Category Archives: London

Things we did during our time in London.

2018 Week 12 Summary

The week of being sick.  The last time we were sick was during our trip to the Philippines and Hong Kong in December.  It’s been 3 months and we (or rather I… as usual) have gotten sick again.

Tony did some sneezing and feeling a bit unwell for a day but he always manages to nip it in the bud and ends up fine the next day.

I however, ended up thinking I was being really awesome not getting any symptoms when he did  and then 3 days later doing the whole rigmarole.  Day 1 – sneezing.  Day 2 – fever.  Day 3 – coughing.  Day 4 – the start of recovery or so I hope.  I’m on Day 4 right now.

Paris & Rome
I am so glad the boys can’t catch any of my diseases.  They have however, been avoiding me.  I think I must smell different.  When I was feverish, both of them actually hid and really kept away from me.  I felt like I didn’t see them all day and night.

After I broke my fever, they were both approachable but they would hide away again or stare at me with eyes and ears wide open, from afar, during my sneezing or coughing fits.  It must be a sign that I’m getting better when they both allow me to pat them again.

They have both been well and healthy this week with nothing too crazy other than abstaining from pellets.  I feel like Paris isn’t eating anything at all sometimes because I find all his pellets (that he doesn’t want to eat) hidden under his blanket, all his fresh veg wilted and all his hay still in his trays.  Yet, he is happy, binkying and still pooing.

Look at this beautiful handsome (even though he’s so picky with his food) boy #parisbunny

Like I said last week.  A healthy appetite + healthy poo makes for a healthy rabbit.  If he doesn’t have much of an appetite, then I get worried.

So far  his behaviour indicates that he’s eating enough so I’ll just monitor him now more closely and I’m never buying this brand of pellets ever again.

Urgh…. who needs kids when bunnies are just as picky?!

Home and House Stuff
Remember the scotia Tony bugged me to buy ASAP oh, maybe 3-4 weeks ago?  It’s still sitting on a pile of junk in the lounge.  As quickly as they came, the completions have stopped.

I’ve also piled up bottles of hotel shower gels and conditioners on the table to sell off.  Tony collected them on his business travels.  We don’t use them.  Time to sell them.  Ironically, this is my attempt at clearing the clutter.  Over 30 bottles (such a waste to just throw) are now cluttering the table!

We haven’t cooked much either because I’ve been sick.  Tony has just gone to the shop and bought ready made soups so that’s all I’ve been having for the past 4 days.  I can’t smell or taste them though so it doesn’t even make a difference what flavour he chooses!

On a positive note, Tony cooked a Filipino dish this week.  He made Caldereta using a Filipino cookbook my cousins/Uncle shared with us from our last visit.  It’s the first Filo dish he’s ever made.

Beef Kaldereta / Caldereta

It’s so awesome to be able to make and eat dishes from all over the world, in your own kitchen  – this is the power of technology!

The best part?  The recipe called for chorizo.  We were able to put Spanish, from Spain chorizo in this dish.  That smoky paprika taste actually gave this dish such a different but welcomed flavour.  We were also able to put fresh liver pate in there instead of canned AND we put the beef in the slow cooker so it stayed solid just enough to be able to deliciously fall apart, in your mouth.

I tell you what, it doesn’t look like much in the picture but  Caldereta just went up a few notches on my favourites list.

With the left over Chorizo, we just put it with garlic and a bit of olive oil in the oven.  I added tomatoes which gave them some sweetness to balance out the smoky, salty, fatty, garlicky taste.

Chorizo with tomatoes

I wished we had bread but alas, we did not.  Tones used free from (free from wheat/gluten) crackers to soak up the oil.

Also went shopping and ended up finding these for £1.99.  I actually thought they were going to be thin rice crackers covered in chocolate but they weren’t!!

They were actually thin sheets of Pringle shaped chocolate with little crispy balls of puffed rice.  Cappuccino flavoured at that!  Oh what a lovely discovery!

Belgian Chocolate Thins

Joy & Tones

Mental Health
We watched all 8 movies back to back of Harry Potter.  I wanted to.

I wanted to re-watch from beginning to end with the information you get at the end.  I wanted to see the same sequence of events with a different perspective.

It makes me think of life and things about my life I might have seen differently, had I been given all/different information.  I wonder if this is what happens when you die.

Physical Health
As mentioned above, I’m sick, Tony is not.  This is where Biochemical Individuality steps in and produces different outcomes.

Tony and I have been eating the same food, same supplements and exercising similarly to each other for the last 10 years but when it comes down to fighting disease, he’s always stronger.

I’m MUCH better than I used to be.  I used to get sick once a month every month without fail and I’d be sick for 2 weeks at a time.  It was horrible.  At least now, 5-6 days every 3 months is doing well.  BUT I have also been better than this.

I think I’ve gone over a year without getting sick which if I could, I would replicate ALL THE TIME except I know what it takes and it takes a lot of discipline and effort!  Tones I’m sure of it, has gone over 2 years without getting a cold when we were making that effort!

So, it plays to the tune of us requiring different nutrients (and/or different amounts of them) and Tony having everything he needs at the right dosage and me, not quite.  That’s the conclusion I’ll draw from this situation at the moment and also that it means, I do better when I’m juicing (urgh!)

Spiritual Health
It’s been officially 2 months since we’ve started meditating twice a day every day.  How ‘bou dat?  (Sorry…. but ever since hearing it, I can’t unhear it and now I can’t just say “How about that?”.   I also know I just turned an impressive statement into an oxymoron by adding that last bit but it can’t be helped.  If you’ve got a problem with it, you can always “cash me outside!” Ha!  My humour.  Yep, again, sorry if it made you groan or cringe.  That’s just how I roll.  Tony’s still with me after years of it, so it can’t be that bad! Hahaha)

Can I talk of changes from meditation?  Not distinctly but I know things have changed.  For example, when I look at things in our life right now, they had started to move and now it looks like it’s stopped, paused, halted and yet I don’t feel like it has.

