Category Archives: London

Things we did during our time in London.

Tony’s Birthday Part 3 of 3

I swear this is the last blog about Tony’s  Birthday but it’s worth the mention because according to Tony, it’s the best meal he’s ever had in his whole life so far.  That’s a big call!  How am I going to top that next year?!  I’m going to have to start researching right now!

So where did Tony have the best meal of his life ever?  We went to Fera at Claridges and had the 6 course tasting menu.

We used to watch a lot of Great British Menu and chef Simon Rogan was one of Tony’s favourites so I knew he’d like this treat for his birthday.

Tony kept calling him “the vegetable guy” because this guy would take all sorts of plants we’d never heard of and turn them into something amazing and everyone would rave on about how he brought out all the flavours of the plants.  Well it’s one thing watching other chefs commenting on his food and looking at it thinking “God I wish I could taste that” and another, sitting there actually eating one of those creations!

Let’s start with the easy stuff shall we?  The restaurant was really easy to get to.  A hop, skip and a jump away from Bond St Tube Station.  Of course, everyone else travelling there would most likely arrive by Jaguar, Bentley or horse and carriage.

Fera at Claridges

It was beautiful.  The atmosphere was great.  Everyone was spaced out enough to have their own personal space and yet not so sparsely so you felt like you were part of the buzz.  The waiters were extremely attentive and you were never served by just one, they worked flawlessly as a team.  You know they’re good when your plates have disappeared from the table and you didn’t even notice someone had come to take them away.  These guys were good!

CocktailsCocktails, bread, butter and a tree.  That tree was gorgeous and you can imagine the size of a place when they can have a tree in the middle of the restaurant 🙂  I don’t know how they did it but that bread had a crispy crust and super soft and moist inside.  There’s something so comforting about bread and butter.  Thank goodness they didn’t give us any more or I would have filled myself up on it.

Appetiser

I must admit that I used to laugh every time I saw something like this.  Such a tiny bit of food in the middle of a dinner plate.  I would scoff at the crumb and how much ££ I was paying for it and then feel sorry for the person who had to wash that plate.  I’d always sympathise and think that his or her job would be so much easier if they just used a smaller plate.  Gone are those days.  That’s why dishwashers were created.

This was the appetiser.  It wasn’t on the menu so I can’t tell you what it was.  Super light, crispy, fluffy and fresh, it held together right until you took a bite and then it completely fell apart in your mouth and tasted delicious!

We were seated next to a guy who worked for Disney.  Tony stopped our conversation to speak to him because he thought he was a food critic.  Turned out he was scoping out all the best places to stay (and eat) in the world (London being one of his many stops) in order to get ideas to design the new Disney resort cruise ships… What a job!

Note to self:  Create a life where eating at Michelin Star restaurants and staying at 5 star hotels (where many esteemed people of the world including Royalty stay) becomes a regular occurrence.  Yes, that will do quite nicely!

So where were we?  Oh yes, the meal…

Course 1
Stewed rabbit with lovage
Pea mousse, cod, calamint

Pea Rabbit

The top pictures are of the Pea Mousse, the cod was a nice little surprise at the bottom of the pot.

Rabbit, I wouldn’t normally eat.  I had pet rabbits so, I always get anxious eating one.  Well, those little puff balls at the bottom were rabbit and as much as I hate to say it, they tasted really good.  Tony described them as “the best popcorn chicken I’ve ever had.”

I can tell you now, that the outside was super crispy but not the kind of crispy that cuts your gums and the roof of your mouth and puts a few fractures in your teeth.  It was the kind of crispy that crackled in your mouth but then melted softly.  If ever there were to be the perfect popcorn chicken, this would be it.

Course 2
Mackerel tomato, sea lettuce and fennel

Tomato

Tony described it as “The best canned tomato soup I’ve ever had.”

This was like sipping tomato essence.  I don’t think you could taste more tomato than this and mackerel which is normally a very fatty and fishy fish tasted fresh and light.  It was the least fishy mackerel I’ve ever had that’s for sure!  Those little black dots you see were tiny globules of squid ink 😉

Course 3
Cod in pine oil , salt baked turnip, leek, black truffle

Cod

Wonderful – all the flavours of the leek, turnip and truffle made for a really yummy creamy sauce on a perfectly cooked cod.

Course 4
55 day dry-aged pork, grilled carrots, lettuce,  blewits and nasturtium

Vegetables and Pork Pork and Vegetables

Same dish, different angles.  One showcasing the vegetables and the other showcasing the pork.

Tony described it as “the best bacon I’ve ever had”.  Ahh he really does sound like he’s taking the piss but to be honest, the entire dish smelled like bacon.  It just tasted like so much more.  You smell it and start salivating in anticipation and it over delivers!  What could be better than bacon?  This dish most definitely!

Course 5
Blueberry, yoghurt, lemon thyme

BlueberryIcy, creamy, crunchy, sweet with a hint of yoghurt sour.

