Recently in on the relationship front Category
Met up with mm, she came to pick me up in her car and I directed her to a new area she’s never been to. Just simple lunch of rib-eye and vegetables. Went to the library, window shopped at estate agents and went to a small store. Went over to the church so she can get a spare copy of her baptism certificate. I wanted to get my confirmation certificate filled out too, but apparently I have to return to the church I was baptised in, not the one I was confirmed. Strange.
Met with family at a pub near Sis’ place so we can have a family dinner for early celebration of Mum’s birthday. Nice pub, not too crowded and it was okay for my niece. I had smoked duck breast with mash and a big floret of broccoli. A couple of glasses of Hoegaarten too.
Lunch with mm at a Japanese restaurant near the office, no reason, just felt like it. She had grilled hamachi head and I had the sashimi set. I then went to the market to get some stuff for the cruise, went home then went out again, we were going to Ikea to take advantage of their 40x point shopping days. She bought wine racks and I bought a replacement kitchen scale. Back to her place to put the wine racks together. Not really dinner, my dinner was a hot dog and meatballs at Ikea. She did give me some soup though.
Met mm for lunch, then went to an appointment with her. She had taken the afternoon off, so we took the car and drove out to a little bit further. It rained, but we were lucky to get a parking space quickly and managed a nice walk around. Explored the wet market, the pier, stopped for oysters (gillardo, cumbrae, holland live) and a small glass of wine. Back to her place for pizza and red shrimps. For the second night in a row, she drove me home.
In the past, I’d be asked what I wanted for my birthday and I’d say something like “no need, don’t waste money, I’m too old for presents.” I’d end up getting cute gadgets that are cute but useless, or something else I don’t want, or at best, amazon vouchers. This year, since it’s the first I’ve spent with family (and mm) in person for a while, I reckon they’d want to get me something. So I decided to be specific instead of wishy-washy.
And I got what I wanted.
Mum got me a backpack, since my old one’s falling apart. Parents gave me a red packet of cash, exactly what I need. Sis and family were on holiday, so I asked them to get me a whisky from the duty free. She was creative and got me a oddly named anCnoc as well as a Nikka from the Barrel in its perfume bottle like packaging. A cocktail shaker too. Seriously, I’m not that heavy a drinker!
From mm I got a nice selection of diffusers, I picked the flavours myself. All in all, I’m pleased with my presents.
Low key sort of birthday. Had lunch with family at Enoteca, a restaurant that can’t decide if it’s Italian or Spanish. They served pizza, pasta and small dishes. But the small dishes weren’t Venetian cicheti or Spanish tapas. Baked brie with toast, garlic mushrooms, risotto balls. Hmm. The Spanish influence came in the selection of sangria and chorizo pizza. Hmm.
Between us, we had mushroom pasta, lamb salad, fish & chips, the aforementioned baked brie with toast, risotto balls and parma ham pizza. A jug of sangria too. Okay, with the food confusion, it was still pretty good.
Sis brought a chocolate cheesecake which we all shared afterwards. Then she and mum went off to look for material so I took my niece back to her place and we played on my kindle for a while.
Rang mm, she picked me up and we went for a bit of a drive to one of the beaches. Little walk, then to a hotel near her home for a glass of wine. She’s been eating a lot and I was full from lunch so we just ordered a snack of crispy fried prawns. That was it for the day.
It’s mm’s birthday. We met up after lunch for tea — she had fruit sponge and I had a nice chestnut cake. Rich hot chocolate and iced chocolate accompanied the delicate (and a little expensive) cakes. Wandered around the shopping mall, took the bus to the flower market street and bought some cheap diffusers.
Dinner at a new restaurant, one that serves seafood. We had braised eel with taro and pumpkin, stuffed peppers and noodles. The eel was sweet and the sauce very nice. The highlight was the stuffed peppers though, very delicious, a little spicy with the seeds left in. Large plates too, we both had enough to take home.
So mm and I were going to go out to the islands when a thunderstorm scuppered our plan. No good movies around, nothing much else going on. So we had a coffee and coke zero at mcdonalds, walked around a department store and went off in search of happy hour. A precarious taxi ride later we were at Dickens’ Bar, a couple of glasses of wine and a large plate of nachos. Nice save.
Met up for mm, she had car hunting on her mind having all of a sudden decided she wanted to buy a car. Had shanghainese lunch — eel noodles, snow peas with dried tofu and jellied pig’s trotter. It’s been a long time since I had the sautéed eels, used to have it a lot with my grandparents. Fried with bean sprouts and noodes, it was more filling and less oily.
Then went to a bunch of dealers, first to look at new cars. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford. Then to a second hand place. Saw a lovely BMW 118i that I liked. Not many golfs so we headed to the VW dealer. Booked a test drive for next week.
It was like going out with a good friend. That’s as much as I can expect nowadays. 10hrs together is better than sitting around like an idiot at home.
Feeling depressed. Tried to meet up with mm, did a bit of shopping. Went for a glass of wine at the place where you get unlimited peanuts and you throw the shells on the floor. On the floor, that’s what I feel like right now. In my life, in everything. Not sure what I’m doing here in a place I hate, not sure what I should do, not sure of anything, full stop. Feel like I’m struggling to push myself into a rare timeslot she has graciously made available for me out of pity. Need guidance from angels on what to do now, and what future to look forward to. Not in a good place.
I thought that mm and I could go out sometime over the weekend but she didn’t have time. She suggested that we met up today for happy hour and dinner. I felt like she did it out of obligation. And then she messaged me to say that there’s a memorial mass for the mother of her friend. So off we went. And had a quick Vietnamese dinner afterwards.
I feel so superfluous. She has so much in her life. One of these days, He will take her away from me. I should know, it’s been like this for so many years.
It’s not like we’re anti valentine’s day per se, it’s just that we just spent a long weekend together, and she needs to go to work today, and help a friend of hers who just had a family bereavement. So we didn’t plan anything, and didn’t have much communication either. Ah well.
By the time we woke up it was almost 11am. We were both tired. Quickly got ready and went out to the mall across the road to one of the few restaurants that were open. Nothing much else to do, went to the town centre and walked around.
Dinner was the purpose we all came up, mm’s mum’s birthday dinner. All the family was there. There was a bit of drama with her older brother losing his temper but everyone rallied around to save the atmosphere. Funny how mm and I got the scoop afterwards, everyone wanted to talk to her with their version of the events.
Efficiently did a couple of loads of laundry before bed too. Interesting day.
Didn’t sleep very well, ended up getting up and reading. Sigh, unfamiliar bed at mm’s. We didn’t get up till 10.30am. Had brunch of bratwurst and fried eggs, I played on her mbp and she practiced piano for a bit. Leisurely headed out to catch the ferry to the “opposite side” — a sort of traditional fishing village that served lots of seafood. Nice view of the boats moored in the typhoon shelter.
Caught a minibus into town, aimlessly walked around, then found another ferry to take us back. Dinner at a market restaurant, very very busy but very very good food — golden prawns, stir fried squid thai style, vegetables, fresh fish congee. I ordered a beer, which came served in a chilled bowl. Heh.
We were watching Fringe till late last night. Had a relaxing morning — mm played the piano whilst I played mafia wars and then read a little. Brunch was plain noodles and broccoli. By the time we made a move it was 3pm.
We caught the bus to TT reservoir, getting off at the stop just before the dam and finding a really hidden walkway down to the bottom. It was a nice walk around the reservoir, people were fishing, boating and there was even a middle-aged man at the side practising bagpipes. We didn’t walk a lot, may be around 45mins.
Went to one of the houses where they have set up a large area into a bbq centre (not restaurant per se, more like a house converted to an eatery). Tables and grills are all set up, they make the fire for you too. Food is provided — the usual steak, pork chop, chicken wings, sausages, fish balls, fish, mushroom, sweet potato, corn and other vegetables. Refills available. What I enjoyed most was making toast — this style of barbeque involves stabbing the food with a bbq fork and grilling it over the fire, no wire mesh or grill cover in sight, just a small shelf at the side. The hardworking staff made sure to add charcoal whenever it was running low.
We also ordered a bottle of wine, I chose the savignon blanc because the alternative was a bulgarian merlot which sounded way too risky. Switched to beer (for me) and soft drinks after we finished the bottle. We started the bbq when it was still light out, by the time we finished it was dark. A little bit of an adventure to get home, especially for me, but I still managed to get back by 11pm.
Met mm after work and went back to her place. Dinner at home, relaxed, no need to go out. She bought salmon sashimi, whelks and edamame from the supermarket and we found a bottle of sake in her fridge. Afterwards, she practiced piano and I played on her new mbp.
Breakfast at Carlucci’s at St Christopher’s Place followed by more sale shopping. Managed to fit in M&S, Primark and vitamin shopping. Walked to the piano store on Edgware Road so mm can ask about practice rooms for next time. Bought cake from the shop at Warwick Ave then home for a late lunch. I even cooked my remaining stuffed rabbit for her to try. All too soon it was 5pm and the minicab arrived. I went with her as far as Paddington to see her off on the heathrow express. Quiet when I got home, missing her already. Only 2 weeks, but it can’t come fast enough.
We are trying to cram everything into 2 days, get as much eating and time together as possible. Changed our reservation at Hawksmoor to lunch — had D-rump, sirloin, bone marrow followed by honeycomb cheesecake. I’m so happy that mm likes the place too. Bought cheese at Neal’s Yard diary. Resumed our trek to Foyles and then had ricotta cake at Princi. Went to John Lewis and bought towels, bowls, glasses and other kitchen stuff for mm. Took the bus home and had hoummous and cheese for dinner. I opened the bottle of peach wine from Georgia. Fantastic day.
I didn’t go to heathrow to pick mm up as it was too early, sis still here, and mm needed to check into the hotel anyway. We met up mid-morning at john lewis and walked around the entire store. Slowly made our way to covent garden where I had a reservation at l’atelier de joel robuchon. I’m losing track of how many times and who I’ve taken to all these restaurants, hahaha.
The restaurant was pretty full, but we still had a good seat at the bar. We opted for the 3 course lunch menu with wine pairing. To start I had sea bream carpaccio and she had asparagus cappuccino. For mains I had black leg chicken and she had hangar steak. We then moved upstairs to the bar for dessert — chocolate mousse and cheese plate. Just over £100 for the two of us. I ended up drinking most of the wine, including hers.
She wanted to go to foyles to look at music, which we did. Then her jetlag and wine got the better of her and we had to go back to the hotel quickly. Napped until early evening, went out to m&s to get dips and chicken wings and that was our dinner for the day. We’ve been looking forward to seeing each other for a while, it’s nice to simply spend time together.
It’s mm’s birthday tomorrow. I rang her just after midnight her time, and we talked a bit. Sent this video to her, it’s a nice piano arrangement.
Lunch buffet at Café Too at the Island Shangri-la. When mm rang up to book, they told us that the table would be in a high traffic area and do we mind? She asked them to move us to a better table if one is available, and when got there they took me to one next to the window and definitely low traffic, so good for them.
What can I say about that buffet? I’ve always liked it, many different stations: Japanese, salad, seafood, cold meats, dim sum, hot dishes, roasts, noodle bar, curry station and lots of dessert. I started with salad, sashimi and seafood, hot appetisers including dim sum, and a couple of bowls of chicken soup. The soup was made individually and steamed in this giant vat, when it was ready they rang this bell and people rushed to get the fresh soup.
Didn’t have too much main course, they had these freshly grilled sliders and I had a slice of the roast beef. I was pretty full by then, so had the noodle station make me some vegetables (no noodles). Had a plate of colourful desserts and a waffle cone of mango and green tea ice cream. Stuffed!
The quality seems to have diminished a little though, no oyster, no lobster, and the desserts are either small bowls, the standard cake or mousses. Still a very nice lunch, especially since it was with mm.
Did a little more shopping, but not much. I don’t have a lot to buy this time round. Early evening we made it back to her place for a rest — I tackled playing on her pb2 and she practiced piano. Dinner wasn’t really dinner, we went to a tapas place, had some wine and a few tapas. She has to go to work tomorrow morning, so not a late night.
