Whey hey! For more bumbling updates, read me here:
It's still W.I.P but at least one post is up!
See you there!
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Whey hey! For more bumbling updates, read me here:
Friday, July 18, 2008
Hello. 'Tis I, Saggs. The one with the droopy derriere/bottom/arse...oh you know the rest.
Well, here I am. Back. Not just on blogosphere but back, Back.
Back on our sunny isle, Singapore. Back where we started.
Oh wow. That felt somewhat surreal. Typing those words, deliberately putting them in italics for ahem, added effect. Heh.
The past few days have flown by in a blur. We've been blessed with welcome home parties, we've located our rather elusive contractor, sorted out some administrative matters, left others in limbo. We've had our fill of local delights - teo chew mui, satay beehoon, prata, fish soup noodles, bandung, the works. I've had way too many durians and a hoarse voice to show for it. We're in the midst of helping a cousin sort out the nitty gritties for his wedding next weekend.
There are friends and family to catch up with but this time there's no time crunch, no frantic need to find pockets of time to slot in one more meetup.
We're pacing ourselves. And I've had little time to think about, well, how I feel about moving back. But that's a good thing.
Anyhow...I'm not quite sure whether I'll continue this blog or start another so in the meantime, I leave with you this wonderfully composed post I saved for a rainy day. It's one by my sis.
As some of you may know, she visited us in London and in between, went on a whirlwind tour of Venice/Florence, Edinburgh and Paris. I asked her to be a guest blogger - to recount our adventures, and to give us her POV of her holiday.
I think she's done a brilliant job and I'd like to share it with y'all. So here she is with her maiden blog entry, my chichi.
1. As it’s been a month, “time has dimmed my memory”, quoting a line from the movie The Student Prince.
2 I haven’t been writing or typing for quite a while so you must pardon my odd phrasing, bad spelling and what-nots.
3. I’m long-winded.
4. Take some of the things I write here tongue-in-cheek.
My hubby, Von, says he let me go so I’d spare him the constant weeping and gnashing of teeth, and regular fretting about not being able to visit my dream destination and my bemoaning of lost opportunities i.e. my regrets that we never made it to
I must have been such a complainer and nag that my leaving for
So after “pressure” from both sides of the world, I made my lonely but determined sojourn to the European Continent on 20 May 2008 on British Airways (I had an encounter with a grumpy-whumpy stewardess who kept yawning at me and snapped at me to “get out of the way” when she had to make her way to some cabinet to get me a pack of toiletries).
Though my trip included London, Scotland, Bath, Cotswold, Stonehenge, Rome, Florence, Venice and Paris, I shall write only about the parts where I experienced with Syl (or in the case of Venice, with Dennis and Danielle too). Owing to lack of space, I’ll only mention the highlights of each place, leaving Syl to fill in the blanks.
The first day in London was a bit of a daze because of long travel and time difference but I remember somewhat clearly my experience at Gordon Ramsay’s Claridges at Claridges Hotel (small trivia: the cast of Sex and the City stayed at this hotel when they were in London for the premiere).
I was quite excited about going to Claridges not just because we were celebrating Dennis’ birthday, but because I was going to try the gastronomy delights of a celebrity one-Michelin star chef. Was I going to face hell, fire and brim-stone from Gordon? As expected, these chefs are hardly ever at their own establishments since they are so busy filming. I would have loved to study his botox-free forehead.
I was particularly impressed by the appetizer which was ooh-la-la. What struck me about the pork belly main course that I ordered was how it looked and tasted uncannily like our local sio bak. Was Gordon trying to pull a fast one on me? It had a nice layer of crispy skin like the best of our local roast pork but I think the sauce and presentation differentiated it from our coffee shop version.
The ravioli was a tad too salty for me, although Dennis found it okay. Dessert was pretty good, and the coffee and quality chocolate truffles offered as after-dinner sweets, rounded the evening nicely. But that was before we froze our butts off travelling back to Dennis’ and Syl’s abode. A somewhat surreal experience (cos of jetlag) but a lovely night, nonetheless.
Before I left
My verdict: Gordon 3.5/5. Jamie 3/5. And an additional 0.5 to Jamie for his altruism.
Apart from trying Claridges and Fifteen, which was kindly arranged by Syl and Dennis, the couple also brought me to Fortnum & Mason’s for tea. I enjoyed myself as it was so quintessential English that I felt almost like a queen while trying to politely scoff down scones and quaint little cakes with wild abandon.