Course 6
Strawberries, sweet cicely custard, buttermilk and sorrel

Dessert 1 Dessert 1.0

Two pictures were taken of the same dessert because no matter what angle I tried, I couldn’t get it to look “pretty”.  The colours were there but the plating… nevermind. The taste was sensational and when it comes to food and eating, the taste and the flavour counts for way more points than presentation.  That white stuff was buttermilk “snow” and you couldn’t get more snowy than that.  It was cold and fluffy! The sweet cicely custard was really good.  Eating at this restaurant is an education in herbaceous plants as well as a treat for the tastebuds! Who knew you could turn a herb into a custard!  Brilliant!

Petit Four & Tea
Spiced perry, sunflower
Beetroot and pumpkin seed

Tea Petit Four

This was definitely a memorable and spectacular meal, ending with an even more spectacular and memorable tea experience.  We each got a flask of water at different temperatures and a minute sand timer so that we could time our tea infusions and use the correct temperature water for our chosen teas!

Tony was definitely a happy chappy!Tea for TonyWe thought that we’d actually ended our meal on a high note but we were in for a surprise.

We left the restaurant and went across to the concierge to get our coats to leave and as he was handing us our coats, the man said, “Would you like a tour of the hotel?” We smiled at him, said yes but must have both looked bemused at his offer so he said, “You are my last guests and as I have 30 mins left on my shift, rather than standing here waiting for my shift to end, I’d like to give you a tour.”

“We’d be delighted!” we responded so as an extra and unexpected birthday treat, we got a little personal tour of Claridge’s Hotel!

He took us around the different bar areas, showed us where the likes of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves and Maria Carey sat to have drinks.  He even walked us around to see a pretty amazing ballroom (the smallest of the lot) and told stories of royalty staying at the hotel.

Claridge's 1

Notice the same chandelier as the one in the V&A!!
Notice the same chandelier as the one in the V&A!!

Claridge's 3 Claridge's 4

Apparently this is the view that the Prince of Japan wakes up to every time he stays at Claridge's.
Apparently this is the view that the Prince of Japan wakes up to every time he stays at Claridge’s.

We couldn’t have asked for more.  We left there feeling really special and having our eyes opened to a whole new world.  So THIS is how the other “half” (ie top 1% of the world) live!  Not bad, not bad at all 😉

Happy Birthday Tony 🙂  I’m glad you had an awesome day and that I was a part of it xox

 

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Tony’s Birthday 2015 Part 2 – Decision (Carsten Holler)

Last week I mentioned that for Tony’s Birthday, I organised a surprise and it was to take him to the Southbank Centre where CARSTEN HÖLLER’s biggest show (in the UK to date) was on.  The exhibition is called: DECISION

Carsten Holler Southbank

It’s experiential art so you get to actively participate and interact with the artwork and in so doing, you become part of the exhibition.  People can either watch and contemplate the scenarios they’re put in and other people’s reactions to it, or they can actively participate.  In the end,  it’s your decision. 😉

Carsten Holler actually did a show at the Tate Modern a while back (2008) where there was a giant slide.  I missed it and so was happy to see that he had another show on with 2 slides AND a flying machine!  I was sure Tony would love it.

Although it was meant to be a surprise, the unveiling didn’t go to plan.  He saw the slides, got excited and then as we were entering,  “Guys, as it’s raining today, the flying machine won’t be working.  So you can either go in now and see the whole exhibition except for the flying machine, or, you can exchange your tickets and come back another time when the flying machine will be on.”

Disappointment and more importantly, decision time.  Couldn’t get more experiential than that.  We decided that even though it was Tony’s bday that day,  we’d go back the following week instead.

Carsten Holler Raining

Lesson 1:  We make decisions based on what’s most important to us.  In this case, getting the most out of our experience was more important than doing this specifically on Tony’s birthday as planned.  We instead enjoyed the rain.

So the following week, it was sunny and we went back to the exhibition.

Rainy Sunny London

***I WILL INSERT A SPOILER ALERT HERE.  Do not read any further if you intend to go to the exhibition and experience this yourself.  It is best experienced without any preconceptions.  Come back here after you’ve gone and see if we had similar experiences 🙂 ***

OK, now I will start.

As soon as you enter, the halls are pitch black and it reminded me of dinner at Dans Le Noir.  The only difference was that I was expecting the pitch black at Dans Le Noir and we were pretty much led into the restaurant holding onto each other, whereas this entrance to the exhibition took me completely unexpectedly.  One minute you’re walking into an entrance, the next, it’s completely pitch black.

That was the point.

According to the leaflet, “Holler intends for his work to bring about ‘moments of not knowing’.” and boy did it do that!

To be honest, I freaked out and on reflection, I actually do freak out every time I am uncertain.  Stepping deeper and deeper into darkness and not knowing when it would end was pretty scary.