Had lunch with mm’s family at the usual restaurant. Lots of food, and I got to take some of the sago tart away with me. Had to carry it with me all day though, small price to pay for good food. After lunch mm and I walked to all the nearby computer malls to search for a wiimote and some flashdrives for mum. Normally these things are easy to get, but during the holidays almost all the shops were closed.
She wanted to look at some watches but when we got to the shop none of the models appealed. We ended up at the top floor bar of the excelsior where we had a glass of wine each (she had a gewurtz and I had a valpolicella) and then headed to her home. Went to the market nearby and got fresh prawns and some fish; at the supermarket we got vegetables and tofu. She made 2 simple and delicious dishes for dinner — cooked prawns and a quick soup with the fish, veg and tofu. After dinner we went to a nearby dessert place, just 10mins walk. It’s cold, she needs to break out extra duvets for us tonight.
Dragged Mum to the glasses shop to get a replacement sunglasses attachment for the one I lost during the chicago marathon. Ended up ordering two, just in case, and getting a new pair of glasses with polarising lenses.
Met mm for drinks. We’re luckier than a lot of people who live in different countries that we don’t have to worry about long distance call charges so we do talk on the phone a lot. Plus whatsapp and we play words with friends. But it’s nothing, absolutely nothing like seeing her in person. I miss her so much. She suggested going to one of the hotel bars, but I saw that the French bistro place had 2-for-1 happy hour so we went there and had a couple of glasses of wine. Oh how we’ve grown up from those early days when we were trying out wine — this was a pic from December 2005 during our trip to New Zealand, at this fabulous winery we found. Time flies.
Dinner with her family was great, as usual. Played with her niece and nephew, rather, they played on our iphones. A four year old playing angry birds is no longer an unusual sight. I came away with goodies that her Mum ordered from the restaurant, all my favourites. Sigh.
I miss having family around. I miss mm. It has been lonely in London, where I really only have 2 friends (3, including SM’s wife I guess). And as much as I like hanging with them, it’s different from family, and mm’s family is as much mine, after all these years. By the time I come back, probably around Q3 this year, I would have been away almost 4 years. Time flies.
mm has a new love, her piano that was delivered today. She whatsapped be this morning and sent a pic to me already. I can’t remember the specs like brand, height and other important details. I’m sure I’ll hear about it in glorious detail in the months and years to come. I jokingly call it not!3mins to encourage her to keep going. Not a problem right now because she seems very keen (obsessed) with piano. I guess I shouldn’t feel threatened by an inanimate object? Heehee.
- friday — 5.5hr drive to Marazion to a wonderful b&b, st michael’s mount and seafood dinner
- saturday — sort of leisurely loop around minack, land’s end, st ives and the lizard
- sunday — padstow
- monday — cheddar, clarks village, bicester village, home
- tuesday — whitstable, westgate
- wednesday — parkside farm, le relais
- thursday — harrods, whole foods, home feast
- friday — west end, steinway hall, haz
- saturday — stockpot, m&m store, love never dies
We also managed to do most of the things and places I had on my mm prep list.
The day that neither of us want has forced its way in. We wanted to go to Whole Foods to get ingredients for another feast, and then realised it doesn’t open till noon so there isn’t enough time. Luckily, the organic butcher at Warwick Ave opens early. Even better, we took a walk there and back. I made this impossibly huge meat feast — veal t-bone, sirloin, lamb shop, veal filet. And mm ate it all, I could fold her into my arms and never let go. She even finished the mint choc cornettos.
The afternoon slipped by far too quickly. She packed her suitcase efficiently and we tidied up the flat. Then it was time to pick up the zipcar. I’d forgotten it’s the notting hill carnival and that part of elgin ave was blocked. Had to call zipcar to find out where the car had been moved to. Uneventful drive to Heathrow, she checked in quickly and we shared a baked potato at the terminal.
Last time when we said good-bye physically hurt. This time was no easier but there wasn’t any actual pain. It doesn’t mean I miss her less, I think last time was missing her and being scared stiff about having to navigate London on my own. I’m more settled now. We keep reminding ourselves of the blessings we encountered this week — wonderful trip to cornwall, good food, full of nostalgia, seeing the sisters at her school, playing piano at steinway, and 2 rainbows — the one yesterday at covent garden when she was down, and today when we were on the A40 when I was sad.
I wanted to take mm to the southbank real food stalls to try the roast hog but there were no pigs there today and we didn’t feel like anything else. Walked back towards Piccadilly Circus and ended up at another old favourite, Stockpot. Had the lunch special — grilled halloumi, mm had fish and I had roast beef, then we both had apple crumble with extra custard. Can’t beat Stockpot for value although I think it’s now less of a poor student’s haunt and has been taken over by the tourist guide crowds in search of a cheap meal. We were surrounded by out-of-towners, the French family next to us ordered steak and kidney pie.
The afternoon was spent ambling around town. I showed her the new M&M store, and we had an absolute blast there. Onto Foyles to look at music books for mm (I escaped to the basement to read finance exposés). Tea at what I now realise is a gay café bar but at the time it was the first one we came across. Early dinner of roast duck noodles in Chinatown. She continued her piano playing stint at a digital piano store and there is such a huge difference between a digital piano and a Steinway (duh). She was a tad unhappy at herself for not playing very well, but we were cheered by the sight of a rainbow at Covent Garden. More blessings.
So, onto yet another highlight of our week, the final performance of love never dies. Reviews haven’t been kind, but we really enjoyed it! I couldn’t afford stall seats so we were up at the upper circle, right in the middle though. We were riveted throughout the performance; the music was good, most of the performances were impressive (some hamming up by Ramin Karimloo notwithstanding), and, well, the audience was overly rambunctious. I even got 2 for the price of 1 for my interval drink — I’d only paid for 1 beer, but they had 2 bottles laid out when I went to collect, ah well. Andrew Lloyd Weber said a few short words at the end and I think they deserved every minute of the standing ovation. We even had a good laugh at the plot holes on the way home.
Had lunch at home, then met CC for mid-afternoon drinks and snacks, she took us to a hip bar hidden at the back of Bond Street and we had a pleasant hour or so. We also met RM for dinner at haz where we had a great meal and tried red wine from Lebanon.
But the main memory today was how we spent the time in between the 2 appointments. Not much involvement for me, aside from sitting quietly and listening to mm play her heart out at Steinway Hall. First she tried the uprights, then the baby grands. The nice sales associate then took us inside to where the concert grands are and she played Chopin’s Nocturne Op 9 No 1. Beautiful sound. I have it on video, but it’s something only between the two of us.
London shopping day. Bus to Harrods, but none of the food hall eating places appealed so we went outside to Brompton Road and found a nice Italian place. Beef carpaccio and Irish oysters to start and spaghetti vongole as mains. Had a couple of glasses of chianti too. The restaurant wasn’t that crowded, although there was a steady stream of takeout orders from regulars so it must be popular with office workers nearby. Spent most of the afternoon wandering around Harrods, including when mm played extensively on their bechstein pianos. Some people stopped to listen and some even applauded. So proud!
There was enough time to go to whole foods. We bought salmon for sashimi, cranberry bread, veal chop and a dry-aged sirloin steak. It’s always good to shop there, although the bill did come to £50+. The veal and steak came to £20, which is a fraction of how much they’d cost in a restaurant. I grilled them, cooked some of the fresh corn from yesterday, and opened my last bottle of snafu wine from Chicago. Too full for dessert even though we know we have to try the mint choc cornettos that are mm’s favourite.
Our destination today was parkside farm in Enfield, which used to be our default strawberry picking venue. It has expanded and now has a variety of fruits and vegetables available for picking. It has been raining so we were worried, the info recording says that it’s muddy in the vegetable fields.
Their strawberries are table-top, and I wasn’t sure what it meant until we got there. Instead of planting at ground level, the crops are grown in troughs at shoulder level. I’m thinking it means the fruits are less prone to damage and pests. It also makes picking easier — no bending down. Even at late August there is plenty available, and according to their calendar they continue all the way through September. There were 3 varieties, and we discovered the best tasting one, Sonata, further back in the fields. The Sonatas are also smaller and, presumably since they are sweeter, attracted more wasps. We ended up with about 3/4 of a basket.
Other fruits included plums and raspberries. There was also brambles although I think they are wild. The vegetable fields were muddy. We got a couple of small squashes and a bunch of sweetcorn. Had to spend a good 20mins cleaning our shoes at their outside tap afterwards.
At the end, we were a bit rushed for time. I dropped mm off at St John’s Wood station so she can go to Bond Street to meet CC for coffee while I returned the car and went home. Met her for dinner and took her to Le Relais. She thought the place was called steak frites, but actually it’s what they serve. We shared a half bottle of their house red and skipped dessert. Nice meal, I think she liked it. We walked around a little afterwards before taking the bus home.
We used to be crazy kids and drove all the way to Margate to play in the arcades. It was only very much later that we discovered Whistable and its famous seafood and oyster restaurants. I found Wheelers online and had it on my to-visit list. Driving through London was the pits, it took forever to get from Aldgate to the Blackwall tunnel. After that, the A2 was fine albeit foggy.
The restaurant is a tiny oyster bar with just 4 tables inside. They’re always fully booked — I tried booking a few weeks ago but could never get anyone on the phone. We are truly blessed, we scored the last 2 seats at the seafood bar. It’s a BYO place so I got a bottle of gewurz from the off licence opposite. And then the feast started. Oysters were okay, the lady said they didn’t have a lot of stock which meant the quality wasn’t top notch. We also had fried calamari and enjoyed their homemade bread. For mains mm had skate and I had john dory. They were so yummy!! Better than Rick Stein’s, and cheaper. One of the freshest, best quality fish I’d ever eaten in Britain. The triple chocolate mousse was just icing on the cake.
There was a film crew and they interviewed us a little bit. Apparently the program will air in October, but it’s a daytime program so I’m not sure if I’ll remember to catch it. We had to sign releases and such.
From Whitstable we headed to Westgate, where mm went to school. There used to be a traditional sweet shop there but it’s gone now. The convenient store has some, and we meticulously counted a big stack of flying saucers at 2p each.
Her school has changed, it’s now a college and seems to specialise in sports. Looked a bit more run down than before too. But there was a blessing — while walking around the grounds she bumped into her ex-headmistress and a couple of other sisters who taught her. She was very moved at the perfect timing. A sweet reunion. They say it was okay for us to walk around the school, it wasn’t very interesting for me but I could see how it affected her.
I’d originally planned to overnight at Cheddar, and was glad we didn’t as it would have been a longer drive yesterday. We did make an effort to visit though, a quick stopover to walk around to the gorge, buy cider and an ice cream.
This is becoming our nostalgia trip, we ended up at Clarks Village. It has changed, much bigger and a layout we’re not familiar with. Not much in terms of shopping though, we finished the circuit in record time. Since we had the car, we decided on something adventurous — hit Bicester Village on the way back. It’s a detour but not by much. I called to extend the rental by a day and there was no extra charge cos my rate was a weekly one.
Bicester was much nicer, we could have spent more money. In particular we had our eyes on Burberry jackets that we tried on for a long time. Finally though, spending £300-400 just wasn’t our style. I did buy 4 tall cocktail spoons for £10 at the cutlery shop. Hit Tesco on the way out and it was an easy 1.5hr drive home. Tonight we get to sleep in my bed. Happy again.
We worked very hard not to eat too much of the delicious breakfast, opting for the minimum and taking as much of it away with us when we checked out. If ever we return to Cornwall, we’ll probably want to stay at this b&b again. But the main focus of today, and what we have been looking forward to, is our lunch reservation at The Seafood Restaurant at Padstow. I remember when Rick Stein first appeared on TV, promoting fresh simple seafood, a great complement to the flamboyance of Floyd, the practicalities (before the days of Norwich FC and Sainsburys) of Delia or the fussiness of Gary Rhodes.
