Tag Archives: friends

Singapore, 2015

On the way back from Sri Lanka, my husband, daughter and I stopped in Singapore. We stayed at the luxurious Swissotel at Clarke Quay where my daughter loved the big bed, the free cow soft toy and kids toiletry pack. We all had great fun at the water slides on the roof too.

We also enjoyed exploring more of the Clarke Quay area. The art gallery with the colourful shutters, the street art and the view of Marina Bay Sands. Clarke Quay at night was also a pretty sight with all the lights.

One of the things on my hit list for this trip to Singapore was the largest fountain in the southern hemisphere- the Fountain of Wealth. And so to the fountain we went, located conveniently next to a large shopping centre with a huge Uniqlo and the best H&M I have been to so far.

The fountain was so big that you could walk into it so was definitely worth the trip. We also met my friend Cynthia and her new baby son for lunch. Dinner was with the other half of the couple, her partner Tony, and my husband’s friend Drew at Café Iguana back at Clarke Quay.

The next day, we went to Fort Canning Park, which was more of a sprawling park of walkways than an entertaining park for kids. We went to Cynthia and Tony’s for dinner at a local restaurant and reacquainted our daughters who enjoyed posing together for photos and holding hands on the walk back to the apartment.

With not enough time as always, the holiday came to an end once again, and it was time to bid farewell to our friends and fly back to Sydney.

Related posts: Singapore, 2013: Part 3, Singapore 2013: Part 2, Singapore, 2013: Part 1, Singapore 2012: Old vs New, Singapore 2012: Part 1, Indonesia and Singapore, 1994, England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, It’s an Asia Thing, It’s a Water Thing, People vs Place

It’s not how good the music is, it’s who you’re dancing with

I heard this saying the other day and it made me think.

The dance floor could be the coolest one in the country with the hippest people and the best beats. But if you are there by yourself, with people you don’t really know and don’t really like, then its really not that much fun.

The funkiest cocktail bar with the best drinks can end up being a dive in the basement if you go with the wrong people and the music is too loud. The best restaurant in the trendiest suburb can be lack lustre if you go with people who aren’t that fussed with fine food.

Of late I have been catching up with a few friends from various parts of my life and it made me remember that these people are in my life for a reason. No matter what we are going through in our lives, even if it means we can’t catch up as often as we would like, when we do see each other life seems better when shared with these people.

There are the old work friends who I’ve kept in touch with because it’s not just about the job we did together, but I actually really like them as people as well. Their lives are diverse and interesting and they offer different perspectives on life.

There’s the wives of my husbands friends who have been around for over a decade or more and are now my friends in their own right. They make restaurants more fun and Saturday nights a family bonding experience for everyone.

And there are the special friends from near and far who and know my history and me better than I do myself. It is for these friends that I am truly grateful as they have the ability to pull me out of a dark place for a reality check and make me smile no matter how bad life can seem at the time.

Friends remind you that you are not alone, you are not crazy and it’s actually the rest of the planet that has gone mad.

So whether your daily soundtrack is Portishead or Ministry of Sound, it’s the people you are listening with that can make all the difference in the world.

Related posts: Real Friends vs Digital Friends, Friendship: Great Expectations?, People vs Place, By special request 

Perception is reality

What is real and what is not?

Often people perceive that your life is prefect, especially when Facebook only records the good times. But in reality, all is not always as it seems.

But does that even matter?

Is someone perceives that things are all rosy, then it must be the truth right? There is no point asking questions, when everything seems fine and would you even want the real answer anyway? People believe what they want to believe after all.

I’m all for focussing on the positive things in life, and a lot of being on social media is about big noting yourself so that people think that you are awesome/want to be your friend/want to give you that next job.

We all do it. No pictures of tired eyes as you have been up since 3am looking after a baby, instead there is the picture of your bundle of joy smiling and laughing. It doesn’t matter if this only happens 10% of the time.

No pictures of Saturday night at home in your tracky dacks on the couch, instead a picture of you and your girlfriends having cocktails at the latest cool bar. It doesn’t matter if this only happens one night of the year.

No pictures of the dusty motel you stayed in on holiday, instead Instagram pictures of the gorgeous beach that was a half a day drive away. It doesn’t matter if you never even had time to set foot on the sand.

No job title of blogger on LinkedIn, instead you are an award winning published author. It doesn’t matter if you’ve actually only ever been paid once in all those times you have been published.

So should we all just be more honest? Or is it easier to just go on through life thinking everyone has perfect lives with adorable kids that never cry, a hectic social life, fabulous holidays and the best job in the world?

If perception is reality, then maybe we are all better off with the perception and after long enough, perhaps this will become your reality anyway. It’s all about positive thinking right?