On the topic of queen, Dennis, Syl, little Danielle and I jiggled like Dancing Queens when we caught Abba’s Mama Mia at
Actually, the only “low” of the trip was not seeing the “Heilan Coos” (Cows). Syl and I had been so absorbed with our coffee (me) and souvenir-viewing (she) during a stop that we didn’t realise that a number of people in our tour group had taken a short walk behind the café to say helloooo to the “Heilan Coos”. We were bemused by our silliness.
One of the interesting bits of the tour was hearing the tour guide in a kilt do a dramatised account of Mary Queen of Scots’ life. The funny story of how her head rolled would forever be ingrained in the deep recesses of my mind. And Syl’s.
To cheer us up after the “sordid” tale of palace intrigue, the same Scotsman played an obligatory tune or two on his bagpipes. Problem is, the longer he played, the more out of tune he got. Still, top marks for his story-telling prowess.
The strange thing about the trip to
Our trip to the Scottish Highlands was awesome as the scenery was the stuff of legends. To get us in the highlands mood, the tour guide who reminded me of French actor Gerard Depardieu (I think it made Syl’s day to hear a real Scottish accent finally), played celtic music from Rob Roy and the bagpipes version of that famous Titantic tune.
To play the Titantic song just before our ferry ride across the Loch Ness, didn’t go down well with me. But we made it across the extremely deep lake with nary a dip in its icy waters. We were spared hyperthermia and didn’t get to greet Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. I must say that seeing Loch Ness was really one of the highlights of my European tour. With the so-blue water enveloped by bewitching scenery, the lake so vast and air so fresh, it felt magical.
Bon Giorno (hello)
I travelled by train from
I was rather looking forward to
My hopes were dashed when the gondolier that we hired for our romantic ride through the canals of Venice was not Mr Universe, Mr Manhunt or even an Owen “broken nose” Wilson. Mr Average was hired simply because he was the cheapest. Syl and I could only look at a passing Tom Cruise gondolier wistfully, knowing that we had some extra euros on us. The lesson is: you may get less than what you bargained for. Nevertheless, the gondola ride was well-worth the sacrifice and the 80 euros that we paid.
I had expected gondoliers to break into O Sole Mio in tenor voices as they rode down the canals. Alas, the operatic outbursts that we heard came from:
1. A man singing in the bathroom (not Dennis according to Syl)
2. A Korean tourist who surprised us with his spontaneity as he stepped out of a water bus; and
3. A mysterious man seated in a gondola that went past our restaurant as we were imbibing wine.
The thing about
Food was good in
The Hotel de Paris selected by Syl was located in the
The view from the Sacred Heart is breathtaking in more ways than one. It’s the second-best place to go for a view of
Regarding food, the Wee sisters went so crazy over mussels, we ate at the same restaurant and ordered almost the same dishes three times in as many days. Our cholesterol levels must have gone on an overdrive after the OD on mussels.
Syl and I decided that a day view of the
For me, another memorable excursion was the visit to Museum D’orsay. It was quite an experience to see so many great impressionist works under one roof – works by Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Manet and Van Gogh, to name a few. Too bad I didn’t have more time to view the works in greater detail.
Monet @ Musee d'Orsay
As for The Louvre, I liked I.M. Pei’s controversial architectural piece in the centre. But the museum was so huge I got quite lost, spending about 20 minutes searching for the exit. I also took many, many, many photos of the Mona Lisa. Arriving fairly late at the museum and getting lost left me with very little time at the museum. I realised that I only had time for the Masterpieces Tour. Following the instructions on the audio-guide, I realised half-way through that they featured only three masterpieces, one of which I had already viewed – the Mona Lisa. There can only be that many angles of the Mona Lisa one can photograph, no matter how good the piece is.
The other two masterpieces featured were sculptures. Frankly, I don’t know how to appreciate sculptures unless it’s of the naked David and I had already viewed him in
One last thing…
Thanks Qiubio, Dennis and Danielle for having made my holiday so very special for me. I felt really comfortable at your home, and my holiday wouldn’t have been the same without you. Thanks for bringing me around and for providing me with laughter, food and good family company. Love you lots. See you soon in
In a few hours, the movers will be here. By the end of today, our things will packed away and sealed in carton boxes.
In the same way, so will our lives in London.
Has it really been two years? Sometimes it feels like we've been here much, much longer yet I remember incidents like they were yesterday. Then I take one look at Cheeks and instantly I'm snapped back to reality...
Time has flown by.
I've been thinking how I should end my last posting from London. A summary perhaps? So here goes:
Hi. My name is Saggs. Welcome to my blog.
For the past 2 years, my family and I have been living in Southwest London, in the borough of Wandsworth. Some people call these parts, 'The Nappy Valley' because of the droves of families who live here. Our move from Singapore (where we're from) to the UK signalled my first time as a SAHM. If you didn't already know, that stands for 'Stay At Home Mum'.
