Monday, July 30, 2007

Mommy & Daddy Anniversary

Today is Mommy and Daddy’s 7-year wedding anniversary. Mommy got a new phone (to replace the one she lost), customized with a picture of Melur, Arman and Daddy from our trip to the UK. What a cool picture. Mommy and Daddy also exchanged gifts. Daddy got a new electric shaver, while Mommy got a box full of goodies, namely a new journal, a card and a scented bar of soap.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

First Dentist Trip in Vancouver

After getting back from the UK, it was time for our first visit to the Dentist, at least in Vancouver (we went to the dentist in Mersing, prior to coming here. Thank you, Nenek, for arranging that for us). Melur is cavity-free. Arman however, has 4. Let’s not discuss what Mommy and Daddy has, but we had check-ups too. Arman has to come back later this week to get some fillings.

Unfortunately, we didn’t take any pictures at the clinic. But our dentist is VERY nice. Arman and Melur both got new toothbrushes. We took some pictures when we were home later that night. We’ll have more stories to come really soon.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Last Day in London

Another lazy day! Without Nenek, Pak Usu and the Aunties (and being low on cash), we again spent most of our day in the hotel room. When it was time for lunch, we decided to venture out to the Earl’s Court area, near the train station. We were surprises to find several Halal restaurants. I guess we didn’t need to take the train all the way up to Edgeware Road yesterday. We decided to have lunch at an Indian restaurant called “Masala”.

After that, we headed the to local supermarket, reminiscent of our time at the local Safeway in Vancouver. We couldn’t wait to get back home to Vancouver. It’s not as much fun without a larger crowd. And we were tired after spending over 2 weeks exploring the UK. Tomorrow we head home.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Natural History Museum

Nenek and all the Aunties left back for Malaysia bright and early this morning. Pak Usu followed them to the airport, and headed back to Sheffield after. Melur and Arman were still sleeping. So it’s just us in London, till we head back to Vancouver on Tuesday.

We took it easy this Sunday. We slept in a little bit, and enjoyed our free continental breakfast that came with the accommodation. After relaxing most of the morning, we decided to head over the Natural History Museum, just down the road.

The Natural History Museum was just about 3 blocks east of where we were staying near Earl’s Court. We anticipated a long line getting in, but it actually wasn’t that bad. After having our bags checked at security, we made our way in into the main entryway. We had seen the movie “Night at the Museum” recently, and the kids were excited to see dinosaurs, and whatever else the museum had to offer.

After a few minutes of looking through dinosaur bones, we decided to go through the section with spiders, insects, crabs and other creepy crawlies. Mommy didn’t want to journey in, so it was just Melur, Arman and Daddy. I was quite surprised with the display. It’s very interactive, with videos and demos that kids could play with. We say all kinds of spiders and really large crabs. Check out the crab below. It’s HUGE!

The final exhibit we saw was the geological exhibit. We saw many rock formations, crystals and exhibits related to volcanoes. Again, the interactive aspect of the exhibit was incredible. I remember being so bored going to the museum as kids. But the kids kept fiddling with all the little gadgets on display.

That’s pretty much all we did for the day. After leaving the museum, we headed up to Edgeware Road where we were just a few days before, for some Halal grub. Today, we went to the “Halal Restaurant”; literally… that’s what it’s called (How Creative!). The food was pretty good, and we enjoyed ourselves.

Two more days to go! What will we do tomorrow?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


We are in LONDON!!! We arrived late last night by bus. We were suppose to have arrived into Heathrow Airport at 3:30 pm, but arrived at 8 pm instead. There was severe rain, and despite monitoring the traffic radio and making several detours, we hit a patch of flooding. The bus we were on was virtually stationary for 4 hours. We moved 4 miles in 4 hours. We arrived into our accommodations at Earl’s Court at about 11 pm, but at least we arrived safely.

We set our early in the morning, and purchased the Tube day pass. We planned to take the train directly to the Tower of London, but there was some construction. We had to go to the London Bridge first. We were able to see the Tower Bridge from there.

From the London Bridge, we took the footpath along the north side of the Thames River toward our original planned starting point, the Tower of London. We didn’t actually go into the Tower of London, and opted to take a cruise down the Thames River. It just started to drizzle, and we figured the cruise would provide some shelter from the train. We bought tickets and boarded the Catamaran Cruise.

The rain started to pick-up. We got off at the Eye of London and didn’t know where to go from there. With all the good weather we’d been getting, we completely forgot to bring our umbrella and the kids rain attire. The queue going into the Eye of London was terribly long. I think everyone was looking for shelter from the rain. For a few minutes, we lingered between buildings until the rain cleared. Soon after, we proceeded across Westminster Bridge on foot toward Big Ben.

We took a short rest at Big Ben. Melur had to use the facilities, and Mommy scrambled to find a toilet nearby. Once everybody was settled, we continued through St. James Park toward Buckingham Palace.

St James Park was beautiful, lots of flowers and birds, some of which very peculiar. I couldn’t identify this one bird with webbed feet. It wasn’t a duck, or a goose, or a swan. What is it?

Buckingham Palace was also majestic. The flowers were in full bloom, and very vibrant. But dark clouds were lingering, and we feared the rain would return. We headed back toward Trafalgar Square and took some pictures by the fountain.

