Sunday, 31 July 2011

I'm a stranger here myself

The title of this blog has been blatantly stolen from Bill Bryson's novel where he writes about returning to America after living in the UK for 20 years.

I am no Bill Bryson, nor have I been away from home from that long, but still I find myself feeling a bit out of place as I sit here in the house I grew up in.

As my time in London has come to a close, this blog must inevitably end. It started as a means for me to keep in touch with people back home and fill them in on the little and big events that would occur in my life.

It became a place for me to regale my friends with stories of bad dates, fun trips, mishaps and misadventures. I could have written more. I should have written more. Going back and reading some of my old entries brings me back two years and I can clearly picture myself tapping away at this laptop wondering where my life was going to take me next.

If you look at my About Me section, most of what I wrote there more than two years ago still applies. I still am addicted to my blackberry and my books and I still enjoy jotting down many to-do lists.

I may not have found the perfect pair of black heels, but I did run the London Marathon and I probably averaged visiting more than two cities per month, especially in the past couple of months. I've gotten a slightly better at using my DSLR and the last two years have been the happiest I've ever been.

I'm at a loss as to what else to write. I miss London unbearably at the moment. My friends and my life there, it's as if I'm back to square one and I'm trying to claw my way desperately back to a time and place where I was happy. At the same time, I'm excited to carve out this next chapter in my life and move forward into this world they call adulthood.

I may decide to re-enter the blogging world. Already I have ideas of blog posts that I've jotted down on various scraps of paper and notebooks.

Who knows, if this unemployment thing continues, I may have nothing to do but blog. Until then - thank you for reading my adventures the last 2+ years and sharing your comments either on this blog, through facebook or emails. To my London friends, I miss you all dearly and love you even more.

Monday, 27 June 2011

An Ode to Tobi the dog (not the Viking)

I ended my solo Eastern Europe jaunt with a quick visit to Bremen, where my close friends Caroline and Bjorn live. Having moved across the pond meant that over the last two years, I've been able to spend lots of time with them, including being a part of their wedding celebration last summer.

It was then that I met Tobi for the first time - a lovable and adorable dachshund who completely and inexplicably fell head over tails in love with me. He followed me around the apartment, whined whenever he was separated from me, barked jealously if I petted other dogs and would greet me slobbery kisses whenever I came into the room.

On my last visit, Caroline and Bjorn decided it would be a good idea to take Tobi to the airport to see me off. He would get a better understanding then that I was leaving and not coming back. It was a heart wrenching farewell, but a necessary one.

Still, almost a year later when we were reunited, I was shocked to discover that Tobi still not only remembered me, but his devotion was still as strong.

Here a few of my favourite photos of Tobi, the most lovable, adorable dachshund ever. Fraulein + Bman, I can't wait to come back and see not only Tobi, but your little chicken nugget :)

Thursday, 26 May 2011


(I know, it's been AGES since I last blogged - apologies. This post has been in my drafts folder for the last few months and I've just gotten around to adding the photos and publishing it)

For my birthday, Suey bought me a gift certificate for cooking classes at the brilliant Jamie Oliver's Recipease.

We both are huge fans of Jamie. He may not be a Michelin star chef, but there's something just utterly lovable about him. And I dare you walk into one of his stores and not come out with a tea-towel, or a garlic press, or an apron.

In our class we would learn how to prepare the classic Provencal French dish - Bouillabaisse, or fish stew.

Upon arrival we were given aprons, clearly not made for short 5'1 Asian girls.

We were also given our complimentary glass of wine.

Perhaps not a good idea when chopping vegetables...

After blitzing through the veggies, trying to devein the shrimp and de-beard the mussels and making quite possibly the best rouille ever, we were left with a pretty kick ass Bouillabaisse.

Don't believe me? Just check out the yummy photos for yourself.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Why I need a better alarm clock

I woke up to sun streaming into my room and the sense that something was very very wrong.

Then it dawned on me that my flight leaving London Luton to Budapest in an hour was going to leave without me. And I went through the typical stages of emotion that come with sleeping through your flight:

1. Panic - screaming obscenities, run to the bathroom, quickly put in contacts and frantically look for clothes

2. Anger - those obscenities? yup, still screaming them, this time also angry because said clothes cannot be found. Also your flatmates may at this time be cowering in their bedrooms, afraid to experience your wrath

3. Despair - the realization that your flight might leave without you

4. Resignation - figuring out that really, no matter how fast you ask the taxi to go, you ain't gonna be on that 8 am flight. This is the time when said flatmates emerge from their hiding places and make fun of you.

And so I went online, went onto Wizz Air and bought another ticket. To be fair, I was bracing myself to pay an obscene amount for a new ticket, but thankfully, budget airlines are still budget the day you need to fly out.

Monday, 9 May 2011

When life gives you lemons - make vodka tonics

Or in the case of Amsterdam - when confronted by the unhappy news that after spending a few hundred euros on flights, hotel, car rental, etc - the day we had eagerly been anticipating and talking about for MONTHS was crushed by these few words:

"The engine on our boat doesn't work" (or something to that effect)

So there we were, finally on the boat, happily passing around cold beers and waiting to join the throngs of other orange-clad revelers on the canals of Amsterdam. Except we weren't. We were on a boat with a broken engine, not enough beer, next to no food and rapidly melting ice. And disappointment. Lots and lots of disappointment.

But when life gives you lemons, or in our case, a broken engine - you battle on. You take a nice gulp of the still-cold beer, look around at the faces of your friends who have become more than family, you bask in the warm April sunshine and you remember how lucky you are to have this life.

I will be leaving this London life soon - but those memories, oh the memories - I can't even begin to describe how wonderful the last 2 years have been.

Group shot minus Dutchie

Flatties on the boat!

Touring the Heineken Museum

Dutchie being the worst tour guide ever - but the most lovable!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

All Orange'd out

Thanks to my good friend Alex, I've celebrated more Dutch holidays than I ever knew existed. Last year we rang in Christmas at the local Dutch pub with complete with lots and lots of Dutch beer, a Sinterklaas and really horrible Dutch pop music.

Exhibit A: The dreaded, but incredibly catch 'train song'

Tomorrow my London family (minus one Viking) and I are off to Holland, the land of Dutchies to celebrate Queen's Day in proper style. I have my orange t-shirt all packed and ready to go. Now it's time for bed as I'm getting up at stupid hour to catch our flight.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Why Mothers are the most efficient people. Ever.

I've been putting off booking my flight back home for weeks now.

I think my mom got a bit fed up asking me when I was leaving because last night on Skype she asked me what date i was planning on going.

"umm... July 24th, no, the 21st. Hold on, maybe sometime the week of July 20th. No wait, actually no, definitely July 24th"

Less than 10 minutes after ending our Skype call, I received an email from Air Canada informing me that my ticket from London Heathrow to Toronto Pearson had been booked for July 24th.

My mother does not waffle about. She does not procrastinate. She acts. That's just one of the many things I love about her. Also, she has a lot of air mile points to transfer --> * Bonus *