But first, Padstow. If at all possible, it was even more crowded than St Ives. We scored a good spot in the car park, which became full shortly after we parked. The town (the term village seems too quiet for it) is pretty, interesting, full of shops and of course overrun with Rick Stein enterprises — 4 restaurants (with accommodation), one pub, a gift shop, a patisserie and a deli. I guess Padstow is a victim of his success, although the tourism income can’t hurt. Anyway, we bought some fudge, took in the harbour sights and window shopped.
Our reservation was at 12pm, and the restaurant didn’t completely fill up throughout lunch service. Although we could have ordered à la carte, we decided on the set lunch menu at £37 instead. We did supplement with half a dozen oysters to start though. They were great, a mixed plate of Carlingford and Porthilly oysters. For starters, mm had mackerel salad and I had deep fried prawns, which were so crispy they could be eaten whole, skin, head and all. Very nice, very crunchy.
For mains, mm had baked hake and I had sea bass. Here came the problem, both dish was oversalted. Frankly, the hake from Ben’s was better. For dessert we both opted for the chocolate fondant, which wasn’t goo-ey or ooze-y enough. That was a bit disappointing. Everything about the restaurant — the décor, the service, the hype — was just as we thought, but we expected something extraordinary and got only “pretty good”.
Walked around the town afterwards, had an ice cream. Watched many people and families sitting on the quayside crabbing. The funniest thing is, they were all using bacon as bait. From the haul we saw, it seemed to be working. Most of the crabs will end up tossed back to the sea anyway.
The afternoon plan was to go to Lanhydrock House but nostalgia and sadness took over and we decided to drive back to St Ives to look for Eggbert decorations that we bought with mm’s sis. Unfortunately the shop that sold them is no more and the remainder of the stock hidden in a concealed old cabinet of the gallery that the owners now operated.
I guess we may get to go to Lanhydrock one of these days. Tonight we’re staying at the Apple Tree hotel in Bridgwater, halfway up the M5 and in Somerset already. Compared with Denham House, it’s like day and night, this £95 is not value for money — tiny end-corridor room that reminds us of a travelodge. At least it’s only one night. Slowly making our way home tomorrow.
Breakfast came in a quaint wicker picnic basket left outside our door. The night before, we’d fill in a room-service like menu order of bread, yogurt, eggs, cereal and grapefruit. What a delightful idea to be able to have breakfast in our own room. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a full english, the bread was fresh, the eggs we boiled ourselves in the electric egg boiler, everything was perfect.
If we didn’t have so much to do today, we would have stayed in our room. The weather wasn’t as good and I was almost tempted to detour to somewhere indoors. Then the showers stopped and we made our first destination, the Minack theatre, an open air theatre with seats carved from/into the cliff facing the sea. Very imposing view. Our visit coincided with the company of what looks like amateur actors arriving and forming a human chain to pass props, costumes and whatnots down from the top to the bottom. Very interesting place. We sat at the seats for a while just enjoying the view and each other’s company.
Next stop was Land’s End. It’s like some sort of ritual, no one can visit western cornwall without going there. We ignored the tacky “attractions” and headed to the tip. Not a lot to see, just absorbing the view and the fresh air.
We were full from breakfast, and decided not to have lunch. Instead we waited till we got to St Ives to have cream tea. Oh yummy!! I put so much clotted cream on, the scone had to be on its side. I’m more of a clotted cream person, I think I finished 3/4 of the pot. Don’t even want to think about the calories and how I will miss a whole week of running.
St Ives is pretty, if a little touristy. Crowded too, and too much of a “we’re oh so artistic” feel. We have fond memories of the place, last time was with mm’s sis so many year ago. It’s changed a lot since then. We supplemented the cream tea with traditional english seafood — mm had whelks and I had jellied eels. We took a drive to the Lizard but didn’t stay — didn’t want to pay for parking for just a short visit. Dinner was at the pub back at Marazion, an entirely forgettable meal of some fish or other.
I don’t think I want to check out of this hotel, but we must tomorrow. Sigh.
We set off early, first stop was to go to hertz to add mm’s name, we started on our way at around 9.30am. Traffic to the M4 was okay, it was so great to be driving together again through familiar roads. Stopped at around Reading for coffee and so mm can take over. She drives better on motorways anyway. We didn’t stop for lunch, instead ate bagels and chicken wings while in the car. She drove all the way to the end of the M5, and I took over for the drive on the A30.
We reached our destination of Marazion, east of Penzance and opposite St Michael’s Mount, just after 3pm so almost a 6hr drive. I’d booked 2 nights at the Denham House b&b, which had fabulous online reviews. £125 per night isn’t cheap but oh so worth it. At the top of a small hill, views of the sea, newly renovated huge room with superking bed, sofa, dining table, deck, jacuzzi tub, walk-in shower.
There was enough time to walk down to the beach. It was low tide so we could walk over the causeway to St Michael’s Mount. We didn’t go into the castle, it was enough to explore the grounds for about an hour. By the time we made our return journey, the tide was coming in and parts of the causeway was beginning to be submerged. We always have great timing.
Walked around the village, had a quick drink at the pub by the beach before dinner at Ben’s Cornish Kitchen. We didn’t have a reservation so we got there early at just after 6pm. The place filled up quickly so it was a wise choice. For starters we had the most exquisite fresh squid; for mains we both had the hake with fennel and romesco sauce; for dessert we shared (or rather, I ate most of it) a panna cotta knickerbocker glory. I ordered a whole bottle of pinot noir so I’m a little drunk at the end of the evening.
The day ended with a soak in the jacuzzin tub. A little stuffy and I needed lots of fresh air. Lots more to come tomorrow, I’m in a very happy place with mm right now.
Managed to leave work a little earlier and picked up the rental car. Was going to relax for about an hour at home but when I checked mm’s flight it was half an hour early so I had to hightail it to the airport. The traffic was bad, I got there at 8pm, but in the end there was plenty of time. She came out quickly, we picked up some chicken wings at m&s and got home. Early day tomorrow so we’ll go to bed soon.
- m&m store
- parkside farm strawberry picking
- southbank street food stalls on saturday
- love never dies already booked
- whitstable, margate, brighton
- whole foods
- sheekey’s, livebait, belgo
- le relais
- indian food (chutney mary’s?)
- haz, bagel
Making the preparations for mm arriving on thursday. Laundry, cleaning, vacuuming. Bought shampoo, snacks, ice cream. Rental car and first 2 nights’ hotel booked, need to buy a map. We need some way to fast forward time.
In 4 weeks, mm will be here, and I’ll have her for 10 days. I have enough airmiles to get her a ticket, so thank you [our employer]. So much to do! Book Barcelona flight & hotel, do research on Cornwall, find restaurants in London, schedule her days so she doesn’t feel rushed but there’s something to do. Our plan is to take it easy but it needs planning. I’m going to start looking at last minute holidays and b&bs and cars and restaurants and…everything. It’s been almost half a year, I can still remember the physical pain I felt when we said good-bye at the airport. Sigh. Can’t wait.
video link: http://youtu.be/PWKZVbG9egQ
mm sent me this, an old hymn called “I know who holds tomorrow” from the album by Alison Krauss & the Cox Family. I’m not as religious as mm, this was very beautiful though.
and each step is getting brighter
as the golden stairs I climb
and every burden is getting lighter
and all the clouds are silver lined
and, over there the sun is always shining
and no tears will ever dim the eye
and the ending of the rainbow
where the mountains, they touch the sky
It’s mm’s birthday today. I called her at her midnight, and then again her dinnertime. Not enough time to talk. I have to make it up to her somehow. Not just cake, take her someplace nice like south of France or Venice. This is the cheesecake we had at the place on Warwick Ave when she was here in Jan.
mm has a long weekend, and it’s her birthday soon, so she’s going up to her holiday flat. Which means she’ll be less in contact for me, not that we speak a lot at the weekends. We were on the phone for over an hour the other day, watching the clock till I can leave. I’ve been away too long, I miss her.
Lunch with mm took on more of a last supper feel than I liked. She took me to nha trang vietnamese restaurant and we had a feast — soft shell crab soft rice roll, prawns on sugar cane stick, roast suckling pig and beef mung noodles. Afterwards we just walked around the area aimlessly, knowing that I need to go home and she needed to go to work. It’s tough, although in a public place too near the office it’s difficult (perhaps a good thing) to let the sadness show.
Everyone had gone out so I had a couple of hours on my own. Then sis and my niece came for dinner. They brought homemade pasta bolongese and baked cheesecake. We took some family pictures and then they had to go home. My flight wasn’t till 1am, but my parents came with me to the taxi anyway. Found an empty desk at the lounge, hooked up the mbp, called mm, and just watched the time go by.
Sunday lunch at the Star Fruit Tree restaurant where we had chicken and pigs stomach hot pot. Added lamb, chicken blood, winter melon, water chestnuts and a meat filled bun. Ate everything. I also got a chicken and 2 squabs to take home for my parents.
Back into town, stopped by the steamed milk dessert place then it was time to board the bus. We were too full to even go for a quick dinner. All in all we had one main meal a day during our trip, we definitely ate too much! Fantastic.
Ran away with mm for weekend to mm’s home in Shunde. We met yesterday afternoon at the bus station, the 3.30pm bus took around 3 hours, including stopping for the straightforward border crossing. I daren’t take any pictures but there were at least 4 groups of young children who commute across the border every day to go to school. They were chaperoned, and then their mothers were waiting at the gate just over the Shenzhen border. Imagine doing this daily, wow.
We headed straight for dinner. I wanted lamb, but to our disappointment, the place is gone, only an empty shell of a building remained. We then headed to another nearby restaurant where we had seafood, veg and cheung fun. Equally good. The rest of the evening was spent getting foot and body massage, it was late when we got home.
Saturday we dragged ourselves out of bed and went to pick up a rental car. That was an experience. Because it’s not very common, the place couldn’t accept mm’s credit card so we had to go to the atm to get RMB10,000 in cash for the deposit. Eeek! The car was a BYD car, neither of us had heard of the brand before. It’s a fairly large salon that was just like a Japanese or Korean car. We drove to an outdoor restaurant where the speciality is chicken roasted in clay pots in a fire pit. Very succulent, with crispy skin. We could have the chicken whole or chopped up; we opted for the whole one so we could Henry VII it. The restaurant has its own farm, so the chicken and vegetables didn’t have to travel far.
After lunch we drove to chuan loo (giraffe) theme park. We thought it’d be a farm, but it turned out to be much commercialised with roller coasters and thrill rides and arcade games. The one interesting show was of pigs diving off a short platform. Hmm.
More massage in the evening and we were too full to have dinner. Bought a few cheapo DVDs, had popcorn, and mm fell asleep watching The King’s Speech.
Sunday lunch was at the Star Fruit Tree hot pot place. We had the chicken and pork stomach hot pot and added sliced lamb, chicken blood, winter melon, water chestnut and a meat-filled bun. Very full. I also took a whole chicken and 2 pigeons home. Snack and fruit shopping, and a short visit to the steamed milk dessert place and it was time to catch the bus. Didn’t need dinner, so we ended up with just one main meal a day.
I’m not purposely trying to ignore valentine’s day. I talked to mm this morning, and spent most of the day idly at work. Finished the cheese in the fridge, unpacked even more boxes to the point I can move the rocking chair to the balcony. Battled with the internet connection at home. That was my day. It’s not worth feeling special or celebratory or depressed about it.
I got may be 4 hrs’ sleep, woke up at 6am to an empty bed. This is hard. Returned the rental car and got the bus back home. Started working on clearing the kitchen. And then the Sky man showed up. He had to come back later when my landlady was home, but the prognosis isn’t good — he can’t go out to the roof to install the dish and it’s just too much hassle. I don’t know what to do.
The only positives are: I cleared out more than 10 boxes in the kitchen and bathroom. Talked briefly with mm. Went running while the sun was still out for 5k.
Last night at the temp apartment. Finished up the chicken wings and coke zero in the fridge. Chicken wings simply have no taste without mm.