Perception is different.  It’s almost as if we just spent the first 2 months breathing in and right now, we’re just waiting to exhale.  The movement is still there, it’s just at a different phase.

What is different between now and before is that before I would have gotten upset or depressed or even angry that things weren’t moving but now, it’s understanding that it’s like the passing of a season.

Seeing the ebb and the flow.  It’s like I’ve finally started to understand what it looks like – the time for sowing, the time for growing and the time for reaping look different, for different things.

Some things you need to put effort into and some things you don’t. Some things you actually destroy by doing too much and some things die when not given enough attention or energy.  I can’t say I’ve got the knack just yet for each situation but I can say the cogs are turning and a greater understanding is starting to take shape.

Financial Health
They say that rich people talk about money and poor people don’t.  So I suppose if I want to be rich, I’d better start talking about money then hey?

I would say our finances are average but I guess that depends on what you’re comparing it to.  On a global scale, our finances are above average and that’s because we’re comparing to all the billions of people who live below the poverty line in third world countries.

On our own scale, we’re doing OK.  Compared to where we’d like to be or think we should be, we’re not quite there but we’ve improved from where we started so that’s a good thing.

Compared with our neighbourhood, we’re poor.  We recently put bubble wrap all around the borders of our windows to stop the cold draught coming in.  I told Tones I didn’t care how povo we looked as long as we stayed warm.

That’s a tough thing isn’t it?  Keeping up with the Jones’.  Well, I refuse to keep up with the Jones’ if it’s going to put us in the red.  I would always prefer to look poor and have money than the other way around.

Except having dodgy windows isn’t looking poor, it is being poor.  There is keeping up with the Jones’ and then there’s maintaining a certain standard of living.  Functional windows isn’t a luxury.  It is a necessity especially when it’s -5’C outside.

There is of course, the question of affordability.  It’s going to be a big expense (anywhere up to £5,000 as they are wooden sash, bay windows – $10K AUD, $7K USD).

Regardless of what it costs, if you can’t afford a necessity, then that is being poor.  Windows that work come under providing adequate shelter.

Besides, it’s not that we cannot afford it.  It’s just that we hate parting with that kind of money.  We’re really frugal (my new polite English expression rather than the Aussie “tight ass”).

If I can get it for less than half that price I will.  It may mean we need to get the PVCU stuff ie not real wood but I’d rather that because it means it doesn’t need refurbishment / replacement every 5-10  years.  I might even request triple glazing.  No noise, no cold. AAA energy efficiency rating 😉  (even though you can’t get it ’cause the highest rating is A) Alright!

Emotional Health
To know where you’ve been and see where you are now and realise how far you’ve come is a blessing.

Of all the different areas of life, I must say that I was way behind the eight ball with this but this challenge has become my biggest blessing in life and if I ever had to live it all again I would.

I would never wish my experiences on my greatest enemies but I’m glad I went through it all and come out the other end as sane, as grateful and as blessed as I feel right now.

There may be no accolades or prizes for accomplishing great feats in the emotional world but I know what I’ve achieved so far and the inner peace that comes with each revolution of evolution is a wonderful reward.

See you next week!

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2018 Week 9 Summary

And just like that, February is over and we’re in March.  It sure doesn’t feel like Spring is around the corner!

It’s been snowing in London for the last 4-5 days.  OK, it’s been snowing all around UK.  It’s #snowmageddon and a good dose of #snowvereaction depending on where you are in the country.

I’ll tell you one thing we can all agree on though… IT’S FRIGGIN’ COLD!!!

View outside our bedroom window. The back of houses with a mini snow blanket. Not much of a #snowmageddon is it?

Paris & Rome
The boys have been very good this week.  Who knew my levels of happiness would correlate with the size of their poos.  The bigger and rounder their poo (the closer they are to looking like Maltesers), the happier I am because it means their intestinal tracts are working and clear.

Maltesers. The more my rabbit’s poo looks like this, the happier I am!

Healthy Appetite + Healthy Poo = Healthy Rabbit

It also means they’re not losing as much fur anymore and I have some reprieve from what felt like the never ending vacuuming.

Their ears have been cold and they both have relished a pat with warm hands, closing their eyes and grinding their teeth contentedly when it happens.  Our place loses heat like crazy due to a couple of dodgy windows and an old boiler that can’t keep up.  The boys are lucky their fur is keeping them nice and warm!  I just hope it’s enough.

They both have quilts and cardboard boxes though so that should be added warmth if they require it.  I wish I could just give them a companion to snuggle with.  That’s what they were supposed to be for each other.  If only they didn’t hate each other so much. *sigh*

Regardless of the cold, they’re both still alive, playing, jumping, eating etc so that’s my indication that they’re warm enough even if the flat and their ears are cold and they have to stay separated.

Paris has been doing something strange.  Usually when it’s time to feed him his pellets, he goes berserk and runs around really fast like he can’t contain just how happy and excited he is.  He doesn’t know if he’s coming or going.  As soon as his nose comes into contact with the pellet, he’ll stop running and will frantically eat as fast as he can (he’s like a vacuum cleaner for pellets).

These days however, he goes crazy, runs around like a mad man but then, sniffs the pellets and then runs off again.  He’ll do a few more circles running around his play area, come back to sniff the pellets and then run off to play in his box.  I didn’t get it.

I couldn’t even give him pellets as a reward because he’d just ignore them.  He goes crazy for them and then doesn’t eat them and runs away.  Later on, when he just happens to be passing them, he might stop to snack on them, or not.  I found it really bizarre.

