Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh Really?

We had a 4-days weekend last week. And as if that is not enough, it will be repeated this coming week.  Hopefully the good weather will be as good as it was too though the temperature dropped from 28 Degrees on Friday down to 16 degrees on Monday. 

We went to Stratford-upon-Avon for a day trip  - just to stroll by the River Avon - too bad - we forgotten to charge out batteries, so no photos. The children ran around happily like wild bunnies.  People everywhere - sun bathing, boating, river cruising - everyone sharing the warmth of early Summer - by right it is only Spring.  But we didn't stay that long.  It is very hot and after strolling along one side of the River, we decided to find somewhere shady to pray and to have lunch.  Over here, basically, whenever we were out, we will just pray anywhere - anywhere as in, under the trees, somewhere in the parking area (grassy area preferably) or any space under the stairs - as long as it is clean, no problem.  Compass pointing the Qiblat is very easy to carry - no problem at all  - praying mat? OK if we remember to bring it along. If not? No problem - the field will do. Or perhaps our outer jacket - Oh C'mon! 

Anyway, sorry for having diverted from what I was planning to share.  I had quite a long conversation with  my Sister last Sunday.  Among the many topics, we were talking about rice.  I was telling her that before I left Malaysia (or Bolehland, borrowing the term from DrSam of Archive of Time), the price of a 10kg AA was around RM30. And I was quite shocked when she said it is RM41 now.  Wow! And the so-called healthy rice is at RM6 per kg? Oh Dear! What is happening really?  So when I told her the price of rice over here, she was saying, "You are better off there, really."  You see, currently the price of basmati rice is at £5 per sack of 5kg. And if you purchase 3 sacks, the price is £10 - it is 3 for 2.  And believe me, rice is among the items that are always on sale.  I am not quite sure why  -  as the staple food of this country is not rice.  Is it to keep the stock moving? Or is it because rice is considered perishable?  Perhaps you can tell me - But whatever the reason is, it is quite comforting as we are among the minority household who eats rice quite regularly - Well, we always purchase a 10kg rice on a monthly supply.

Now, when I am thinking back about the price of rice in Bolehland - it is quite disturbing isn't it? For whatever sake it is, Rice is a staple food.  Why is the price going upwards and not down? Something wrong with the distribution line? Though only 45% of the Bolehland's rice is supplied domestically, it still does not seem right. What quality of life can be enjoyed by those with lower income bracket if they are struggling to purchase their staple? Forget chicken, fish, etc,... If I tell you that we can get 3 baby chickens for £5 here and a kg of chicken wings for £1.99, will you believe me?  You have to because it is true.

Anyway, if the price of rice is so high, what is the price of Nasi Lemak now? I can only imagine....! Oh Dear!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good Evening Frank!

Hmm... I am quite unsure whether I should share this story.  I do not know how I will be thought of after I share this with you.  You may think that I am a bit crazy or perhaps, at least a little insane (am I barmy?). But before I share with you whatever that I wanted to share, let me ask you a question.  Have you at any time meet a person and think that he looks like a George or she looks like a Lina or something? Sometimes you just feel like a certain name should suit this person - have you? Or not? No? Not at all? Well, then, I may be in the verge of insanity.

You see, I sometimes have that feeling.  Please don't think that I have been giving people names that I feel they should be named along my train ride everyday - well, I will be running out of names before I reached St. Pancras from Luton - regardless of some can share the same name.

Anyway, let's get back to what I wanted to share. There is this Security Officer on night duty at the building where my office is.  Every sense of me is telling me somehow, he looks like a Frank, and so before my brain can stop my mouth from addressing him, I called out "Good Night Frank. You take care." I know! I know! I should have checked with my colleague.  But since he is always on night duty and I am almost always the last to leave the building, I always forgotten to ask.  And good natured as he is, he never try to correct me. (You see what I mean when I feel that he looks like a Frank?) He will always respond, " And you!" Sometimes we engaged in a small talk but all the while, he is Frank.  And so, what's the problem, you may ask! Nothing, really..... until the night before I suddenly feel that I need to check with my colleague if my guess is correct. I sent a text to him and he responded, "You mean the guy who is on night duty? But his name is Brian...!" Of course he text me more than just that, but let's not share it.  So,... my hunch is not right after all. You see, the problem is, I have been calling him Frank since last August.....! Hopefully, it is still not too late to make amends - So, tonight, as I emerged from the elevator and saw him sitting at his usual place, I put on a big confident smile and finally said, "Quite an early night tonite, Brian - you take care now and have a Great Weekend!" "And you! Let's just hope the weather is as good as it was last weekend." he called out in his usual good natured manner. He deserved justice, that man.  Perhaps he is saying "At last!" or may be I am really getting barmy!