What’s that got to do with the pic? It’s the mezze lunch we had yesterday at haz, that mm took me to.
mm is on her way home, we waved goodbye to each other a few hours ago. Took me over 1 hour to drive back to the apartment. Feels so empty, and I’m not just talking about the apartment. I had half a mini-baguette shared with mm in the last 12 hours and I can’t sleep. I keep rubbing my heart, it’s so clichéd and pathetic, but I don’t know what to do or what to feel right now.
This is mm’s last week here. I have to remind myself, before I get totally despondent, that I’ve had her for 1 month, we’ll see each other in a few weeks and there is a chance of her coming here. At this point, we’re taking any and all the time we can get. On the one hand I feel like we missed out on so many years of being apart; on the other hand neither of us are sure of how we’d behave if we do manage to live together again. This month isn’t 100% realistic as we know it’s temporary, and we’re in a temp apartment. It is encouraging that we haven’t had any major rows and by and large we’ve been happy.
I’m can’t help it. I’m sad. The thought of having to deal with a much reduced living space, an unfamiliar environment and lack of support is pretty overwhelming. I’m very grateful, very very grateful, for the support from Car’s family whilst I was in Chicago. They made it so much easier, took away all the uncertainties and smothered me with their love. I have to be strong and grown up and all stiff upper lipped here now, otherwise I won’t survive. Well, take a deep breath.
I tried to draw something on brushes but my drawing skills are abysmal. So here’s a fun one I found on google images. What is it? Sad Keanu of course.
Originally we had loose plans to go out. May be see a movie, may be go to Camden Market, may be jump on a random bus. Then I got tired after running, and mm was lazing around watching Bones. Before we knew it we’d spent the whole day at home. It was very nice.
Went walking around covent garden in the afternoon, then home for dinner — chicken wings, mushroom pâté and pork chops. As a little celebration we went to the pub down the road. When I was living at the old temp apartment I kept seeing a sign outside this place asking us to support our local independent pub, so that was what we did. It’s a nice little place, not pricey at all. And they didn’t raise prices or add a cover charge for New Year’s Eve. We’ll go back there again.
This is what it feels like to have a wife. I came home for lunch, and mm had salmon, potatoes and veg ready. After lunch we went to baker street to drop off my deposit but the agent is closed till the new year. I came home after work and we cooked dinner together. Now she’s napping on the sofa and the tv is on. It’s highly domestic and so far we’re finding it enjoyable. If we had to do this long term, we’ll probably find we need time to adjust.
Because of the pre-Christmas bad weather and the VAT increase in January to 20%, it’s expected to be a bumper boxing day sales. We made our way to lakeside in the morning, and spent the day walking around the shops. Didn’t buy anything though, nothing screamed out to be bought. On the way back, we went to the bagel shop to get plain bagels, then it was home early so I can make mediterranean chicken stew with cous cous. Another great day for bbmm.
I was supposed to wake up at 3am to get to Heathrow by 5am to pick up mm, but I was too antsy and ended up waking up at 2am. I did go to bed at 9.30pm last night, so at least I got some sleep. It was dark, and the roads were empty so it was an easy drive. It took me until the end of the Embankment almost to Earl’s Court to get used to driving this car, and driving on the once familiar roads.
Her flight was the first to arrive, and by the time I’d reached the meeting point the board showed that it landed at 4.43am. About 10mins later I got a text from her that she’d arrived. And then I replied that I was already there, heehee. It was so great to see her.
I introduced her to the crappy apartment, and she was generous enough to say it’s fine. She set about unpacking while I got our Christmas feast ready. The carrot & butternut squash soup I made yesterday turned out very nice, even though I could have done with a dollop of creme fraiche for presentation. We also had mushroom pâté on some krisprolls with the soup.
The main course took longer than expected because of the barely functioning oven. I’d already broken down the pheasants but they still took a while to cook. Made a rudimentary gravy with chicken stock and some of the bones. Served with carrots, parsnips and new potatoes, all of which had been par-boiled then roasted. Everything washed down with this fabulous châteauneauf-du-neuf from M&S.
We were too full for dessert. While waiting, she got tired so went to bed for a nap. I joined her for a little while and then got up in the evening. Watched tv, played mafia wars while she sleeps on, she needs the rest. What a great Christmas with mm.
Carrot and butternut squash soup is done, I think it tastes good. Pheasant defrosting in the fridge with the stock. Root vegs parboiled, refreshed and in fridge. Trifle is done.
Went to M&S and got sticky wings. Not the Chinese wings that are our favourite, but this seems to be the closest.
Walked over to St Katherine’s Dock and got the rental car. It’s now parked downstairs. mm is on the plane. 10 hours, or hopefully less.
Two weeks. Two of the best weeks of our lives. Two weeks ago I met mm at Orlando airport and we had a great week at Disney, followed by a wonderful relaxing week here at home.
This morning I took her to ORD and watched as she went through security for her flight out. We did not want to be separated, but sigh, what can we do. We’re doing this for our future. I couldn’t help crying, back in the car, when I stopped at a bank car park when she called, and at home. Everything and everywhere reminded me of her; she’s only been here a week and her imprint is already so strong. Even in the bathroom, eating the the leftover food she made, taking out the trash. I ran 8k for the first time since the marathon, and that reminded me of her too — that I didn’t get a chance to take her out to Foster beach or that it was too windy for us to go cycling. I’ve been tracking her flight all day, in its own window and I stare at the map every few minutes.
I kinda knew it, but I’ve basically avoided it but now only 10hrs after we couldn’t stop waving good-bye at each other, I can’t deny that my life has been lonely and how much I miss her. There’s still a few years of hard work to go, and I’m sure we’ll be fine, I can’t wait to be with her again.
mm’s last full day. We made it to Lincoln Park market finally, had a sandwich picnic on the grass. I’m trying to savour every second. She made me minced beef rice, just like old times, and we watched Transformers. I can’t write more, sorry.
Seems all very normal and domesticated, except it isn’t. Not quite. We were both at work, and I waited for mm to finish. Had dinner at home and watched Bones. I so wish today was a normal day for us. Sigh.
Drove in to work, cos of the weather and so it’s easier for mm. Showed her around and left her with her dept. She had lots of meetings and it was surreal to see her at odd times between her meetings. I got us sushi for lunch which we both ate in my office. Early night.
I was determined to take mm out to show her around. Even though she says it’s okay, cos I’m sick, I dragged her out. We hit the usual, the bean, the park, the lake. It was windy although dry. After visiting the town we went to Whole Foods. Made salmon at home, it was nice again. She’s now addicted to Bones and I just happened to have it on Netflix, so we’re watching it. Very domestic, watching tv at home.
Weather was crap today, rain and thunderstorms. I wanted to take mm to Lincoln Park market, but was discouraged by the weather and the fact that I was sick. What we did was to go to Ann Sather’s for brunch and I took her to Jewel’s. Just a relaxing day.
Checked out of the hotel and went back to Epcot. Did Soarin’ and Test Track again. Lunch of burgers at the electric umbrella and it was time to say good-bye to WDW. Sniff, sniff.
We had different seats on the flight back, she was up front in first and I was back in coach. I was really tired and we sat there in the food court and I fell asleep at the table! Taxi home and it was time to introduce mm to my apartment. I think she likes it. Neither of us want to leave Orlando, but it was nice to be home. I’ve been fighting a cold all week, and it was great to sleep in my own bed. Having mm there was a big bonus of course.
full flickr set: here
Our last full day here, full of memories. Today is the turn of Animal Kingdom. Again parking was organised and we were at the entrance in no time. We headed straight to the Kilimanjaro Safari and got a fastpass. There was time, so we did the Rafiki Planet Watch train ride and walked around the Pagani Nature Trail. Even before going into the safari we’d seen tigers, gorillas and bats. The Safari was modeled after a regular African safari, and the animals there did roam free. There were elephants, hippos, rhinos, wilderbeests, thompson gazelles, cheetahs, flamingos and warthogs. Reminded us of Kenya. So nicely done that we got another fastpass immediately to go on it again.
Lunch was fairly standard American Chinese food in Asia — orange chicken, sweet and sour beef, with rice. We’d purposefully opted out of the meal plan, wanted more flexibility to what we ate. It’s a good plan, where you can have 3 self serviced or 2 self serviced and 1 served meals a day, plus snack. The thing is, we have to eat at disney resaturants. If we’d been on the plan we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to the lobster place last night.
Anyway, we took some pictures at the tree of life and against the expedition everest ride (no, we didn’t go on that). We did go on the Kali River Rapids, and luckily didn’t get very wet, compared with some people who were completely soaked.
Then it was time for the parade. AK wasn’t very crowded today and we even managed to find a couple of stools to sit on the side of the road. Plenty of space to watch. This parade isn’t as good as the others, we still enjoyed it. There was time for pictures with Pluto, Goofy, Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore before catching the Nemo show.
Animal Kingdom closes early, at 5pm. The day was far from over. Had dinner at the lobster place again, this time the quality wasn’t as good, so it will be our last visit. After dinner it was time to hit Magic Kingdom again for the Electric Parade and the fireworks. We didn’t get a very good view of the electric parade, stuck at the side with an official bang in our way. With our cameras (mm got a new s95 before coming here) we were doing pretty good.
Oh. The fireworks. Absolutely beautiful, set against Cinderella’s castle. mm took pictures while I took videos. Afterwards we did not want to leave. We lingered to have a dole whip, and take pictures of the castle. Absorb absorb absorb the atmosphere. We had to practically trea ourselves out, because the trams to the car park were ending service. Sigh.
full flickr set: here
A really hot day today for Epcot. Lovely park, I can see why it’s a favourite. We started at Future World, got a fastpass fo Soarin’ and then set about exploring the rest. There was Nemo & friends, the shops at Innoventions, and Club Cool, where we could try for free different flavours of soft drinks from all over the world. Perfect for a hot day.
What can I say about Soarin’ but how amazing it is. It’s a simulation of hang gliding through different parts of California, from the beach to vineyards to downtown LA. I managed to video most of it. Very relaxing, very awesome.The other side of Future World was Mission: Space and Test Track. More rides that I want to go on again. We actually ended up going on Test Track twice, the second time I videoed as well.
Our visit coincided with the International Food and Wine Festival, where in addition to the countries at world showcases, there were stalls from other countries with signature foods and wines. We had scallops from NZ, lamb and barramundi from Australia, mussels from Belgium and a beer flight of 3 different beers. A little expensive, still worth trying for the experience. We visited several countries, shops and boat rides. Very relaxing.
We got a voucher for boston lobster feast. It’s not by any means an upscale restaurant, but the lobsters were good and kept coming. There was also clam chowder, shrimp, other seafood, prime rib and salad. I think I had 3 or 4 lobsters, by the end I was only having the tail, didn’t even bother with the head or claws. Made a change from all disney all the time, and I’m glad we have a car.
Went back to Hollywood Studios for a walk around and shopping. Still couldn’t get into Toy Story. We have to leave something for next time, right?
full flickr set: here
Universal studios today. Or more precisely the Islands of Adventure part, there are 2 parks and this is the one everyone goes to, because of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But first, there was the main street and the Seuss section. We breezed past the Seuss section, cos we know nothing about Seuss. In any case we wanted to get to Hogsmeade.
The village was authentic, with Hogsmead station and Hogwarts express. There was a Honeyduke’s for sweets, owl post, restaurants, Ollivanders and of course butterbeer. Yummy. The castle at the other end of the village was home to the ride. It was a very intense and occasionally dizzy ride. Strapped in a pod, we went up and down, sideways and rotating all around while play quidditch, or fighting death eaters. The line was long, about 1.5hrs, I thought it was worth the wait.
Lunch of ribs, corn, rice, beans and it was onto the rest of the park. Jurassic Park, Toon land and Popeye’s boat, and another signature ride, Spiderman. This one was 3D too, following Spidey as he flies from building to building fighting villains. Good fun. The outside of the park, between IoD and the studios, is an area called Boardwalk. There are restaurants, cinema and a hard rock café. I wanted to get a shirt there, but alas, it looks exactly the same as my London shirt. Not worth getting.
