Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Long Long Weekend

Christmas fell on a Saturday and Boxing Day fell on a Sunday (naturally) and as a result we have Monday and Tuesday as bank Holidays too. So! After all these while, I have a very very long weekends. How I embrace it! Anyway, I planned to go to the office today but have when I checked today's train scheduled, I have to change my plan. The trains will start its normal journey after 12 - before that it will take 1 hour 45 minutes. If I start my journey after 12, it will be at least 7.00 pm before I reached home. Let's just stay - I do need the long break though!

On Christmas Day, due to the cold weather (sorry, I am using the photo taken on a different date just to indicate the coldness), we just stay at home - too cold to go outside, we are even too lazy to move. We spent that day playing games and watching TV. On Boxing Day, which is more promising as the sun rose a bit and it feels quite warm (it's 1 degree that day, but we have managed to somehow feel quite warm with anything above zero!) so we joined the many shoppers going to Arndale! But, Goodness me! There were soooo...... many people and we finally just bought one or two tops for Mia & Aqil, a pair of shoes for Hakim and a bedlinen and hurried for home.  After all, we hardly go shopping expect for scouring car boot sales for books and toys - this is our first real shopping after moving down here.

Monday spent buying groceries for the week and a new pencil case for Danish. That was all he's asking for (well, Danish is like that - among my children he is the one who hardly ask for anything - he is happy with whatever we gave him.  Even when asked, he will always say "I don't want anything, Ibu" which makes it quite difficult at times). That afternoon (which looks like well into the evening from outside) we spent making blackberry muffins but since everybody is excited, the muffins were attacked once taken out from the oven so - there's no photos.

Aqil & Damia 

Today, we started out quite late - after deciding that I should not go to the office due to the transport. Again, it's to Arndale - this time buying a duvet cover and some paper supplies for our Arts & Crafts project at home.

Actually, we planned to make some cupcakes as a way to spend some family time but since it was already late when we came back, we decided against it. We made two books instead, :

Mia proudly showing her book made of the hard paper found in the newly opened bed linen, some tissue paper as the cover, coloured papers, some stickers and pieces of wool

Mia's book when opened

Aqil's book

Aqil's book has butterfly shaped pages

Well, hopefully my children are happy. It has been sometime before we spend time doing arts and baking and reading poems and books and watching TV together. I was glad for the long, long weekend. I enjoyed mine.  Hopefully you enjoyed yours too! Cheers, Mate! :-D

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Of Friends & err... Dogs? Hmmm...

From time to time my daughter Damia will ask me when we will be going back to Dundee. When I asked why, the answer will be "I miss Dundee so... much...I miss my friends." Not that she has no friends here. She is quite an agreeable young child and somehow, she will make friends quite easily.  And once she makes friends, they are hardly out of her mind regardless of distance. Among the friends which she will always mention are Balqis, Dina and her best friend at school Divya.  Here are some photos of Damia and her friends  - to cheer her up a bit.

Dina, Balqis & Damia in front of Stirling Castle 

Just what do they have in mind?

Oh Dear - It's entertainment right from Loch Lomond!

I'll be sorry if I miss this - a pop group in the making?

Damia and her classmates on her last day in Dundee
Kellie, Kelly, Divya, Ilsa, Damia & Katherine

With her Class Teacher, Mrs Young

As for Aqil, he has his share of close friends too! His closest since we reached Dundee is Fathi. They went to the same Nursery School as well. When we told him he's going to go to school here at Whipperly Infant School, he was so... happy that he thought he will be meeting Fathi again. He was sad in the beginning of starting at a new school. It took a while before he settles in. Last Tuesday when we were rushing to the Mobile library I heard him yelling to his friend "Emily! We are going to the library! Are you going too?" Well, my little boy has grown up a bit! Anyway here are some snaps of Aqil with Fathi & Ajim. 

Aqil & Fathi at Loch Lomond

Having a heavy discussion it seems

And not forgetting Ajim - well, I am not sure what happened but it looks like one is crying and one is smiling happily. However, I have a feeling it's something to do with these dogs below :

Well Ajim, they may be huge but they are harmless enough - they won't let their hairs tangled easily will they?

Monday, December 27, 2010

An Outdated Entry (which started of nearly 2 weeks ago!)