That is, until I discovered yesterday that only certain types of pellet get this result.  He’s become very picky and will only eat one type.  If given the other, instead of hoovering it all up in seconds, he’ll take his time about eating it.  There’s one brand where he’d rather starve and will refuse to eat it altogether.

So, he gets crazy excited thinking he’s about to get certain pellets and then runs away just as frantically when he realises it’s not the kind he thought it was going to be!

Here’s an example of what he does when he runs around.   What a #funnybunny  If the below doesn’t play straight out, you’ll have to hover your mouse on it and click through to Instagram.

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House Stuff
“We have an English boiler.”  That’s what Tony said this morning when he woke up to a freezing flat after we’d left the boiler on all night.  That is, if it overheats, the boiler stops working and after last night, it’s shown us that if it gets too cold, it also stops working.

Kind of like how trains to London are cancelled when wind has blown a leaf on the tracks or how everything just breaks down at the first sign of a snowflake, our boiler is hypersensitive and will only work in perfect conditions.  Change those conditions just a tiny bit and it all goes Pete Tong (that’s cockney rhyme for “wrong”).

All I can say is, 17’C (which is pretty much all the boiler can warm the flat up to even when kept running continuously for days) is better than -2’C.  I just wear lots of layers, socks, sheepskin slippers, dressing gown and drink lots of hot water.  When push comes to shove and I really can’t get warm, I turn on the oven and sit next to it or go back to bed to warm my feet up under the covers.  I am willing this boiler to work until Spring finally arrives.  You can do it boiler!! You’re British.. just keep calm and carry on!

We went to a shopping mall so Tony could find a pair of work trousers.  Can you believe he only had 1 pair left  because he’d broken 2 within a couple weeks of each other?

Not from being fat, but rather one pair was 6 years old, the other 3 years old and he wore them in rotation every work day so they just got worn out especially his back pocket where he’s always putting his wallet or phone and the corner of the phone has worn away the material.  We’ve done some throwing away of clothes a couple of years ago and he only kept 3 pairs of trousers.  Pleased to say he’s now back to 3 pairs of trousers again.

You know, the mall wasn’t crowded.  I suspect the cold turned people off from going out.  However, I still much prefer shopping online.

The problem with shopping at a mall is that we ended up buying things we never intended to buy. When you shop online, you only ever buy what you need.  Well, I do anyway.

At the mall you just get tempted, intrigued, curious.  You see things that weren’t on your radar.  You go have a look and the shop sales assistant starts explaining to you his experience of the product you’re curious about, which convinces you to buy it just so you can experience it for yourself.

Then he lets you sample and smell other products and the next thing you know, you’ve gone home with more than you bargained for.

You go out to get one gift for someone and end up with 3 additional gifts…. for yourself!  Argh!!

 

Joy & Tones

Mental Health
Brain fog is a thing of the past 😉  At least 2 weeks without it.  Amazing!!  The high fat diet has worked and is therefore staying.

You know how sometimes you want to use a particular word in a sentence, it’s right on the tip of your tongue and you just can’t figure it out?

Well, I had one of those situations and as soon as I said, “What’s another word for buffer?” The word “contingency” came up straight away which is the word I wanted.  There was no more tip of tongue experience… it just flew right out!

Why did we ever get taught to avoid fat altogether?  My goal now I suppose is to ensure I’m eating good fats.

At the moment, I’ve just eaten any and all fat.  Tony even bought me 2 packs of pork scratchings which I’m breaking my teeth over.  Why are they so hard?

Anyway, the fat might make my brain function well again but my heart and bowels won’t be functioning well if I’m not careful!  I actually get the runs from having dairy cream but it hasn’t stopped me consuming it because it’s high in fat!

At the end of the day I think it’s what’s attributed to our lethargy – just the overindulgence in all things fatty (and salty).  Or.. it could be all the sugar..  We weren’t supposed to eat so much sugar… damn you shopping mall and all your temptations and distractions!!!

Physical Health
Vit C, Vit B and Vit D that I purchased online were delivered.  After 3 days of taking them, they have had zero effect on our mood and energy levels.  We are both so tired!!

Fat is supposed to be used as energy but I suspect it’s taking longer for the body to convert and because we’re not eating the right fats, we’re getting sluggish.  It’s a theory.  I haven’t looked it up.  Add the cold and sugar to it and I’m behaving like a sloth.

On a positive note, it’s prime season for getting sick and we’re both fine.  Tones met our neighbour in the hall yesterday and apparently he’s not looking good and been sniffly and feverish for the last 5 days.  With germs so close to home and our house being so cold, I’m just glad our immune systems have been working regardless of what we’ve been eating!

Spiritual Health
Still meditating.

So last week was buying stuff online.  This week was receiving all the deliveries.  I think my meditation got interrupted every day just so I could sign for a parcel.  I don’t know why but I’d change it up a bit and no matter what time I chose to meditate, I’d get a delivery in those 20 mins.  Go figure.

I started this app which recorded all my meditation days except we used Tony’s phone twice in a row and now my app which said I had done 19 days consecutive since downloading it, says 4 days consecutive!!!  I’m annoyed.  I was about to hit a milestone!!  I was going to get a 20 days consecutive meditation star on my app!!  But now… I have to start again… it’s the little things!  I was looking forward to getting that star!  But now IT’S ALL OVER!!!

I’m never getting over it, it’s ruined my meditation motivation forever!

Haha that reminds me of the time I attempted to do colouring in for stress relief and I realised that it was actually stressing me out instead of relaxing me because I JUST WANTED TO FINISH!!!!

I did finish.  Tony even framed it but I’ve not really coloured anything else in since!

Don’t worry, I won’t let this app deter me from meditating.  If anything the inaccuracy of its records is deterring me from using the app!  We’ve both actually meditated twice a day every day since we started and have not skipped a day.  A. Maze. Balls.

