Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Opening up

You know colouring is a trend right now, kan? Bought myself a cheap book recently and played with various mediums. It's quite true, I did discover things as I went along. I knew I always liked things to match, but now I realise that I can be fussy with the results too. I mean, look at this piece. I did it because the others I worked on were quite warm with flowers etc. This one is cool due to the arctic theme. I actually redid quite a lot of this piece. I used to just let things go, like if the colours  didn't quite jive. But with this one, I actually erased the jarring bits and recoloured. And in the end I think it's totally worth the effort because I really like the way the colours blend together. I learnt to experiment on small sections so that I could change if the result was not up to expectations. In a way, it relates back to real life, right?
This is another piece that I found problematic. The colours were too coarse at first. So I blended them up with water (I used FC Watercolour Pencils). Really like the finish now. The bottom of the nest may be a little dark, but I've decided to let it be for now. Just like life, right? Sometimes you need to fix things immediately and sometimes you can afford to wait and see. 
I believe I've found a hidden interest in art, something I have not given any thought to all these years. I bought a gingerbread house in Ikea the other day, and I was thinking of decorating it with icing - another art form I never dared to explore before. Will I succeed? Time will tell :) 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 13, The Journey Home

The final day.... least exciting, I suppose. But it's always nice to come back home after being away for some time - no matter how exciting the trip had been.

My flight was at 11.45 a.m., but as usual, one needs to leave early for the airport etc. I was lucky that the airport wasn't too far away, so I had the luxury of a decent breakfast before checking out of the hostel. Had done some homework the night before and found that I could take the bus all the way to the airport - with just one change in Haarlem. I budgeted an hour plus for that, so left around 8.30 a.m. Excellent choice because I only had to pull my luggage about 10 meters from the hostel to the bus stop opposite. If I had to drag it all the way to the train again I would have cried!

I was really glad buses in Netherlands had a schedule and they actually came on time. Compare that to our chaotic system.... no schedule and always being stuck in traffic. If there was a schedule, it would be impossible to keep anyway. The first leg to Haarlem was quite short and the second bus was just about to leave when I arrived, so there was not much waiting at all. The only glitch, if you could even call it that, was that the information online was outdated, so tickets cost a bit more than I prepared. I had enough change though, so no issue there.

Got to the airport more or less on time, but got a little confused on where to go. Asked information and off I went. Again, the only problem was that the check in counter was very, very, very far from where I started. Having decided to not take a trolley, it was quite a distance to pull 25 kg of luggage around. My wrist got a little twisted from that...

Check in was easy. Discovered my limit was 30 kg, not 25 as stated on the ticket. Darn, it could have saved me a lot of repacking if I knew that! A bit of drama at the security checkpoint, because they detected the presence of liquids in my laptop bag - which turned out to be moisture in the pack of bread and cheese I had stuck in there. Ha.

Boarded soon enough, no drama at takeoff and found there were enough open seats on my row to actually lie down and sleep! So the flight went by nicely. Took Jim's advice and slept at approximately 12 Malaysian time. The dinner and breakfast timing was a bit weird, but it worked.

Arrived in KL at 6 a.m. the next morning, got a cab home, unpacked a little, then went for Mandarin class. Was a bit blur, but it was OK. Evening I went to the office for something (I forget what), and snoozed a little in the car because I was REALLY sleepy then. Otherwise it was fine, and it was much easier to recover from the jetlag compared to the 2006 trip. Bless you, Jim.

A month later, I still have not updated my blog and am still going through my thousands of photos. Oh well, it's not urgent. Am trying to catch up with work actually. Happy Maal Hijrah! May this year bring me a lot of good rezeki and a decent husband :D Ameen....  

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Happy Holidays Day 4

Fast forward to day 4... We were in Lake District by this time. I'll get back to the other days in due time :)

We had breakfast at the picnic table just outside the hotel  before driving to Lake District. Just tuna, bread and coffee, nothing fancy. It didn't take very long to reach the Lakes area, we stopped by Windermere, then Dove Cottage and then Buttermere via the country roads.

Windermere is a pretty little lakeside village. We walked around and took photos until the parking meter ran out. We continued on to Dove Cottage.

Now Dove Cottage was the home of poet William Wordsworth. It wasn't his last home, but it was where many of his works were written. Basically a place of much inspiration to him. We took tons of photos of the plants outside, then followed a guided tour into the cottage. The cottage was actually quite small but at some points in time, they had up to 14 people living there! The kids stayed in a small, unheated room above the buttery which is the coldest part of the house. Poor kids! After the tour we took more photos in the upper garden, then went to the cafe next door for some sustenance.

In Dove Cafe I had my first ever Welsh rarebit. Note that it's rarebit, not rabbit. It's basically cheese melted on bread. The dish was  filling as it came with some couscous and salad. thought it was way too much cheese for one meal though. Had it with tea and that was enough to keep us full until evening.

We then drove around the countryside, stopping by now and then to take photos. I got a whole bunch of nice photos. I'm SO happy. I swear we saw a llama at one of the fields... I slept quite a lot because the way Graham drives makes me dizzy/ sleepy. But I woke up just in time to catch a picturesque stony stream along the road, with grazing fields and sheep on them.

Later we stopped at Honister Pass which had a slate mine and took photos of the view. we also walked along a path there until the drizzle turned into heavy rain. Then we sook refuge in the visitor centre and I bought a few souvenirs.