Much that I wish to update my blog every day, I just cannot afford it (read as Fat Chance). Work takes most of my time plus the two hour journey to and from work. I am sorry if that sounds like I am complaining - I am not. In actual fact I am very grateful - not just for having a job to go to everyday and get paid at the end of the month but also for everything else - It is just that it will be nice to have some me-time by writing my thoughts and my story - the way I see things each day. On my journey home, I always have in mind what I want to key-in to my blog but when I reached home I will eat my dinner, change to a more comfortable outfit and reach for my red felt blanket - and I am already too tired to even watch what's on tele, let alone updating my Blog.

Anyway, the Year-end is just around the corner, Christmas is coming soon but when I was passing through the shops around Knightsbridge the other day (on duty, mind you), I hardly seen the usual Christmas crowd. Maybe everyone decided on a last minute shopping this year? Hmm... Either that or the economy is as bad as is portrayed or the weather is not shopper-friendly. Oh yes! we have not so kindly weather lately though the past week is rather promising. But there are words that the coming week will leave us caved in snow - let's just see.

On another note, as it is nearing Christmas, schools will be holding year-end concerts and nativity plays.  And so it happened it is Aqil's first play. He was one of the three shepherds

A very nervous Aqil

But this time, unlike the year before I was not present during the Nativity Play.  Only my husband. Now, I am not sure about the impressions from other people about us letting our children involved in the Play. As it is here, the teachers will make every child involved. As for me, I take it as an opportunity for the children to learn and compare. We are from very diversified religions and cultures and this is the opportunity to open discussions between us and our children.  We discuss cultures, we discuss religions, we discuss the differences and more importantly we teach our children to respect the others' beliefs, cultures and religions because that is an important part of being human - Till we meet again :- )

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our First Snow in Luton

I was trying to get an extra dose of sleep this morning when I heard Hakim rushing into our room, singing "It's snowing, it's snowing, the old man is snoring!" Then I recalled the forecast, "snow expected this Saturday,..." Hmmm... so, it snows this morning though not that heavy.

I tucked myself back inside the blanket and snuggled beside my sleeping partner. It has been very cold for the past week. Last Wednesday, I got off the train at St Pancras hardly feeling my legs. But not wanting to stop the flow behind me I concentrated in forcing some mechanisms in my grey cells to remind me to put forward a step before another. Somehow I managed to reach the office having no idea whether I still have both my feet intact. Yesterday was even worst. The train I used to take was cancelled and it was some 20 minutes that I have to wait, standing in the windy morning, shivering in the cold - I can almost hear my teeth clattering. My fur-lined gloves provided no comfort at all. My fingers were all numb and I felt tears running down my cheek. My fingers are not just numb - they were biting cold and very painful - I could even imagine part of my capillaries and cells turning into icicles.  You have no idea how glad I am when the train finally pulled up in the station! And it was not until we reached St. Albans that I can take out my gloves and inspect my hands - at least I still have all ten fingers and I started rubbing them together - still painful at first but at least slowly they warmed up. And how glad am I that I do not have to go to work today - the first day of snow!

Anyway, I can't sleep anymore. And as usual on Saturday both my husband and I will stay a bit longer in bed - we talk - about anything and everything that crosses our mind. I love our sessions. Just the two of us. From downstairs we can hear the children talking, playing - time where they can express themselves clearly! i.e. No Parental Guidance time. It is not a crisisless time either for they do fight with each other, they yell and get cross with one another but still it's their time. Sometimes during this time they can be very quiet too - mostly due to each is drowned in their own work - Danish reading, Hakim on the PS2 playing football imagining he is Steven Gerrard, Aqil on the Netbook and Mia either reading or drawing or painting or doing some craft works. I always love it when they are in this kind of harmony. But normally it will end in War. There will always be one who step into the other's barrier - it can happen without any physical interference - a simple unintentional comment will do. But this morning - maybe due to the snow (perhaps), this human sanity and order last until both of us came down. And except for minor hiccups, harmony is still leading. Great! I love Saturdays like this errr.... except for the minus temperature.

Looks like we will spend the whole day at home today. As I am writing this, I can see from our window that the sun is coming up. The forecast mentioned about it being sunny at 3.00 p.m. Well, it is still another1 and a half hour before it is three and yes, the snow is melting. Suddenly, there is a little hope - perhaps we can go to Hitchin tomorrow - we need to get some boots, not to forget some hats as well.

Oh yes, did I mention that today is my Birthday? Well, Have a Great Weekend everyone! :-D

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Museum Visit

Our Sunday began with us starting the journey to one of the car boots about 6 miles away from home.  However, our satnav was not cooperating well. It led us to a residential area which sans the car boot set up. Frustrated, we left and decided to go to Stockwood instead - we love going there really!

