Thursday, June 30, 2011


All humankind are cousins. by rachlyf
All humankind are cousins., a photo by rachlyf on Flickr.
The photo above was taken in Edinburgh. I just find the quote really thought-provoking. That aside, it is unrelated to my post today.

Time is ticking away and I am meant to pack everything up and be ready to move into my new house. Like I said, meant to be.

It's not that I haven't done anything. Since Monday, I have cleared most of my shelves, my cupboard and had countless to-keep-to-throw-or-maybe piles to make. I even had some happy little working songs to get me feeling calm and motivated.

Strangely enough, my room is in not in a heap of mess, but that state of mind might be temporary.

Not strangely enough, I am again back on my Dr Who marathon after taking several weeks off it. Which is keeping me calm but certainly not helping with the packing.

Of course, seeing as the day is getting closer, I will have to start shifting the posters and decorations soon. Without the little things that shape its character, the room is just a demanding space of austerity that takes over you if you don't take over them.

I can't even imagine it being empty and ready for the next person to dissolve the very memory of its previous resident. That being said, I probably did that to my predecessor.

And all of a sudden, another year is gone. And our fingerprints are fading slowly, steadily but surely.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Letter From a Friend, On Turning 20.

Dear Rachael,

This is it. One hour from now, you will have a new set of obligations to follow. You will be expected to know what to do, even if you don't. You will be expected to make less mistakes. You will be expected to act your age, whatever that means. You will be be twenty. 

Don't worry, everything will be fine, contrary to what people say about age. Age is as ripe as wine, more flavourful and valuable with each passing year. It is a natural way of life; everyone has to go through it. It is not a determinant of who you are or who you must be. Age is a number.

Besides, you had a good run, didn't you?  Look back at who you were years ago and look at you now. You have changed for the better. As a child, you had adventures in lands of your imagination; today these adventures exist in the real world. 

I hope you notice from those many brilliant years that you have exceeded yourself tremendously. You have done things you never thought you could do. You have experienced life and pushed boundaries. You became who you are today because of those amazing years of transition in between. 

So please do not be afraid to move ahead. There are many more adventures waiting beyond that horizon. There are many more ambitions to pursue. The best days are yet to come. Just walk forward and hold onto the same courage that held your hand yesterday.

There is another thing. Please do not forget me. Do not even say good bye. I will always be walking behind you. I will be the one telling of the dreams you bore today and reminding you to hatch them tomorrow.

In fact, I will always be here, helping you find out what you should do so that there will be less mistakes. I will always be you, whatever age you may be. And that is the one thing that will never change.

Have a wonderful journey ahead.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nottingham News

More news on travelling! I went up to Nottingham two weeks ago to visit Chiah, and we had a great time. For lunch, she taught me how to make casserole, as you can see from the photo below. Later that day, we went for Enrique Iglesias's concert.

Though this may come as a surprise to you, that was the first live concert I've been to. What did I think about it? Well, first thing's first, he's a good live performer, which made the experience a whole lot better. And considering how often his songs were being played, I'd say it was a fantastic first time. Most of the songs were the newer ones- 'Tonight', 'Heartbeat'- although he did perform songs like 'The Ping Pong Song' and 'Taking Back My Love'.

 'Hero' seemed to be a crowd- pleaser. Thank you, Chiah, for helping me get the tickets!


The next day, we went to Nottingham Castle where, just outside, are Robin Hood related statues.

Robin Hood's Lair
Now, just in case you are not familiar with Robin Hood, he is the famous outlaw in English folklore that resides in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. Along with his band of "Merry Men" (as I recall there's Little John and Friar Tuck), he stole from the rich to give to the poor during the reign of King John of England. Yes, if you notice, most of my knowledge on the outlaw is based on stories I've read as a child. But I don't believe many people have read the original accounts and probably only know as much as I do.


Whether or not he really existed is another matter. There are supposed historical evidence for both cases, but for the most part of it, Robin Hood's story has been passed down from generation to generation so much so that he's more of a legend than a historical figure.