See you soon!

Has it been a week already?

When you’re young, a day feels like eternity but it seems the older you get, 1 week goes by in a blink of an eye.

Highlights of the week:

Ada’s Visit
A friend from Australia that I hadn’t seen for over a decade visited.  She was in London for less than 24 hours but still managed to squeeze me in for a catch up.

I chose a restaurant near where she was staying.  It was the German Gymnasium at Kings Cross.  They serve… German food.  Ha!

Anyway, it’s in a Grade II listed building and named German Gymnasium because the building was the first, purpose built Gymnasium in England with funding coming solely from London’s German community.

The building was built in 1865 so we ate dinner (I had a German afternoon tea) inside a 150 year old building.

Yin with Sharky
Yoga which has been my life for so long, was pretty non-existent because – January.

You have to book ALL your classes in otherwise they’re all full due to all those well-intentioned New Years Resolutions people who disappear by Feb.

I managed to book classes from mid Jan through to Feb and thought by February for sure, the classes would start being freer but it wasn’t to be.

So I have spent many days not going to yoga because the classes have been booked out and I hadn’t booked myself in, in time.

Can you imagine?  Attempting to book yourself in 2 days in advance is still not long enough.  FARK!

I did manage to get to one of Sharky’s first Yin classes and I loved it.  She did a different method to the other teachers and allowed time for “rebound” between each posture.

Rebound is a savasana in between every posture to allow whatever released in each posture, to move through and exit or integrate into, the body.

The result?  I ended up getting really teary and emotional.  I actually felt emotions releasing from my body and I was so grateful to be able to feel them so I could let them go.

It only lasted a few seconds though because as soon as Tony saw me looking teary, “WHY ARE YOU CRYING?” came out of his mouth and it was so abrupt and harsh, I immediately cut off all emotions and went back to thinking mode.

I got skillz like that.

Actually, he managed to say it just like my mother used to.  I know he said it out of concern but I heard it the way my mum said it which meant “Stop being a pussy, you have no reason to cry and if you don’t stop I’ll fucking give you a reason to cry.”  That’s the mild version. 😉

So I stopped.  IMMEDIATELY.  I’ll just have to find a way to cry at times he’s not around so I can release emotions in peace.

Paris & Rome
Another week in peace.  Both boys are really happy and binky every day.

Paris does the cutest binkies ’cause he’s so chunky like a bulldog and bottom heavy.  So he looks more like a jumping goat or ram when he binkies.

Rome has started to jump on my arm and shoulder.  Last night he sat on my shoulder and every so often would turn to lick my face – cheek, eyelid, eyebrows, temple, forehead.  Then he’d jump down and jump up onto my other shoulder and tug at my hair.

I know he’s just looking for a way over the fence and using me as a viewing platform but I like to think we’ve developed a good bond plus I’m loving all my bunny kisses!  He loves kissing my nose.

He’s still incredibly mischievous, spends a lot of his time in meerkat position, listening out for what Paris might be doing and he’s completely chewed up the skirting board instead of the chew mat we gave him because he thinks breaking the skirting board will help him escape the fence.

We keep him fenced because although the more loving of the two, he’s also the trouble maker.

He is so curious he gets himself into all sorts of trouble – biting things he shouldn’t, falling off things he shouldn’t have jumped on in the first place and starting fights by annoying the crap out of Paris by not letting him have space.

The other day he fell down the stairs 3 times in one day (that I saw)all because he kept standing on 2 feet on the edge of the step and then leaning backwards.  Don’t ask.

He’s been contained in the hallway with plenty of run space including the stairs and the bathroom but it doesn’t stop him from attempting to  break the fence and looking for FREEDOM!!!

I’m also having a battle of the bathroom with him.

After a week of watching Tony and I go toilet (he’s in the hallway so we have to pass him every single time and sometimes he follows us into the bathroom), he stopped pissing and pooing anywhere but the bathroom!

He just chose to go in the shower because he can’t reach the toilet.

Unfortunately, we have to keep clearing his poo and pee before we have a shower and he gets very frustrated with us because every time we clean it, we’re effectively saying he’s not allowed to pee and poo there, and therefore he has nowhere to go toilet.

So then of course he’ll poo and pee outside of the shower as well as in the shower, using the entire bathroom floor as his toilet which makes it difficult for us to go in there and use the toilet ourselves.

I put a litter in the bathroom for him and it’s taken a couple of days but I think he’s coming around to the idea that this is his new place to go toilet because there is much less poo anywhere but the litter.

Although the chew mat I bought is completely intact for Rome, Paris’ is almost completely torn apart and non-existent.

Paris actually only chews the things we give him to chew and he knows EXACTLY which is for him and which is not.

A perfect example is that he has a cardboard box he chews on, we give them cardboard boxes a lot.  Yet, I’ve left cardboard boxes full of my eBay stock out right next to his play area without any fences.

He can walk right up to them and start chewing on them, pissing on them, whatever he likes really and he leaves them untouched!

He has identified what is ok for him and what will get him into trouble and he really has behaved himself so we’ve removed the fence and he’s running “free range”.

He actually just stays in his area!!  He’s recently started to explore under the couch but he has steered clear of the hallway and gone nowhere near the only fence that keeps him apart from Rome.

So far so good.  Unsure how long this will last but we’ll see.

Paris has also started to approach us more and nudges us for treats which is much better than running away!

Still hates getting patted but he tolerates it a bit more before running away.  He also has no problems standing on our feet when he’s begging and asking us for treats.  We didn’t teach him, he just does it.

Overall we have 2 very happy bunnies and we’re finally starting to understand their personalities.

Because only their scent is on their stuff, they’re not marking territory as much as they used to.