The freaking out didn’t last for long.  Immediately my hand reached out to grab Tony’s shirt.  He was walking ahead of me and I started talking to him so he would talk back.  Interesting how the immediate loss of sight made me find reassurance through touch and sound only seconds after.  My other hand reached out to the wall so I could feel if I should walk straight and when it was time to turn.

With that little bit of certainty (Tony and the wall), I was OK and started walking a bit faster.  Eventually my eyes adjusted and I could see tiny holes of light (the daylight that was filtering through the joints of the metal tube we were walking through) which showed the way.  Not all of it had specks of light and at times it seemed to never end, it was just eternal darkness.

When I was a kid, my parents took us to El Caballo Blanco and all I remember from there was a giant black water slide.  Basically a water slide made of a big black cylinder twisted in different ways rather than your normal open top, half pipe, blue slides (they had them too).  So everything was dark, black and you wouldn’t be able to see when the next turn or dip would be.  You’d pretty much be sliding around with no visual reference.  It was also the largest and steepest slide in the park, meant for the big kids.  All of it was completely scary to me, after all I wasn’t yet a big kid myself.  I made my brother go first even though he was smaller and told him to just yell out and let me know it was OK and then I’d count to 10 and follow him.

Me:  “Are you OK?”  while he was setting himself up and edging slowly forward.
Him:  “Yeah, I’m O Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy!!!!!!!!!” and then dead silence.

The first dip obviously took him by surprise but it completely freaked me out.  I was standing there staring at the black hole until he had managed to slide all the way down and climb all the way back up again with a huge grin on his face ready to go again because he had so much fun.

I refused to go down the slide.  It took a lot of coercing and my dad having to go down the slide, with me on his lap and for me to come out alive before I’d go again and even then I didn’t go by myself, I went in there with my brother on my lap and my dad waiting for us at the bottom and by that point, I’d had enough!

Some people like high levels of fear and death-defying adrenalin rushes.  I’m not one of those.

So there we were in that long, dark, tunnel.

The Long Dark Tunnel
The Long Dark Tunnel

Tony kept bumping into people ahead of us.  Either we were walking quickly or they were walking really slowly.  It turned out there was a lady who was walking so slowly (she must’ve been really freaking out) that she was holding everyone up.  She was clinging to the walls and not saying a thing, so I assumed people just started walking around her.  I’m sure that would’ve been me if I wasn’t holding onto Tony.  We eventually saw her come out of the exit a little while after us – she looked completely dazed and confused.  I was relieved for her.

I didn’t feel like I passed anyone though.  At one point, I felt Tony turn left with the hand I was holding onto him with but my other hand felt the fold in the wall which suggested we turn right.  He was walking fast, I almost lost him  (his shirt left my grip) and although I kept telling him to stop and wait, “Are you sure you’re going the right way?  ’cause I think we have to turn right.”  He just kept on walking left, “Yeah, this is the way”.

He ended up farther away than I’d hoped and I had to make a decision.  I either had to let go of what I was certain of (the wall) and find and follow the voice of he who was more certain, or ignore him and stick with the wall.  I decided to let go of the wall and follow him.  We turned left.  In the end, both ways would lead to the same exit but when you’re in there, you just don’t know!!  That lady must have turned right.

Lesson 2:  He who has more certainty, rules the game.  This made me realise that I always question myself before I question others and I put a lot of faith in what I can see and question everything I cannot.

So, first stop out of that weirdly dark but enlightening entrance was the human turned mushrooms ie. a machine that was turning because humans were pushing it at the base and it had mushrooms all over it.  I was fascinated how everyone just kept spinning it exactly the same way.  I said to Tony, “You know, it’ll spin the other way too, You just have to push it the other way.  I wonder why people just keep pushing it this one way (the same way as those who have pushed before them).”

He replied, “Well, you can go in there and spin it the other way if you want.”

My response was, “Nah, I can’t be bothered.”  I opted instead to take pictures and move on.

Flying Mushrooms, 2015
Flying Mushrooms, 2015

Lesson 3:  Inaction or action (for whatever your reasons), are both decisions and both have consequences.  In that moment, I didn’t want to rock the boat but in so doing, I didn’t show others who might not have seen or thought about it, that there was another way.

Next stop was the pile of pills.  I’m sure everyone joked about taking the red pill or the blue pill but you couldn’t because they were all red and white pills.

“Don’t mess with the exhibit.” the guard says.  I think someone was picking handfuls of pills up and swishing their hand around in the pile.

I squat down and try to take a picture of the pile of pills and notice it moving.  “Why is it moving?” I ask Tony.  He says, “It’s not.”

“No… I’m sure it is” I said and just as I say that, tick! it moves again. The ticking noise is coming from a pill falling from a hole in the ceiling.  Every 3 seconds another pill falls, hits the top of the pile, making a singular noise… tick! then a few pills topple down from the top.  This piece of art was called the “Pill Clock”.

“You can take one.” the guard says.  I stare at him a little because I was sure he just told us not to touch it… and now he’s telling us we can not only touch it but we can take and walk away with a piece of it?  I stare at him some more while I contemplate whether or not he’s part of the exhibition.

