discussion groups where we brainstorm specific issues raised and/or themed workshops in an adult format that present the teen workshop content. We will also be offering a discussion group

based on the most prevalent books dealing with teen issues.

Any more plans in the pipeline? We also have a future Youth Mentor program in the works. Once the girls have graduated from our teen workshops, our vision is that they might want to share their experiences and insight with younger girls. By becoming a mentor, they will not only nurture their younger peers, but also continue the self-care process through the power of being of service of something greater than themselves. By connecting, inspiring and empowering younger girls, the mentors will continue their journey to building a healthy self-esteem and gain a sense of fulfilment.

How do readers get involved? For more information on workshop details and one-on-one coaching sessions, readers can contact us through our websitethewildheartproject.com or at info@ thewildheartproject.com

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book review

Out this month The Tiger Hunters of Tai O John Saeki (Blacksmith Books)

After The Snow

Hong Kong Market Cats The Maid’s Room

Susannah Constantine (HarperCollins)

Marcel Heijnen (self-published, available from GOD outlets)

Indulge your inner Downton Abbey with this festive page-turner from British TV presenter and journalist, Susannah Constantine. All eleven-year-old Esme Munroe wants for Christmas is a velvet riding hat - and for her mentally health challenged mother to having a ‘good’ day. Late on Christmas night, Esme’s mother disappears in heavy snow and only the nearby Earl of Culcairn seems to know where she might have gone.

Following the hugely successful Hong Kong Street Cats last December, Dutch photographer Marcel Heijnen has published Hong Kong Market Cats. Along with the popular furry felines cats allegedly receive more clicks than porn on the internet - Heijnen also captures the older and grittier - and fast disappearing - side to Hong Kong. View his work until Jan 14 at 9 Yu Lok Lane, Sai Ying Pun, Mon-Fri 9.30am6pm, Sat & Sun 11am-6pm.

Fiona Mitchell (Hodder) Set in Singapore, this story of Filipina sisters Dolly and Tala will nevertheless ring true for Hong Kong’s employers of domestic helpers. In the sweltering heat of the Lion City they spend their days enabling expats to lead a life they could never afford themselves. Dolly is supporting her daughter back home and is hopeful one day she might be able to return to see her. But Tala can’t keep quiet about the restrictive and archaic rules that govern their lives.


A colourful ‘whodunnit’ set in 1950s Lantau. Under the British colony, triads, pirates, smugglers and bent coppers hold sway over the territory. When officers Simon Lee and Jagan Singh witness the bloody murder on a beach of a man accused of being a Communist spy, Central is quick to try and brush it under the carpet. But Lee and Singh tenaciously continue to investigate. This is a Lantau where pink dolphins swim the seas, inhabitants live off salt-farming and fishing, and the ancient trading outpost is several hours sailing time from bustling Hong Kong Island. A fascinating insight into a Hong Kong long-gone. See page 28 for author interview.

Stocking surprises Bookseller Ursula Huber* reveals her top picks for Christmas What’s good for kids this year? There are old favourites like The Night Before Christmas, The Nutcracker and The Snowman, as well as a new Asterix story - Asterix and the Chariot Race - and a new Julia Donaldson The Ugly Five. Plus there’s a wealth of exciting reference titles on dinosaurs, wildlife, history, geography and fascinating facts. For older children, David Walliams’ Bad Dad, Phillip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage and Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon are hugely popular, along with LEGO, Marvel and Star Wars books. For something different, The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club by Alex Bell is an exciting tale of adventure and derring-do. Young adults have John Green’s new book Turtles all the Way Down to enjoy.

And for adults? For pure escapist fiction you can’t beat Dan Brown’s Origin, or Lee Child’s The Midnight 26 expat-parent.com

Line. For something more cerebral there is the Man Booker Prize winner Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, or John Le Carre’s A Legacy of Spies. For a true story guaranteed to bring a tear to a reader’s eye is Finding Gobi by Leonard Dion, the story of an ultra marathon runner who was followed through the Gobi desert by a little dog, and who has been following him ever since. And there’s tongue-in-cheek humour a-plenty, from Five Escape Brexit Island to Ladybird’s How it Works - the Baby, and my favourite ‘Twas the Nightcap Before Christmas.

Danish Hygge books were big for interiors lovers last year, what’s this year’s trend? This year it is all about Lykke - happiness - and Lagom - balanced living. Try The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wining, and Live Lagom by Anna Brones.

Huber in Kidnapped book shop

What other Christmas goodies will we find on the Kidnapped bookshop shelves? We have loads of stocking fillers, sweets, educational games for kids of all age groups, soft toys by renowned French company Moulin Roty, and for the adults we have party-games, and gift items ranging from cashmere blankets to candles, storm lanterns and tea towels with a unique Hong Kong print. *Huber owns Kidnapped bookshop, 7 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung, facebook.com/kidnappedbookshop

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book review

Communists and colonists Author John Saeki explains what inspired his latest novel, The Tiger Hunters of Tai O The book opens in Tai O in the 1950s. Out of the whole of Hong Kong, why this area, and why this era? Tai O sets the imagination off. Stilt houses over the sloshing tide, tangled network of walkways surrounded by dramatic mountains, pink dolphins in the sea and a rich heritage of fishingfolk, seafarers, traders and travellers. It’s hard not to get a bit dreamy about all that. It’s also at a cross-roads between Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. You can stand on Tiger Hill behind the police station and see Macau and Zhuhai on a clear day, and now on any day you can see the new bridge stretching straight across to the mainland. I like that it’s between all these place, between them and on the fringe of them, which means that sometimes things that happen there are off the radar. So it’s good for secrets and things that don’t fit the official narrative. The 1950s also seem like a cross-roads to me. From an era in the shadow of the Second World War, but with tangible links going back into the 19th century. There would have been people alive who would have been born in the pre-British days, certainly in the New Territories and the outlying islands which were bound under a shorter, 99-year lease.

How easy was the research process? How readily available are contemporary accounts of Tai O in the 1950s and before? There were two books that helped me a lot with Tai O; Tai O - Love stories of the fishing village by Wong Wai King has some fantastic anecdotes and details about the place and great photos. Wong Wai King used to run a museum and you could buy her book there and get it signed by her, but I think she may have retired by now as she wasn’t around on my last visit. And the official Old Tai O Police Station book was also great, containing vivid accounts of life at the station and in the village. Other than that nothing beats hanging around Tai O and wandering the alleys, as well as staying at the police station, which is now a boutique hotel. The Three Lanterns cafe, run by Julia Wong, and the Solo Cafe, run by Timmy So, are great places to sit and take in the atmosphere.

Are any of the characters based on real life figures? Definitely many inspirations from friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. I thought I was 28 expat-parent.com

Author John Saeki pictured in Tai O

totally neutral about the main guy, Eurasian police officer Simon Lee, but when my wife read the book she said that was totally me, but I still deny that. There are probably many hybrids in there too. I stole some nicknames as well, my father-in-law in Holmfirth, Yorkshire, is known fondly as ‘Bad News JD’ by his friends, and maybe his Tanka counterpart in the novel shares one or two similar traits. For Ishmael Chalmers, I was inspired by a gravestone at Stanley military cemetery marked “I.M Chalmers, 1874 - 1944, Master Mariner.” I found these words very evocative - just imagine, 26 by the turn of the century, hitting 40 by the First World War and surviving that era to be an old man rounded up by the Japanese by 1941. He must have seen so much. I later I found he was called Isaac, but for me he had to be Ishmael, giving me the first line of the novel, a deliberate theft from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick: “Call me Ishmael!”. To get him into my story I had to make him ten years younger and a survivor of Japanese internment. For anyone interested in Hong Kong police history the surname “Godber” wouldn’t be lost on them. Peter Godber was a notorious police officer wanted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in the 1970s. He famously escaped Hong Kong by using his police ID to board a plane for Singapore at Kai Tak airport, only to be extradited back later to face justice in HK. I wondered how old he would have been in the 1950s and borrowed his name for a fictional character.

How did you find the writing process? This is my first novel. The main writing part went on for about ten months, but I found the whole process to be wonderful, from visiting Tai O and other sites around Hong Kong, to digging around in libraries and wondering around always with a notebook on me to jot down character portraits and plot lines. Making up characters and fleshing out their biographies was really fun, and it was great to then take these fictional people and work out the plot lines that tied them together.

Do you have any more projects in the pipeline? I would love to do a sequel if I could justify the time. I’ve got an idea about one of the main characters from Tigers getting kidnapped and held on one of the Pearl River Delta islands outside of Hong Kong waters. I’ve also been trying for a while to get a book published about the wildlife of Hong Kong, but illustrating something like this is very difficult. There are good reference books about Hong Kong’s animals, but I haven’t seen any conversational, anecdotal accounts designed to be a good read. I’ll try and keep that project alive long enough to see it come to fruition. I am also interested in doing some research about tiger sightings in Hong Kong. It would be amazing to meet someone alive today who can give a first hand account of seeing a wild tiger in Hong Kong...