That means there’s barely any poo outside of their litter and hutch and they’re not pissing outside of their designated litters at all.  I knew they were supposed to be easy to toilet train!!

All they needed was to be separated and feel safe about what is THEIR space.

Our house no longer smells as bad (either that or I’m used to it) and I’m back to normal amounts of laundry.

That makes 2 good weeks in a row with them out of 5.5 weeks together.  It was a hectic start but we’re getting there!! YES!!

Last thing… last night I attempted to feed them rocket (again, I think it was my 3rd attempt at feeding them rocket, probably the 15th time to attempt to feed them some sort of fresh veg) and THEY ATE IT!!!!  That was their first ever fresh vegetable they’ve eaten.

And to test trust, I held the rocket with my mouth and had them eat it from me.  BOTH of them did it which means they’re both cool with sharing food with me.

YES!  After many weeks of rejection, I finally got acceptance.

I can’t have asked for more.  Patience, persistence, trust and love. That’s what these boys are teaching me.

And restraint… I’m learning restraint.  Sometimes I wish I could just SQUEEZE them and smother them with kisses because they’re so damned CUTE but that’s probably why they don’t let me hold them!

Here is a picture of them when they used to get along:

Paris & Rome

 

 

This is them in rapport even when separated.

sleepy-paris
Sleepy baby Paris
Sleepy Rome
Sleepy baby Rome. Notice the completely intact chew mat next to him (on the right) and our chewed up door frame (on the left). That’s just paint on the door snake.

 

Seriously, Tony skyped me one pic while he was with Paris in the lounge and Rome was doing the exact same thing while with me in the hallway!  In rapport, even when apart – there is hope for them yet!

Great to be back home!

As I write this, it’s barely a week since I got back to London but the feeling is that it’s great to be back home.

Yes, home.

For so long I’ve called Sydney, Australia my home but the last few trips have confirmed my recognition and feeling that London is my home now.

And how could I not feel this way when the following happened upon my return:

Day 1
Tony and I had decided to sneak in one last movie on the plane (The Nice Guys) and it was never going to finish before we landed but we watched it anyway.  For some reason the plane got asked to circle and wait in queue for landing.  OK it wasn’t some reason, the clouds and the rain made it so.  So we landed later than planned and guess what happened?  WE FINISHED THE MOVIE. Exactly as soon as the credits were about to roll, is when the pilot turned off the online entertainment facility.  Couldn’t have asked for better timing and it just got better from there!

Our luggage got Premium Economy treatment, so was waiting for us and we didn’t even have to wait and pull it off the baggage carousel (if only we knew… ’cause we sat about looking for it on the carousel wondering where the hell it was, such plebs LOL).

I mentioned the rain right?  Well, when we were travelling home, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  We asked for an Uber to come pick us up from the train station and thought it was going to cost us £7-£10 to get home but it ended up only costing £5.  YUP.  £5 for us and 3 heavy suitcases, to ensure we weren’t lugging them all from the train station to the house.  Nice one.

We then decided we wanted to eat Vietnamese food, went to our local and God it tasted good and REALLY good prices too.  Tony and I ate starters, had a meal and soup each and a drink and it cost £25 incl tip for the both of us.

Day 2
We chilled out and went to the grocery store to get some food and I found out that the cost of cucumbers had gone DOWN.  I thought they were rocking cheap at 40p per cucumber but it’s now 37p.  Yes folks this is important to me because 2 years ago I paid $4 for the same friggin’ sized cucumber at a fruit shop my dad used to shop at when I was 7 years old in Sydney Australia.  That’s the equivalent of £3.00 for something I pay £0.40 for normally.  How dare they!!  I never went back to that shop but I reckon they’d be charging $5 these days.  The cheek!

The problem is I know that this isn’t the only shop that charges like that in Oz.  It’s a shame.  A real shame.   I bought a hand of bananas plus a bag of lemons for over $8 in Oz in a cheap and grotty fruit shop. It only costs me £2.00 for the equivalent here in London from a much cleaner supermarket.

So we bought a whole lot of groceries I know would have cost a minimum $30-$40 in Australia and we paid £8 for it.   It included a goats cheese, tomato and basil mini pizza, maple pecan plait and vanilla custard pastry.

Brought a giant umbrella with us, only to not need it because again the rain stopped.  We did manage however, to see our 3rd Double Rainbow across the sky…. in a week (2 in Vegas, this 1 in London)!!

We love you too Universe / God 🙂
We’ve been so spoiled, I don’t even know if I can look up at a cloudy sky anymore without expecting a rainbow!!

Thank You Thank You Thank You for affordable food and colourful skies.

Day 3
My first yoga class in AGES and it was Vinyasa.  YES!!  Do you know how much I’ve been wanting different types of yoga at my studio?  AND GUESS WHAT?  It’s all in the timetable now!  It was all Bikram before I left and now…. there’s Vinyasa, Bikram, Yin and all sorts.  SO HAPPY.  SO SO SO HAPPY and GRATEFUL.

And… I know I haven’t mentioned Rome but… we went to Rome and found THE BEST sandwich in the world.  PORCHETTA.  We’d never seen it in our 40 years of life.  Never tasted it either but we got to have some in Rome and OMG it was delicious.

You wouldn’t believe what new stall just opened up in the weekend markets at the bottom of our street….
No joke…. a PORCHETTA stall…. with an Italian guy in there serving up the sandwiches and the only people at the stall eating and chatting to them were Italian.  C’mon… If Italians are going there to get their Porchetta fix, then it’s gotta be good and IT WAS!!

Pretty much close to the real thing except they put about half as much pork in the sandwich and use a different bread.  We did think it was a bit pricey at £5 for a sandwich BUT it’s cheaper than the cost of flying to Rome, getting accommodation and buying a sandwich for EUR3.00!!

