After very little sleep I woke up in a fragile state on Monday 14th December. It was a rainy day with not much going on and I tried the gluten free cereal for breakfast with milk – I wasn’t yet 100% normal but I think I was doing ok. We tried out the sticky rice with peanuts from Thuy and it was pretty good and in the afternoon I ordered some cushions for the sofa, from Earth cafe. Captain Caveman said we didn’t need cushions and that they were an unnecessary expense, which I understood but meant I would never enjoy watching a film without back pain – I don’t tend to use the TV or living area much. I knew when I got the cushions he would get the most use out of them so I still went ahead and they were only 750,000 vnd for 3 (about £24). As I went to update my diary I saw that this week should have been the time for Captain Caveman’s return to Phong Nha after his winter break (which should have been in Turkey). Captain Caveman gave me the dates for his 2021 tours up to the end of March. We opened a bottle of fizz and had chicken for dinner with veg and more sticky rice and peanuts – delicious!

My visa extension which expired on the 9th should have been back today, Tuesday 15th December but unfortunately it still wasn’t. It is a bit of a pain because Captain Caveman had thought about us maybe flying to Saigon or Hanoi for a break but I can’t go without my passport. I had my gluten free cereal for breakfast, it was cold and windy and Captain Caveman had gone to Phong Nha for breakfast. I had a day off of physio so I could chill out, I did a bit of languages and some blogging and we booked in for the new Shepherd’s pie night at the Farmstay. Captain Caveman was back for lunch and we had chicken salad and shared some pomelo, very healthy! We arrived at the Farmstay early and waited for Tatas to join us round the fire, Matty was there with a new guest, Charlie, a 15 year old boy from South Korea. We all had Shepherd’s pie and even though I’m not normally a fan of it (I don’t like mashed potato), it was bloody lovely!! I had started off with beer as I didn’t want to drink too much but then shared wine with Tatas, Matty, Captain Caveman and even Charlie! Ben brought out some buffalo meat for us to try and this was another first for me – he had different flavours; one was plain, one was in brine, one in red wine and the last in a fish & chilli sauce – I bet you can guess my favourite one! I was full but I still managed to squeeze in a piece of carrot cake, which is always really good!

I had booked my physio in for the afternoon of Wednesday 16th December so I had a bit of a lay in that morning, while Captain Caveman went to the Farmstay, then picked up fresh bread from the Lake House. I had cereal for breakfast and the milk didn’t seem to be harming my stomach, which was great. I didn’t bother with any lunch as I was off to Dong Hoi and later we were going to be eating a lot. Captain Caveman came with me in the car to Dong Hoi so that he could go food shopping. At physio I got a new bloke who is actually really good and he managed to work around my sciatic nerve issue which I was pleased about.
In the evening I experienced another first as we had booked seats at the Chef’s Table at the Farmstay. They basically invite anyone who wants to dine on Vietnamese food and a varied load of dishes are served (different each time) and you try them all for 200,000vnd (£6.40). It was the first one this year and as there were only a few guests, the table was small with 6 of us in total. I had a couple of red wines while Captain Caveman had beers and we started with the tasting plate of buffalo meat and a bowl of mushroom soup, both so good. Next were prawn and pork fresh spring rolls then a chicken salad, all was delicious so far. The next dish was the fish wraps which I would never normally have ordered but actually it tasted really good and I would have them again. The last main course was the pork clay pot, bok choy in garlic and steamed rice and this was one of my new favourites now. The dessert looked absolutely terrible but tasted amazing; flambéed banana with chocolate icecream, neither of which I usually like. The meal was a success and I was impressed with the amount of food for the price so we will definitely be doing the chef’s table again. The company was great too and is a great idea to bring guests and the owner, together in a civilised way for a chat over dinner.

It was another lovely food kind of day on Thursday 17th December. For breakfast I had bacon and mushroom on toast then shared some pomelo with Captain Caveman. Mr Ky, the dog, got distressed when some escaped cows came by and started eating grass by the paddy fields opposite our house. We had cheese on toast for lunch and then Captain Caveman cooked us a delicious coq au vin with sticky rice while I made some popcorn, ready to watch some Netflix later. We had started watching The Queen’s Gambit which was turning out to be pretty good so we watched a couple of episodes.

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