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Get your Christmas jingle on Everything you need to know for the festive season

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ong Kong will be putting on the glitz this month with plenty of sparkly things to see and do. Pacific Place will be presenting a ‘Grand Christmas Spectacular’ with performances, curated pop-ups and Christmas workshops. Local companies such as the Hong Kong Ballet and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will be gracing the Admiralty-based mall with their presence in a specially erected, fairy-lit theatre in the Garden Court. The decorations run until January 1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty. IFC presents ‘Beautiful: Joy out of this world’ at its Central-based mall. The theme is Christmas in Space (and why not?!), with a huge space station sculpture in the main atrium. The interactive display includes a High Striker, an Astro Christmas Tour and Santa’s Rocket. All participants are invited to have their photo taken at the cyber-booth outside Zara, which can then be punched into a badge as part of the My

Flights of the imagination at The Landmark

Face in Space initiative. Badges cost $50 and all proceeds will be donated to Save The Children. The event runs until January 1, IFC, 8 Finance Street, Central. Statue Square (pictured left) will be hosting an 18-metre tree as part of Hong Kong’s WinterFest celebrations. Take photos with Santa Claus and his friends during their appearances at Santa’s Lodge, and enjoy classic carols performed by Christmas choirs. Statue Square, Central, discoverhongkong.com. A new Symphony of Lights show will be unveiled on December 1, with music performed by Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and lights over Victoria Harbour. Buildings on both sides of the harbour will be lit as part of the show; best viewing point is from the TST waterfront promenade.

Meet Santa And of course Santa will be in the house at Pacific Place to greet those good little girls and boys. You can find him this year on level 1 (near Lane Crawford), Dec 1-25 (closed Dec 7), $80 for entry between Dec 1-11, $110 for entry Dec 12-25. One ticket admits up to four people.

Festive fun in IFC

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All wrapped up Tips and tricks for gorgeous gifts


Festive Hong Kong cards and wrap from Lion Rock Press

Before you do anything else, set up a gift wrapping station in your home. You need a hard surface - a mahjong table works well - plus a bag full of gift wrap, double-sided tape, gift tags and ribbons. • Set aside an afternoon - or even several afternoons - in your diary for wrapping. It always takes longer than you think and Christmas Eve over a glass of sherry never ends well! You can always wrap as you buy and label with a post-it note until you have time to add tags, ribbons and decorations. Forgotten your tags and can’t face Central one more time? Try improvising with playing cards or fun Snap-style children’s cards. • Odd-shaped presents? Place them in a box - old shoe-boxes are perfect - since rectangular boxes are the easiest to wrap. This also lends an element of surprise to the recipient. With this in mind, always save gift boxes and jewellery boxes that you receive.

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Cards from Biscuitmoon Designs

• Keep a bag full of gift embellishments to jazz up presents - these could include small baubles (try IKEA), pine-cones, twine and candy canes. These can be tucked into ribbons or attached to the front of gifts. When opening your own gifts, save all these bits and bobs for future use. Used wrapping paper can be shredded and reused to line gift-boxes.

• Head over to Sham Shui Po for a huge (and competitively priced) array of ribbons, glitter, buttons and other decorative bits. Try wrapping presents in oddments of fabric and finishing with a top knot or bow. Fabric shops abound in this part of town. Catch the MTR to Sham Shui Po and use Exit A onto Yu Chau Street (aka ‘Bead Street’).

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Fabulous firs

Where to head for the real deal this Christmas

Anglo Chinese Florist A selection of wreaths, plants and Christmas trees. Our top picks are the dried fruit, cinnamon stick, berries and pine cones wreath ($1,080); the berries, orange peel, cinnamon sticks & pine cones mini Christmas tree ($1,080); and the Poinsettia ($88). G/F, 13 Lyndhurst Terrace, 2921 2986

The Flower Market, Mong Kok During the festive season the aptly named Flower market in Mong Kok is lined with Christmas trees and other festive plants and decorations. Don’t buy too quick, shop around for the best bargain. Flower Market Road, Mong Kok, 9:30am7:30pm

van der Bloom Order yourself a sturdy Noble fir, with sizes from 3–4ft. (90–120cm) up to 6–7ft. (182– 213cm). Prices range from $890–$1,960. Delivery to Hong Kong island costs $200 (removal costs $250). Get 10 per cent off when you order more than one tree. Either complete the online form or head in store. G/F, 61 Hollywood Road, SoHo, 5505 1661, vanderbloom.com.hk

P&F Garden Douglas firs range from $988–$1,878; Noble firs from $598–$3,288. G/F, Blk I&J, Scenic Villa, 18-20 Scenic Villa Drive, Pok Fu Lam, 2812 0948

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Chun Hing Garden Noble firs range from $680 (3–4ft.)–$37,950 (18–20ft.); Douglas firs from $1,050 (5–6ft.)– $2,950 (9-10ft.). Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, 2572 6430, chunhinggarden.com, email ch@ChunHingGarden.com

Xmastreeonline Real Douglas firs are the only trees available this season. Prices start at $1,088. Xmastreeonline.hk

IKEA Order a real fir tree, grown in a sustainable eco-environment. Prices are $599 for a 150cm tree and $699 for a 200cm tree, with orders open until December 18. Last delivery on December 22. Available to order at any of the IKEA stores. Locations include Upper Basement, Parklane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, 10:30am-10:30pm.

Oliver’s American Noble trees from $1,198. Available for order until December 3. 201-205, 2/F Landmark Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, 2810 7710


O Christmas tree Deck the halls with brilliant boughs

Glass ornament dome tree $80 from Francfranc, francfranc.com.hk

Hong Kong Transport hanging decorations $350 (set of four) from The Lion Rock Press thelionrockpress.com and selected retailers, including all Bookazine stores

Resin nutcracker $150 from Francfranc francfranc.com.hk Porcelain ornament (copper) $95 from Mirth mirthhome.com

Box of hanging doll ornaments $199 from Zara Home Stores in Harbour City and Festival Walk zarahome.com/hk

Silver Baubles Pack $298 from Lane Crawford, lanecrawford.com.hk

Librarian Moose Hanging Decoration $115 from Citta Design inside.com.hk

Advent candle $95 from kikki.K kikki-k.com

Fabric clothes garland $150 from Francfranc Locations across Hong Kong including Cityplaza and Causeway Bay Fashion Walk francfranc.com.hk Felt Robin Hanging Decoration $75 from Citta Design inside.com.hk Embroidery ornament Noel $120 from Francfranc francfranc.com.hk

Candleholder with leaves and gold decorations $149 from Zara Home zarahome.com/hk

Capiz ornament star gold $80 from Francfranc, also available in pink francfranc.com.hk

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Christmas make and do Don’t leave all the fun to the kids



Get cooking with Complete Deelite, which is running a complete Gingerbread House course. Get back to basics and learn how to make delicious traditional gingerbread, then move on to house assembly, creating snow using royal icing and finishing the job professionally with decoration guidance. Suitable for beginners, this class is aimed at adults, but there is a more basic gingerbread class available for adults and kids aged between five and seven years. $1,200, includes all supplies and tools; each class runs for four hours on December 13, 16, 19 and 22, completedeelite.com.

Create your own PomPom Christmas Wreath at Sheung Wan-based The Mint Box Studio. These beautifully colourful woolly garlands measure 10” and the three-hour long classes are open to children aged eight plus as well as adults. For more information about times and dates, see themintboxstudio.com.

Bake the perfect mince pie with The Mixing Bowl, from classic flaky pastry to mixing your own mincemeat from scratch. There is also time to throw together some gingerbread cookies. Each class is suitable for adults and runs for two-anda-half hours on December 6, 12 and 14, themixingbowlhk.com 36 expat-parent.com

Sheung Wan’s funkiest craft shop, Yarn In The Works, is laying on a special Christmas crochet workshop. Suitable for beginners plus, the two-and-a-half hour class will see you pulling together the cutest woollen snowman decoration with a colourful scarf. Crochet Christmas Snowman Workshop will be held noon-2.30pm, Dec 8, it costs $410/person and will take place at Yarn In The Works, 28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, yarnintheworks.com Kowloon-based florist Hues Floral Design is leading Mini Christmas Tree and Christmas Wreath workshops. Try your hand

Christmas cookies from Complete Deelite

at a tiny tree - perfect for a table decoration - on Dec 9 & 10, 3-6pm, $880/person. Learn how to create a wreath on Dec 16 & 17, 3-6pm, $780/person. Classes are held at Room 34, 7/F Shing Yip Industrial Building, Kwun Tong, facebook.com/hues. Needles and Hooks is running a crochet and sewing Christmas workshop. Make snowflakes and stars, Christmas trees and bobbles. Loads of fun and suitable for beginners who can crochet ‘in a round’. $300, 10am-12pm, info@needlesandhooks.studio to register. The classes are based in Discovery Bay. Make And Do Hong Kong runs crafty classes out of Sheung Wan’s top casual dining spot, The Winery and the group is holding a Christmas Tree Decorations class. Mulled wine may be involved so the event is strictly adults-only. Choose six wooden templates from a large selection and embroider your own Christmas tree decorations. 7.30-10pm, December 1, email facebook.com/makeanddohk, or email make.and.do.hk@gmail.com.