Day 4
I get an invitation from a friend to be part of Live at the Apollo filming for the BBC.  We get to be part of the audience for stand up comedy and yes, it’s free.

OH YEAH!!!

Tony gave me some colouring stencils and I took 3 days to colour in and complete an elephant.

Within an hour of me finishing it, he took one of the pictures in a frame, off the wall and replaced it with my elephant!!!!!!!!!  Yes, he didn’t know but it was a big deal to me having never had anything I’ve made or done framed or hung up on a wall.  It’s still up there now and I’m loving it!

Day 5
Tony gets an invitation to be a mystery diner at one of our favourite restaurants and gets to bring a date.  OH YEAH OH YEAH!!!

We can’t mention which… because we’re going to by mystery diners there but OH YEAH OH YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What’s a Mystery Diner you ask?  It’s when you go pretend to be a regular customer but then you have to review the restaurant and for doing so, you get reimbursed for your meal… and they’ve given us a nice budget for 2 people… YEAH BABY!!

Day 6
We go to the Apollo, Tony is late however they only hand out seats to people who are present, on a first come, first served basis.  So we can’t get a ticket for him.  Our tickets are in the Circle (upstairs).

We go to eat, my friend treats us to dinner…. he’s never done this before… SO SWEET!!!

Tony arrives… we don’t know if there’ll be any tickets left.  He psyches himself to wait for us while he goes to eat dinner by himself.  We attempt to get more tickets…. we have to swap our 3 tickets to get 4, expecting that we won’t get any and if we get tickets at all, they’ll be really crap ones.

We get upgraded to Stalls.  I don’t even know if the seats were better or not but the guy handing us the seats said “That’s never happened before where you get upgraded for being late!” and he was properly enthusiastic, which never happens with English people… I was waiting for sarcasm to come through but nope… he was actually congratulating us… so we were happy! LOL

Comedy night was as expected – lots of laughing and lots of fun and that brings us to today.

Life has been LEGENDARY since coming home.

First week back has been SUPER AWESOME.  It really is great to be home.  Thank you for a beautiful life London 🙂

PS – for all the pessimists and realists out there who think I might just have rose tinted glasses on, yes… there has been some crap too like I’ve had a runny nose for the last week, it’s been freezing cold and I’ve had not so great customers to deal with on eBay and a tonne of laundry, cleaning and jetlag.  You know… just keepin’ it real.  Still… it’s worth it and the positive experiences have far outweighed the negative.  The best part is… no stress, much more fun.  I am very grateful to be home.
PPS – in amongst all of that, we’ve started on the tiny repairs around the house too.  I don’t know what happened this year but as soon as it started, things started breaking in the house, each week.  I’ve now fixed the wire for my laptop charger and Tones has redone the sealant between kitchen benchtop and cupboards.  I’m now going to fix the broken bathroom heating panel.  These are things that have broken throughout the year that we just “haven’t gotten around to fixing” but it’s all getting done now, easily and effortlessly.  Gotta be grateful for that!

EU Referendum – I Voted

Today was the first time I’ve ever voted in the UK ever!  Even though Aussies are allowed to vote after being here for 3 months and I’ve been here for 10 years, voting has not been compulsory and as a result, I have been exercising my right not to vote.  It’s quite nice.  I like it.  For someone who doesn’t follow politics, it’s nice not to be forced into making a choice on something I don’t know anything nor have an opinion about.

To me, compulsory voting has been just like forcing a non-vegan or non-health oriented person to choose between raw nuts (with various choices of nut), nut butter (with various choices of nut) or non-dairy nut milk or non-dairy-non-nut milk  (various choices of nut, hemp, soy, rice, coconut) along with choosing either hemp, pea, whey or rice protein and picking which algae (various choices) or grass (various choices) to incorporate to make a smoothie, without of course any guidance on choice other than a whole bunch of ads (if you managed to see any) on TV.

To be honest, even that is easier than politics, all those choices are static and don’t lie or change their minds or composition.  None of it has been flooding you with propaganda telling you why the other choices suck and why it’s so damned scary if you choose the others.  However, with this example no matter what you choose, the end result is going to be good for you (unless you’ve got a nut allergy and you chose a nut)!  Can’t really say the same for choice of politicians!  You choose a nut and you still might get crackers! 😉

In Australia you HAVE TO vote, whether you know or are interested in what’s going on or not.  As per above example, why the hell should you be forced to choose, when you don’t even know where to start?!  But, that’s the way it is in Oz.  There are a lot of things I think are better in Oz, this isn’t one of them.  To be fair, the population is so small and the culture, so laid back that chances are, if it wasn’t compulsory, everybody would be at the beach and only 2 people would turn up to vote.  It’d be a draw and they’d have to flip a coin before having a stubbie at a mate’s backyard barbie.

Coincidentally, they’ve got an election happening this July in NSW and I need to cast my vote for that too and send it over.  But unlike my choice to vote today, if I don’t do this one, I get fined!  You should see the size of this form though!  It’s approx. 5 x A4 size, 41 boxes across and up to 12 boxes deep and to add to that, you have to number the boxes in order of preference!!!  OK, not ALL the boxes, just up to 12.

Still, it’s enough to confuse a simple minded person like me who only wants a choice of 3… max.  Think I’ll just go for the top line where I just choose 6 out of 41 which is like saying “I’ll just go for the chicken.” at the restaurant.  Now I just have to choose between chicken dishes.