On the way back, we stopped by the Premium Outlets. We were both pretty tired by then so we did the outlets very quickly. Dinner was drive-thru McDonalds heehee. I wanted the angus burger and mm hasn’t had it before. We sat at a comfy cushioned seat by the lake back at our hotel, proving that it isn’t necessary to go for fine dining to have a nice meal.
full flickr set: here
Monday. Park #2. Hollywood Studios. Oh wow. What a collection of bright colours. From reading online guides, we knew that we must go to Toy Story Mania to get a fastpass first thing, but we were too late, all had been given out. So we went back to the entrance and started exploring. The centrepiece was the giant Mickey’s sorcerer’s hat in the middle, and it was a landmark. The long stretch of Sunset Boulevard on the right was full of shops, which led to the popular Tower of Terror and Rock’n’Rollercoaster rides. We went to the respective shops but didn’t go on the rides.
What we did catch were all the shows, we were at the showtimes board constantly and managed to fit them all in:
- Beauty and the Beast — where they fit the musical into just about 25mins
- Indiana Jones — with the actual stunt doubles who did the stunts on Raiders and reenacting the scene with the WW2 plane
- Lights, Motor, Action — driving stunts, including chases, leaps over trucks, motorcycles, speedboats and cars coming through a building
- Backlot tour — gentle train ride through parts of the working studiio
- Great Movie Ride — another gentle ride with a little action, presenting movie history
We caught the block party parade, with singing and dancing cartoon characters. And then it was time for Fantasmic. I’d originally planned for us to start at Epcot then end up here for the show, I’m glad we just did Hollywood Studios in a day. By the time we got there, more than 1hr before the show was due to start, all the seats had been taken. We were lucky to get 2 standing places at the front of the standing area, which turned out to be pretty good locations. The signature Fantasmic show was all about water, laser and all the disney characters. Very spectacular and a great end to another wonderful day.
full flickr set: here
We had breakfast at the pepper market again, and then set off for our first disney adventure. Where else but the magic kingdom? We were there the whole day, and we could have stayed much longer if we weren’t so tired.
Parking was free for disney resort guests so we saved $14. The car park is huge, but very well organised and marked. Trams took us to the entrance and we took the monorail over to the park. Magic Kingdom is the one that other disney parks around the world is modelled on, so the layout is familiar. We had our first photopass pic taken at the main entrance, just below the railway station. It is as easy as they say, just hand the card over to the photographer and pose.
We were lucky to catch a parade straightaway, what a good start. The park was crowded, as expected. Our first ride was Stitch’s Great Escape at Tomorrowland, only a 5min wait, it was great. We got a fastpass for Buzz Lightyear and lined up for the Speedway. In between, we rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride. Everything was as magical as advertised.
After Tomorrowland we explored Toontown. I hadn’t expected to stay there long, we ended up spending a fair bit of time at Mickey’s and Minnie’s houses. Lunch was pizza and pasta, nice and simple. After lunch we did the relaxing rides — Snow White, Pooh, Philharmagic. The only disappointment was that Small World was closed for renovation. Onward to Liberty Square, the Haunted Mansion and a ride on the steamboat. Again, relaxing. We gave Big Thunder Mountain a miss but went on Splash Mountain. It was way less scary than I remembered.
Before dinner we went to explore the shops on main street. Oddly enough, neither of us were tempted to buy, although it was great to explore. I had dinner reservations at the crystal palace, it was a character dinner with pooh, tigger, piglet and eeyore. The food was standard buffet fare of salad, chicken, roast, pasta. The characters came by and took pictures with everyone. It was great.
It was almost dark by the time we came out of dinner. It turned out that it was one of the nights of the Halloween Party, which was extra admission. We were supposed to have a wristband but we kind of stuck around and managed to catch the parade. Tired but very happy.
December — I finally got the pics done and loaded, so I’ll be posting catch up posts for our vacation in Orlando.
My flight was in the morning, and I toyed with taking public transport for a second before deciding on taxi. Check-in and flight were uneventful, it actually arrived early. As I was on the way to pick up my luggage, mm called me, frantic. She’d missed her flight at Miami. I couldn’t get much details while I was trying to console her. She was first on the waiting list for the next flight, in about 1 hour, and I was hopeful that she’d get on. I guess she isn’t as familiar with domestic flights.
Her luggage came with the original flight, which arrived less than 30mins later. I grabbed it and found a bench seat. She called back and confirmed she had gotten on the later flight so all was well. Worse case scenario, it’s a 4hr drive to Miami, and I would have done it.
We got the rental car and to the resort without any more drama. I’d gotten a good deal at the coronado springs. Wow, it’s a huge hotel. We got a room in building 8A in the cabanas area, it’s a decent 3-star room with enough space and a large bathroom. Nothing fancy.
It was already dark, so we walked out to the El Centro lobby area and had dinner at the Pepper Market. That is a self-service place with different stations for different types of food. In keeping with the southwest theme of the resort, we had Mexican. It’s so good to be eating with mm again, even though she was pretty tired. Went back to the room and she was asleep right after showering. Took me a longer time, I played on the mbp for a bit while she slept.
In less than 24 hours’ time I will meet up with mm at Orlando airport. I’m arriving from ORD, she’s arriving from LHR. Then we will pick up a rental car and drive to walt disney world. We’ve been planning this for a while, and been looking forward to it immensely. Everything is planned, and I’ve reserved tickets and done as much prep as I can:
- flight — we’ve both checked in to our respective flights already; she’s coming back to Chicago with me
- taxi — my taxi is booked for tomorrow morning; she is taking a taxi to Paddington, and has her Heathrow Express ticket already
- car — I researched all the big car rental companies and finally got a deal at Dollar, for an SUV even cheaper than a compact at Hertz/Avis
- hotel — booked through a travel agency, who found us a nice deal at the Coronado Springs resort
- meals — we’re not taking the dining plan, as we wanted to be flexible…it’s not that useful for 2 adults
- meals part 2 — I have a booking at the disney character dinner at the crystal palace; she doesn’t know about it, i hope she likes it
- park tickets — I got park hopper tickets at pre-increase prices by buying them early; also got a 1-day pass for universal
- maps — all printed
- itinerary — have a high level idea of which park to go on which day, but leaving it flexible
- photopass — prepaid for the photopass cd, saving $50
I’d say we’re ready for a nice time.
Time is running out to spend with mm. Originally wanted to meet for lunch, but she was tired so I said let’s meet in the afternoon. A few more hours lost. We’ll have time, some other time.
Saw Up in the Air. Although I’ll never get millions of miles like the George Clooney character, there were a few similarities especially when I was travelling so much a few years ago, not least that I recognise that all admiral’s club lounges look the same. There was some serious product placement in that film — AA and Hilton and Hertz stand out. mm said she never wants me to become like that, I know she always worried whenever I travel.
Dinner at our usual korean place. We didn’t even need to discuss — korean for lunch and dinner were 2 different places, and it was automatic.
She showed me a couple of iphone games she’s been playing, and we eventually fell asleep at 1am.
Went to the office after lunch. Talked for a bit with my colleagues but mainly it was spending time with mm. She was busy but was able to get away early so we can go to dinner. I had a couple of hours to spare, it was perfect to photograph the wan chai area. There are still old buildings and temples there, not sure how much longer they will be around. I’ve always always wanted to photograph the blue building, it’s kind of a mecca for photographers.
For dinner, mm took me to a Japanese grill place. We had warm sake and the usual grilled food — ox tongue, fish, chicken wings. Our favourite turned out to be riceball skewers, the rice was grilled to perfection. Yum.
I had a legitimate excuse to stay with her tonight — I need to use her wifi to upload pictures. There’s no wireless at home, I couldn’t connect via ethernet, and Sis’ network was so screwed up by her network engineer friend that I couldn’t find a single connection. So, it’s over to mm’s place. One click and the airport was on. Of course that’s because she has my airport express and I set it all up myself. Heehee.
Another bbmm day. We had lunch at a “modern” chachantang (although they’ve been in business for decades) then aimlessly walked around. Eventually ended up where the marathon expo was happening and I picked up my kit a day early. Went for foot massage at the usual place then went back to our respective homes.
Times Square CNY decoration is a giant vase and ball, very red but pretty nice. We took advantage of mm still on holiday to meet up there to check out glasses. I had my eyes tested. Sigh, slight presbyopia (old age eyes) has begun to set in, but not serious enough yet. The optometrist says I can survive as is for another year or so.
When we have no plans, we tend to want to go on a bus ride, so we took the #968 and ended up in yuen long. Had dessert, bought some snacks, walked the length of the main street and took the bus back out. No plan is a great plan.
Flight arrived early at 6.45am, I was one of the first off and was out through Immigration quicker than the bags. My duffel came out first (as in the first off the belt) but the suitcase only came with the non-priority bags, brrrr. Got on the train, called home, off the train straight to the taxi and I was home by something like 7.30am. It’s cold. No heating. Took a while to unpack all the food I’d brought back. Showered and got online. Very frustrated that I can’t seem to connect my mbp to the modem, Mum doesn’t have wifi. So now I’m stuck with the 2004 PC that runs like a run/walk marathoner at mile 22. Sigh.
The good thing was, I had steamed fish for lunch and everything my parents cooked was great. It is nice to see them.
Went out in the afternoon to meet up with mm. It is valentine’s day after all. She was tired and asleep. What else could I do but join her? I was jetlagged too. Eventually we pulled ourselves up, cos otherwise we’d sleep through the night. She took me to a conveyor belt sushi place that was very yummy. The plan was to walk around but my energy level was fading so I called it a day.
It isn’t exactly the food, although it does taste nice; what I miss is going out with mm. Aside from people at work, my family and the very occasional social event, mm is the only person I go eat out with. I’ve learned that I dislike eating out alone in a restaurant — I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done it, and all of those occasions I was on a business trip. Fast food, or even casual buffet, is fine. Restaurant? No way.
Japanese food is our favourite, and second will be Korean food. The clay pots, bbq beef, a whole table of side dishes. Yum.
Been talking to mm a lot, ever since she remembered my number and been calling me during my evenings. just as well cos I have too many meetings my morning and sometimes I can’t catch her before she goes to bed. We need to work on: a) her visiting and b) where we go for holiday next year.
Ten years ago today, 29 Sept, I arrived at New York. It was the first time I’d moved from one country to another on my own. Even though I was familiar with Asia and Europe, I was less familiar with the US.
I found this when I was cleaning up my writing stuff earlier. I’d had these scraps of paper with scribbled words for ages and ages. This is what I wrote those first days, most of it for mm. I typed it up unedited.
Brand New New Yorker
Did I tell you that when I checked in the desk clerk told me that seat 83K wasn’t reserved, but it was available anyway so I took it anyway but it turned out the recline didn’t work! Luckily the seat next to me wasn’t occupied so it was ok, the entire upstairs was only half full anyway. Couldn’t sleep very well, wrong time of day, ate and watched the films — most repeats. The Matrix, Love Letter. What the hell it helps pass the time, quite comfy anyway. Thought about you, did you hear me say good night and to wake you up? Stopped myself from thinking too much about missing you. Soon it’ll hit me that I’m not on vacation, this is for real and going to be for a long time. Busied myself thinking about where to go for your last twentysomething do, and guess what, the west coast isn’t the only place between NY and HK, there’s the whole of Europe! What about Venice or Eastern Europe?
One hour stopover in Vancouver, first time in Canada. Forgotten how pretty things are here, well designed. I know how biased you are against Canadians (Chuey…) so I didn’t get you a souvenir. Still quite tired, sitting at a coffee shop near the gate writing to you after searching in vain for an internet connection. Walked around the duty free places but no concept of how much things are, too tired to convert currencies. Can’t believe how many Asians here, announcements in English Cantonese and Mandarin. Saw logs floating on the river first time with my own eyes. Guess I’ll be using ‘first time’ a lot. It’s 2am HK time, are you asleep yet? I miss you.