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My Hong Kong the knitter Nicola Robb, founder of Sheung Wan’s textile workshop Yarn In The Works, talks craft and collaborations with Carolynne Dear I arrived in Hong Kong from Scotland looking for adventure. Little did I know the next 20 years would fly by and it would become my home. After exploring Asia, I taught English for a few years but decided if I was going to stay long term, I would have to get serious. So I went to Hong Kong University to study for a bachelor’s in history and fine art with a view to teaching history here. I was given the option to transfer to New York in 2009 and I ended up working as a research assistant to the city’s public historian at The New York Historical Society. I also began to study for my Masters in public history at New York University. After three years I was transferred to London, where I finished my thesis on memory and how slavery is represented in American history. I also spent a year with Sotheby’s studying East Asian Art with a view to returning to Asia. In terms of my academic side, these days I’m currently looking at a comparison between the the lives of women in early 19th century New York both immigrants and slaves. Women’s history is fascinating, especially those cultural traditions which helped create a community in times of extreme hardship. Knitting and crochet is one of those traditions that make me feel connected to the past. I opened Yarn In The Works last year. It satisfies my creative side, knitting, dressmaking and so on. I come from a textile background - a collection of mill owners, lace makers and dressmakers. I was taught to use a sewing machine at a young age by my aunt and she was a huge creative influence. Craft is making a huge comeback. The obsession with our phones, social media, search for approval and the constant

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Nicola Robb at Yarn in The Works

PEOPLE comparisons with others is having a hugely detrimental effect on our kids. People coming into my store are looking for something else. I was working with Asia Art Archive before YITW. There were so many talented women there it was impossible not to be inspired. I think it gave me the confidence to believe that I could build something from nothing and make a difference to the city. Signing the rental lease was like jumping off a cliff. While setting up a business in Hong Kong is relatively easy, the rent is crazy and it was incredibly nerve racking taking that leap. Finding good reliable contractors is also quite time consuming. I was told that my life would never be the same again and it’s true, Yarn is a huge part of our life now. The best advice I can give is don’t try to do it all by yourself - I am very fortunate to have some amazingly talented staff. Sheung Wan is a vibrant area with a west village feel that reminds me of our home in New York. It’s bursting with positive creative people who are just doing what they love very day but there is also still a traditional Hong Kong community with an older generation and the school kids playing noisily outside.

Yarn In the Works doesn’t leave a lot of spare time, but my husband Mark and I support various charities after recently joining the American Women’s Association. I am cochairing the committee organising their 2018 fundraising art sale and auction, Art on the Line, which features female artists from around the world. Personally, I’m working on a round crochet rug made from donated velvet ribbon and I am still knitting my husband's birthday present - a cashmere scarf - but his birthday was in March so I had to give it to him with the needles still on it.

favourite for really excellent service and sushi. Of course the best thing about Hong Kong is dim sum - I was vegetarian for about five months but dim sum got me in the end. Christmas Day will will be spent with friends and family at the Kitchen in the W Hotel, they do a great champagne brunch. On Boxing Day, we are heading to Japan skiing - we go to Hakuba every year. The kids love the bullet train from Tokyo and Hakuba is really perfect - great snow, hot sake, ramen noodles and asleep on the sofa by 8pm - I am not one for apres ski.

We have a boat in Discovery Bay and usually head there at weekends to relax, catch up with friends and let our sons run around. I am also very fond of listening to podcasts but I’m afraid it’s politics all the way. Our family is very political - the joke in our house is that our dinner table is a tough one and you’d better be able to hold your own.

I would love to open a Yarn In The Works in Beijing. I’ve been warned this would be impossible but I love a challenge so you never know. For the time being, I’m hoping to work on more collaborations with other creative practitioners here in Hong Kong and I’m also planning to branch out to larger corporate events with in-house teaching and community projects.

We prefer to eat at pretty relaxed places - we go to Chom Chom for spicy chicken salad or 208 for pizza. Zuma is also a family

Yarn In The Works, 28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan. For details of upcoming classes and workshops, see yarnintheworks.com

In the morning I usually grab coffee at Classified and on the way home a cocktail at Mrs Pound - I love that you can buy the whole bar a round for about $1,000. Sourcing new yarn and haberdashery supplies is always fun. Most of our products come from overseas but we do support various local producers. This year I went to Iceland to look at their wool production and knitting traditions and came home with a huge amount of Icelandic yarn. Last year I went to the island of Iona in Scotland - they produce the most beautiful wool in colours that reflect the light and topography of the Inner Hebrides. I wish I could stock more Scottish wook but unfortunately the Hong Kong climate just doesn’t agree with it. I follow lots of creative people on Instagram, it’s a great way of finding new suppliers from all over the world. We tap into the UK and US trends, there are some fantastic new young cool innovative companies that dominate the new knitting scene are are largely responsible for making it popular again to a new generation.

Every knitter’s heaven

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THE big interview

Everything’s rosy Private family club Maggie & Rose is putting the posh into play. Carolynne Dear meets co-founder Maggie Bolger


here are playgroups, and then there are playgroups. Experiences with my own brood involved a dusty village hall, a couple of old dears from the local church group proffering chipped cups of tea and stale cake for us beleaguered mums and a roster for the craft activity (seriously, sleepless nights for this non-creative mother). That was Australia. Hong Kong was smarter but a similar deal - lots of soft play in buildings, playgroups and clubs, but these areas were always a long way from the coffee bar and often dominated by helpers. Better equipment, but not much chance to socialise. And then there is Maggie & Rose. Occupying a generous-sized venue with sweeping views over Repulse Bay, this chic beach-side private family club comes with a trendy brasserie and coffee shop conveniently located in the midst of the sleek play areas. It’s a venue that puts the yummy back into being a mummy. So I was intrigued to meet the London-based co-founder Maggie Bolger while she was in Hong Kong last month. I’d heard a lot about the club. Originally started in London, with ensuing rumours in the British press claiming that none other than the Duchess of Cambridge had signed up (Bolger will neither confirm nor deny these stories, the details of club members are private, as she quite rightly points out). But the dusty village hall scenario is one she can relate to and was indeed the spark for the business. “I’m a Kiwi, so I was in London with three young children (she now has four, aged from seven through to 17) and desperately trying to get out with the kids and make friends with other mums. And it just seemed that I’d slipped from Soho House-type splendour in my pre-baby days to these really quite grubby venues where we were expected to clap along to some nursery rhyme or other with an out-ofwork actress banging on a tambourine. And I just thought, where have all the nice bits of my life gone?” As she quickly discovered, there were no “nice” clubs catering for families that focused on the children. And it turned out she wasn’t the only mum feeling this way. “I kept thinking, hey, in a minute someone

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Maggie & Rose co-founder Maggie Bolger

THE big interview will set something up. But they never did.” So she set up her own classes covering cooking, art, dance and music in the lounge room of her Kensington home and word spread. She then found herself renting a small commercial space in the upmarket west London suburb. “I was keen that the kids got properly involved, so I held art classes where the parents and helpers were made to stand back, and the kids rolled up their sleeves and really went for it. I had found that so many “kids craft” lessons were completely formulaic, with the adults basically completing the craft project on behalf of the child.” With astute observation, Bolger decided to theme the classes around real artists, rather than “inane nursery rhymes and princess stories”. She encouraged make believe and dress ups, messy play and story time, upended furniture for games and basically ‘got down’ with the children. From observing her own young children, she also tailored the classes with realistic time frameworks depending on the age group. This ethos has remained the same to this day. It was at this point that Maggie met Rose (Astor, which is where the royal connection comes in - Astor is the mother to one of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s bridesmaids), who herself was running workshops for older children. So they got together, the dynamic seemed to work, and the rest, as they say, is history. Maggie & Rose in Kensington was the first private, membersonly family club to open in the UK. So popular did it become, word continued to spread and the pair eventually opened a second space in Chiswick. “This was the biggest challenge,” admits Bolger of the Essex Place Square venue, which is approximately three times bigger than Kensington. Infectiously enthusiastic and brimming with imagination when it comes to entertaining children, she says the administrative side of the set-up was a steep learning curve - at one meeting she was referred to as the “CEO of Maggie & Rose” - “and I had to go outside and google what CEO meant, seriously I was that green when it came to running a business.” Astor then made the difficult decision to move out of London to the Cotswolds in the UK’s rural southwest after the birth of her daughter Grace, and Bolger remained as the hands-on side of the partnership, still firmly based in Kensington. The Hong Kong venue came about two years ago following demand from expat London mothers who had moved over. In a

meeting of moments, The Pulse opened at about the time Bolger was searching for a venue - “finding the right venue is the toughest thing,” she admits - and she rented the top two floors of the building, including a roof space with play area and shaded tables which she plans to open as a BBQ-style restaurant for both members and non-members this winter. Downstairs is a fabulous soft play area - all pale, Scandi-style woods and pastel colours - a cafe serving suitably nutritious child and adult-friendly meals and snacks (and of course good coffee), as well as individual classrooms for the workshops. After class, the kids can get stuck into the soft play, or enjoy lunch or dinner (the classes run until 6pm) with parents.

I was keen kids got properly involved. Parents were made to stand back “The idea is that members log on and book their classes in blocks, as we tend to work around a theme which we build on each week. Some of our families exclusively use Maggie & Rose, some marry our classes with other preschools or kindies.” Staff are all “Maggie & Rose” trained - Bolger admits to preferring non-formally

trained teachers as she likes staff to embrace a more creative approach to learning. “Back in the UK I’m actually setting up an official Maggie & Rose accredited training programme,” she adds. Weekend classes are also on the cards, but at the moment the venue tends to be booked out for birthday parties come the end of the week. In school holidays there is a variety of camps for children from four to eight years. There is also a lively evening workshop scene tailored for parents. And it seems word has again spread. Bolger is currently on another venue-seeking mission, this time around the Mid-levels and Central areas. “We always intended to set up three clubs here, one beachside, one city and one country club, so once we’ve established ourselves in the city, I’ll probably start looking at the New Territories.” As I tour the venue I find myself thinking a) why on earth didn’t I think of this?, and b) if only my children had been born ten years earlier. There’s a lot to be said for community playgroups, but there’s also a lot to be said for decent coffee, clean equipment and wellthought through professionally managed kids workshops. Money may not be able to buy you love, but it can certainly buy you a better class of playdate. Maggie & Rose, 301 3rd Floor, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, maggieandrose.com.hk Heading ‘home’ to London for Christmas? Check out Maggie’s travel tips on page 60.