Nottingham Castle Entrance
Nottingham Castle is similar to that in Norwich in terms of their modification into museums. The difference is the garden in the Nottingham Castle grounds is much bigger. It looks like a proper, well-kept part on its own. Possibly good for lazing about or studying, as Chiah noticed.

With a lovely park/garden inside


Reminds me of the garden scene in 'The Sound of Music'

Lord Byron
Lord Byron was the Romantic poet and author who wrote Don Juan and close friend of the Shelleys (They had a famous "contest" among themselves one stormy night to write the best horror story. Mary Shelley won with Frankenstein).


Red Riding Hood

Tea House
Chiah brought me to a quaint little tea-house hidden away in the city called 'The Walk'. The most popular order from the menu is the tea set where you get snacks, both savoury and sweet, on a three-tier cake stand and a pot of tea. The snacks vary depending on what is available. We had tarts, scones and sandwiches that day.

Definitely a place to look out for when you're in Nottingham.
Three-tier cake stand
Did I also mention that I adore the tiered cake stand? They give a classic vibe to desserts.

I'll be back in Nottingham another time; I'm sure of that. Hopefully I'll get to go for the Cave Tours the next time!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Auld Reekie Calls To Us: Edinburgh Part 2 of 2

Something caught my eye when I walked pass this huge building. On it there were quotes regarding Edinburgh's status as the first UNESCO City of Literature. Think of R.L. Stevenson, whose inspiration for 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' sparked from the story of a Scottish man, Deacon Brodie, a deacon by day and burglar by night. Imagine that! Now it is time to unfold the second part to the Edinburgh trip!

UNESCO City of Literature
Day Three:

Speaking of literature in Scotland, Rachel and I were interested in the Writer's Museum. Erwan decided to pay a visit to the Surgeon's Museum. Although eventually the Surgeon's Museum turned out to have later opening hours than expected, Rachel and I had a great time at our side.


Well, the only part that got on our nerves slightly was when we had to search for the Museum. It took us a while, after walking up and down the street, to discover a little lane leading to it. The red city tour bus drove away to reveal Lady Stair's Close, and if you look closer, you might be able to see its sign with the silhouette of a man in contemplation at his desk.

In the little path...
There were pretty wonderful exhibitions with original works of several Scottish writers, first or special editions, and their possessions. Fingers crossed, we hope to someday gain the same amount of recognition in the field of writing too.

The Writer's Museum
Later on, we went for the Edinburgh Dungeon. To make things clear, on all ghost/haunted/night tours and related entertainment, 'we' refers to Erwan and myself. It's some sort of "haunted house" tour where you get to rediscover the unfortunate past of the people in Edinburgh.

It's scary to think that people could be sentenced to death in the 16th century (by the gallows or guillotine) with only one accusation with no need for solid proof. According to what we were told, during a time of political and religious weakening, paranoia emerged followed by ridiculous Acts such as the burning of 'witches' (which then anyone could be sentenced for-if you look different, act different, or is simply disliked by someone else), the torture for a 'confession' and back then homelessness was also a crime (hence they were forced into the Underground). Let's not mention the body-snatchers, Burke and Hare, who dug up fresh graves and harvested bodies for the medical schools. The tour was spooky, definitely, but fun nonetheless.

The Edinburgh Dungeon
Coming out of the shadows and into the sun, we then took a bus to Queensferry, far from the city centre to the piers, where we sat on a cruise. Mind you, the Edinburgh Pass did stretch our pounds a great deal.


It was more for some moments of relaxation. Can't be in the city all day! We caught glimpses of seals, puffins (the adorable looking creature which is also the name of a publishing company, yes), jellyfishes and noticed seagulls everywhere. We might have seen other species of birds too but I don't remember if we did.


Queensferry Street
This place was actually quite a beauty, to be honest. If you look in the photo above, you might be able to see that the street has two levels. One leads upwards for pedestrians and the other that heads downwards, mostly for cars. They resemble the picturesque scenes in Romantic films, don't you think?

Also, we went for another night tour. However, since I've mentioned quite a lot of information on it earlier on, I'll leave it at that and say that overall it was fantastic.