Or perhaps the key is finding out who you can be honest with and choosing who you want to let into your reality. Otherwise aren’t we all just living a lie?

Related posts: Dreams vs Reality, I’m happy for you, Having it all?

Singapore, 2013: Part 3

On the way back home from Europe, my husband, daughter and I stopped in Singapore for a couple of nights mainly to see friends, and to shop of course.

We went shopping on Orchard Rd and saw the colourful statues on the steps of ION Orchard. The usual suspects were visited- H&M, Uniqlo, New Look, Marks and Spencers, Mango and Zara. And as usual, our bags required much repacking to fit in the purchases. I’m not sure it would be very healthy for my bank balance to live in Singapore.

After our day of shopping, we caught up with Cynthia and Tony plus my husband’s friend Drew for dinner at Din Tai Fung. The matching kids cutlery was very cute and the food was good as always. Cynthia and Tony had left their daughter at home with their helper Rosie so they came back to our hotel on Orchard Rd for an after dinner drink before it was bedtime for my little one.

The next day we went to visit Cynthia and Tony and meet up with their daughter. Our daughters seemed to like playing together and were more curious about each other this time. It was nice to see them everyone here again six months after my solo trip here with my daughter.

We went to the local roti house for lunch, which was ridiculously cheap and packed with school kids. The little ones had to sit next to each other of course and it was amusing to watch them copying each other.

After lunch, we went back to Cynthia and Tony’s place for a nap and a swim in the lovely pool in their apartment complex courtyard. The little ones enjoyed splashing around with a novelty turtle pool toy and it was a great place to rest while we waited for our evening flight back to Sydney.

As always, the visit was not long enough, and there was barely time for a quick after swim shower before heading to the airport. Until next time…

Related posts: Singapore, 2013: Part 2, Singapore, 2013: Part 1, Javea, 2013, Barcelona, 2013, Versailles, 2013, Paris, 2013, Belgium, 2013: The Place, Belgium, 2013: The People, Hong Kong, 2013: Part 2, Hong Kong, 2013: Part 1, Fiji, 2013

Holidays are…

Preparing and researching

Booking and planning

Packing

Excitement

Waiting impatiently

Airports and QANTAS club

Arriving in your new temporary home

Unpacking

New places and new things to see

First experiences

Navigating a new city

Temples and churches

Old towns

Landmarks and lookout points

Road trips

Landscapes

Having fun

Swimming

Walking

Enjoying the sunshine

Not letting the rain stop you

Watching shows

New food to try

Markets

Bars and restaurants

Having the time to enjoy a meal

Not cooking or washing up

Meeting new people

Sitting and people watching

Quality time with the little one

Catching up with friends

Cocktail hour

Uninterrupted conversations

Laughing

Pampering

Having the time to shop

New clothes from your new favorite shop

Souvenirs to take home

Photos and memories to keep

Not worrying

Thinking

Having the time to notice rainbows

Watching old movies

Card games

Finishing a book

Sitting and doing nothing

Napping

Drifting

Not wanting it to end

Booking the next holiday.

Related posts: Happy Holidays, Random Public Holiday Ramblings,  Kid at Heart

Javea, 2013

My husband, daughter and I left Barcelona the next day for a road trip down south to Javea. Our Belgian friend Bill owned a holiday house there are we were to meet up with his parents and brother Ben with his partner and baby son.

The house was an authentic white washed villa on the hill of Balcon al Mar and was a great place to call home for the week.

We hit the beach straight away and went to Granadella beach. The white rocks contrasted beautifully with the blue water and it was everything a Spanish beach should be. The weather was nice, the sea sparkled and there was a sailing boat moored in the bay.

When we had had enough fun in the water and of sitting under the blue and white stripped umbrella on the beach, we went to the restaurant overlooking the beach for a tasty seafood lunch.

Unfortunately, my husband got an ear infection from swimming that day, so the rest our time in Javea was not to be the active beach holiday we envisioned, but was still a restful time.

I woke with my daughter most mornings with only the dog Coco and the BBC news channel for company. Sunrises were colourful, but late here. French lunches with the family were had on the outdoor balcony and afternoon drinks on the terrace by the pool.

My daughter liked the hammock in the garden and Baby Bjorn walks around the neighbourhood. We also tagged along on a few of the shorter dog walks into cactus laden plains.

My husband got enough energy together to head into Javea old town with us all one day. The streets were lined with balconied houses, old wooden doors and wall murals. The fort/church in the middle of the town was huge and there was both an indoor and outdoor market with colourful red Spanish dresses for little girls.