Quality playtime is the name of the game

expat-parent.com 41


School news

VIP visit at Australian International Theatre school comes to Hong Kong

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives at the Australian School

The Australian International School Hong Kong welcomed Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to its campus last month, in what is the first visit by an Australian PM to the school. Stopping off in the territory between meetings in Vietnam and The Philippines, a relaxed-looking Turnbull took time to speak to staff and students - and smile for the odd selfie - at the school’s Kowloon Tong campus. He was accompanied by Australia’s consul-general to Hong Kong, Michaela Browning. Turnbull is the first Australian prime minister to pay an official visit to Hong Kong since Bob Hawke in 1984.

After accepting gifts from the head boy and girl from both primary and secondary sections of the school, he spoke warmly of Australia’s relationship with Hong Kong, noting that the territory is home to over 100,000 Australian expatriates, an overseas population second-only to London. Turnbull’s own daughter-in-law was indeed born in Hong Kong and attended St Paul’s Primary School in Happy Valley. “Hong Kong is a city where Australians feel and have always felt at home,” he said. “One country, two systems, the rule of law and an independent judiciary, these are the values and principles that have have enabled the extraordinary success of this city.”

Admissions open for new kindie Avendale International Kindergarten is set to open its 11,000 square foot campus at The Parkside, Tseung Kwan O in early 2018 and admissions for 2018/2019 are now open. The new campus will be Avendale’s first and will offer nine classrooms, a common area equipped with balancing and climbing facilities, an interactive wall and an open play area. The kindergarten will offer an English and Putonghua learning environment for K1 to K3 following a curriculum inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. Avendale will also offer playgroups for children from ages six months to two years in English, French, Cantonese and Putonghua. A 42 expat-parent.com

Hong Kong Academy is now the permanent home for the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) Hong Kong. It will be open to all children in the wider Hong Kong community. The association is a UK-based registered charity and was recently successfully established in Shanghai. Through HKA, it will now be hosting a programme of workshops and events focused on the development of artistic expression in the territory. The ISTA story began in the UK in 1978 with a secondary school festival. It is now a global workshop provider for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Theatre. It currently produces over 50 events each year through an ensemble of international artists, teachers and practitioners in theatre education. “The ISTA Academy helps you to develop skills that you can apply to life in general, from developing an open mind, to collaborating with a wide age range of people,” explained one student. “It’s always the highlight of my week.” Find out more by attending upcoming public performances, including Rhythm of Shape on Dec 10 and The Art of Improvisation on Dec 12, all held at HKA, Sai Kung. For more information, visit ista-hongkong.com

The new kindie in Tseung Kwan O

second campus in Siu Sai Wan will open later in the year. For application forms email admissions@avendale.school or for more information visit avendale.school

Drama classes at Hong Kong Academy


Christmas boxes Schools all over Hong Kong have taken part in this year’s Box of Hope charity drive. The idea is to fill an empty shoebox with Christmas gifts and the boxes are distributed to underprivileged children throughout Asia. Pictured are students from the Australian International School Hong Kong with their boxes at the school’s Kowloon Tong campus.

Levies lifted at Harrow Harrow International School has announced it will be partially lifting its individual capital levy (ICC) requirement. According to the board of governors, the levy requirement has been removed as an admission requirement into early years at the Gold Coast-based school as of last month. “The school has taken this measure as part of a strategic review,” announced the board of governors in a statement. Having an ICC will, however, continue to entitle pupils to exemption from annual capital levies and offer candidates priority in gaining a school place subject to meeting the admissions criteria. The board has confirmed there are no plans to increase the annual capital levies for the foreseeable future. Capital levies are used towards maintenance programmes and investment in new facilities at the school. The school raised the ire of parents

Hats off to a new fee structure at Harrow

last year when it raised the compulsory annual capital levy by 20% to $60,000 to fund a school expansion project.

For more information see harrowschool. hk. For our special report on Harrow Hong Kong see page 46. expat-parent.com 43


School fairs


Bradbury School Winter Night Market Local vendors, international food, games prizes and more. No parking available (a regular shuttle bus will operate from Central and the Hong Kong Cricket Club). $30 per person, $100 per family, 5:30-8:30pm, 43C Stubbs Road, bradbury.edu.hk


Discovery Montessori Academy Bazaar



Enjoy Christmas performances from the kids and carols from the school choir. Plus Santa’s Grotto, a Rumple & Friends Show, bauble decorating and oodles of stalls selling food, drinks, crafts, books, gifts and Christmas fruits, 9am-1pm, 92 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay North, childrensworks.net

The Quarry Bay School parents are hosting their annual Christmas fayre. Expect food, game stalls, special performances and a lucky draw. $10 per person, 6-8pm, 6 Hau Yuen Path, Braemar Hill, North Point, qbs.edu.hk

Expect Christmas shopping, lucky draw games, refreshment stalls and more at the French International School Fair. Don’t miss the homemade cakes on offer at the famous Café Jardine, as well as other surprises, 10am-5pm, 34 Price Road, Jardine’s Lookout, fis.edu.hk

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Brilliant bazaars courtesy of Hong Kong’s schools this month

Quarry Bay School Christmas Fayre

Fete de Noel

schools DEC 2

German Swiss International School Christmas Bazaar Enjoy a taste of authentic German Swiss festivities with games, Santa’s grotto, booths selling ornamental wreaths and more, plus plenty of traditional food. No parking, free shuttle buses from Central, Pok Fu Lam, and Southside, 10am-4pm, 11 Guildford Road, The Peak, mygsis.gsis.edu.hk


Renaissance College Fair ‘Power of Positivity’ Come on over and enjoy games, inflatables, workshops, entertainment, Christmas shopping and an international food court. Free, 10.30am-4.30pm, 5 Hang Ming Street, Ma On Shan, New Territories, rchk.edu.hk


Island Christian Academy Christmas Fair Loads of fun and games, food, prizes, face painting, hair braiding, glitter tattoos,

tombola and holiday gift shopping, free, 12-4pm, 70 Bridges Street, Central, islandca.edu.hk


Hong Kong Adventist Academy Don’t miss the ethnic vegetarian food stalls, healthcare products and family challenges. Free, 10am-3pm, 1111 Clearwater Bay Road, Sai Kung, hkaa.edu.hk


SKIP Christmas Wonderland Fair Enjoy Santa’s grotto, BBQ and bar, mulled wine and mince pies, games and crafts and a lucky draw and auction. $50, 11am-3pm, 159 Che Keng Road, Sai Kung, skip.edu.hk


Singapore International School Xmas Fair


Discovery College Family Fun Day A highlight of the school calendar, the annual fun day promises entertainment and games for the whole family, as well as Christmas shopping opportunities with a number of commercial stalls. 12-5pm, 38 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay, discovery.edu.hk

DEC 20

Victoria Shanghai Academy Carol Concert Learn about the VSA secondary school curriculum at the Admissions Introductory Session and stay for the al fresco carol concert. Featuring performances from both primary and secondary choirs and orchestras, acapella group, jazz band and more, 5.50-7pm, vsa.edu.hk

Expect a vibrant bazaar with 44 retail stalls, food and beverage stands, games and prizes, and a flea market. Free, 10am-4pm, 23 Nam Long Shan Road, Wong Chuk Hang, singapore.edu.hk

expat-parent.com 45


Harrow has so far delivered a strong academic performance

Leading the charge

Rebecca Simpson takes a trip to Tuen Mun to find out how five-year-old Harrow Hong Kong is shaping up


riving along Castle Peak Road in Tuen Mun, Harrow International School Hong Kong looms proud and tall on the horizon. It’s a slice of revered British tradition right in our backyard. Opened in Hong Kong in 2012, Harrow is a relative newcomer to Hong Kong’s international school scene, but in five years it has delivered strong academic performance. Naturally, with such aspirational heritage comes robust interest. The school is currently at capacity with a waiting-list for each year. Harrow is also known for its robust fee structure, but some compelling fee-related news has been released by the school this month. The school has announced the removal of the $5 million individual capital levy admission (ICC) requirement for early years

46 expat-parent.com

pupils. This is noteworthy news for interested parents and an interesting development for Hong Kong’s international school community. A 20 percent increase in the compulsory annual capital levy last year sparked ire from parents. It was claimed at the time that the hike was necessary to fund school expansion plans. This apparent about-turn likely reflects changes to expatriate pay packages in the city which, according to a recent survey by global expatriate management company ECA International, have fallen to a five-year low. Hong Kong’s international school fees have previously commonly featured as part of expatriate benefits but the tide is turning as companies struggle to remain cost-effective. It seems this downward trend is now being acknowledged by schools. It’s

schools important to note the school maintains the compulsory capital levy payment of $60,000 per student per year for Early Years students. This payment is additional to school fees (which can be found on the school’s website). But this most recent adjustment to Harrow’s fee structure certainly makes the school a more accessible choice to expats with young children living in Hong Kong. As currently the only international school in the city to provide boarding, Harrow Hong Kong offers parents a unique education proposition. From year six, Harrow students have the option to board during the week. “The children are here from Sunday evening until Friday evening,” explains head of Harrow, Ann Haydon. “They are busy during the day with timetabled lessons. They The school’s playing field