When Cheeks first arrived to London, she was a month shy of 2.
This is Danielle then:
Well, obviously, she's grown. We all have. Not just older, taller, or wider (guess who? Heh heh.) but as a family. London opened a new chapter for us. It gave us our first glimpse of real family life. Our first taste of solid family bonding and togetherness. Before, family time in Singapore was always confined to the weekends and even those were often marred by Papa's frequent callbacks to the office. But here, with the English guarding their personal/family time, their holidays and weekends so possessively, work-life balance vastly improved for Dee and we had him wholly to ourselves. We relished every moment having him with us, and doing things as a family.
When I think about going back to the hustle and bustle of Singapore life, the long hours Dee has to put in for work, the time he has to spend away from us, I'm filled with immeasurable dread. I don't want to seem like a single mum again (it felt that way before). I want our family to be as it was here. I want the three of us, not just two.
Whether it'll revert back to what it was before is still left to be seen. What lies in store for us?
I don't know.
But I don't want to be afraid. So I pray, and I hope you'll pray for us too...
I should end this soon. The computer needs to be shut down and I need to clear the computer table in preparation for the move tomorrow.
But before I go, I want to thank you all for joining me on this wonderful journey. I've enjoyed spending time updating my blog with UK anecdotes and I look forward to more updates of our lives back in Singapore.
Perhaps more befitting would've been this view of the city from the summit of Parliament Hill, Hampstead - with woodland all around us, the sun on our faces, the breeze carassing our cheeks.
Scenes of London, I think I'll have plenty. But if asked to choose how I'd best remember the city, this would probably be it. It's the scene dearest to me. The one I want etched in memory, and embedded in my heart... forever.
- I want to go home right straightaway!
- it's not fair! (nothing ever is, kiddo)
- it's really, absolutely the last one/story
- that's not nice!
- 'vehicle', 'fabulous', 'pronounce', 'operatic voice'
- mummy, I love you ever so much
- please, Mummy? Please please, can I?
- When I'm big...
- it's morning time!
- (on the phone) Hello, Papa? Where are you? I want you to come home now.
- wait for me to begin reading a story before she eats
- tell people what they should or should not do (eg he should not stand so close to the road, she shouldn't litter)
- huff and fold her arms in displeasure
- make up silly songs
- pretend she's in a cocoon when she's all wrapped up right after a bath
- drink pink milk (a Lola trait)
- scan items at the supermarket self-checkout stations
- sit on the counter whenever I pay for something
- get my card, cash, receipt at the ATM
- charm the pants off commuters in the Tube or on the bus
- get her own vitamin in the morning, pour her own milk
- cover her nose before digging for 'treasure'
- have me run my fingers up and down her arm, her back
- give me hugs, for no reason at all (very manjah)
- drink Milo! Hahahahahaa...
- point out graffitti
- going into boutiques (it's boooorrrring, she wails)
- going out!?
- peas, in fact most veggies
- blackcurrent jam
- going to bed
- the dark
- dogs (loves cats. I wonder why? :P)
- not being able to get a word in
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
In response to this week's most FAQ: How are you feeling? I have but one pithy answer-- Wobbly. Like the English weather.
We've been experiencing rather erratic spells of weather here - swaying pendulously from resplendent bursts of sunshine to overcast, gloom and doomey downpours. But most days, the weather just wants to play peekaboo, the naughty thing. It teases us with slivers of sunlight then quickly draws the curtains with thick clouds of grey. It's going to rain, it's not going to rain, not, rain, not - we toss coins, chew our fingers raw, and shoot contemptuous looks at the umbrella, hoping we won't have to use THAT.
So you see, wobbly.
Likewise, my mood.
This week's been tough. Knowing it's our last week in London is tough. The mere thought of not seeing this place for a long long time is excruciating.
I find it difficult to move on yet have no choice. Time leaves me no options. So onward, I trudge.
Yet, despite the undulating emotions - I do have happy spurts - I am aware that God IS Good.
ALL. THE. TIME.
These past 2 years, He's seen to our every need, brought fantastic people into our lives, opened doors for us, healed us, comforted us, strengthened us.
I don't want to think that all good things come to an end. Instead, I want to know that things only get better. I may not see it now. But I'm sure they will.
Afterall, He knows better.
We visited Ros and family in Egham (Surrey) on Tuesday. The initial plan was to board the G1 to Clapham Junction. But as inconsistencies in feeder buses go, G1 never came. So, I had to abort the idea and hopped onto 2 buses instead. Despite the glitch in transportation, I was unfazed. Afterall, the weather was GREAT. No one's allowed to be grumpy or mopey when good weather's in full swing, you know?
