Monday 7th December was a big day for Melissa and her family who, after 4 months of living at the Elements Collection, had decided to take a holiday within a holiday and go to Hue for a week or two. Captain Caveman was off to Hang Tien for work, just for the day but would be back for dinner. Veronika had got up early and was already at the Phong Nha Farmstay so I decided to go to have breakfast with Melissa and family. Ben came to collect us in the muddy jeep, I was wearing my size 12 jeans which have not felt loose for some time but now they were very comfortable. I had a hot chocolate and pho bo (beef rice noodle soup) which was really good. After breakfast we had hugs and said our goodbyes with promises to see them back for Christmas in Phong Nha. Back in the Farmstay with the fire on I chatted to Bich for a while then I had green tea, fried spring rolls and carrot cake for lunch and ended up staying by the fire the whole day, it was just so cosy. By the time Captain Caveman was on his way back from his cave trip I decided he may as well come over for dinner at the Farmstay and I ordered a red wine. Captain Caveman arrived and was glad to get near the fire with a drink. He was wearing trousers now, signalling winter was definitely here. We had chicken quesadillas to start then I had Aussie pie, chips and gravy which was fantastic, Captain Caveman had spaghetti bolognese with garlic bread. It reminded me I must try pasta and see if I have a gluten reaction or not, the pastry and gravy were fine with no reaction whatsoever.
Before we left Dua came in wearing a similar top to mine so we got a photo, he didn’t seem too impressed, and he suits camouflage much better than I do.

I had a really good day on Tuesday 8th December, Captain Caveman had gone to Hang En for 2 days as part of the pre tour preparation work with Oxalis. Nau, our gecko, appeared outside looking dead and so I opened the balcony door to see if he was ok and let him indoors – he ran away. I went to physio with Phuong in the afternoon, as usual and was looking forward to an evening of getting some jobs done as I was behind on my To Do list. For dinner I decided to eat what was left of my veggie meal from the Farmstay a couple of Sundays ago, it was a potato dish which I had with steamed rice and sweetcorn – very tasty.

On Wednesday 9th December we had been invited out by Tatas for her 30th birthday. Duolingo, the language learning app, had sent me an update of my progress and I was pleased to still be finding time to progress in Vietnamese, Turkish and French.
Captain Caveman returned from Hang En via the Lake House where he went to pick up some bread. We got ready and went over to the Phong Nha Farmstay for dinner with Tatas for her birthday. Ben had already messaged us to say that the sauna was open for when we arrived and that he and Matty were already heading in there. By the time Tatas arrived Captain Caveman and I had drank a whole bottle of wine, eaten a starter (artichoke and olive bread with dips) and were still hungry. I had the duck a l’orange, Captain Caveman had pie, chips, beans & gravy and Tatas went for a spaghetti bolognese, she had a margarita and we all had more wine and it got a bit messy! After eating the delicious dinner, we rejoined the others by the fire and some of them played cards, by 9pm I had joined Tatas on the margaritas, then we ordered more wine and Ben suggested a double rum and ginger ale would make a nice last drink. I still had the rum as we wandered round to the pool villa, Tatas carrying a new bottle of red wine, about 11pm. Although I had drank quite a bit I found I was able to walk up the slope to Gypsy and Little Lies so much better than the last time I had been here. Matty got dragged along and we insisted he bring his ukulele so we could have a late night sing-song. We drank the bottle of red wine which Tatas brought from the bar and then we all proceeded to drink more wine from the minibar (it’s actually a fully stocked fridge). We were all drunk and when we eventually called it a night, at 2am, I insisted that Captain Caveman and I get in a single bed so that housekeeping staff didn’t have to make up both beds! As we all said goodnight it was agreed that we would meet at 7.30am on Thursday morning for a dip in the pool to celebrate Tatas’ actual birthday!

I woke up on Thursday 10th December with the biggest hangover since ligament-gate, almost 8 months ago. I was confused as to why we were in such a small bed and I was so thirsty it was unbelievable. Captain Caveman got me some water and then went for a swim with Tatas in the outside pool, which was a bit chilly. The three of us went to have breakfast at the Farmstay and while they tucked into fry ups I asked for beef noodle soup. Captain Caveman ordered me chicken instead but I ate it and it must have took me an hour to eat most of it because I was so fragile. Matty eventually came in for breakfast and he was about as rough as I was.  I went straight back to bed when I got home and, except for a quick snack of cheese and beetroot crackers at lunch, I stayed there until about 7pm. Tatas had her (real) birthday party celebrations booked for 6.30pm at a venue that used to be Andy’s disco bar. Captain Caveman went but I couldn’t even attempt it and had to force myself to go get some dinner at the Farmstay. I had beef in bamboo with veg and rice while Captain Caveman had spaghetti bolognese. I didn’t have any alcohol but I had to have 2 full fat cokes as I still felt so hungover.

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