I don’t want pupils to live in a bubble of privilege, I want them to be able to engage with their community

then have enrichment or extracurricular activities after school—you’ll see they’re involved in sport, music, drama, poetry, the engineering society, reading in the library, doing their prep—they are busy the whole time. They also have downtime, where they

sit and chat and have time with their friends— this is important.” Boarding is not compulsory and Haydon explains it’s a choice that needs to be explored on a case-by-case basis. Boarding suits some students, while others prefer their experience as a day pupil. “Those children who want to immerse themselves into school life, spend time with their friends during the week, concentrate on their studies, and get involved in a whole range of activities really thrive. But there are other children who will prefer to go home each evening and take part in outside activities.” Families and potential students interested in school life as a boarder at Harrow are encouraged to contact the school. “The best thing is for them to come and talk to us, see how it works, talk to children from various ages who are boarders in the school,”

Harrow Hong Kong offers a co-ed experience

says Haydon. “And for them to go in and experience boarding life—we often have taster sleepover sessions for children so they can give it a go.” A Harrovian education is still highly respected globally. Harrow was founded in 1572, and its graduates are in fine company alongside history-makers such as Winston Churchill and a string of former UK Prime Ministers. More creatively-minded students may be inspired knowing school alumni include modern pop-culture icons Benedict Cumberbatch and James Blunt, not to mention all the Harrovian Olympic gold medalists, Nobel Prize Laureates, and High Court judges. A note to parents of daughters—you may have noticed all of Harrow’s notable alumni are male. Harrow in the UK is a male-only school but Harrow Hong Kong offers a co-ed opportunity and Haydon believes Harrow Hong Kong’s exemplary student body will add to that historic list. Here’s hoping Hong Kong’s alumni will bring some balance to the list of notable alumni. expat-parent.com 47

schools It’s important to note that Harrow Hong Kong stands independent from its UK ‘cousin’ and has fast established its own culture. “We’re bringing the best of a British education to Asia so that certain traditions, teaching methods, and curriculums are embedded,” says Haydon. “In terms of Asian traditions, we’re obviously an English speaking school but we teach Chinese and we look at methods which have been successful in this part of the world. We’re a school which appreciates that people have different values, different religious beliefs and different traditions. And we want to celebrate that, because we’re a diverse community. It provides a wonderful experience for our young people going forward to be aware of those traditions and methods, of different cultures, as they move into the world of work.” Students at Harrow are encouraged to develop a breadth of experience while at school. “We are totally committed to providing an all-round education. From its founding days, Harrow London believed that success shouldn’t only be measured by examination grades, but it should be measured by one’s influence on the world. This is a fundamental aspect of a Harrow education,” says Haydon. The student body at Harrow embraces music, the students have even written their own Harrow song. “And I’ve no doubt that we have some prize-winning artists in our student body,” Haydon adds. Appreciation of the arts is also instilled into Harrow students. “It’s about feeding their souls as well as their minds. We’ve got very high standards academically but we also want to give them opportunities to participate so they can develop their interests and hobbies that will take them into adult life.” Leadership is a very Harrovian quality and is an innate part of the school’s DNA. It’s the responsibility of Harrow staff to ensure

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Head of school Ann Haydon with pupils

each student is afforded the opportunity to lead in the day-to-day of life at school. “Has every child had the opportunity to come to the front and lead from the front? Has every child answered a question in class that day? Has every child had the opportunity to be a spokesperson for group work? It’s about a mindset for all our staff. It’s character building and it instills a sense of adventure to lead or work in a team, to make decisions and even do something a little risky—that’s all part of growing up. Competing for your school—in a debate, in a competition, on a sports field— it’s a thrill.” While the school is busy actively creating the leaders of the future, teachers are also mindful to give the children a sense of perspective and community. “Charity fundraising is very strong here. It’s not always about giving money—that can be easy for some people—it’s about giving time. I don’t want pupils to live in this bubble of privilege, I want them to be able to engage with their local, national, and international communities and have that burning desire to do good.”

School Report

Established: 2012 (Harrow UK was founded in 1572) Number of students: 1,255 Class size: 16-24 Curriculum: • Early Years (K1 & K2) follows the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum • Pre-Prep School (Years 1 to 5) follows the National Curriculum of England • Prep School (Year 6 to 8) offers a skills-based curriculum to manage the transition to subject-specific teaching • Senior School (Years 9 to 11) curriculum is based on GCSE courses • Sixth Form (Years 12 to 13) curriculum is based on A-Level courses with the option to take an Extended Project Qualification. Fees 2017/2018: $145,557-$197,930 Non refundable capital levy: $60,000 Address: 38 Tsing Ying Road, Tuen Mun, New Territories, Hong Kong Tel: 2824 9099

expat-parent.com 49


Principal’s office

Ann Haydon took over as head of Harrow this year How long have you been in education? Twenty-five years plus and loved every minute of it.

How long have you been living in Hong Kong? I arrived in Hong Kong in August 2017.

What’s your go-to outing when hosting visitors in Hong Kong? I’m a real foodie so I like to recommend restaurants. Sevva is my absolute favourite. I like Mott 32, I like The Optimist in Wan Chai and for a very special occasion, The Upper House. For Sunday Brunch, I like The Conrad. I love the beaches around Repulse Bay, obviously the view from The Peak is phenomenal, the ferries, the hiking. There’s everything here – there’s so much and it’s so varied. I love it.

you are solutions-focused, you can overcome the hurdles you face along the journey.

What do you see as your school’s greatest strength? Our young people are amazing and we have a very dedicated staff. This school is not just about academic results - it’s about giving our children opportunities to be the very best people they want to be, to get the very best examination results, and to go out into the world and make a difference.

What’s the most exciting thing for children completing their education here in Hong Kong?

It was maths actually. I went on to study geography and economics but I enjoyed maths.

Being part of a vibrant, forward-thinking and diverse community is really special. Hong Kong is the centre of business and enterprise, where east and west merge. At Harrow we have the best of British education in an international setting. When our children have completed their sixth form studies they have the choice whether they want to go to university in Hong Kong, in China, in the USA, the UK. They have choices.

What was the most memorable thing a teacher ever said to you?

What are your feelings about homework in early primary?

One of my teachers used to quote to us as a from group Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If. Which was basically to believe in yourself. It’s having the mindset of a can-do attitude. This teacher never let us think that we couldn’t do something and we couldn’t do it to a very high standard.

It’s really important that children have a balance in life. Homework can develop good study habits, it can reinforce work that’s been undertaken at school – even with the very little ones, reading with them and counting with them. But it’s also important that they have time to talk to their parents, to play and to be young children. As with everything in life, balance and perspective are key.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Did you always want to work in education? Yes, I’m passionate about education. Absolutely passionate about it - about inspiring, and encouraging and empowering young people to go and do amazing things. I have the best job in the world. Working with young people, they are a constant source of joy, from our three-year-olds to our 18-yearolds, who never cease to amaze me.

What is the toughest part of a principal’s day? I think this is the best job in the world. Of course there are challenges but I think if you have a positive approach to life and work, and 50 expat-parent.com

And what about extra tuition for primary-aged children? No, it’s not necessary. Our parents trust us with their children’s education. We work in partnership with parents and we hear a lot about mental health and I think it’s important that children work hard and they are achieving their very best, but that very best doesn’t always come from doing extra tuition and extra work. It’s about working in a smart way, understanding their strengths and understanding which aspect and areas they need to develop.

What do you feel about technology in the classroom? I do support the use of technology in the classroom. I think technology is a wonderful tool, but I believe technology should be invisible. It should be another piece of equipment like a textbook, or a protractor or a compass, which is used to enhance learning. These children need to be living and working and communicating and collaborating using technology in a way we can’t possibly envisage. Of course, we need to monitor their screen time and raise awareness for appropriate use. But we need to be mindful of the advantages of technology as well as the disadvantages. I don’t want children to lose the art of conversation, they need to know when it’s appropriate to send a text or WhatsApp or email or Facebook message, or when it’s appropriate to have a face-to-face conversation with somebody.

Tell us a secret about yourself... It wouldn’t be a secret if I told you!

expat-parent.com 51

life & style

Dressed for success, Jude Bailey and Mindy Tagliente

Party girls Want to be the hostess with the mostess? Events planners Jude Bailey and Mindy Tagliente show Adele Brunner how


hey’ve transformed popular bar Soiree in Soho into a burlesque club, complete with dancer pole and dancer, staged an adult Mad Hatter’s tea party in a back garden, baked 2,000 cupcakes in a dragon design for Kellett School’s 40th anniversary and thrown a Dutch with the Gold Touch party that was so good, the guests begged the host to make it an annual event. We all love a party but Jude Bailey and Mindy Tagliente, the duo behind Events for Life, really know how to throw one. “People want their occasion to be unique and personal so the key is to get to know that person before anything else,” says Tagliente. “We often ask our clients at their first meeting

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with us to give us three adjectives that best describe them or three things they like doing.” From then on, the sky’s the limit as far as these two party girls are concerned. I had only to whisper that I had a big birthday on the horizon for their eyes to light up and ideas to start crackling across the table. This is how Bailey and Tagliente work. They will do everything from conceptualising your event and developing a theme right down to organising party bags if you need them. And their enthusiasm for what they do is infectious. “We love what we do – it’s like going to play every day,” laughs Tagliente. “We get excited about each and every event and I

think that gets passed on to the client.” They both have a considerable talent for coming up with inspirational ideas in seconds, but their creative chemistry works because their skills complement each other perfectly. Bailey, a former interior designer, who also makes jewellery, has an incredible eye for detail and says she is most happy when she’s behind the scenes designing something. She is the force behind cakemaking business Cakey Makey, whose spectacularly crafted cakes are works of art in their own right. Tagliente, who was a television presenter and children’s entertainer, and is also a yoga instructor who runs Yoga for Life, has an effervescent

life & style

Christmas in a box and delivered to your door

personality that is perfect for front-of-house responsibilities such as dealing with clients and emcee-ing. “Our backgrounds in entertainment and design are a natural fit and knowing what’s possible and how far we can push things from a creative perspective comes naturally to us,” says Bailey. “We love creating that wow factor and coming up with ideas that exceed expectations.” Tagliente agrees. “The good thing about Jude and I is that we feed off each other. Our ideas are quite out there and they just escalate until we get exactly what we have imagined.” Both women have been living in Hong Kong for more than 20 years so they have contacts galore. As well as all the creativity, they handle the practical side of party planning such as finding venues at competitive prices, organising catering, DJs and photographers, and basically take the tedium and stress out of managing your event. Their lead-time for a party is two months minimum but it depends on the scope of the event. A wedding party that they organised at Pinewood Studios, England, for example, took six months to plan and execute.