Day Four:

Since Erwan has already been to the Castle, Rachel and I decided that it's time to see the most prominent landmark of Edinburgh. The entrance fees were quite hefty though, so we didn't go in. Maybe another time when I can go back. Yes, I believe I will go back.

Edinburgh Castle

Closer view of Castle


Instead, we spent more time window-shopping. Not too bad a replacement, I suppose. By afternoon, we were on our respective modes of transportation towards home. Quite the usual 'tourist-like' ending to the trip. So, yes, what happens when a law, literature and medical students go to Edinburgh? It's not really much of joke; it just shows that Edinburgh has so much history that involves and influences the three fields that there was something for all of us.

The sky is a canvas
On that note, I end my visual tour with a beautiful scene I saw on our way back to Norwich. Where the sky was a canvas graced by an alluring spectrum of colours as light made way for night, where the world can be colourful if we choose to see the paints, and life can be an adventure if we want it to be.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

S'more S'mores

S'more by rachlyf
S'more, a photo by rachlyf on Flickr.

This summer I had my first taste of S'more, which was introduced to us by Amanda. S'mores, if you've not of it before, is a campfire treat that people have in America and Canada. Basically it looks like a sandwich catered for anyone with a sweet tooth.

So to prepare it, first of all we need a fire. Don't worry, there were no bonfires. We had a mini disposable BBQ grill, which we lighted up properly.

Then we had to collect sticks, which would be whittled so that a marshmallow can be placed at one end. Under the flame we must roast the marshmallows, until it becomes slightly brownish or burn like a torch.

The marshmallow, all melted and gooey on the inside, and some pieces of chocolate, go in between two crackers like what you see in the photo. It tastes delicious!

Amanda also said that another campfire 'tradition' is to be interrupted by a nutter. Which did happen, curiously enough. But let's not go there.

Anyway, here's a bit of America for you. Want s'more/some more?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This is Amanda's last day in the UK. This is when events of the day before appear in flashes of light. In the morning, we had English scones with jam and clotted cream along with cream tea as our brunch. I like how having tea is a culture here, especially with all the delicious tit bits. I am in a bit of a cake stand craze now; the tiered set pieces look amazing. They make me want to bake. If only I can, that is.

Then someone said that there's a bouncing castle on campus, so I had an idea that it would be something small and would possibly charge an entrance fee. When I got to the Square, however, I found that I was wrong. 

Summer Fest
Surprise, surprise...(Also, all are free)
Oh, summer is such a wonderful season. Anyway, we went to the Lake after that and had an awesome time making impromptu video parodies of Star Wars. Amanda's in charge of compiling the bits and pieces.

Summer Fest2
The fun side of uni.
Well, after going through so many farewells, it is getting more difficult to say goodbye. So I won't. Instead I'll say 'See you later!' - you know, the sort you tell little kids on bouncy castles to pacify them- so that I can convince myself that someday, somehow, those days will come back again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

June. The supposed peak of Summer. The heat that flourishes carpets of grass beds and yields flushes of blossoms. The time people take off their jackets and engage in "summer-y" activities such as head off to the beach, embrace the sun, have loads of barbecues and have another ice-cream.

(At the moment, while we are able to do most of these "summer-y" events, it was still too chilly to go to the beach. The weather is being extremely temperamental.)

June. A good month where weddings are popular in honour of the Roman goddess of marriage, Juno. Or perhaps so that people had more choices of fashion rather than something just to keep warm.

June. The month many things come newly sprung, cradled by songs of Summer, seasoned and shaped by the warmth of it all.

As is yours truly.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Auld Reekie Calls To Us: Edinburgh Part 1 of 2

Auld Reekie. In Scots, it means 'Old Smokey', the traditional nickname for Edinburgh, Scotland. I had always associated Edinburgh with art festivals, Scottish literature, heritage sites, ghosts and ghouls. Now I associate it with a history fraught by secrets and bloodshed. But let us take it from the beginning.