Everyone that was there, picks up just one pill.  There’s a bubbler (drinking fountain) near by  and so Tony takes the extra step and he actually “TAKES” the pill ie he puts it into his mouth, has a sip of water and swallows it.  He is cheekily excited about what he just did.  Grinning from ear to ear.  I stare at him in disapproval and say, “I can’t believe you just did that.  You don’t even know what’s in the pill.  I’m sure that’s not what he meant when he said “You can take one”!”

Convinced that I’d have to look after him afterwards while he was hallucinating about mushrooms, I decided to open up the pill to see what, if anything, was inside (like I’d know what it was by looking at it!).

Pill Clock, 2011/2015
Pill Clock, 2011/2015

There was white powder, I put it to my nose, it smelled like nothing, I licked a tiny bit of the powder, it didn’t taste like much, almost like a mixture between fibre and cardboard with no taste but then I felt slightly dizzy, probably placebo but it was enough to convince me not to trust it.  I threw the pill in the bin which was underneath the bubbler.  Seeing so few pills in the bin, it seemed either many had taken Tony’s route and swallowed it or they’d put it in their pockets to take home as a memento?

I found it interesting how when faced with the same decision, Tony went with it with complete trust and I went into it with complete distrust.

Lesson 4:  I learned something about myself and that is, I am always suspicious and do not trust easily.  I evidently never played the trust game like this clever girl…

Next came a whole bunch of other things but I can’t go through each the same way as above, or we’ll be here forever.  So instead, here are some pictures.

The flying machine wasn’t adrenalin-pumping type fun, it was more contemplative.  How do you behave when people are watching you?  What does it feel like to be hung like a sack of potatoes?  What do you do when you’re completely bored waiting for an hour?  You could always decide to leave the queue… or,  you could decide to wait….

Two Flying Machines
Two Flying Machines

There are 2 slides, how do you decide which one you’ll go on?  The slide made Tony really dizzy but not me (must’ve been the pill he took).

Isomeric Slides
Isomeric Slides

The upside down goggles made me feel queezy – I reckon if you get vertigo, these are not the goggles to be putting on!  Seeing the world upside down not only gives you a headache because your brain keeps trying to turn it the right way up but it also affects your balance (how do you walk when the ground is up?)  The weird thing is when I wanted to see the ground I still had to tilt my head down and when I wanted to see the sky, I still had to tilt my head up just like normal, except what I saw was upside down. Everything you feel is the right way up and yet it contrasts with everything you see and because I wouldn’t or couldn’t decide which to go with (what I felt or what I saw), I was left feeling very uncomfortable indeed.  There was a lesson in there somewhere I’m sure!

Upside Down Goggles, 1994/2009
Upside Down Goggles, 1994/2009

I actually thought that when the ticket said entrance between 11.00am-12.00pm it meant that you go in at 11 and you come out at  12 but we were there for hours!!  Turns out it just means enter any time between 11.00am and 12.00pm, you pretty much stay for as long as you like!  Well, it was really fun, enlightening and well worth going to!  Especially if you’re internally contemplative like me or enjoy doing different and interactive things like Tony.

This exhibition definitely made me think about all the decisions we have to make in a day and as a result, in our lifetimes.  We are making decisions ALL THE TIME!!  What to eat, what to wear, what to do.  Do or don’t?  Now or later?  If later, when?  What day? What time?  If you don’t decide exactly, it will be “some day” (which is the equivalent of “never”) and that too is a decision.  If not now, what do we do instead? Again, if you don’t decide the alternative, then you’ve decided on whatever comes your way ie, to be at the receiving end of other people’s decisions.

With or without?  Before or after?  Yoga or art exhibition? 😉  What are the consequences of our decisions?  Some decisions, seemingly have no consequences but what we must remember is that our lives now are the cumulative results of all the decisions we (and those before us) have made in the past!  Our decisions now are forming our futures.

Lesson 5:   Decision making happens all the time.   I have been told and reminded by my guides, that “The world was not built on indecision.”  What world do you want to build?  What will you decide?

Tony’s Birthday Part 1 – Everything But The Plan

I had it all planned out.  I was going to surprise Tony by spending the morning at Southbank at an experiential art exhibition, lunch around Southbank (maybe even try the food stalls or the food trucks around for summer) with his close friend, an afternoon of yoga and then dinner.  The only bit that was going to be a surprise was the art exhibition but alas it wasn’t to be.

It was raining and when we got there, they told us that one of the sections of the exhibition was closed because of the rain.  So my surprise was blown and we didn’t get to go to the exhibition that day.  We instead opted to return the following week in the hopes that it would be sunny and all sections of the exhibition would be open.

So, an impromptu alternative meant we ended up at the Hotel Cafe Royal for hot chocolate.  My reasoning was that the best thing to cure any ailments caused by trudging around in the cold, windy rain was hot chocolate!

It worked.