However, you don’t have to have the budget or the reason for a party to benefit from Tagliente and Bailey’s genius. Recognising that many people want to have a stylish table when they have guests over but don’t have the time or the know-how to do so, they have come up with a range called Party In A Box, a simple but clever concept that is perfect for special occasions such as Christmas and St Valentine’s Day as well as more regular birthdays and dinner parties.

I only had to whisper that I had a big birthday on the horizon for the ideas to start crackling All you have to do is give Bailey and Tagliente your table dimensions, your preferred theme or colours (think silver and white, green and gold or red and white for a gorgeous Christmas look) and the number of

guests you’re expecting. They compile and coordinate chair-back ties, name places, crackers, a tablecloth and runner, table confetti, a fabulous cake if you want one and a centrepiece, package it all up into a box and deliver it to your door. With Christmas on the horizon, it’s almost like giving yourself a gift – and certainly crosses one headache off the seasonal To Do list. “Nothing is mass produced – we put each box together ourselves and you can also request something more personalised if you’ve already planned a theme or picked out your colours,” says Tagliente. “A stunning table can really transform a boardroom for an office Christmas lunch or make St Valentine’s Day special at home without having to spend a fortune by going out.” And once Christmas has gone and you’re left thinking that you’ve made merry far too much, Events for Life can step in and save the day again. Tagliente runs five-star yoga and fitness retreats that will whisk you off and get you in shape for the year ahead. Bespoke themed parties start from HK$35,000; Party In A Box costs from HK$2,500 for a table for six. For further information, visit eventsforlife.com.hk. expat-parent.com 53

life & style

Men’s shorts (various prints available) US$49 per pair from Rock Atoll rockatoll.com

Aberlour A’Bunadh $1,280 from Watson’s Wine watsonswine.com

‘Des Voeux Road Fantasy’ acrylic facemounted print $19,250 by Keith Macgregor picturethiscollection.com

Unisex personal fragrances $1,900/100 ml from Cire Trudon (five to choose from) available at Shhh G/F 94 Hollywood Road, Central, 2915 1001

FOR DAD Hong Kong mugs $120 from The Lion Rock Press Available at thelionrockpress.com

Double Happiness men’s tie $580 from Goods of Desire god.com.hk

Creatista Plus coffee machine $4,288 (discounted price of $3,430 until January 7) from Nespresso nespresso.com/hk

PEEKair PM2.5 air quality monitor $1,398 from Peek Concepts peekconcepts.com

Horton double zip brief in black pebbled $5,690 from TUMI intl.tumi.com 54 expat-parent.com

Lonely Planet Epic Bike Rides of the World $350 from Bookazine bookazine.com.hk

expat-parent.com 55

life & style

‘The Wet Market’ limited edition print $750 by Madeleine Bettridge, madeleinebettridge.com

18k silver Sun and Moon bracelet $3,900 from Tunique tunique.com Signature thin ring with diamonds (18ct gold vermeil on sterling silver) $1,650 from Monica Vinader monicavinader.com Geranium body care trio Christmas gift set $590 from John Masters Organics, johnmasters.com.hk


The Parisian Jewellery trunk $6,750 from Trunked Order online at trunkedbyll.com,

Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Masterclass from Lane Crawford lanecrawford.com.hk

Louise Hill canvas from $2,550 louise-hill-design.com Nespresso limited edition Variations Confetto coffees $67 per sleeve (10 capsules); three festive flavoured aromas (Snowball, Orangette, Liquorice) nespresso.com/hk

Suunto Spartan Trainer, lightweight GPS sports watch from $2,200 suunto.com

Limited edition Grand Brut Champagne by Perrier-Jouët $398 from Watson’s Wine watsonswine.com Lonely Planet Epic Drives of the World $350 from Bookazine bookazine.com.hk

HK Districts Tote $480 from Goods of Desire god.com.hk

The Ruby Book from Gemfields, by Joanna Hardy. thamesandhudson.com 56 expat-parent.com

Sweetheart pink bouquet $1,280 from Crostini Order online at crostine.com.hk at least seven days in advance or in store.

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life & style My First Tool Bench $799 from Bumps to Babes bumpstobabes.com

Musical gift set $399 from Picked By Poppins pickedbypoppins.com Letter to Santa and wishlist set $60 from kikki.K kikki-k.com

Dex Dog soft toy with heartbeat $298 from Peek Concepts peekconcepts.com


Personalised kids artwork t-shirt $280 from Little Bug Prints littlebugprints.com

Hong Kong Lotto game $150 from The Lion Rock Press Available at thelionrockpress.com and selected retailers, including all Bookazine stores

9-FREE nail polish and Lollips lip gloss Starting $99 from SNAILS brickshop.com.hk Personalised Christmas dinosaur babygrow $220 from Gifts Less Ordinary giftslessordinary.com

Christmas Owl Zipper Footie $230 from Picked By Poppins pickedbypoppins.com Small cloth gift bags $70-$85 from 513 Paint Shop 513paintshop.com

Lonely Planet Kids The Incredible Cabinet of Wonders $220 from Bookazine bookazine.com.hk

Mr Simms sweet hamper from $488 mrsimms.hk

I love Hong Kong $399,fabric book Little Beans Toy Chest, Kidnapped facebook.com/ kidnappedbookshop 58 expat-parent.com

Chalkboard paint and IronlakÂŽ chalkboard markers $380 (paint); $70-$85 (per marker) from 513 Paint Shop 513paintshop.com

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Turkey and trimmings Kate Farr and Rachel Read sniff out the yummiest Christmas lunches in the territory


hile we all love a traditional Christmas roast lunch, the washing-up afterwards can feel decidedly un-festive – not to mention the logistical challenge of fitting a turkey into a Hong Kong-sized oven. So let someone else take care of all the hard work instead, with some of the best options around town for Christmas Day lunch with the family.

Tis The Season You can always rely on Four Seasons Hong Kong to deliver a classy Christmas celebration, and this year is no exception. Head to The Lounge for a swanky festive feast by Executive Chef Andrea Accordi, 60 expat-parent.com

Getting into the festive spirit at Four Seasons

whose decadent four-course set lunch for adults (with a three-course version for children) stars traditional roast turkey with parsnip and celeriac mash, red cabbage and chestnut, followed by a divine dessert buffet filled with festive-themed sweet treats. Little ones will love the adorable teddy bear decorations in the lobby plus colouring sheets at the table, whilst a Christmas choir will also be visiting The Lounge to ensure your day is truly pitch-perfect. Highchairs and baby changing facilities available. Price: $1100 for adults; $480 for children The Lounge, Lobby Level, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, 3196 8820, fourseasons.com/hongkong

Christmas with a View It might not be a white Christmas, but how about spending your Yuletide amidst the clouds at one of city’s highest hotels? Café 103 at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong boasts unbeatable lofty views over Victoria Harbour’s famous skyline – if you can tear yourself away from their sumptuous buffet lunch spread! You’ll be spoilt for choice with buffet favourites like the salad bar, freshly-shucked oysters and seafood on ice, plus traditional roast turkey with stuffing, beef Wellington, and plenty of festive desserts like panettone, chocolate chestnut log, and gingerbread cookies. Santa himself has also promised to make a guest appearance at lunch, making


Lily & Bloom, pecan crusted French toast Sparkle at the Mandarin Oriental

this a winner for all the family. Highchairs and baby changing facilities available. Price: $1,028 per adult with free-flow Moët & Chandon Impérial Champagne, house white and red wines; $498 per child with free flow orange juice and soft drinks Café 103, 103/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/china/hong-kong

The Pawn Identity There’s no excuse for the whole family not to eat, drink and be merry thanks to The Pawn’s Christmas Day brunch – children under 12 eat for free! Adults can feast on sharing starters and an unlimited pudding platter, plus a choice of main (we’re eyeing the fish pie… or the full English breakfast… or herb-brined

turkey with all the trimmings); meanwhile, the crowd-pleasing kids’ menu includes sausage and mash, chicken pesto skewers and macaroni cheese. Even better news? There’s a fantastic play area to keep the little ones amused, plus The Pawn will be dishing out complimentary yummy festive treats for the kids too. Highchairs available. Price: $498 per adult with free-flow soft drinks, orange juice and smoothies or $598 with free-flow Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial, Bloody Marys, house red and white wines, bottled beer, cider, coffee and tea; children under 12 eat for free (limited to one child per adult – additional children will be charged at $248 each) The Pawn, 62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, 2866 3444, thepawn.com.hk