Amazingly I got out in 15mins! Plane landed and we had to wait for the previous plane to vacate the parking space but once we parked I was able to get through Immigration really quickly, no comments or problems. Luggage was one of the first out and nothing at customs either. Ernie was surprised. The apartment is nice inside, can’t believe how much it costs though. A one-bedroom apartment, pretty good size we’ll be quite comfortable even if we both had to stay here. I wish you were here. Neighbourhood seems ok decent, delis, supermarkets, laundries. Bought some pizza and ate back at the apartment. Bought a phone card, prepaid with a dial-in number and an access number. Supposed to be cheaper than using the phone here. I called Mum and of course I called you, want to tell you everything but now I can’t really put words into how I’m seeing things. Lots of TV channels but not sure what is on, far too confusing for someone like me who’s used to only 4 channels plus a few on cable. Went to bed at around 11pm but woke up twice. Woke up at 7-ish couldn’t sleep more. Watched TV and read the newspaper. Raining this morning but it got sunnier later. Quiet street here not many people around.
Forced by necessity and that sense of expectation to venture out of the relative familiarity of the apartment. Promised my grandma and aunt and cousin I’d visit them, so had to go take the subway (including buying a stored value ticket) and getting a monthly train pass. All so strange, such a long time ago that I took a train. Walked from Times Square to Penn Station with the sun in my eyes, felt like a tourist yet wasn’t a tourist. Had a salad in a deli salad bar, keep adding to the places I’d take you when you come visit. Trains all over the world are so alike, buy ticket, go to platform, give ticket to conductor, change trains, avoid dozing off. Suburbs everywhere also the same, just the size varies and the names on the storefront different. But the same mentality people go through the same motions.
I never wrote more. It took me about 4 weeks to find my eventual apartment on E96th, and that weekend of moving everything on foot was an experience I’d rather never go through again. New York was lonely, I was never very happy there. I never got any visitors, not mm, not my parents, because not quite 1 year after I arrived, I got pulled out to Zurich. I guess this is why I’m so grateful for this second chance in Chicago.
Talked to mm for over 1 hour today, cos she had lots to tell me, and needed to talk to me about stuff she is working on. She had called around her friends — sf, people from church, other personal friends — to ask advice. I kinda commented on the number of people she approached. And then she mock complained that the person she really needed to talk to was me, but I was asleep half way round the world. I said no wonder i kept waking up.
Sigh. It’s tough. There are times I feel so guilty for taking this assignment. Sometimes I miss the simple sensation of physical contact. Most times I shut down those feelings so much that I know that I’m in danger of losing the ability to conduct a relationship. Oh well, it is what it is. What to do. What to do.
mm is in London for a business trip, so we’ve been taking advantage of the time difference. I call her when she’s back in her hotel room after dinner. It’s nice to hear her voice.
First the factual bit. We woke up early, the alarm went off at 6.15am. Was out of the door at 7am to go to the airport express. Check-in took only a few minutes, then we went to McDonalds for tea before I had to get on the train for the airport.
There was just enough time to go to the lounge to get a bottle of water before I had to sprint to the gate. Both flights (to Tokyo and from Tokyo) were virtually empty and I had 2 seats to myself throughout. Watched some films, ate the food served to me, and was able to sleep for about 4 hours. Immigration at Chicago was atrocious, it took 1.5 hours from landing to getting on the taxi. Did laundry, went to the supermarket and cooked dinner. Tried to stay awake till normal time.
Sounds clinical and boring. But what i didn’t add were the feelings. From the beginning of the day we tried to spend as much time as possible together. I lingered as long as possible at the airport express, until just before the train was due to leave. But eventually time catches up on us and we had to hold each other close and say our good-byes. Both of us were crying by then.
I spent most of the comfortable flight over wondering what the hell I’m doing, leaving mm behind like this. Good career prospect, opportunity for writing and perhaps being published, welcoming friends — are they enough? I know we have our share of problems in our relationship, and that we’ve done the long distance thing before, but this feels different. I’m not sure how long this assignment is, I know for sure I have no job back because I’ve outgrown the region, I know I don’t want to be moving around so much anymore.
So where does it leave us? We’ve not talked about it, like we never talk about us. There’s an understanding and expectation that we will stay together. There are issues I’d like resolved before we embark on the rest of our lives, this is my point of view. so many unknowns.
We are both at high points in our careers, coming up to real responsibility and with it, earning power. From a purely practical and materialistic pov, the next few years we can make enough to be really comfortable and not have to worry about the future. May be that’s the medium term goal?
Sigh. I don’t know. I miss her like hell. I don’t miss her as much as I thought. I’m in a confused place that is entirely of my own making. And so how am I supposed to do now?
no spa today, but equally great. mm and i took the common ferry to the small fishing village on the other side. It’s quite a touristy area and famous for its seafood. You buy the seafood from a specialised shop then bring it to a restaurant to cook. mm treated me to a real treat — geoduck sashimi, a great steamed fish, steamed clams and cockles. The restaurant’s name was Happiness, and it was a happy meal.
We walked around the village a little, hitting a local temple and life buoys on fences that were marked decoration only. Stopped for a tea, then our walk was cut short when it started raining.
Resting back home, then went out to the wet market to get frog. Yes, frog. mm is so good at cooking that. Simply cooked with mushroom, and we both love frog. I even took a video of the legs and portions twitching when salt was added. A bit surreal and not for the squeamish, so I’ve put it behind the cut.
yet another facebook meme that my cousin tagged me. But i’m not posting on that account, and i’m emailing it to mm in private heehee.
You know the drill… copy & paste into a note, change your answers, then tag your friends. Oh, and make sure you send your answers to your spouse/significant other to let him/her check!
- She’s sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
- You’re out to eat/what kind of dressing on her salad?
oil and vinegar, or no dressing
- What’s one food she doesn’t like?
no particular food, but if it’s not fresh or poorly made she can tell
- You go out to eat and have a drink. What does she order?
she’s usually okay with the water or tea that is served, but sometimes she’ll join me for a diet coke or half a glass of beer if I’m having beer; for a more elaborate meal: wine or sake depending on the cuisine
- Where did she go to high school?
I know where, but I’m not posting it in public
- What size shoe does she wear?
- What is her favorite type of sandwich?
chicken, ham and egg (oh wait, that’s me)
- What would she eat every day if she could?
- What is her favorite cereal?
Alpen, museli, not too sweet
- What would she never wear?
- What is her favorite sports team?
she doesn’t really watch sports
- Who did she vote for?
- Who is her best friend?
M, Y, from school: CC, M
- What is something you do that she wishes you wouldn’t do?
too uptight, yell at her for no good reason, gets “darkfaced” when she’s late
- What is her heritage?
and another one I’m not posting in public
- You bake her a cake for her birthday; what kind of cake?
cheesecake or chocolate or just plain, she’ll like them all
- Did she play sports in high school?
not a lot
- What could she spend hours doing?
sleeping, watching tv
- What is one talent she has?
she works so hard, and is so smart
- What’s her favorite color?
something bright: red, white
A day with mm, how much better can it be?
Lunch with her family — all of them. Both her brothers have kids now and we were playing and really enjoying ourselves. I sometimes find I relate better with kids than adults, kids ask questions but adults’ questions usually render me speechless or bored.
Then we went to the big shopping centre, didn’t buy much, just walked around. She didn’t go to too many clothes shops and I behaved and wasn’t too bored. Had a long sit down at a coffee shop, we shared a portion of waffles.
Went back to her place so I can pick some pudding that she forgot to bring with her. Showed her facebook, and relaxed a little.
Dinner was hotpot, wasn’t the place we wanted to go this was a little run-down, but okay. It was spending time together that was nice.
I just came home from a wedding dinner of an old friend from college. Man, it’s a huge number of years since we were all students together (I originally put a number, but decided against it :P). Looking around the group, there’s so much achievement, we should all be proud. This is the largest alumni gathering I’ve been to, a good 5 tables were King’s people. Some I hadn’t seen for years but we chatted like the old days; some I hardly recognise; some were even before my time.
The dinner was at the Four Seasons, very posh, very grand. I’m glad I went home after work and changed into my nice $300 suit. There were people in jeans but mostly it was formal. Still, I was unconventional and wore my black and yellow Converse. Hee.
To my friend’s credit, he managed to seat people at the same table as their closest contemporaries. It was quite surreal. The only blemish was that mm couldn’t make it cos she’s on a business trip. I tried not to sound like I’m an expert on where she is, what she’s doing but sometimes people ask cos they care and I tell them. Well, we’ve known our friends for far too long, if they have issues surely they would have defriended us long ago.
The theme for this week’s photo friday is relationship. While I have a few hundred pictures with mm, I didn’t want to enter those. It’s boring for other people to see pictures of us. Plus, I would never allow personal pictures to be seen in public.
This one was taken at Lake Tarawera near Rotorua in New Zealand. It’s a pretty lake, not the prettiest we saw on that trip. We were there late afternoon so it was quiet, it was nice to spend a few minutes enjoying the water and the small sandy beach. I took this picture of our shadows in the shallow water, it was a spur of the moment shot, the light was just right. [#262]
When I spoke with her on Friday she said she’ll call me saturday night so we can arrange lunch on sunday. Well, there was no call last night. No call this morning, and I was up at 9.30am. When she finally called at 1pm she was on her way to her facial, so obviously it wasn’t to arrange lunch with me.
Under the guise that I’d go over for swimming, I went over to her place at almost 5pm. Ended up being a pillow on the couch while some godawful boring TV program was on. I was stuck with nothing to do, nothing to read, nothing to drink. Talk about utter boredom. I could have just stayed home and read.
It dawned on me that it’s all been a massive waste of time, all these years.
Met mm for lunch at our usual Korean restaurant, but that wasn’t the pampering for the day. After lunch we went to our hairdresser’s to get our hair cut, but that wasn’t the pampering for the day.
mm treated me to spa at the Four Seasons; and I treated her to dinner at the Marriott — those were the pampering for the day.
She’d booked a 90-minute relaxation massage for both of us. We got there 1.5hrs early to use the other amenities. The pampering started with the shower — not only rainforest, but 6 jets from the side. Then it was soaking in a large semi-oval whirlpool with waterfall feature. Sauna and aromatherapy steam room too. The relaxation room had reclining beds, personal TV screen and 3 choices of juices.
When it was time for the massage, we were led to the treatment area and allowed for rest for a few minutes. Initially we booked a double room but for some reason it wasn’t possible. It didn’t matter cos basically I fell asleep shortly after the massage started. I dunno, sometimes I wish I could stay awake during massages to fully appreciate it but other times I’m glad I’m relaxed enough to sleep. It included a hot stone treatment and I woke up for a minute during that.
After the massage we lounged around munching on dried fruit and hot tea. Then it was back to the steam room for one final soak before showering. Everything was available — robes, towels, shampoo, lotion, mousse.
Dinner wasn’t as pampering. We hadn’t been to lunch or dinner buffet for a long time. We agreed that even though it was at the Marriott, the standard isn’t as high as before. Or our expectations have risen up several notches. There was a giant seafood counter, but that was about it as far as wow factor went. It was a nice dinner though, it was great to spend time together and do something special to celebrate our birthdays.
mm came over for lunch, so I spent the morning in and out of the kitchen making the preparations. It’s not often that I have guests for meals — she’s the only one and lately it’s been a couple of times a year so I thought we should have a decent meal This meals clearing the dining table and getting out proper cutlery. Beats sitting at the coffee table in front of the tv for once.
We talked about starter or no starter but then decided on something light. So I made a green salad of romaine hearts, celery, pepper with fried apple. For a special touch I used truffle oil and balsamic and threw in some Serrano ham.
For main course I made roast poussin, roast potatoes and 2 veg. The poussins turned out to be more expensive than I thought, though I bought them anyway. We agreed that a normal chicken would have been just fine.