Further along, we stopped by Buttermere which was next to another lake. Passed by a lovely old chapel and followed ads for homemade ice-cream at a farm. Unfortunately the shop had already closed for the day... We went to the lake and stream and hung out there taking photos until it got too dark. Then we drove back to the hotel. Got there just about nine, a decent time to solat and make a simple dinner before going to bed.

End of Day 4. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy Holidays Day 1

I'm going to do this in sections because I don't want to compress 11 days of fun into 5 paragraphs.

30th August 2015

My journey started early. Slept late to finish packing (as usual) and check in online. I should have done it earlier but forgot amid all the running around for Mandarin class and getting stuff etc. Got a middle seat so a bit difficult to get in or out.

Received a message saying that flight would be delayed to 10.30 a.m. so SMSed Cik Din asking him to come a little later than agreed, which was at 6.45 a.m.

7.20 a.m. - Cik Din arrived and I asked his help to bring down my heavy bags. Uneventful journey to KLIA, arrived just before 8.30 a.m. and plasticized my purple Kipling which had no locks. Didn't want anyone slipping in illegal stuff and getting me into trouble, right? Checked in my luggage in less than ten minutes. MAS has improved here, that's really nice. It helped that I came early, i guess.

Next - enjoy my usual pre-flight treat - expensive nasi lemak and local coffee at the airport cafe. Lepak2 for a while and then proceeded to the immigration counter and gate. Didn't wait very long before we boarded.

On the flight, sat next to a Chinese girl and Mat Salleh guy, both pleasant. The girl even offered me her collection of NewsWeek to read since I looked bored. Yeah, 12 hours in a plane can get pretty boring... I had done crosswords, Sudoku, read the inflight magazine etc at this point. Then i started watching movies. For the first time, it was quiet enough for me to hear the audio properly. It was either my location, which was ahead of the thrusters, or the A380 itself. In any case, it was nice. I started off with Rio 2. Then watched a French movie, Eva and Leon. After a while I started watching Le Familie Beliere, another French movie. And last I watched Away from the Madding Crowd. Enjoyed all the movies immensely.

Touched down in London at around 5.30 p.m. and got a bit concerned because I didn't have Graham's address to put on the disembarkation card. Texted him even before getting off the plane because I knew they were rather strict. Managed to get the details in time because the queue was SO LONG for immigrations. Unlike in most Asian countries, the questions were a lot more detailed. Did you come alone? Who is your friend here? How did you meet him? How long have you known him? What is this friend's name? What are you going to do for 10 days in the UK? WHO PAID FOR YOUR TICKET? Like, really??? But I guess I passed because the guy stamped my passport with a 6 months entry permit to UK.

Finally got out, retrieved my luggage and went out to the Arrival hall where Graham was already waiting. We got to his nice new car, a VW Passat estate car (station wagon lah) and proceeded to head to his house in Burnham. Technically it's his brother Malcolm's house, because he's renting out his own property and renting a room at his brother's. The other person in the house is Grae, a family friend from New Zealand. She's a very cool and sprightly girl at 67 years!

We drove around looking for a chippie and finally found one that was open. Bought a large cod and chips to share and got to the house at about 10ish. Everyone else was already asleep, so we ate in the living room. It was much oilier than the ones here, I thought, but the chips were nice and big, not stringy thin like the ones in McD. Other than that, it wasn't much to shout about. The cod was rather blah too. You know what they say about British food la kan? Haha.

I settled into Graham's room and soon fell asleep. He slept downstairs in the conservatory for the duration of my stay.

End of Day 1.  

Friday, June 05, 2015

Growing Pains

I remember when I was younger, everything excited me. Nothing was too daunting or scary. Now, even the best things are accepted with caution, because I knew that sometimes, things can, and do, go horribly wrong. Call it maturity, I guess.

Last week I collected a new car, a 2nd hand Honda City that used to belong to Jo's mom. It's a lovely car, low mileage, in excellent condition. I love driving it and I'm thankful I got it to replace my dying old Wira. Alhamdulillah the loan went through, and I managed to sell the old Wira, although at a very low price. Boleh la cover my savings... But I knew, if things go real bad, I may not be able to pay the monthly installments, and that's a rather sobering thought.

Even with selling the old car, I still have not banked in the cash deposit, in case something was found wrong with the car during Puspakom inspection. It's still there because I don't want to collect until the new owner drives it home. Insya Allah can transfer ownership by Monday morning.

2 months ago, I met an older gentleman. By some chance, he was walking along Jalan Subang in heavy rain and I gave him a lift home. Now we're actually talking about getting married. A few years ago, I would have been ecstatic. But at this point, there are so many things that I feel I need to consider and investigate. It didn't help that Abah shut down when I tried to talk to him the other day. Sometimes it's so hard to communicate with my own family, it seems. And I have NEVER, EVER told my dad about my boyfriends, so when a serious one comes along, it gets even harder to broach the subject. Doesn't help that he's a funny looking black American either. But he's a good Muslim, except for being a tad gatal. Which I suppose is pretty normal for men, so I'm trying to be cool about it, within reason of course.

Right now, telling my dad has become my biggest headache, along with my inability to work no matter how long I stay in the office. I'm just wasting time, and nothing is getting done. I KNOW that I need to work, but somehow that's not happening... I don't know why I'm so useless and of course people are getting upset. I really don't know what to do...