Blooming Marvellous Lily & Bloom’s all-American brunch has long been a family favourite, and they’re adding an extra bit of sparkle especially for Christmas – with wow-worthy festive decorations by extravagant holiday-themed pop-up bar Miracle. Food-wise, grown-ups can fill their boots with all things delicious from the buffet (including a raw bar, charcuterie and cheese selection, and spice-rubbed prime beef rib from the carvery station), before taking their pick from hearty mains like eggs Benedict and brioche French toast. Children will be kept entertained by Lily & Bloom’s play area and a Santa cupcake decorating station, whilst mini burgers and meatball spaghetti from the kids’ menu should keep little stomachs satisfied – especially as all children under 6 eat for free! Highchairs available. Price: $650 per adult with free-flow selected cocktails, $750 with free-flow Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut and house red or white wines; $380 per child aged 7-18 years, children under 6 eat for free 5/F & 6/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, 2810 6166, lily-bloom.com

Pearl of the Orient

Bring out the turkey, Mandarin Oriental

The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong has a longtime reputation as a true festive favourite, with great C-Day dining options galore – but we’d recommend the incredible lunch buffets at the Connaught Room and Clipper Lounge as the pick of the pack for a fabulous family day out. Bring your appetites as it’s quite the feast; there’s all the classics like roast turkey and chestnut stuffing, roast beef with Yorkshire puds, and roast potatoes and Brussel expat-parent.com 61


Snowy Gingerbread House, Auberge

sprouts, plus plenty of other options like fresh seafood, sushi and sashimi, and Asian wokfried dishes. Be sure to leave room for the equally impressive dessert spread – we spy Christmas puddings with brandy butter, mini mince pies and even mulled wine jellies! Kids will be spellbound by the MO’s special festive entertainment, with Santa Claus, magicians and balloon artists (plus face painters at the Connaught Room) on-hand to ensure a day to remember. Highchairs and baby changing facilities available. Price: $1,188 per adult, $1,488 with free-flow wine, beer, soft drinks and juice or $1,588 with free-flow Ruinart ‘R’ Champagne; $528 per child Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, 2522 0111 mandarinoriental.com/hong-kong

Discovery Dining Head to Discovery Bay’s Café Bord De Mer at the Auberge Hotel for a festive buffet lunch right on the waterfront. Seafood lovers will appreciate the jet-fresh sashimi, lobster, crab and mussels, alongside a traditional turkey carvery, roast beef and baked salmon. And while it’s unlikely to snow, there’ll definitely be a heavy sprinkling of sugar, with Buche 62 expat-parent.com

de Noël, white chocolate truffle cheesecake and rainbow jellies to name but a few sweet treats. “Santa Girl” will be spreading some cheer on the big day, while hotel guests can enjoy a sackful of festive activities, including a horse-drawn carriage ride and Christmas arts and crafts. Christmas staycation, anyone? Highchairs and baby changing facilities available. Price: $568 per adult; $288 per child Café Bord De Mer, Auberge Hotel, 88 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay, Lantau, 2295 8288 aubergediscoverybay.com

Magic Merriment Southsiders rejoice! Le Méridien Cyberport has Christmas all wrapped up with plenty of C-Day dining options to choose from. Pop corks with your turkey at Prompt’s free-flow champagne brunch buffet, where you can also pair your bubbly with roast rack of lamb, baked black cod, and scallops with garlic butter. For something a little different, relish a refined Japanese set menu at Umami or feast on a festive dim sum lunch with the family at Nam Fong. We hear rumours that Santa Claus may find time for a visit, and there’ll also be a magic show to keep the little ones entertained. Abracadabra! Highchairs and

Le Meridien

baby changing facilities available. Price: Prompt brunch $728 per adult, $314 per child; Umami set lunch $348, $398 or $498, depending on selected menu; Nam Fong dim sum menu $3388 for six people; 10% off for bookings made before 14 December Le Méridien Cyberport, 100 Cyberport Road, Pok Fu Lam, 2980 7788 lemeridiencyberport.com

Sandy Santa Another Southside option that makes the most of Hong Kong’s (hopefully!) mild December weather is Cococabana, where Christmas Day is about as family-friendly as it gets. Start your lunch with a glass of mulled wine, before enjoying a mouth-watering

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food French menu that includes home-smoked Applewood salmon, game and winter vegetable soup, and pasture-raised turkey or roast leg of lamb. Kids can also enjoy a turkey dinner or pizza and pasta options, along with homemade lemonade or fruit punch. There will be a “sand man”-building competition on the beach, a Christmas candy corner for the little ones… and a Christmas liquor corner for the not-so-little ones. Joyeux Noël! Highchairs available. Price: $590 per adult, including welcome drinks; $290 per child Cococabana, Shek O Beach, Shek O, 2812 2226, toptables.com.hk/coco

Sai Kung Celebration Sai Kung residents, forget trekking into the city on Christmas Day; Padstow has everything you need to keep things merry and bright right on your doorstep! Adults can enjoy British-inspired classics like ham hock terrine, roast parsnip soup and Shropshire blue cheese puff, followed by turkey and honey-glazed ham, or tenderloin beef, and eggnog crème brûlée or Christmas pud to finish your meal in style. Meanwhile, younger members of the party will love tomato soup, roast turkey or mushroom pasta, plus a crowd-pleasing sticky toffee pudding. Padstow is also blessed with plenty of outdoor space for kids to play within viewing distance of Mum and Dad, making this the ideal spot to while away your Christmas Day. Highchairs available. Price: $348, $428 or $488 per adult for two, three or four-course lunch; $148 or $198 per child for two or three-course menu Padstow Restaurant & Bar, 12 Pak Sha Wan, Sai Kung, 2335 5515, padstow.hk

Christmas lunch al fresco at Cococabana, Shek O

Fancy Feasting

Festive Frites

If you’re feeling like something special this year, head to The Verandah, The Repulse Bay’s ever-sophisticated colonial-chic eatery. Ease into the day with a Christmas Day brunch, featuring traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings, plus delicious mince pies for afters – and while The Verandah may be refined, it’s also very child-friendly, with Santa himself popping in over brunch with a live band. Once your feast is over, take the opportunity to head over to the beach and run off all those mince pies! Highchairs and baby changing facilities available. Price: $1,038 per adult; $519 for children aged 3-11 The Verandah, The Repulse Bay, 109 Repulse Bay Road, Repulse Bay, 2292 2822 therepulsebay.com/en/dining/verandah/

With four locations spread across Hong Kong Island, Frites ticks all the boxes for convenience – but there’s definitely more to this Belgian restaurant than easy access. They’ll be dishing up a delectable threecourse set menu throughout Christmas Day; think corn chowder mussels to start, followed by turkey ballotine or roast beef, and an indulgent Christmas brioche pudding. Small people can order from Frites’ ever-popular kids menu – and we’d recommend adding on some festive free-flow while they’re busy receiving gifts and sweets from Santa… who should have earned a Belgian beer or two after all his hard work! Highchairs and baby changing facilities available. Price: $495 per person (additional $250 per person for two-hour free-flow); $75-95 for kids’ dishes Locations: 1/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, 2217 6671 Shop 6, 1/F Causeway Centre, 28 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, 2877 2422 Shop 1, G/F, Park Haven, 38 Haven Street, Causeway Bay, 2142 5233 G/F, Oxford House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, 2250 5188 frites.hk

Cozy up at The Verandah

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London calling Whether you’re flying over for the first time, or heading ‘home’ for the festive season, the British capital has a ton of tinselly treats. By Maggie Bolger*

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travel What makes London so special at Christmas? I love the festive atmosphere as the city comes alive for Christmas – as a family it is great to do fun outings like late night shopping, Christmas markets and ice-skating that are uniquely available in winter. London is just magical around this time of the year, it’s so full of love and festivity; coming from NZ where Christmas is not so cosy, being here you can wrap up warm which to me just makes that festive feeling more engrained. Also London’s Christmas lights are crazy cool and second to none.

Where’s all the action for kids at this time of year? Anything indoor is a bonus for those extra cold days! London has amazing art galleries – the Tate Modern is great for kids of all ages - they always have something interesting going on, and it’s amazing to see how engaged the kids can be there; it’s a huge space to run around in and they do lots of cool exhibitions there. Windsor Castle is a great day trip for anyone wanting to see the Royal home surrounded by snow. For outdoors, our parks are awesome: Hyde Park, Holland Park, St. James’s Park, Regents Park, and particularly Bushy and Richmond Parks as they are abundant with deer! London has so many stunning backdrops for ice skating rinks – our closest is at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, or the Bandstand at Hyde Park is great for a quick spin - it’s so festive as the Winter Wonderland fair is happening right next door!

or brave the crowds in Hamleys for every toy you could ever imagine to choose from!

Which are your go-to family-friendly restaurants? We actually don’t eat out that much as a family at restaurants, we love to eat at home. I cook, and that’s a novel thing for us at the moment - being together in one place and staying in. If we have to go out, we go to places like this fabulous new burger destination called Patty & Bun – their interiors are very cool, right up my alley, and my seven year old says they have the best burgers ever! Ottomezzo in Kensington is this cute little restaurant in the back streets run by these guys from Italy. It also has a sandwich bar right next to it where you can get toasted paninis to take up to the park. The food’s really authentic and we’ve been going there forever, so my kids have grown up on it. Wahaca has been a long time favourite, the kids love choosing lots of little plates of Mexican delights to share and the staff are super good with kids.

London has so many stunning backdrops for ice skating rinks

What will you and the kids be catching in the West End this winter?

Any recommendations for Christmas lunch?