Edinburgh here we are!
Day One (31st May 2011):

Rachel, Erwan and I arrived at Haymarket as our hotel was nearby. For the three nights that we spent there, it cost less than £50 per person for a comfortable room with three beds (Ritz Hotel is about 3.5 stars on average according to websites); we agreed that it was a great bargain.

Park Overlooking the Castle
All the travelling took a bit of a toll on us on the first day, which led to a slower start to our trip. The weather was not bad too considering how far up North we were. Walking around the city, including the park overlooking the castle, was incredibly relaxing.

Anne Frank!
I taught them something I learnt in Spring this term. Not being something we have had as part of our childhood, making daisy chains was definitely a new 'skill' to pick up!

Teaching them how to make daisy chains
From the high rise buildings and streets to the men in kilts playing bagpipes and inscribed nameplates on the benches to the daisies, the awe over the new environment seeped into us like the cold yet inviting lotion smoothened on the skin.
Adorable Ice Cream Van
Day Two (1st June 2011): 

The hotel provided us with breakfast each morning as well, and these were actually the only time we had purely "Scottish" food. Haggis (the brown one on the left side of the ham) is a mixture of the minced innards of sheep with spices and onions. I also had black pudding for the first time, which is something like sausages made of blood. Yes, you read this right, blood. There's also the fried oatcake above the tomato, along with the sausage, egg and ham.

I would like to taste deep fried Mars Bars one day, though.

Scottish breakfast
The Edinburgh Pass is such a money-saver! We purchased a two-day pass each for £39 and were able to enter many attractions (not the Castle, however) for free.  

Group photo
Dynamic Earth, a science museum, is the first of the several we were to see. The exhibitions were wonderful, and I wonder why there are not a lot of interactive ones in Malaysia. I suppose the bill would hit the roof, but imagine how amazing learning could be! (On a related note, search 'Fun Theory' on Youtube for absolutely brilliant ways of making life fun.)

Hilarious signboard.
While we were in our time-travelling machine (an elevator), we heard an endearing conversation between a boy and his mum.

Mum: Look, this is like the TARDIS. Remember the TARDIS? (Doctor Who reference)
Son: Are we travelling through time?
Mum: Only pretend time-travelling.

Dynamic Earth
As we headed towards the Castle, we noticed the Museum of Childhood, a rather different sort of repository that consisted of many childhood related items covering the various aspects of childhood. Think of toys, books, clothes, objects from school and that of home.

One of the many lovely museums


We dropped by The Elephant House after that, hoping to have lunch where J.K. Rowling wrote part of her first Harry Potter book. Publicity from Rowling probably explains why there were too many customers already forming the crowd.



Camera Obscura, by the Castle, was our next stop. Here we entered a world of illusions. The pictures will speak for themselves.


Mirror maze

Lovely masterpiece! Look at the surface of the cylinder!



When you stand in the same room ...

P1020646 may be feeling taller...

...or shorter.

Good one, Albert.

Magnificent views
Erwan and I went for the Auld Reekie Underground Tour. The abandoned storage vaults were once inhabited by the homeless after living on the streets was a crime. It became a grim confinement for the poor, the sick and the bad. The vaults are now said to be haunted. The dark and damp atmosphere was unnerving, but overall I thought it was alright. There will be lots more to tell.

Haunted Underground Tour, anyone?
Jekyll and Hyde Bar/Restaurant for dinner

By the way, R.L. Stevenson is Scottish.
We then went for an evening tour to discover the tales of Edinburgh's famous criminals, victims of the gallows and the guillotine. To be hung or have your head chopped? Much of the tour told of the blurred lines between the good and bad in the past, since ordinary people could be charged for the most trivial of things.

Spit in the Heart. No, really.
There was once a prison house in Merket Cross (aka Market Cross), where the heart on the ground marked the room where the criminal waiting for execution would sit in and the people would spit on to display their disgust.

History hails.
There is too much to write now, so I must split this post into two parts. The young survivor of collapse said in the 1800s, "Heave awa, Chaps. I'm no' dead yet" to tell his rescuers that he is still alive, but I will give it a bit of twist and say "Heave awa, Chaps. I'm not done yet!!"

But I will. Soon, I hope.