This was my “Traditional” hot chocolate.

Jivara 40% milk chocolate
Jivara 40% milk chocolate

Birthday Boy chose “The Dark Mapbelieve”.

Guanaja 70% chocolate with toasted pecan and maple syrup
Guanaja 70% chocolate with toasted pecan
and maple syrup

We didn’t have time to try anything else at the cafe because we’d changed our plans and his friend was coming to meet us within 30 mins so we could have lunch together.

So, we enjoyed the hot chocolate…

Cafe Royal

… (yes, he was happy) and met up with his close friend and her partner for lunch at Ham Yard Hotel, one of our favourite places in London.

We ended up sitting and eating in the bar area.  As it was impromptu, we didn’t book a table and because it was raining, every table booked outdoors had to be accommodated for indoors leaving no room for us.  Still, the bar food was pretty good and it allowed us a comfortable place to catch up.

We ate things like:
Chorizo sausage rolls and rapeseed mayonnaise (in picture below).
Pork belly, butter beans, onion soubise, salsa verde  (in picture below).
Hot salt beef, mustard mayo and pickles. (A sandwich with a paper thin amount of salt beef, nothing like what we had imagined.)
Ham Yard house-glazed smoked ham, Fontina and truffled mascarpone. (a posh ham and cheese sandwich)
Crisp shredded duck, hoisin sauce Sliders  (2 on a plate).

The dishes were tiny (being bar food), we cut everything up and split it between the 4 of us so we could all try a bit of everything.

HamYard BarIt was all delicious.  Just, small, minuscule, tiny portions.

We didn’t have the heart to order any more even though we were hungry because his friend’s partner who we just met had offered to pay.  Instead, we enjoyed the meal and the company, said our farewells and then subsequently found out from each other that we were both still hungry.

Tones decided that he didn’t want to go to yoga anymore.

So we walked all the way to and down Oxford St looking for food and finally stopped at Simit Sarayi.  We had walked past this many times before and every time it was so crowded, it really put us off going in but since it was his birthday, I encouraged him to brave the crowds and try something different.

We ended up getting a tomato and mozzarella sandwich ha ha ha.  How’s that for different?  Well, the bread was different to what we’re used to.  It was nice.  He did try this “dill and cheese ball” pastry they had which neither of us really liked (it was a bit dry) and I chose a little cake.  I told him it was his “birthday cake” even though I picked it.  It tasted like a black forest cake but lighter (not so dense, no syrup) and the base was crispy rice puffs in chocolate.  It was good, not too sweet and very light.  It was a nice birthday cake.

Simit Sayati Afternoon Snack
Simit Sayati Afternoon Snack

We couldn’t eat it in the restaurant because it was so full and all the seats were taken, so we got it takeaway, walked around the corner and sat at our favourite outdoor place to chill out in the middle of the city.  It wasn’t the best idea.  This place is beautiful when it’s sunny but it’s quite difficult to get any shelter from the rain there as we soon found out.

 

I was worried that because nothing had gone according to plan and we’d spent so much time outside in the rain that Tony would be disappointed but he was really happy with how we spent the day.  Phew!

Favourite Place

Ahh London, what other city can look so beautiful when it’s dark and cloudy?

I still have to tell you about the dinner we went to for his birthday, the piste de resistance and the art exhibition, hence the “Part 1” in the title.  So stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on that next week 🙂

Until then, keep loving life!

Joy & Tony
xox

Another one of those days….

So what do you want to hear about?  ’cause if you don’t tell me, I’ll just ramble on about something you couldn’t care less about or go on a rant about some random event.

Like today.  It was a beautiful day.  The first day I’d gone out and not needed a jacket during the day, this year.  The sun was shining, there was still a cool breeze.  People were out and about.  It was nice.

However, when I was walking home from the shop, some guy yells “Excuse me!” as I was crossing the road.

When I got to the other side, I looked at him.  He starts waving at me and gesturing me to come over (ie cross the road I’d just crossed, back over to where he was.  He wanted me to go over to him).  I have no idea who he was, he wasn’t carrying any pamphlets, notepads and he didn’t have any badges / ID’s like people who collect for charity do… nothing.  It was just him and his gesturing.  I had no idea what he wanted, he didn’t say anything else, he just kept smiling and waving like an idiot.  So I ignored him and kept on walking.

He reminded me of this guy who used to sit in a pick up truck and wait for me to come out of the train station on my way home from school.  He used to always park his car just outside the station then look at me like he knew me, smile like crazy, wave and gesture me to get into the car.  I would’ve been 13, the guy would’ve been in his 30’s – 40’s.

He used to do it every afternoon and every afternoon I’d have to ignore him and all the stares I’d get from people and I’d just keep on walking.

Every day, I’d think about how many school girls he did this to and how many were stupid enough to get in the car.  One time, just because there was a crowd at the bus stop that I had to walk around, I ended up walking quite close to his car and he hurriedly got out, walked around and opened the door for me.  I just walked faster so he looked like he was excitedly opening the door…. for nobody.  What a d*ckhead.  If I didn’t get into his car the first 10 times, why the hell would I do it then or any time?