We have amazing shows at our fingertips in London - School of Rock is fantastic - we actually run classes and camps at Maggie & Rose Hong Kong inspired by this very theme! Matilda is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen, as I love Tim Minchin who created it. It’s unbelievably clever and funny. Lion King is a classic – the set design is just stunning and it’s great for little ones to be able to follow the story, having seen the movie or read the book.

We always eat at home and I gather all the family around to ours. This is what cements Christmas for us - a home-cooked meal and family time together. There are some great places open over Christmas in London though like the very cool Orange Public House & Hotel just off the King’s Road and the super trendy Hubbard & Bell in Holborn - great for familysharing food. Maggie & Rose also has special Christmas parties and events taking place this year - both here in London and in Hong Kong (which also opens on Christmas Day!).

Any secret shopping spots for kids presents? For me I mostly buy on-line as I don’t have a lot of time to spend wandering through stores – it’s a combination of Hush, Cox & Cox and H&M – this usually covers all bases for my gift needs! If you wanted to trek into the Christmas shopping mania then Harrods is definitely the place to go, you cannot beat it for festiveness,

What are your family’s favourite things to do at home this time of year? As Christmas lunch is a big thing for our family I feel that the design applied to the table makes all the difference in enjoying the meal and lingering for as long as possible... so we make a few of our own decorations like expat-parent.com 67

travel place mats made out of silver cake boards with lengths of ribbons criss-crossed all over, making sure each strip is secured with glue and wrapped over the edge. We also make napkin rings using toilet rolls cut into 10cm wide rings, wrapped in strips of ribbon, just like the place mats. We also create our own scrapbook each year, getting the kids to take Polaroid of festive gatherings and paste them into the book along with small mementos and hand written stories/guest messages.

How will you be spending Christmas day? For me, if there is a time to get together and make an effort - this is the day, so I always make sure to make it as immersive for all my family as possible. We all chip in and cook the Christmas lunch, lay the table, when family arrives the kids will all entertain each other and then we all sit down together, young and old. After the lunch is over and we have eaten way too much, there is nothing better than curling up on the couch with a family Christmas film. We also have this mad present stealing game that we play that gets everyone’s competitive juices flowing! After this hectic year for me I am definitely looking forward to switching off the emails and phone for a few days to be present for my family. * Maggie Bolger is co-founder of Maggie & Rse, maggie&rose.com.hk

Angels on Regent Street

London’s Lowdown All lit up Oxford Street has got the Christmas party started with 1,788 decorations and 750,000 LED lightbulbs, which this year are inspired by falling snowflakes. Until Jan 6. Wander over to trendy Carnaby Street where the inventive Christmas decorations are complemented with live music and instore promotions. Lights go on at 6pm, until Jan 6. Ooh and ahh over giant illuminated peacock feathers on Bond Street at this already glamorous end of town, until Jan 2. Enjoy a mistletoe theme with over 40 mistletoe-bedecked chandeliers hanging over the cobbled streets and market buildings of Covent Garden, until Jan 5. Garlands of lights strung across Regent Street will form part of a larger display that runs from Oxford Circus to Waterloo Place via Piccadilly and St James’s, until Jan 5. Over in the west of the capital, a mile of twinkling lights trail through Kew Gardens, illuminating the historic buildings and plants.

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Enjoy singing trees, a flickering fire garden, kaleidoscope projections and giant-flora inspired installations, plus Santa and his elves at the North Pole village, until Jan 1, christmasatkew.seetickets.com. Roll up! Roll up! For the first time, historic Greenwich will be hosting a Winter Time Festival in the Old Navy College beside the Cutty Sark in London’s east. Enjoy a covered ice rink, Christmas market and visits with Santa, until Dec 31, 15 pounds/adult, 8 pounds/ child, book at greenwichwintertime.com. Leicester Square will be hosting Santa and a grotto in the centre of the ‘square’, plus a Christmas market and vintage Belgian Speigeltent hosting Black Cat Cabaret, The Showstoppers’ Christmas Kids Show and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Medicine, until Jan 7, christmasinleicestersquare.com.

Stroll the south bank of the Thames enjoying mulled wine, carols and a Christmas market at Southbank Centre’s Wintertime event. 10am-10pm, until Jan 4, closed Dec 25. Shop for Christmas by the river with views over the Tower of London and Tower Bridge at the London Bridge City Christmas Market. Crafts from over 60 independent traders plus pop up food stalls. Winter Wonderland is back in Hyde Park, with ice skating, winter markets, grottos, gluhwein, plus new for 2017 the Magical Ice Kingdom Deep Sea Adventure with ice sculptures, an alpine-style village with karaoke huts and Cinderella on Ice. Plus Zippos Christmas Circus, The Sooty Christmas Show and a giant observation wheel. 10am-10pm, until Jan 1, closed Dec 25, free entry, show bookings at hydeparkwinterwonderland.com.

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flailing spouse

Away in a 777

Christmas is looming for our festively-challenged mum


pproximately 364 days ago, we booked our Christmas 2017 trip home to England, using a scattering of points that we’d managed to accumulate and a payment to Cathay Pacific for approximately three trillion dollars. Given a couple more years, we could possibly singlehandedly save the company from its current financial predicament. We paid this eye-watering amount of money because that is what it costs to transport a family of six 9,606km to the bosom of its extended family. We paid because we thought it would be lovely for our offspring to enjoy time with the grandparents that they never normally get to see. We paid because we thought it would be nice, despite the 12-hour flight, the jet-lag, the dank English motorways and the weeks and weeks of cold-weather packing, to celebrate the festive season with our nearest and dearest. Except we won’t be doing that. Because shortly after coughing up the majority of our savings to spend 12-hours eating re-heated chicken and pasta with our knees around our necks, my parents informed us they won’t be spending Christmas with us after all, because they will be spending the festive season at my brother’s fancy new country pile instead. Apparently the lure of rural Gloucestershire, chestnuts roasting on an open fire and a Boxing Day of pheasant shooting was more attractive than spending it in a creaky, leaky cottage with their Hong Kong grandchildren. And as the invitation has already been issued to my sisterin-law’s side of the family, there is apparently no room for us at the fancy country pile, or even at the (village) inn. “I thought we emailed you?” my brother ponders vaguely. Sadly we can’t even rustle up a grandparent from my husband’s side of the family as they will be on a Caribbean cruise (to be fair they did warn up about this before we shelled out on our air tickets). And so we will be travelling halfway around the world to spend Christmas - on our own. So kind of a bit like being in Hong Kong, but wetter and colder and with no friends. “Oh well,” commiserates my mother over the phone. “Maybe we could squeeze you in sometime before New Year?” “Well what about New Year itself?” I ask. “Oh sorry darling, we always spend New

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Our columnist is a long suffering expat wife, and mother to several energetic, third culture children. She lives in Hong Kong. Year’s Eve with the Smyths. You know that.” You couldn’t make an exception, just this once? I wonder. “Oh no, it’s been in the diary since Easter,” counters my mother. “Pam’s having the sitting room specially decorated, she’s got one of those ‘party planner’ people coming in. Anyway, must dash, it’s yoga this afternoon!” Dejectedly, I hang up and gaze at the piles of pullovers waiting to be squashed into suitcases. “Can’t we go skiing?” asks the Teen Child, shoving her way through the front door and knocking over the heap of sweaters. “England’s nice and everything but, you know, it’s kind of a bit boring?” she adds, kicking her school shoes under the dresser. Oh my god! I scream inside my head. Why do I have such an ungrateful family? The shopaholic Tween Child is equally unimpressed about the lack of entertainment on

offer at this year’s yuletide gathering. “Why don’t we just go to Hawaii instead?” she asks. “There’s not even a Bath & Bodyworks in England, even in London. I’ve had a look online.” My husband is also unenthusiastic. “I did say we should spend the money on a trip somewhere a bit more exotic,” he helpfully opines as I unsuccessfully try and squeeze the lid of the kids’ suitcase shut on fluffy onesies, Uggs, pyjamas, long pants and socks (oh god, the thought of washing, drying and matching all that footwear over the next two weeks is already giving my palpitations). I give up and pour myself a Baileys. As I shut my eyes and try and blot out the logistics of travel en famille (twelve passports, four HKID cards, six Hong Kong visas, not to mention the seven suitcases we’ll have to blag onto the plane), Mariah Carey floats onto the radio. And cheesy as it is, it makes me smile. It reminds me of all those Christmases past, the ones as a child when I was so thrilled I couldn’t sleep, when as a teenager I claimed to be way too cool to enjoy it all but was secretly oh-so excited on Christmas morning, the year my mother drank so much sherry she put the turkey in the dishwasher instead of the oven and we had to have Chinese take-away, the years in Australia eating BBQs on beaches and in parks, and the year I forgot it was Christmas (a newborn can do that to you) and we had to make do with ham sandwiches and Quality Street. But the point is they were all special times, no matter how much we managed to screw up, or forget things, or burn the dinner. Christmas is never the perfect occasion the greetings cards would have us believe - I’ve only ever known one white Christmas (and we spent most of it in the car), and I’ve never actually witnessed a group of carol singers cheerfully wassailing in the streets. But the point is we set the time aside to eat and laugh as a family. Even if it is a slightly reduced family this year. Just then the Boy Child wanders into the lounge room dragging a Trunkii stuffed with hoodies, LEGO City and cuddly toys. “I’ve packed Mum!” he cheerfully informs me. “Christmas is going to be great!” And you know what? I think he might just be onto something. So wherever you are and whoever you’re with, have a good one. See you in 2018...

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