This ballot sheet is like looking at a restaurant menu hungry and not craving for anything, with 1000 mains to choose from. You get so confused and when you go back to find the thing you thought you might like, you can’t find it in the sea of choices, so you read through it all again and find something else.  Next thing you know, you’ve found 4 or 5 amongst the sea and now you have to remember the choice, the page, the position on the page of the items you like and then you sit there playing a game of memory and elimination while you decide which of ALL those choices, is the one you’re going to go for.  I bet the polling booths are too small for the size of the damned sheet of paper!  And at a restaurant, you don’t have to put your dish choice in order of preference!  Half an hour of deliberation and reading through that novel of a menu, you finally just pick something, anything.  ‘Cause all you want is to get your food and get out of there.

I quite prefer having the choice of not having to go through that rigmarole unless I want to.  This way, I CAN make my vote count when something is actually important to me.  If I care enough about something, I’ll know about it and have an opinion on it, I’ll make the effort to turn up and then the menu won’t look so overwhelming.  It’s easy to pick what you want from a menu when you already know what you want!

Today, the UK voted on the EU Referendum and that was important enough for me to trudge through the rain to my nearest polling station to have my say!  I lost my polling card (which you don’t need), OK I threw it away but it was easy peasy finding where my nearest polling station was.  I found the address and walked there looking for the crowds of people to identify where it was only to find nobody around.  It was completely empty.  EMPTY!!!  There was seriously only me and one other person there to vote but then I understood why.  It took about 2 seconds for them to tell me which desk to go to, 3 seconds for them to find my name on the list and 1 second to give me the form, maybe 2 more seconds to explain what I had to do (fill in the form, fold in half and pop in this box) and THEN… get this… the form was the size of an A5 sheet of paper, with no more than 15 words in size 40 font and 2 boxes.

The first time I ever had to vote in the UK and they made it so simple a 1 year old could do it.  Do you want this?  Yes or no?
It was the best voting experience I’ve ever had!  My dream come true!  It seriously took no longer than 2 mins to go in there, vote and come back out.  AMAZING!!!!  I wish all voting was that simple!

So what did I vote?  RemaIN.
I did so because my quality of life in the UK and my understanding of life has been something to be very grateful for and enhanced and I know it’s that way because of our inclusion in the EU.  I don’t know what it was like before the EU, my whole experience of the UK has been while it has been part of the EU and I don’t have much to complain about (other than the NHS).  I cannot speak for what it was like before, nobody knows what it will be like in the future but if you don’t consider something that broken, why would you want to fix or change it?

I then thought about the youth of today who are too young to vote but want to stay in the EU (over 70% of them have voiced their want to remain) and felt a responsibility for my choice to include them.  There’s nothing worse than 1 generation creating a mess requiring the next 5 generations to fix.  Ahem.. global warming and cancer!!  I’m not saying that leaving the EU would have such devastating consequences but rather, why not consider the lives and opinions of those who come after you, when making decisions that will impact them?

And, what about those who have no say because they aren’t allowed to vote and yet whose lives will be impacted by this decision?  All the EU citizens living in the UK also rely on us to consider their opinions, and their futures and their choice is to remain (I’ve seen so many Vote to Remain posters on all the Italian, Portuguese and French restaurants in our area!).

There were other things I considered like the EU’s restrictions on GMO food which I think is awesome (although some might still have been imported to the EU, our exposure to GMO food is much less than it is in the USA and other places because of EU regulations).  I considered their rules on factory farming and regulations for animal welfare (although at the moment I still think regulation size animal housing for “free range” is still small, at least it allows the animals fresh air, sunlight and greater room to spread their wings unlike other countries).  I love the rules on transparent food labelling and although it seemed a bit “lazy” to me the workaholic, their rules on human wellbeing through a work-life balance (not being legally required to work more than 48 hours incl overtime a week) has grown on me a lot!

Their attitude towards equal rights for all minority groups, their proactive attitude towards environmental issues and their willingness to maintain peace are all plusses and of course it’s easier to trade with them if you’re one of them.  I like laws and regulations that look after the wellbeing and health of the people, animals and environment so why would I want to separate from that?  Yes, as with many things, there is always room for improvement but it’s easier to do it cooperatively than separately.

Lastly, their open boarders policy doesn’t just allow citizens of the EU to move around freely without the need for a tonne of visa applications.  It encourages diversity, understanding and acceptance of differences.  Diversity here in Europe is different to how I’ve experienced it elsewhere.  There is no assimilation required.  You are (wherever country you are from, whatever nationality you identify with), you are allowed to be that which you are, you can continue to be while living elsewhere, you speak your own language (and 5 others so you can communicate with everyone you meet) and you are all European.  Europeans share their individual country’s culture, food, fashion and uniqueness without ever giving it up while sharing a greater identity of being European.  Each country is so different and yet they have worked out a way to be friends.  I like it and I like being able to be a part of that whole and I want to have had my say that I want that to continue  happening, including Great Britain!

I know I looked at it more from a wellbeing for all point of view but hubby looked at it through his commercial point of view for some balance and he also came to the same conclusion – to remain.  He’s not in the country to vote (nor is he registered for postal voting due to last minute trip away).  Therefore, my vote was only one to represent many.  I really hope it counts today.

Chinese New Year 2016

Happy CNY everyone!  That’d be the first thing to update you with this week.

It’s been a while since my last update because we spent some time in NYC and on coming back had a lot of things to catch up on.  It was a last minute and unexpected trip.  If you asked me a week before, there’s no way I would have been able to tell you that I was going to be in New York but hey, I’ll take it.  Life is good – about bloody time if you ask me!

As for Chinese New Year, we did our traditional thing again this year.  Tony and I are starting our own traditions and this is the 3rd year in a row that we have cooked the same meal for CNY.

It wasn’t exactly the same, we tweak it every year and this year we were very nonchalant about the whole thing to the point where we didn’t start shopping for it until CNY eve.