A few times, I’d walk next to random adults until I got past his car.  Of course the adults would look at me like “Why are you walking so close to me?” but they’d be fine once I increased the distance, after we’d passed the car.   There was this one woman who, I did that to and if she ever caught the train and came out at the same time as me again, would always wait for me and walk between me and the car but she wasn’t there all the time.  We never exchanged words but she understood.

This guy today, had the same f*cked up smile and the same wave as that pickup truck guy.

Because I looked at him and then kept walking, he yells “Nee How!” but says it with a mocking tone.  Almost like, “Oh you don’t speak English? OK, I’ll speak to you in YOUR language.”

I keep walking, don’t acknowledge him.

He then yells something else, probably another Asian country’s greeting and it is at this point that I have to stop myself from flipping him the bird.  You know, the universal language for “F*ck off!” The one that transcends all language barriers?

I keep walking.  He finally stops.  Obviously whatever it was, was not that important.

The event replays in my mind and I start to get pissed off.  He totally ruined the beautiful day.

Firstly, if you have nothing to say after “Excuse me”, why say anything?  Secondly, when a person ignores you, why keep trying to get their attention?  Especially when you have nothing else to say?

Secondly, why assume that because I’m Asian that I come from China and start speaking to me in Mandarin?  You dumb racist f*ck.  I don’t go around speaking Punjabi to every single brown person I see!

Yes, he was brown (but that’s not enough to make me assume he’s Indian) with a black turban on his head, probably to cover the giant penis growing off it.  D*ckhead.

I know now why I have a deep wrinkle/crease on my forehead.  It’s from my permanent scowl, the one I wear when I go outside into the big bad world by myself so all those d*ckheads will think I’m ugly (in attitude and looks) enough to leave me alone.

It actually annoys me that I have to do this.  It annoys me that this only happens when I’m by myself.  I must’ve been enjoying the day so much, the scowl had come off.  It annoys me that this is the result of my slip up.  It ain’t easy keeping a scowl on your face when the sun is shining brightly and you’re actually happy!

It annoys me that I have to go everywhere with Tony or deal with what happened today (It’s obviously been happening since I was a kid).  It annoys me that men choose to harass little Asian women (or any women for that matter).  It annoys me that every time I go out by myself I run the risk of meeting some idiot who blurts out Chinese and Japanese greetings as if they were a sonnet.

I was wearing brown full length trousers, lace up shoes, a 3/4 sleeve top and a full length sleeve cardigan over it.  I was fully covered is my point and I look like a kid most of the time.

It actually reminded me of this video.

I don’t know.  Guys would probably say women should be happy they’re getting acknowledged and looked at by men.

Mate, I totally get it.  I’ve crossed the road and had the car horn beeped at me multiple times and guys yelling “Aawwwwooooo! Yeah!” and waving out of the car.  That actually was flattering.  Not only did it make me laugh, it made my day.

It’s the prolonged attention that irks.

If that car of howling young men had stopped and those men approached me or if that car had slowed down and driven at the pace I was walking, I would’ve been completely freaked out and running as fast as possible to the nearest Police station.

So I say, to keep everyone in public happy, please let everyone walk outside and enjoy their days, by themselves should they choose, hassle free.  If you feel compelled to give a compliment then give one, smile  and move on.

Unless it’s your job to randomly talk to strangers for prolonged periods of time, don’t hover around someone on the street and if they show no interest in whatever you’re selling, please leave them alone.

And if there’s anything else to be learned from this rant… please please please stop shouting out “nee how” and “konichiwa” to every Asian you see unless you want to look like a racist D*ckhead.

Thank you.

Outdoor Gym Apparatus… and Yoga

The council has recently installed a whole lot of outdoor gym apparatus for joggers and exercisers to utilise in the parks.  There are various stations spread throughout the common.

Some had kiddies playing on them which I was concerned about.  My concern was unfortunately confirmed as we were walking towards the exercise station.  We witnessed a toddler trying to climb onto an adjustable hurdle and in so doing, she pulled the hurdle towards her and the bar completely fell onto her, leaving her parent dropping the buggy they were so intently focused on folding and running to her aid.  There are children’s slides and climbers etc everywhere.  Why let your kid (especially at 2 or 3 years old) climb onto adult apparatus without you supervising them?  URGH!  Poor baby probably has a big red bump growing off her head now.  Lucky for her parents, kids are hardy, resilient and fast healing!

Can you believe that there are hurdles in the park?  You can actually practice jumping hurdles and change them to 3 different heights to increase difficulty.  There were parallel bars, chin up bars, sit up bars and log stairs for running up and down on.  In another section closer to us, they have even installed rowing machines, bikes, cross trainers and other gym equipment – it’s an outdoor gym and it’s free!  I’m quite excited about that knowing I could just pop along and use those exercise machines at any time.  Now just waiting for the weather to get warmer (haha sounds like an excuse doesn’t it? It is… I hate the gym and strangely putting it in the park only made it mildly more attractive).

