June – Turn on, tune in, drop out

Having spent years moaning at the kids to get off the tech, I found myself this month woefully buried in untouched admin. Yes, dear reader, I have discovered Instagram.

I know I’m very late to the party as at first I didn’t really ‘get’ Instagram, but oh my god, once you do, it’s a rabbit warren.

According to my friends and the kids, nobody really reads Facebook anymore. It’s all about the image and the ‘story’ these days over on ‘Insta’.

So I signed up and had a bit of an experiment, and soon realised I could make myself look quite amazing with the fantastic filters. ‘Crema’ is a particular favourite as it seems to smooth away all of my wrinkles and make me look quite tanned.

And then I discovered Instagram Influencers. There are loads of them, all over the world, and all letting you know about interesting little clothing companies, jewellery boutiques, shoe shops and other relatively undiscovered, independent businesses. And everything is handily tagged so all you have to do is click on the picture to go to the websites where you can have a good old shop. And before you know it you’re on first-name terms with the parcel-delivery guy (seriously).

Indeed, why would I want to be filling in the Boy Child’s boring old camp reply slip when I could be buying a brand-new pair of earrings worn by @styleblazer? And why would I want to read the school newsletter when I could be perusing which summer skirts @chloelovestoshop is recommending this week?

And then there are the Stories. You just click on a profile and there are these reasonably entertaining videos about how to apply mascara if you’re over 40, or how to tie a scarf attractively. I have just spent ten minutes watching @ladyofthemanor77 having her hair highlighted in a salon in Amersham, UK. And another five finding out what @fashionfoiegras thought of the Met Ball gowns this year.

I have no idea who any of these people are, but for some reason their amateur, slightly wonky films make for compelling viewing. Much more compelling than filling in our Hong Kong permanent residency applications, anyway.

But after my husband came home late from work the other night to find me comatose on top of the duvet, iPhone firmly clutched in my sticky mitt, I realised I needed to kick my social media habit. I’d fallen asleep waiting for a boutique in Mykonos to process my payment for a Japanese kimono (I know, slightly off the grid, but they are seriously to die for, check them out @solymarbeachboutique). Unfortunately my husband had also done a quick sweep of the house before coming upstairs – the Boy Child’s English homework lay untouched on the dining table, the Blonde Child had fallen asleep on the couch, and the Teen Child was making her own dinner (ok, I’m not that bad, she’d got home late from soccer training and turned her nose up at the roast chicken).

But the point was, I needed to snap out of it. I needed to break free of @doesmybumlook40, I needed to relinquish @cucumberclothing, I needed to get my life back. So when a text popped up from a neighbour about a hike the following day, I jumped at the invite.

The route chosen was a reasonably remote one in the New Territories. The online guide said the circular trail was about eight kms, which would have us in Sai Kung enjoying an al fresco lunch by midday. So we were happily marching past little villages and streams and mangrove swamps, when one of the group wondered whether we were on the right track, as we did seem to have been walking for rather a long time. Three hours in fact.

So we plucked out our phones to give Google Maps a quick look, and horrors! There was no reception. We’d been taken out by China Mobile. “Well,” said one of the group, pointing to the other side of the reservoir. “I do think that might be China over there.”

And then we got really lost and wandered around in what turned out to be ever-increasing circles for a bit before happening on an ancient walled Hakka village. “There is a boat, from this pier here,” said one of the villagers when asked for the quickest route back to Tai Po. Our spirits were momentarily raised… but then dashed again. “It arrives on Sunday,” he continued helpfully.

It turned out our only route home was back up some decidedly tall mountains, whereupon we should eventually reach Bride’s Pool Road, where we could flag down a green cab. But not content with the havoc they had already wreaked, our little blue Google Maps dots reliably told us to go one way, and then decided we ought to go the other way, and then the track petered out altogether and we saw a snake.

The whole hike ended up taking most of the day and we walked almost a half marathon, mostly up steep hills.

And so I guess the moral of the story is that while being totally addicted to tech is a Bad Thing, we do actually need it from time to time. As my grandma would have said, everything in moderation. Either that or buy a map.