We always have a swell time at Ros'. Despite my initial protests to bring my own lunch (didn't want her to be stressed over cooking), I backed down when she assured me she'd whip up 'something simple'.
After lunch, Cheeks attended a music class with Lavigne. She'd attended the same one on a previous occasion and had thoroughly enjoyed it. This time, however, she 'forbade' me to participate so I had no choice but to watch on as the other young 'uns trotted and tumbled with their mummies. She wanted to be independent so I let her. But I did so want to stamp my feet like a hippo and gallop like a pony. Hmph.
After the half-hour class, the 2 girls had time to play in the field next to the music class venue before we all trooped to pick Louisa up from her school.
We had tea back at Ros', followed Louisa to her music class (Lavigne and Cheeks played catch on the field outside with other children, blew bubbles) then all too soon, it was time to say goodbye.
As the South West train pulled up at the station, I took one lingering glance at Egham and said a silent farewell to the family who have enriched our lives so much with their warmth and friendship.
We'll certainly miss Ros and the girls. 10 months of friendship was too short, yet sufficient to seal our friendship. I look forward to catching up with them when they next visit Singapore.
In fact, I can scarcely wait.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Women are a sentimental lot. We form attachments easily. We love to reminisce bygone days. We cling onto memories. We find it hard to let go...
Oh, I'm sorry, am I wrong to generalise?
Maybe it's just me. I am exceedingly sentimental. Almost to a fault.
This statue, 'Little Dancer of Fourteen Years' is by famous french artist, Edgar Degas, who was said to have turned to sculpturing when - hampered by deteriorating vision - was forced to give up painting.
When I began taking an interest in Impressionism and the artists who began this revolutionary art movement, I was particularly drawn to Degas because of his choice of subjects - dancers. I always thought he captured them on canvas so beautifully. He never drew them in arabesque, instead chose to show them involved in backstage activities or rehearsing.
And now, I have even more reason to feel an attachment to his work...
Cheeks and I met up with Val and Luke yesterday. To say goodbye.
We've always enjoyed our time with them. We've shared laughs, chatted, watched our children bicker and play well with each other. We've trawled tearooms together, sipped copious amounts of tea, sampled all kinds of cakes and pastries.
So, it seemed apt that our 'last' activity with them would involve all the above.
I chose The Orangery at Kensington Gardens because it's always been very dear to me. Ah, the number of friends and family I entertained within its whitewashed walls. It was THE place I developed the penchant for English tea (the activity, not just the drink). The place where Cheeks, Dee and I first enjoyed tea together. I'll remember fondly the squirrels skirting behind bushes and trees, the beautifully manicured bushes that look like giant 'thimbles' standing in line on the well-shorn lawn.
I'll never look at Degas' 'Little Dancer' the same way again. Coz she was given to me by Val, on her farewell card to me, filled with beautiful, touching words.
Val/Luke - saying 'Thank you' isn't enough. Our London memories will always be filled with the sounds of pattering, running feet, trills of laughter, playdates that basked in warmth of the summer sun, shivered through the thick of winter... the smiles that light up your faces.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Today was Cheeks' last day at nursery. I brought the camera along (like I'd ever leave home without it. Pooh!) to take snaps of Cheeks with her teachers and friends.
Suffice to say, it was bittersweet.
We were inundated with kind words from mothers wishing us the very best, bidding us farewell. Cheeks was smothered with cuddles from classmates, teachers and other non-teaching staff at school. Everyone was lovely.
Cheeks wanted to take pictures with EVERYONE. Unfortunately, some children were not at school that day, their mothers opting to start their summer holidays earlier. Sorely missing were pictures with Poppy, Sebestian, Boyd, Amelia and Maddie.
Cheeks went around announcing excitedly that she was 'going to Singapore!' and that she would be 'leaving London!' I'm glad she seems chuffed by the idea that she's going home soon. I just hope she knows she's not coming back. It's not another holiday. She won't return to this nursery after Summerbreak, nor will she see her friends, or walk through our big red door again.
And now, I'd like to tell you what else we did today! I brought Cheeks to Hampstead to meet children's author, Lauren Child, of 'Charlie and Lola' fame. We trundled bumpity bump (with Cheeks in her buggy) to Daunt Books at South End Road for the book signing. It was publicised as an event to raise funds for UNICEF so I showed my support by purchasing the enhanced copy of 'That Pesky Rat'.
It was a thrill for us to see a 'minor celebrity' - albeit a children's author - so up close and personal. And Ms Child was utterly charming and down-to-earth. But very tardy! She showed up an hour late for the event. Tsk tsk! But everyone was all smiles the minute she arrived.