Fortunately, other than the normal exhibition (which we have been visiting for 3 times at least!, there was another exhibition - Photograph of the Year. Hmm... we were after all in a better position - comparing car boot and museum :

(i) Museum is free (though we do contribute some donation); car boot : 30p - 50p entrance fee for adult (depending on where - the one in Errol is free)
(ii) Museum is fully sheltered; car boot : it may rain while you are bargaining
(iii) You gain new & invaluable knowledge at the museum ; car boot : you do too; there's a lot of books which price is a fraction of the same brand new - not only that you can get past issues or even out-of-print copy not to mention the rare books - I am always in the look out for books from the yesteryear; also, at the car boot sale, you can get a lot of information from the seller - I always like chatting them up - they are real sport!
(iv) The children can try on costumes and play pretend and not feeling guilty about it unlike at car boot - this depends really, I do feel guilty when I ended not buying - those hopeful faces....

Anyway, the above were my list actually more to heal my wound after not being able to go to car boot sales for already three weeks now! Booo HuHu! :-(

But we do have a good time at the museum as you can witness from the snaps below :

Trying the transport of yesteryear. Mia, turning a sour face as she wanted to sit where Aqil is

Baba and the Penny Farthing. Can you imagine how to get on the seat? A step ladder? Hehehe...

The Hobby Horse. Will be difficult to control I believe.

And the snaps below are of the children trying some of the costumes worn by the ladies and gentlemen in the Era :

Hmmm... two cowboys and a cowgirl!

My young unladylike lady giving a pose!

Oh yes, by the way, I mentioned earlier about the Photography of the Year Exhibition. The theme is Nature and Wildlife. What I can say is that, I really really fell for the patience of the photographers to get the right light, right movement, right timing and everything right in order to capture exceptionally fantastic pictures.  To be fair to them, I can't share with you the photos but two of my favourites are :

(i) an eagle snatching a starling by its paws. Simply fantastic!
(ii) a salmon escaping the grabbing paw of a bear! Heavenly!

But, no matter how much fun we have, there'll sure to be a 'tragedy'.  I believe you can make a guess of why this boy is crying (hence the red nose - nope not a reindeer just yet!), don't you?

I hope all of you had a Great Sunday too! Cheers! :-D

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday at the Museum :-D

One of our Saturday "Family-Day-Out" is our Museum trip.  Today, we went to the Wardown Park Museum about 3.5 miles from home. Autumn is clearly visible now. Not just in my back garden but everywhere. most of the trees in my back garden are sans leaves at the moment. The apple tree is in a sorry state - branches and two too-ripe apples left. For now, I have no desire to climb.

Oh yes, back to our day-out, we are quite lucky because there are a number of exhibitions on at the Museum - the Ancient Greek , Hat (Yes! Hat) and Luton Life Exhibitions.  Enjoy  & Have a Good Sunday

The Entrance to the Museum

Mia dressed in a Greek girl costume and her Baba

One of the things that I like about the museum here is that there will provide costumes for the children to try on. Amazingly, the costumes were just left in a box (unguarded) and none of it goes missing! It will be very nice if the same concept can be applied to the museums back home.  For sure it is interesting - because the children can try on our traditional costumes or any costumes at all depending on the exhibition at no extra cost.

Hakim in Archiles' costume, 'King' Aqil and Mia

Some of the ancient items on exhibit

Trying the different hats. Baba does look queer in a top hat

Danish putting on his cowboy act! 

Taking a break

The instruction to walk on the sheep wool below to see whether the wool can be changed to felt by exhibition-end

A pair of tired-looking Mom & son

Saturday, November 6, 2010

An Embarrassing Moment....!

For the past week I was actually feeling under the weather! I mean really2 under the weather. Throbbing pain in my head which just refused to go away (I was already preparing if it is some sort of tumour! Cheh!). Truth is I always experienced that kind of throbbing pain on the left side of my head. Sometimes it lasted five minutes, sometimes half an hour but the most recent seemed just to stay. I woke up, took some medications and went back to sleep. Even when my Boss called last Wednesday, it was my husband answering  the call. I was sleeping and it was only 7.00 p.m. And that was not the first time I slept that day.