So what do 2 people who just ate lunch, aren’t dressed for exercise, casually taking a stroll home from the restaurant (and do no other exercise but yoga) do when they see outdoor training apparatus?

Well, try out the apparatus of course!  It’s amazing but not one person would walk directly past the exercise station.  They’d all walk through it, intrigued by its very existence and then attempt to do chin ups!

We tried doing L-sits while lifting ourselves up on the parallel bars.  Try was the operative word, neither of us were very successful and quite upset with our lack of core strength, especially for people who do so much yoga.

We hung off the chin up bars to stretch the spine and pull the shoulders.  Neither of us actually did chin ups, we just hung.  I for one knew that I lack considerable strength required in the arms to pull myself up so I didn’t even bother trying.  Hanging was tough enough.

I walked up and down the log stairs… simple enough, didn’t run though, not my thing.

We attempted multiple times to walk across the sit up bars (as if they were tightropes) to test our balance.  That was fun, we could do that!  Yay balance!  Though I don’t think that’s what the sit up bars were meant for.

And… after enjoying success with balance, we started doing yoga postures of course!  We couldn’t help ourselves.  Even in jeans / trousers that were not that giving, we still attempted a couple of balancing sticks, and tree stands on blocks, off the ground!

Tony Balancing Stick in the Park WP_20150510_18_01_26_Pro

Each balancing posture we tried,  I found much easier than Tones.  I think his foot was too big for the block to get the right balance!

So, since I was finding it so easy, he challenged me to do Toe Stand, on the block, off the floor with no ground to put my hands on for balance or to help me get into the posture.

I took on the challenge but  I’ve always used the floor to get into this posture.  So, this attempt occurred with much yelling and screaming:
Me:  “Help me, no come closer!  Closer!  Ahh!  I’m gonna fall!”
Me after wobbling about:  “I can’t do it!  Come closer!  I can’t do it!”
T:  “Yes you can!”
Me:  “No I can’t, Catch me in case I fall! Come closer!”
T:  “I AM close!”

I actually managed to get into the posture by myself.

It was ungraceful, ugly, noisy, arms flinging everywhere and I was super annoyed at Tones for standing so far away so I had to rely completely on my fear of falling to keep me up.

It’s one of my favourite postures but attempting this on a block off the ground with the possibility of falling onto the pole forwards or falling in any other direction onto the ground which was way lower than normal  was not a fun prospect.  I’m surprised with all those thoughts, that I managed even a moment of stillness but more impressed that Tony managed to capture that second of stillness on camera!

Joy Toe Stand Block

Yup, I’m hovering off the heel!  Whoot!  Who knew a few inches off the ground could feel like metres!!

After that ordeal, I got Tony to attempt one of his favourite postures.  It wasn’t as full of drama but then again, it’s not his style and his posture does involve all 4 limbs pressing on terra firma!  He even managed a smile!

Tony Wheel Hurdle Park

 

Apparently this was not so comfortable for him.  I told him when he gets better, we’ll put the hurdle up one more level.  Right now as you can see, it’s on the bottom rung.

He told me that the next time, I have to do a toe stand on the top of this hurdle pole.

I guess this is one way to make posture progress pictures more interesting!

Our Eventful April 2015

Well it’s all happening here at the MCG! as Mr Bill Lawry put it.  Our April has been quite eventful and it hasn’t even finished yet.

1.  I got sick/flu (and it’s been the first time since Aug/Sept last year) and had a fever only a couple of days before our visitors arrived
2.  Tony’s cousin is visiting over 2 weekends
3.  Our friend from Australia is visiting in the same week as Tony’s cousin
4.  The boiler broke and we’ve been without heating or hot water (while I’ve been sick) for 4 days and counting
5.  The string on the blinds broke only a couple of days before I got sick
6.  The filter on the water filter needs replacing as of yesterday
7.  Tony got a new job (starting next month)
8.  It’s tax season
9.  We started eating meat again
10.  Royal Mail is letting me down

Alright, so let me cover those points here.  We’ll start with the last point –  the number of sales we’ve had compared to “I haven’t received my item” queries that have come in leaves me feeling not so happy Jan!  I have spent more time doing customer service in the last few weeks than I’ve had to do over Christmas when we’ve had 10 times more sales.  I tell you what, dealing with one complaining customer takes up way more time than packing and shipping 20 sales and I have had to deal with so many customers this month.  Not sure why so many things have gone missing in the post.

The sickness and the visitors – pretty self explanatory.  I’ve gone out with them despite feeling feverish or tired and we have enjoyed ourselves immensely of course.  Even with going out in the cold and eating everything we tend to avoid (sugar, wheat, dairy, meat, alcohol etc) I’m still recovering nicely from my cold.  I’ve got to say that I cannot be anything else but happy with that.