I did open a bottle of Châ’teauneuf-du-Pape from the bottom of my wine rack. After letting it breathe properly it was extremely nice.
For dessert we steamed one of the small Harrods Christmas puddings she brought back from London and I made custard.
The rest of the afternoon she spent sleeping on my sofa and I alternated between reading and watching this Gordon Ramsey marathon on tv. She has a party tonight so she had to leave at 6pm. I’m still full from lunch, perhaps later I’ll have some fruit, I’m making yogurt cheese. I like having such a quiet day.
Went with mm to see her one week old niece today. As it happened her parents were also there at her brother’s house and it was a nice, albeit short, visit. The baby is very cute and well behaved — even though she was passed around all the adults as well as her almost 4 year old brother — to be coo’ed and held, she slept all the way through.
We took the minibus back to mm’s place and went to a nearby seafood restaurant. Where we promptly had an extremely big meal, hee hee. A whole box of food to doggie bag home.
During showertime (um, please. no one track mind. We were chatting and separated by the shower curtain) we talked about my niece and how not only will she not have any siblings, she won’t have any cousins either. I mean, the only chance she’ll have cousins would be if I had any children. And that is a big no. I don’t mind other people’s kids but I’m too set in my comfy life and routine to change. I don’t even know if I can get used to not living alone. If I were to have any kids, I said, it’ll have to be mm’s. And she has too much on her plate, between family, work, church — to have any sort of time for that.
Isn’t it strange, that when you were like 5 or 6 you tended to think of your future as the typical one, like your parents — marriage, children and all that. But how life doesn’t turn out that way. The only regret is there won’t be anyone genetically descended from me, but that’s not a big deal.
mm has been away on holiday for 10 days. There seems to be a pattern, with us going on holiday separately lately. On the one hand we’re not wanting to be in each other’s hair all the time, on the other hand it’s a little unsettling.
She’s not slept well since she came back on Wednesday so our original plan to spend the weekend together was scrapped, so she can catch up on her rest. She called me this morning and we decided that she’d stay at home and be lazy while I went over in the afternoon. She has dinner with her family so it’s basically just the afternoon.
We had presents to exchange — she got me a Harrods mug, some snacks, a set of coasters from Paris and returned the maps, adaptors and charger I lent her for the trip. I gave her some chocolate, Japanese sweets and the jar of kitkat I got from the office vending machine.
We watched tv and had tea. She made Earl Grey using a teapot (teabags still, but it’s a nice teapot). We had some of the Japanese dessert.
I did my grocery shopping and went home at 6pm. It’s a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
mm got a raise, yay! so she treated me to dinner tonight. We had lobster nachos, rack of lamb and a jug of Sangria. Originally we wanted to have a 3-course meal, but were far too full to have dessert. We were looking forward to either chocolate pudding or apple & blueberry crumble, but that’s for another day.
Walked around a little after, then I got a bus home and she took a taxi. She’s been working very hard these few days; between that and church stuff it’s like we don’t have any time to hang out. Sigh. That’s priorities for you.
mm and I couldn’t stop calling each other today. She’s back from pilgrimage and we were talking quite a bit on the phone, even though the convos were short because we kept being interrupted. :)
I tried checking mm’s flight departure details from Ben Gurion airport but kept getting server busy errors and can’t load the page. Checked Rome airport and looks like the flight landed at 8.34am.
I feel better now.
mm is in Israel, on her pilgrimage. The Foreign Office advises against travelling to the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and warns travellers to be vigilant in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and basically the whole of Israel. Terrorism and such like has never really bothered or scared me, there are 100+ people travelling with her and they’re on a religious journey.
Nevertheless, I asked her to email me more often so I know she’s okay. I’ll be more comfortable when they reach Italy next week.
We hadn’t seen each other for almost two weeks, but mm is so busy nowadays with church causes. We had a few hours today in between her finishing work and needing to go to St Teresa’s for rosary service, mass and meetings.
I bought her a rosary bracelet from the catholic store in Chicago that my friend’s mom worked in. I hadn’t given her anything for baptism, I hope she likes it. :)
We went to a Portuguese restaurant for late lunch. By the time we finished it was past 3pm. Walked a little bit, to look for some preserved salted mandarins she wanted to give to Father.
I didn’t go with her to St Teresa’s. I would have wanted to attend the mass but I’m not sure if I can do the rosary prayer meeting beforehand. I did think of bringing the mbp, but that would have been extremely rude.
It’s been a while since we spent more than 24 hrs together, apart from vacation. She’s been here since last night.
I woke up obscenely early, luckily she was able to sleep in a bit. Went out for a late lunch at a nice dim sum place (very nice!), went to the computer centre, then took the bus to the church where she was baptised. Attended saturday service again. Funny, I got on the bus without thinking, and 1/3 of the way there it occured to me, why was I going to church with mm? hee. I think she tricked me. :)
She stayed for meetings and I went home afterwards. I have a pile of ironing to do but I didn’t feel like it.
mm got baptised tonight.
I got to the church around 6.45pm, the mass was supposed to start at 8pm but we were advised to go early to get seated. There were lots of people there already.
Her brother and sis-in-law arrived, and we decided to find seats elsewhere, we found some at the side of the church, so we weren’t facing the fathers, but it was nearer. Pretty good seats. I sat with her parents and her brothers, all in the family.
The mass was long, much longer than usual. Lots of singing. Plus, it was Easter. There were 140 potentials there getting baptised but the fathers and staff there made sure they were done efficiently.
I managed to get a clear picture of mm bent over the basin for baptism, even though it was a back shot it was rather good. The other pictures of confirmation wasn’t as good, let’s home mm’s dad took better ones.
The mass finished 3 hrs later, so it was past 11pm. Then everyone wanted to take photos of the group; with the fathers; in their little groups. People walked up to the “stage” which I always thought was off-limits.
Her brother drove us home. mm will be going to CC for mass tomorrow morning. But I won’t be going.
Happy birthday, mm!
We didn’t see each other during the day, I was at work as usual and I forgot that she took the day off and called her office. Luckily her secretary reminded me. Ooops.
Busy at work but I finally got away and home for packing. There wasn’t time even for the work travel agent to bring the India tickets round for me so I had to pick it up from a strange location at the airport. But I jump ahead.
We met at the in-town check-in and got sorted. Then to the airport so I could pick up said India ticket from the waiting area for limousine transfers.
Flight was at midnight, we were quite tired.
went with mm to the church she’ll be baptized, it’s not the one she normally goes to, but it’s the one I sometimes went to when I was young. I showed her how to get there by bus, cos she normally goes via subway. We walked a little way from the church and had a simple lunch. Walked around the street stalls afterwards, then it was time for her to go to a pre-baptism activity.
Part of me thinks I should have gone with her. Reading her post, her dad even came back especially. Sigh, I’m not being a good … what are we? What are bbmm in the eyes of God?
I read the essay she wrote for Fr Lok, it really flowed. And told a very moving story in simple words without being overly sentimental. It was a journey of someone who found the love of god, obviously written by someone with very strong faith. And I definitely think she ought to translate and post it. I’m not surprised Fr Lok asked her to write an article for the church paper, it’s a good example for all the people studying and even for people who are still pondering.
Sometimes I wonder if there is a specific path that God wants mm to follow — it’s like God has been waiting for her to find love all these years and now that she’s there, He has plans for her enthusiasm, openness and ability. I’m so proud, but there is a small part of me that wonders if I have a strong enough place in it. Well, it’s something we need to discuss and I shouldn’t be posting this on here and shocking mm like this. Sorry!!!!! :)
I haven’t posted in almost a week. Considering how much effort I have been making since October, to have a post a day, it’s something … unusual. I mean, I have a whole stack of odds-and-ends links from sources like cnet and boing boing and newspapers to keep me posting regularly, all I need is to dust them off and write a few sentences. No biggie.
I dunno. Colours seem to be less bright nowadays.
Which is frustrating because this is the time that mm needs me most, to be super supportive. I’m very happy that she’s getting baptised at Easter, it is a reward for her dedication and hardwork ever since she started studying for the doctrine. It’s been something we both want for such a long time. On an intellectual level I totally get her enthusiasm, but on an emotional level, because I went through the “fast track” the most I can do is to be empathetic. It’s the same with toys — I grew up in a toy shop, so there isn’t the utter delight when someone gives me a new toy. I hope mm doesn’t mind and know that I am there for her 500%.
I’m also happy to see that mm has thought through a lot of inner stuff and seems genuinely happy. In fact she’s all glowy and radiant!! Is it what people describe as love? Love for god? I hope so, because god’s love is there, but not everyone gets it.
I just wish I could suss out why I’m feeling so lethargic. I spent most of this weekend at home, and I’m fine with it.
We feel closer after our vacation, hard to say goodbye at the end of a weekend. So now today it’s sunday and I’m at her place. I’ll go to work from here tomorrow.
We touched on the subject of where to live, and whether we can live together again. We joke about too much furniture and mortgages and different hobbies. We want more closeness and intimacy — I always say trying to cram 5 days worth of expectations to 2 is always hard — yet we like the independence and mutual respect. It’s still an open subject. And good to know that we’re not alone.
The plan was for me to go over tonight, but since I was sick, mm has graciously said she’d come over instead. She brought frozen scallops and cooked them with noodles. Simple but delicious.
Thanks, mm honey.
The weather was supposed to turn bad, with stormy rain and gusty winds. So we took whatever advantage we could and had lunch outside, at our usual Japanese restaurants, so we could save the food originally earmarked for lunch for dinner. And boy it was very windy alright.
Nice lunch, as usual. I had chirasi set and she had the mackerel / tempura bento. That restaurant needs to start giving us frequent flyer miles (or at least the restaurant equivalent), heehee.
Walked to the nearby market and bought some vegetables and, um, frogs for dinner. It was kinda gross watching the guy skin the animals, but he did it so quickly. I pretended it was fish, cos I can tolerate that. Fresh frogs steamed on rice, yummy.
She has another Korean drama series that is grabbing her intererst, so she was watching it in the bedroom. I was playing around her Powerbook and switching between Travel & Living and BBC, cool. Not long after coming back for lunch, I got real tired and took a nap until almost dinner time.
Lazy day. It’s surprising how close we felt, even in different rooms.
We met our financial advisor today. We have quite a neat sum, we want to think about retirement, but will we have enough to live on? Our investments are doing fine, she is doing such a good job of researching and keeping an eye on the markets.
What should we do when we retire? Where do we live? How do we keep ourselves occupied? I dunno, I just want to not have to work.
Today was a public holiday. We started the day with no plans, which isn’t the best way to start a day. It looked like a hot day, even from inside, so I was in no mood to go outside. I should make more of an effort.
A college friend called her early afternoon and we remembered what we needed to do — pay respects to the father of another college friend. So that was decided. We even had dinner with the group and it was quite late when we returned home.
She still had to go home afterwards. Why are we in this situation of living apart? That everything we plan and want to do are crammed in the weekends, but when saturday and sunday comes along it’s like we can’t do/perform all these things like it’s an appointment. Sigh. What to do.
Today the plan was for yoga. And what did we do? We stayed at home! Heehee. She was feeling crampy, so I rubbed her tummy and we took a nap.
Sometimes you don’t need to do fancy things to enjoy time together. Sitting next to her on the couch, she watching TV, me reading stuff on the PB — that’s heaven already.
I just wish it wasn’t so hot so I don’t drip all over the place, even after a shower. :P
I don’t think I’ve ever been on many dates, and neither has mm. Ours is a practical and unromantic relationship. And I was crabby yesterday and made her worried, instead of being mad, she said why don’t we have a date? Oh how sweet! We went to lunch together too, just the simple congee and noodle place near work.
At first dinner date was karaoke, but it’s booked. Then we wanted to go for steak, but earliest was 8.30pm, so we went back to our normal Jap place. But it was still a date. Sweetness.
Then back home, and it’s just a simple, happy time. Even though it’s totally pouring outside and we got completely soaked (even with the giant golf umbrella), it didn’t dampen our mood.