Yup.  Chinatown was full, Tony was really annoyed and flustered, you couldn’t get through the aisles of any of the Chinese supermarkets and the stress of being bumped every 100th of a second by a person or their basket, pretty much had me feeling like I was about to develop some kind of agoraphobia.  There were a few moments I just wanted to scream but I concentrated on my breathing and managed to keep my cool.

Tony was just grumpy all the way.  He hates it when things are last minute or unplanned, I mean REALLY hates it, add his huffing and puffing to the aggravation of dealing with crowds in tiny confined spaces and having a hard time finding what you want because they’ve sold out of it and I know I was doing pretty well coping with it all!

We were running around looking for all our ingredients and finding that certain shops were just plain sold out of them, one shop had something but didn’t have another.  That meant multiple queues, lost of pushing and shoving but finally we managed to get everything we needed and when we got home with everything, Tony was back to normal again and I could relax.  Thank God for that!

Amazingly, once we had everything, the cooking was smooth, simple and fast.  I was in charge of cooking the chicken – broth, rice, sauce, noodle soup.  Tones was in charge of the fish and 2 different vegetarian dishes.  His stuff was harder – more things to prep and cut whereas all I had to do was boil a chicken but it left me time to go back out to the shops to get some final top up ingredients for his dishes plus a few bags of chips for us to eat while we cooked.

He found better recipes for the vegetarian dishes than the ones we’d been using in the past and so we tried them this year.

Overall, everything actually tasted nice and the best part was that they were distinctly different to each other.

The only disappointment was the chicken.  The chicken we found this year was frozen because all the fresh whole chickens were sold out.  It didn’t come out so good because it was disintegrating after only 40 mins of simmering in water so by the time we went to plate it, it was looking pretty manky.  At least the taste was still there – it was yummy!

New this year was the use of mung bean noodles (who knew they even existed!) and fermented bean curd.  I think I’m also finally getting used to the taste of dried oysters.  I tell you, 8 years with Tony and he’s still introducing me to new Chinese foods.  I don’t think I’ll be able to try them all in my lifetime!

Here’s the meal…Joy and Tony's CNY Dinner 2016

And individually, plus the bowls of long soup and chicken rice which are not pictured:

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Why these dishes?  Because each dish is a symbol of something that you would like in your life for the upcoming year.  The ingredients’ names, shape or colour represent various things such as health, wealth and happiness.

Here’s an example.  “Prosperity” in Cantonese is  pronounced “fat choy”.  Black hair moss is called “fat choy”.  So if you want prosperity, you eat black hair moss.

It all seems very superstitious but I have to say, each year we’ve done this, life has actually started to become better.  It could be coincidence but if it works, I’m going to keep doing it.

Believe me, it’s worked well enough that if there were a dish to represent lots of fun and holidays, I would’ve made sure that was part of our meal too!

Anyway, whatever you wish for this year, may it come to you just as easily and effortlessly as it was to cook this meal and should you come across obstacles similar to the crowded supermarkets that don’t have everything you want in stock, may you have the calmness and perseverance to get it ALL.  And, even if things don’t look quite right (like the chicken), may you find that it’s actually still just as delicious.  And lastly, may you continue to explore life, enjoying the familiar and always be discovering something new.

Happy Year of the Monkey 🙂

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year everyone 🙂  How has your first week of the year been?

I feel like I’ve been on the back foot since it started.  I had a to do list that was overflowing and even more things to add to it that by the time we were supposed to go out to celebrate and bring in the New Year, I actually had fallen asleep by 6pm out of exhaustion in trying to get it all done beforehand!

I failed and I’ve spent my first week of the year catching up!!

So, this post is late… Happy New Year! YAY!!  Better late than never I suppose?

And to catch up on things I was supposed to do and didn’t get around to doing until now…. here is our Christmas meal which we ended up cooking over the duration of a week instead of on Christmas day.

Really grateful that we didn’t actually cook it all on the same day!!  It was much better enjoyed and eaten fresh and there was no way we could have eaten it all on the same day, Christmas or not!!

Here it all is…

Crayfish Thermidor on salad
Crayfish Thermidor on salad

 

Confit Duck Leg with Honey Glazed Carrots and Chestnut Brussel Sprouts
Confit Duck Leg with Honey Glazed Carrots and Chestnut Brussel Sprouts

 

Vegan Eggnog
Vegan Eggnog

 

Lobster Thermidor with vegetable stuffing on salad
Lobster Thermidor with vegetable stuffing on salad

 

We also of course had all the leftovers of the Vegducken and chocolate strawberry tart to  enjoy as well.

So the intention actually was to go pescatarian this year instead of going all out with goose and trimmings as we have done in many previous years.

We had all this squid, fish, prawns and scallops ready to be salt and peppered and enjoyed at Christmas but as you can see above, we didn’t end up having them at all!  And we opted to leave those for the new year and eat the duck leg that was in the freezer instead.

That was, after all, the last of all the meat we had in the freezer and this was so we actually welcomed the New Year with no more dead land or air animals left in the fridge or freezer – the first time in years that this has happened!!

You see, when we were at the Dharma workshop in early Dec, Dharma actually said that people’s fridges and freezers were graveyards and so were our stomachs if we chose to eat meat.  That kind of grossed both me and Tony out and we actually didn’t feel good eating meat after that which is why we changed the Christmas menu this year.  Ahhh so easily influenced!! hahaha

Seriously though, we felt better for it.  There was none of that food coma, haziness, dullness (except after the cake…. sugar high and sugar low) and our consciences felt good too 🙂  So it turned out to be a pretty good Christmas!  We enjoyed our meals, we were full and we felt good after it!

Not much to say about New Year’s… I fell asleep at 6pm remember?  I did wake up at 10pm so was up to see the fireworks that the neighbours set off in the common which was nice.  Saw it through the window, all nice and warm inside.  That was it really.

Now just working through that to-do list and making it more manageable.