Crazy that the boiler AND the blinds broke within a week of each other.  The string on the blinds snapped, we can no longer pull it up and down and as it sits near the stove, we just took it down completely so it doesn’t get dirty every time we cook.  The kicker is it’s cold.  Having such a large window exposed lets the cold in but because the boiler’s broken, we can’t turn on the heaters.  We have no heating, we have no hot water.

It’s been 4 days because it took 1 day to sit and wait for Tony to get home to see if he could fix it.  It took another day (day 2) to find someone and get them to come in.  When the engineer arrived (day 3), he wouldn’t touch it because of “health and safety issues”.  I took that afternoon to call around again and now waiting for someone to come in again (day 4).  I tell you the health and safety problem  is having me sick, living in the cold with no hot water or heating.  As it is, I’ve been boiling water in a pot on the stove so I can wash my face.  Again, the fact that I seem to be recovering from my flu quite well despite having no heat or hot water for 4 days makes me very impressed with my immune system.

So onto our beloved water filter which filters 5L of water at a time – it’s a big one and it gets through 900L before you have to replace it. It ain’t that cheap to replace the filter but the cost will even out throughout the year.   Considering all the expenses this month, the filter could’ve gone out next month right?  No… since yesterday it’s been flashing a big red light at me to tell me that it’s time to be changed.   Yup, just add that to the tab… thanks.

All this during tax season too.  Granted, we don’t have to complete all our tax returns right away but I have had to pay accountant/tax bills this month and Tones has started staying up at night catching up all the finances and recording incomings and outgoings for our business (there’s a lot to catch up on).

He’s been doing that because he will be starting his new job in less than a month and he knows he won’t have much time to do much else once he starts it.

So it’s all happening.  It seems this month is the month for expenses, sickness, hard work and celebration.  I know, I know.  There are many of you out there who have to deal with all this and more and most of your problems and expenses are MUCH bigger (thank God). I know you can’t grow if you don’t have problems and none of the problems we have aren’t solvable, so it’s all good, they’re just a pain in the arse when they exist all at the same time.  I suppose it’s better this way.  At least we had 6 months of calm before this storm.

I’m sure by next month, we’ll be happy as Larry.  Afterall, Tony got the job he really wanted and we have been able to spend time with family and friends who we don’t see for years at a time.  We also have many excuses to try out all the new places to eat because we’re going out with them.  I’ve also started implementing a new way to work and be more efficient in my life and after about 4 weeks so far, I’m really happy with how it’s working out because despite all that’s been going on, I actually have managed to juggle and sort it all out.

Yoga has been put on the back burner a lot this month and yes we started eating meat again.  It seems there is a high correlation between the amount of yoga we do vs the amount of meat we eat.  The more yoga, the less meat and vice versa.  Interesting.

OK vegans, stay on your high horse.  I’ve made my peace with eating meat.  We’re still keeping it to a minimum but we’re not vegetarians, vegans or raw unless we’re detoxing.

And that pretty much sums up the month that isn’t over yet.   Here’s to the final week of April!  Bring it on!

Family: T&J’s 3rd Year Wedding Anniversary

We celebrated our 3rd Year Wedding Anniversary a couple weeks ago doing the following:

Tony got me these lovely flowers from the same place we got our wedding flowers from, Ultra Violet.  Apparently these guys get their flowers fresh every single day from Holland!!!

 

I made home made, natural hair wax for him (which will probably now last him for a year!) with beeswax we got from the local honey shop, The Hive Honey Shop and coconut oil.  Ah the wonders of coconut oil.  You can do so much with it!!!

We went to ChiSou in Knightsbridge for dinner and even hired a car for the night so I didn’t have to walk all the way to the bus stop in the cold and in heels.

Usually, I would wear flats otherwise, Tony would encourage me to wear flats to save my back but as it was a special occasion, the vintage boots came out.  By vintage I mean, they were my mum’s boots back in the 1970’s.  She gave them to me some time, 3-5 years ago and although I had to get them fixed before I could wear them, these 40 year old boots are still kicking!  They did make things to last back then didn’t they?

The restaurant was great.  The service was really slow.  Apparently they had lots of new staff and as much as you could order “hot” or “cold” dishes, the “hot” section of the kitchen got most of the orders that night and ended up very behind.

It was all very forgivable though because as slow as the service was, the atmosphere in the restaurant was great, the table staff were friendly and most importantly, the food was perfect when it arrived.

3 years 🙂

It’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re older.  I’m just grateful for everything we’ve been through together, all the time we’ve spent together, all the hugs, the kisses, the chats, the arguments, the sickness, the sorrow, the losses, the wins, the stresses, the holidays, the times with very little, the times of abundance, all the yoga, the crazy “diets”, it has all been a journey of learning and growing together and boy have we had fun through it all.  There’s no-one else I’d rather live those moments with.  Even with all the ups and downs, life together keeps getting better every single year.

Thank you for a wonderful life!

I love you Tony ❤