One day we also managed a driving tour of the surrounding area. The most beautiful sight was the lookout point at Cap de la Nau. It was ocean as far as the eye could see, punctuated by rugged cliffs and islands. We also saw the white washed lighthouse and went to the rock shelves of Calla Barraca Beach.

We visited the main beach at L’Arenal where the sandy beach was lined with palm trees and restaurants. We had a nice lunch and bought our daughter her first pair of sunglasses. On our last day we returned to a glass fronted restaurant for paella.

It was a fitting end to our Spanish beach holiday, before we drove back to Madrid for an overnight stay near the airport. The hotel was hard to find with all the surrounding ring roads around, but after a few double paid tolls, we made it in the end.

Related posts: Barcelona, 2013, It’s a Spanish Thing, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona

Barcelona, 2013

From one of my favourite cities to another, my husband, daughter and I flew from Paris to Barcelona. I was so glad to be able to show my daughter two of the places in the world I loved the most.

We stayed I a fabulously comfortable modern apartment in the theatre district where we could see Montjuic from the balcony. The little alleyways were just as authentic as I remembered them and Guadi was just as prevalent.

Pulau Guell was spotted everyday on our way to the famous La Rambla- where we saw Casa Balto and La Pedra. La Segrada Familia was still under construction of course, but an impressive sight as ever.

We saw the fountains of Plaza de Catalunya and the new fashion label Desingual that was making a colourful appearance. Daytime tapas was taken inside Mercat de la Boqueria where we took in the tasty looking displays of vegetables, cold cuts and chocolate.

My friend Ernest invited me over to his place for dinner to meet his wife and new baby daughter and to catch up with Jordi, Leigh and Lidia. It was 9pm- early for Barcelona, but late for my daughter who had already been asleep for 3 hours by then and had to stay behind with my husband. It was great to see them all.

The next day we took the bus to one of my favourite places in the city- Parc Guell. The colourful gatehouses were still there and the view from the balcony was better than I recalled. It was such a buzz to sit on a beautiful mosaiced seat with my family and walk up the dragon sculpture steps.

Back down the hill, we had dinner in a local Tapas restaurant where the lovely waitress wanted to take our daughter home.

On Ernest’s recommendation, we headed for Barcenoleta the following day. I had been to Port Vell and the beach before, but had not heard of the quaint village last time I was here.

The open town square was a hub of family activity along with the huge modern market. We had a leisurely lunch of cocktails and paella at a restaurant on the beach. It was a delicious and fitting end to our enjoyable and relaxing Barcelona sojourn.

Related posts: Europe, 2003Spain 1997, Part 1: BarcelonaPeople vs Place

Belgium, 2013: The People

My husband, daughter and I flew from Hong Kong to Brussels via Helsinki. It was a cheap flight and the worst flight we have ever had with our daughter. At one year old, she was at that in between stage where she didn’t just eat and sleep and wouldn’t just sit and watch TV, so all she wanted to do was walk up and down the aisles. She didn’t sleep the whole way, so neither did we. Lesson learned- sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more for a shorter flight with a little one.

After a 3 hour stopover in Helsinki, she finally lost it on the internal European flight to Brussels and just screamed. We were all tired and over it so I can understand her reaction and I now know what its like to be those parents that everyone tuts as at, but there was simply nothing we could do.

She finally fell asleep when we landed and slept in my arms in the brightly lit Brussels airport while we waited for our bags. Our friend Bill picked us up to take us back to the converted farmhouse that we had stayed in before and were to do so again. We hadn’t seen the family since our wedding in Thailand and it was the first time they had met our daughter.

Between them and their partners, Bill, Isabelle and Ben now had 8 children- 5 boys and 3 girls- almost all older than our daughter, so she had plenty of kids to dote over her and keep her entertained. Being a social child, she very much enjoyed being part of such a huge family. The girls were very gentle with our daughter which was lovely to see and the grandparents had a room set up especially for the grandkids with lots of toys and a cot.

The mornings were dark until 8:30am, which didn’t help with the jetlag when our daughter still got up at 4am. She gradually got later everyday, but never slept past her usual waking time of 6am, so had already been up for at least two hours by the time everyone else rose for breakfast.

Our friend Flo visited from France one evening with presents for our daughter. It was so nice to see her. Another night we went to Bill’s house for dinner. The house was lovely and interior decorated to perfection.

The next night we went to Isabelle’s for dinner where they lived above her husbands personal training business. On another night we went to visit Guislane and George- another family that my husband had stayed with when he had been living here on exchange. I ate the biggest piece of foie gras I have ever seen.