By the way, you have a Great Weekend too! :-D

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Back Garden

It has been quite some time before I really explore my own back garden - narrow and small though it is. Despite always wishing that I can spend more time in the garden - digging, weeding and whatever it is that needs to be done in a garden, the cold weather always put me off.  Now, last weekend the weather was really great. It was beautiful. The air is crispy (if you can call air that) and fresh and nicely fragrant. Aah...! The feeling of fresh air!  

Anyway, let me walk you through my long and narrow back garden :

The flowering apple tree - looks like it will be quite a harvest so long as we manage it on time

Close-up of the soon to be budding apple

My flowering grass

Another flowering grass

My vegetable patch - that's the broad beans

Well, maybe I will share more snaps when it gets prettier in Summer.  Anyway, just so that my tiny patch of front garden (if it can be called so) not feels left out, I will share with you the snaps of my red and yellow ramunculus. Excuse the yellow ramunculus. I have yet to transfer it.  

Hopefully the weather will turn out to be better.  I can't wait for every plants to be flowering and bearing fruits.  Well, when the rosehips are flowering and of course my begonias are in full bloom, I will take you for another visit to both my tiny gardens.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Day in Portsmouth

It has been quite some time before we went for our so-called Day Out. When we were in Dundee, we always went for a short trip every week - not necessarily far but just to enjoy the countryside, looking for farm shops or looking for the best Fish n Chips (so far, the best is still Marco in Arbroath!) or just having some picnic by the beach (our favourite is Stonehaven and to some extend St. Andrews) or in the woods (the Hermitage for example).

Anyway, Luton is not within easy reach of the beach, such, the request for a day at the beach by the children resulted in us contemplating whether to go to Brighton or Portsmouth.  Since we have been to Brighton, the decision was soon made.

And of course our first destination is the beach front :

At last! After nearly 8 months, we finally get to the beach!

Happy Faces :-D

A hovercraft landing

No! This is not a Mascot

Oh Dear! A nice car (Lotus Elan?) But so so well-fitting pants!


Father-Daughter Team

The famous landmark of Portsmouth

The Tower

The Tower from the back

Well, of course when you reached Spinnaker Tower, you just have to check out the Gunwharf Quays - in it?

A Hectic Week

The previous two weeks have been hectic. I put on long hours and worked Saturdays and Sundays too.  The firm which I worked with participated in a career fair held here in London.  Our HR Director came all the way from Head Office and it was a big annual thingy - though this is my first.

We held three and a half days of interview sessions at the office.  As I was told that there were students in the previous year who came very casually, I was quite taken when this time round all of them came with a full suit - looking seriously in need of a job! Some seemed lost, not knowing what to expect.

One asked me, "Why do I have to go through this writing assessment? I do not like to write".  Hmmm... too bad.  As I explained, we do need to write proposals, memos, reports, etc..., she started cursing herself for she said, she had "expressed" her dislike of writing to the Interviewer and seeing that her chance going down the drain.

Another asked me what I do in the Firm and when I informed him, he asked what qualification do I have.  When I told him I earned a Master's Degree, he went "What?! Even a PA with this Company has a Master's?" The nerves of that boy.  Wonder what he will be saying if he knows I am planning to further into my Doctorate, hopefully soon.

Well, now, one quite a disappointment for us is when among the students shortlisted for interview was a straight A student with a CGPA of 4.0.  However, he didn't pull it out during the interview.  Well, I wish him luck, maybe he is the Academic one - not the one who oozed confidence and capability of efficient communication. 

And on the Sunday when we have to be on duty at the booth, the response was overwhelming.  We were practically on our feet the whole time only stopping for breakfast and lunch. Seeing those young eager faces asking the right questions, just made my day no matter how exhausting it is - and sort of a consolation for spending a whole sunny Sunday indoor!

For those successful candidates, you should have received your Conditional Offer Letter by now.  Congratulations!