Did I mention I love the Garfield t-shirt, even though we joked today that it’s in the way, that we have Garfleid in between our skin and it needs to come off.
Why? Two reasons. First is that you forgot it when we moved from London. It stayed at the bottom of my pile of t-shirts those few years of not being together, cos I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. It reminded me too much. And now you’re wearing it again it gives me a nice feeling.
Second reason is I love how it feels, it’s a very old t-shirt that is quite worn down, which means it’s very thin and smooth. Thin means I can feel better. Feel what? I’ll leave it to your imagination.
Flew back today, not recommended to fly when you’re sick, I tell ya. Apart from the coughing, it’s the pain inside your ears when the plane lands, no amount of swallowing, yawning or chewing gum can help.
It was hot too, so imagine a miserable me getting home, bone tired. And what a sight to greet me! My darling mm was home and she made me soup!!!!!
Every unhappy cell went away all of a sudden :) .
We had lunch with my family today, and dinner with hers. A truly “meet the parents” kind of day. Of course she knows my folks well, and I’m almost part of her family. But … there’s always the but.
Lunch we went to the club at the small island by the beach. My niece had a great time and we ordered food for the bbq the club set up outside. It was really hot and I wasn’t prepared, had only a vegetable-like T-shirt on and must have looked like a vegetable. Food was good though.
Foot massage in the afternoon, then dinner with her family. Proper served meal and private room. Very nice food, good company. Needless to say, I’m extremely full. Her Mum gave me some herbal tea, cos I was breaking out in spots and she boiled it specially for me.
Just to show how different our respective families are. Mine is more serious, have a more simple view of the world. Hers is more worldly, knows about relationships and in general more noisy, but in an endearing kind of way.
Don’t think they’ll mix terribly well though.
We met up with our financial advisor today. Though most of our money is held separately, we have an investment account in our joint names. Actually it’s 2 accounts, one lumpsum and the other a monthly savings plan.
It’s grown, and we have a neat and tidy sum there. It was all her idea and I just latched on, so I’m glad she thought about it.
We’re going to open another one, to house the GBP I have sitting as cash in my account for so many years, not earning much. It’ll be spread between one fund is invested in college campus accommodations and another fund that’s a hedge of hedges.
I still don’t know what to do with my bonus. I want to buy more CHF but it’s dreadfully expensive, so is EUR and GBP. It’s frustrating when the dollar is so weak. With interest rates still low it doesn’t make sense to repay my mortgage. I have to do more research, but I know that I’ll just end up relying on her ideas.
I noticed through bloglines that mm has updated her weblog with 4 entries! And I totally missed them, what sort of webmaster am I?? *Well, the sort that turned off email notification, that's how*.
They're such great entries, I have to go read them again and add my own. I feel proud of her achievement, but on the other hand, a little worried cos she's got so much pressure and expectations placed on her shoulders.
It's the second Wednesday of me staying at her place. It's becoming a habit, yay.
Bonus communication today. Remember last year? I had no expectations, and even though it was less, I was happy.
This year's bonus was higher than last year's, and I got a 3% salary increase, which was unexpected. I'm happy. I know other people probably got more, but I'm still happy with what I got.
So we went out to celebrate, for a Japanese meal. Twitching fish, fish soup, extra sashimi, grilled fish. I had a choya.
It's a good feeling, hope it can become a habit.
It does seem to be work out this way, but I don't think it's set in stone or mandatory. And she commented on it this morning.
It usually works out that if we're at my place I cook and if we're at hers she cooks. Witness today. We started the day at my place, so I made lunch of steamed sausages on rice and veg, plus dumplings. After lunch we hung out leisurely for a bit, she washed her hair, checked email. Then we took a bus out to the beaches and walked around. Ended up at her place. And now it's time for dinner and I'm playing on the iMac while she makes our dinner of crab, fish and soup.
Really, it's a coincidence but that's exactly how it happened.
We had last weekend's episode of a program we needed to watch, cos we have to catch up. I recorded it on my video but we were at her place over the weekend. So anyway I took it as an excuse to see her. We met for simple dinner, walked home to her place and watched it together.
Just a rare weekday we can spend together. :)
The weather's been shit. Either it's so hot it's like a sauna, or suddenly there's a thunderstorm. Which left puddles along the road.
So on our way out of the library to the café where we wanted to have afternoon tea we had to walk along a narrow stretch of pavement that brought us a bit too close to a few large pools of water. I noticed, I thought she'd too. But alas, no. She got royally drenched by this stupid car that was going very fast and straight onto the puddle of water. I watched the wheel hit the water and splashed all over her. Direct hit.
She was miserable and angry. Of course I helped out with the cleaning up and the commiseration. But inside a small part of me was laughing. At how she managed to get bullseyed. And how she didn't notice and got out of the way. I mean, I saw the car coming and stopped.
I feel like I'm a bad person. You're in a relationship, you expect to be supportive with each other, not making fun when it's inappropriate. what's wrong with me?
It's so hot. But what am I doing about it? Zilch. Right now I'm in the study and I should have the aircon on but I don't bother, I just have the vertical fan giving scant reprieve from the stifling heat and humidity.
I feel sticky, even after a shower. mm says it's because I use hot water. She didn't say it like I should or should not be using water at that temperature, it was just an objective observation.
Last night was bad, very bad. I had the aircon on full blast and I felt myself getting hotter and hotter, even without any covering. My back and neck were burning up. We were getting a little flushed cos we hadn't seen each other in 2 weeks and we both wanted the same thing. But then I got far too hot and had to cool off and then, horrors, we both fell asleep.
Missed the golden opportunity. Ooops.
I couldn't have physical contact cos my skin'd stick to hers if I did. Took me a long while to actually get to sleep.
It's been a fantastic long weekend. We both subconsciously decided to put our problems aside and communicate more and make the relationship work. I think, hope, we've grown closer.
Today we took a long distance bus, had lunch walked around the shops and just enjoyed each other's company. It was nice. May be in the long run our lives can be like this all the time.
I have hope.
So yesterday I took a half day and was gone by noon. Picked up some Easter Eggs and ingredients for soup then headed for her place. She originally said she'd stay over at mine's the night before my birthday but she was too sick, fever and stomach flu. I feel guilty because I let her sense my disappointment, even though logically and rationally she wasn't in any shape to travel.
She was really tired so I left her in bed. Had a quick lunch, did some surfing, played Dope Wars, which I haven't done in a long long long while.
Eventually I crawled into bed as well, although I didn't consciously intended to sleep I pretty much fell asleep immediately. I must have been dreaming or stressed cos later she told me I was grinding my teeth.
I woke up when she started shivering. She said she was cold and she already had 3 blankets on. The shivering got worse and no amount of holding or wrapping helped. I was really worried. How could she be shivering when her temperature was at 101. Called the doctor who told us to get to his clinic asap (doesn't he do house calls?). He was a bit worried as well and gave her new, stronger medicine.
Getting out and about may have helped, when we got home the shivering had stopped and after an hour or so she felt well enough to brave a shower while I stood watch. For a change no ulterior motives - well, not much.
I didn't stay over. I can't really say exactly why. I'm not going over tonight either.
I feel like I'm being an asshole. Not being there when I'm most needed. There's guilt. A fair bit of guilt.
My feelings are like a seesaw, up and down, hot and cold, and I'm thinking, thinking. I can't stop. Sometimes I have a deep, warm want that spreads up through me unabated. Other times I drift away, my mind on other things, things that have nothing to do with us, even though we're sitting right next to each other.
We both deserve better. Just that right now I don't know if I can give her everything she deserves, just like she's feeling bad that she's falling short of what she wants to give me.
So many words and I'm just skirting round the real issue and feelings.
Yesterday was her birthday, I took her to this champagne buffet brunch, all limitless Moët and 8 kinds of fruit juices and 3 types of oysters and lobsters and giant tiger prawns with cajun flavouring and sushi and prime rib. Highest quality of every sort of luxury food imaginable. Even the pizza was great.
Overindulgence plus probably the result of eating 2 dozen oysters I came down with the mother of all food poisoning. We made it back to her place, just, and I got hit with a splitting headache and the constant need for the bathroom.
I feel so bad to have ruined my baby's birthday. She says it's okay and I know she doesn't mind. But I need to make it up to her.
In a couple of days' time it's my turn. Originally we'd booked another posh buffet but we might cancel and have something simple at home. It really doesn't matter how we celebrate, the most important thing is we're together.
Okay I'll knock off the sickly sweetness now.
Two full days and I did not touch a computer once. Not being at home, my home, helped, still I'm giving myself a little credit for not touching her iMac, hell I only went into her study once to get a T-shirt out of the closet. Even when she's in the shower, or cooking. I was up to part 90-something of a fic that is currently at something like part 150 and just finished chapters that are arguably the best in the series. Lots of anticipation and wanting to read them over and over.
The thought was there. It whispered to me, quite insistently at times, that I can make time and read a couple of chapters. But I wanted to show where my priorities are, should be, that it's what I want. That she's not fighting a losing battle with the computer. Cos that has been mentioned, more than once. May be it's false promises because we both know full well what I'd be doing come Sunday night and all the other nights during the week. That I can't sustain a net-free existence for long and certainly where there is no end date.
Which means that at this stage we're in no way ready to live in the same house again. Even though a small notion, an inkling, is germinating in both of our heads, the way one of us sometimes mentions it in passing. Our lives have moved apart due to the passage of time and circumstances. And we'll need to grow closer and be more comfortable about this new incarnation of our relationship to even start thinking about building a life together.
So much has changed since those early days when we had very little money but so much more freedom. And at one stage, for some bizarre reason, 3 cars. That we didn't have to apologise to anyone, including ourselves, if we slept in till the sun was way up in the sky, or frolicked till the moon has done its rounds through the night, or spread a sleeping bag out in the living room and spent whole days and nights there.
Now, now we're different people. With jobs. And mortgages. And heads that would not stop churning out thoughts. That we talk about when we can afford to take a week's break rather that if we can afford the price of the holiday. That we debate the merits of the different investment fund choices for our portfolio. That we talk about drawing up power of attorney for hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights.
I still have some doubts. I can't forget what has happened before and I don't want it a repeat of the pain. I can't bring myself to say the words. I don't know if I feel them yet. Truly feel them. I wait for the earthquake, the tingles and the breathlessness to hit me but they seem to have passed me by. Perhaps it doesn't work that way any longer. Those are the usual manifestations of a new relationship. Ours isn't new. Even though it's only been 6 months or so this time round. There's too much emotional baggage and history for the earth to shatter. It might tremble a bit but most of the time it'll just rumble on steadily.
We've been together 5 or so years during the last 12. It's not been easy. But I hope we want this enough to make it work. I do.
It's getting warmer, soon I'll have to dry clean and put away my winter coats.
It's a warm tingly feeling when you're buying a hot chocolate for someone who you know will feel all the sweet sugary goodness in that one small cup all the way to their toes.
It's a warm tingly feeling when you both say the same thing, react the same way, at the same time. It's almost like two brains are as one.
It's a warm cozy feeling, having dinner at home. Sashimi and chicken wings and sake. Such simplicity. Such luxury. Such warmth.
I hate it when we argue, hate it hate it hate it.
I hate it even more when we hang up the phone still angry at each other which means we end up going to bed angry.
... for out of routine sleeping and waking patterns. Christmas Eve we didn't go to bed till like 4.30am, playing mahjong all night. Christmas morning woke up at 1pm, had a nice but rushed lunch and I had to go home to pick up the presents to go to my parents' place for Christmas dinner.
Boxing Day woke up real early, like 6am, to go to the last mass in Clara's memory. Had breakfast with her family and by the time I got home it was only 10am. Rest of the day spent by myself downloading songs, updating the website and reading a new fic.
Today when I opened my eyes finally it was 1.50pm. Lunch, washing up and chores later and it's already dark. Half the day's gone before I know it.
There's something about the quiet and solitude that makes it quite pleasant. What we've been telling each other it's our own private time. Can get addictive, this private time.