We kept her in her nightly dinnertime and bath routine that has always been useful for sleep time no matter where we were. Her adoptive grandfather sometimes read her books and she always had a bed or cot to be put to sleep on wherever we were visiting for dinner. Then when we were ready to leave, we just picked her up and drove home while she kept sleeping. It was awesome.

Related posts: Europe, 2006, Belgium, 1997, Destination ThailandPeople vs Place, Belgium: On Exchange

Weymouth, 2011

When I arrived in Weymouth, the Canadian side of the family had already been there for a few days. We all ate at a local pub for dinner and it was good to see my aunt, uncle and cousins Kate and  Glen, even though the circumstances weren’t the best.

Our grandmother’s funeral was scheduled for later that week and in the meantime we were to sort through what remained of her belongings. She had given away most of her valuables while she was alive, but there was still a lot of household items to go through.

We all took something that held special memories for us, be it furniture to be relocated to Kate’s new house, the swallows over the top of the fireplace for my dad or grandma’s fountain pen for me. It was the one she used to write all our letters and birthday cards to send across the seas and I hoped to continue the tradition with it.

Going through her writing desk, we discovered that she had kept every photo, card or letter that we had given her- even a record of my travellers cheques, long since cashed- that I had handwritten for her before my trip to Europe. It was nice to keep a few photos of us as kids home and a I also claimed a tiny book of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

When we needed a break from our sorting and trips to Vinnies in Dorchester, we went on country rambles together to Hardy’s monument, the wishing well and Upwey manor. Past the thatched rooved cottages, the church where our grandfather was buried, through green fields filled with thistles; picking blackberries along the way. We found a random bakery in the middle of the countryside which had the best pasties.

It was nice to spend this time together and gather memories in the area for the last time. Grandma’s house was to be sold, so it was sad to think that someone else would be living in the stone bungalow in which we’d all had so many good times and that we wouldn’t have the same pull to return to Weymouth.

We went into town for a walk along the seafront to the harbour. The blue and white striped deck chairs were already set out for summer, though the weather was cold, and the sand sculpture competition was in full swing. The town was the same as I remembered it, but seemed smaller and not as busy.

In the evenings we reminisced and cooked all our favourite foods that grandma used to make, like treacle tarts, fish and chips and rice pudding.

The day of the funeral was a strange feeling. We were all picked up in two black cars and driven to the funeral parlour where we greeted many family members and old friends.

The wake was held back at grandma’s house where I had the job of cooking all the pastries in the oven. It was a good distraction. The Swindon and Cirencester branches of the family were a positive influence and it was lovely to see Alan and Viv again.

As the week drew to a close, it was time to take our last snap shots in our heads and on our iPhones, then bid each other farewell in the hopes of keeping grandma’s memory alive by seeing each other again soon to reminisce some more.

Related posts: London, 2011, Small town vs Big city, It’s an English Thing, England, 2006, England, 2002, England, 1997

To Belong

There’s nothing quite like that sense of belonging. Being part of company, a team and an event tribe. Believing in the organisation’s mission and being connected to the people around you.

When you believe in a company and what they stand for, it’s so much easier to understand the reasons decisions are made and put up with the stuff you don’t like about a job. You have a unified goal and a reason to keep going.

Being part of a team of people is the best too. Sure it’s about the company and the job, but at the end of the day it’s also about the people. I am sure we’ve all stayed too long in crappy jobs because the people were super nice. I mean you spend 8 hours a day with these people, so it’s a lot easier if you like them!

It’s the in jokes, the fact that someone cares if you don’t show up in the morning, the camaraderie and the shared enemies. It’s what draws people together and keeps the day-to-day activities interesting.

Working on an event with work colleagues have been some of my most enjoyable times as being part of a team. You all band together to solve on the ground problems and spend social evenings together in a more relaxed setting. It’s when you really bond with people, learn all their secrets and see a different side to their personality with the change of environment.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, you end up in a job you love, for a company you like with lifelong friends. I myself am yet to find the holy trinity, but it’s early days yet, considering that I am probably only halfway through my career.

For some, working for another company doesn’t work at all and they are much better off working for themselves. They don’t need that personal contact. Or do they? I think we all need to feel connected. Not all of the time perhaps, but sometimes.

Which is why suppliers are so great. They give you that sense of belonging and working towards a common goal without having to be in your face with their annoying habits all the time. Also, they have to be nicer to you than co-workers.

For me, when I loose respect for the boss, wether it be my immediate manager or the CEO, that’s the begging of the end. Everything flows from the top and the ripple effect causes me to fall back into old habits, begin to disengage from the company, stop caring about the people politics and start looking at Seek online.

And that’s when the true test of who people really are begins.

Related posts: Who are you?, Having it all?, Reinvention, New Beginnings, Pride vs The Fall, Dreams vs Reality