As I was saying in my previous entry, I was feeling unwell since Sunday but I still brought my children to the Circus. I was actually shivering throughout the show. So Monday, my husband brought me to the Medical Centre which is about 10 minutes walk from our house. When we got to see the Doctor, there was another person in there - a youngish guy. "I hope you don't mind. This is Thomas, he is a 3rd year Medical student. If you do not want him to be here, I will ask him to leave" said Dr. Sims. We told her we were quite all right with him being there. Dr Sims examined me - I have viral fever, sore throat and soon will get flu - great! So! What went wrong?

Well, before I tell you, let me just bring you back to a little bit of my background. Prior to resigning from my previous job, I was actually the person who sort-of handling the administrative part of the London operation of the Bank which I worked for - so, I am actually among others, very familiar with the Human Resource aspect of the local staff of the Branch. So, when I said, it is embarrassing, it is very embarrassing!!!!

Right, let's continue with my story. Dr. Sims was asking me where I worked at and what my job is, so, I simply told her that I worked at Central London as a PA cum HR Administrator. There I was, feeling as weak as weak could be and before my brain can actually stop the orchestration between my vocal chord and the mechanism of opening and shutting my mouth, I heard myself asking, "Is there a possibility of getting a medical chit or sickness certificate?" which of course was the wrong thing to ask. But the damaged was done. I was at that moment a disgrace to the HR profession (those familiar with UK labour law at least) to whom I should apologise - I mean really apologise - Sorry....

So, Dr. Sims apologetic as she sound was explaining to me, "Well, actually the law here is that you are allowed self-certification sick leave up until one week." Yeah,.. yeah... tell me 'bout it... ".....but if you are still unwell after that, you can come and see me again upon which I will issue you the sickness certificate. But of course, if the company you worked with requires it, I will issue one for you but I am afraid I have to charge you." Nothing that I don't know actually... But since I was already in that position, I decided to play along, "Thank you for telling me that Dr., I think there is a lot more for me to learn. I am still in the handing-over stage, no wonder I seen some of the Self-Certification Forms - now I know what it is for." "I am sorry if I sound like teaching you..." said Dr. Sims. And great. Now both of us were feeling guilty! "So, I guess I know where to get hold of that form." I said. "Yeah..." said Thomas the Medical student "with the HR Dept which is yourself!" Yeah, rub it in! But, well, we (my husband included) just laugh it off. Hey! Now if that's not diplomacy, what is?!


(Sources of Images : mimosa pudica from; passion flower from; cupcakes from

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Do You Have A Craving?

At times, I have cravings for, let see..., it could be ice cream perhaps (though in my normal days I don't really have a second thought about ice cream! Or Creme Brulee! Last year it was a bowl of Prawn Noodle - that's when I thought of Kuala Sepetang or even Pak Li Kopitiam; Next, was a plate of Penang Char Kuey Teow (doesn't matter if it is not from Penang itself, coz we can still get it from Mid Valley or even closer to Shah Alam) and very recently, as I was poring over the new FSA's Liquidity Standards, I suddenly thought of Mee Hailam - Can't really find the equivalent in English - noodle with beef or prawn, garlic, pak choy or sawi (no equivalent as well), pepper, soy sauce and beef stock? Not sure...(please correct me if I'm wrong) . But with that in mind, I sent a text to my husband, "What's cooking?". And he replied with "Surprise.. the best meal I've ever cooked". Well, my Mee Hailam forgotten and I thought no more of it until I left for home that night. Gladly I had a book to keep me from guessing what it was that he cooked along the way from Hyde Park Corner to King's Cross and from St Pancras to Luton.

My children were all excited when I reached home, "Ibu! Baba cooked a very delicious meal! I wish he cooks it everyday!" said Mia. The others were quick to agree. And then the moment of truth. Nope! Not Mee Hailam but ....

Nasi Ayam - Chicken Rice and the works! Crispy roast chicken; Soup; Homemade chili and garlic sauce; Soy sauce (for some reason the soy sauce was left out below);

The works - somehow the colours gave me the feelings that I am eating a good balanced diet! Hehehe!

The excited faces of the children over Nasi Ayam

So! I didn't get my Mee Hailam that night. But, the Nasi Ayam more than made it! The roasted chicken - moist in the inside and crispy on the outside, soup so.... light and delicious, the helpings... ah! all of us had more than one helping that night! Such Bliss! Only thing is I have to watch out for my belly. There is no way I can grow taller - I am just hoping that all those good food won't make me wider or heavier either. Well, though I enjoy the juicy pear I surely do not want to end shaping like one! Hellllppppp!!!!

Well, Do you have any craving? :-D

Image of ice cream from