Hello? Hang on! Who is this I spot decked in a Vivienne Westwood-esque gingham skirt and dark glasses? Can it be? Have my prayers of finally meeting a star in celestial London been answered?
It was. Her.
I flubbered like an idiot. I asked for a photograph (what's the camera for anyway? I ask you!). I was as happy as a pig in muck because lo! She may not be Dame Judi Dench,
Behold! I present to you...
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
The writings on the wall. The page's been flipped.
'JULY' is staring at me squarely in the eye.
We leave in 19 days' time. (actually less by the time this entry is posted.)
Time for more sweet memories. Literally. Here's Cheeks to show us how best to enjoy a Marks & Sparks Percy Pig, the way she likes it!
'Having your Percy and Eating it!'
Would I be a terrible parent if I confess that visiting Disneyland was hard work? Coz the song that comes instantly to mind when I think of our recent visit to Parc Disneyland Paris is by Queen.
You'd think bringing a child to a world famous theme park would be - oh how should I put it - a walk in the park? But hohohoboy...
Dee was donkey-fied (being the beast of burden as usual)
We were well and truly fried, nicely singed on the edges and all. (Geri mentioned 'chow tah' on FB, that's how bad it was!)
We were amateurs. Greenhorns. Novices to this big and overwhelming world they call Disneyland. It was a stampede even though the summerbreak hasn't quite kicked in yet.
We had 2 whole days but still, we couldn't cover EVERYTHING.
It wasn't a small world after all. They lied. Hmph.
Our 2 days there felt like we were part of a mob.
We had gone in thinking we could flit from one ride to another, see different 'themed lands' - Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland etc - with tra-la-la minimal fuss.
We didn't know how serious people (read: parents) were when it came to the 'meet and greet' sessions with the characters. People, they had targets they had to meet. TARGETS. Mums and Dads were busy striking off rides, ticking off shows they'd completed, and counting what else they had to cover. Kids were well prepared with autograph books and matching pens purchased from the Disney store. These were no novices, no siree, they were trained experts in the field of themeparks!
Dee and I were bewildered but quickly took notes on how to increase our efficiency from the Masters.
It was an Amazing Race (Disneyland edition) from the get-go. We braved the scorching sun, endured snaking queues, tut-tutted at people who CUT queues, dashed from themeland to themeland, witnessed children screaming at their parents, parents screaming their heads off... it was manic.
Yet, despite the rather frazzled experience. We enjoyed Disneyland. I think it was a combination of seeing Cheeks so utterly thrilled, and us working as a team to cover as much as possible that made the trip memorable. Once we got the hang of it, Papa and I split up to queue for rides, the meet and greet sessions. When our pace showed signs of slowing, Papa would remind me of how we'd zip about from one landmark to the next with gusto when we were on a holiday that we wanted. Instantly our engines would rev up again, and we tried best to make sure Cheeks got to see as many shows, take as many rides as possible.
There are many other anecdotes from this trip that I'd love to share - like the time we were left stranded on the 2nd day when Paris' Metro decided to go on strike and we had no means of getting to Disneyland (thank God for Disney staff at major stations who found alternative modes of transportation for Disneyland ticketholders), how we tried to be frugal and BYO-ed lunches (cooked rice! made porridge! packed sandwiches!) on this trip - but there are too many to put up on blog.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
(yet another b.p)
Hot on the heels of Summer are long lovely maxi-dresses, flipflops, sunbathing in parks, splashing around in paddling pools, tall gorgeous glasses of Pimm's, and of course, hot, flammin' Barbeques!!!!
We were invited to one at the end of June. Our hosts were the very lovely Ongs who organised a mini housewarming shindig at their swanky new pad a stone's throw from their previous apartment.
& Alan the BBQ extraordinaire!
With her new bowls
We got them as a housewarming gift for the Ongs :)
The Ongs - they ALWAYS spoil us rotten with their smorgasbord of delectables! That day, we were treated to thick slabs of chargrilled beef from M&S, well marinated chicken pieces, bamboo clams from their local fishmonger (Steve Hatt, I think?), succulent lamb kebabs. We imbibed glass after glass of red/white wine and tumblers of juice as we sat chatting under the warm blanket of the Saturday afternoon sunshine. (Well, at least the men did. The womenfolk opted to keep fairskinned by escaping indoors. Heh.)
Everything was pretty darn awesome.
Later however, all the children got into their swimsuits and played at the fountain located in the apartment compound. They ran round in circles, splishety splashed in the water, and had themselves a swimmingly good time.