Just then, it really started to pour. We ran to the nearby Tube station and made our way to Edgeware Road for some dinner. We were told we could get lots of Halal food there, and we found some very easily. Just like in Dundee, we opted for Briyani. Yummy…

Finally, before heading back, the aunties wanted to check out some shopping around Marble Arch and Bond Street. And that’s how we ended our first full day at London. Unfortunately, Nenek and the Aunties will be heading back to Malaysia tomorrow. They will be missed. We, on the other hand, will be spending an extra 2 days here in London. What will we do until Tuesday?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chatsworth House

Today’s our last day in Yorkshire, since tomorrow we’ll head out to London. So, to end our week here, we drove down to Chatsworth, which is where they filmed a mini-series version of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. When we arrived, we paid for entry to just the Chatsworth gardens (we opted out of entry into the house itself). We were looking forward to a relaxing afternoon in the outdoors.

The garden was expansive. Walking just a few minutes in, we were greeted with a wide panoramic view of the infamous ‘rolling hills’ of the English countryside. The kids proceeded to run around the grounds, and we were comforted that no matter how far they ran, they were still within our sight.

We spent several hours just walking around and taking pictures of the scenery. There were many statues and ponds. They even had a rock garden. It’s no wonder we they had to charge for entry. The maintenance costs for such a place had to be astronomical.

One of the main attractions at Chatsworth is a garden maze. We were fondly reminded of Harry Potter - Goblet of Fire, where in the final challenge, Harry wonders through a maze for the Tri-Wizard Cup. All of us started with high spirits to find the center of the maze, but in the end, only Mak Long and Andak made their way there. Tired from the maze, we stopped for lunch, before starting our walk back.

On our trip back, we stopped by this cascading stream. People took off their shoes and enjoyed the water. It was a spectacular view. At the bottom of the stream, we stopped for ice cream, made on the grounds. And that was pretty much how we ended the day. We spent the evening packing for tomorrow’s journey to London.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Graduation at Sheffield

Well... today is 'THE DAY,' the reason why we are all in UK... yupp, today is Pak Usu's graduation day. Finally, after years and years in school... he can join the workforce and hopefully, earn some money.

The graduation ceremony is at half past noon. We woke up and took our time to get ready. Pak Usu stayed at his apartment for the night since he needed to make arrangements the day before. We met him at 11am and walked towards the Engineering building. It was a short walk but we got to see the 'college town.' Most of the houses had rental signs outside...or signs welcoming new students.

The ceremony started on time. Only Mak and Andak went into the graduation hall. The rest of the gang watched the ceremony from a big screen tv set in the nearby Student Union building. The speeches were short and so it wasn't too bad. The kids got a bit restless at times but we bribed them with chips now and then. We watched as they call one student after another to receive their scrolls... quite a few Malaysians in Sheffield really... especially in Engineering.

After the ceremony we took lots of pictures. We were not sure where to go for our celebration dinner... and everybody was already starving. So we opted for kebab at a nearby Halal store for late lunch-cum-dinner. We spent the rest of the evening leisurely at the cottage.

Congratulations Pak Usu and good luck in your job hunt!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Junction 32 @ Castleford

Hello... hello... finally it's time for Mommy to blog since Daddy insisted...

So we decided to go to the Outlet Mall at Castleford. For some reason, Castleford was much easier to find compared to the Strawberry Farm at Norton. We even took pictures of the road signs... big signs with brown background and white letters reading "OUTLET VILLAGE", urging tourists like us to spend money and contribute towards the UK GDP...:)

We headed out quite early and had lunch. All of us had fish and chips. Ah... now we are reminded of our first fish and chips in UK. We bought some at Dunkeld... the beautiful, quaint town we visited in Scotland. The fish and chips at Dunkeld were really good and fresh. The ones at the Outlet Mall were only so-so. The kids enjoyed the lunch though... just look at Arman eating.

We spent between 4-5 hours shopping. The clothes were really cheap. You can get shirts, sweaters and jeans for kids from 1-2 pounds. You can also get work outfits for less than 10 pounds. Mommy was tempted to get a few but then… where is she going to wear them to? It's not like you wear suits to classes. We also bought shoes, and lots of chocolates. Melur was excited because we bought her a pencil case set for school.

We left around 5pm and Daddy, Mommy, Melur, Arman and Nenek went off to see Auntie Eva and family again. The rest of the gang headed back to the cottage...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Strawberry Picking

Day 2 in Sheffield... Mak Long, Pak Usu and Daddy headed out to town to run some errands. We first went to Pak Usu’s place to use the Internet and managed to find a strawberry park. We called to confirm it was open. Looks like we’ll be able to keep our promise to Melur today.

After that, we headed to the Sheffield Interchange to book our bus trip home. We were saddened (and disappointed) to learn that we were unable to take the bus into London, and that we’d have to take the bus back to Heathrow Airport. Bummer! The lady that sold us the tickets said that we would be able to return to London, but some error in the tickets made it impossible for us to convince them otherwise.

After that, it was time to pick up our second car. And even that was delayed. Just as we started driving to the car rental company, they called us to inform us of the delay. Good thing Mak Long suggested to do the grocery shopping first, which we did. The day started our pretty bleak. After picking up the car, it was back to the cottage to pick up the rest of the gang.

We planned our trip to the Strawberry farm very carefully. And even so, we took a wrong turn somewhere, and ended up taking an extra hour to get there. But once we were there, it was great. Melur and Arman were so excited to pick strawberries. We picked a bundle. The day was turning out well despite it’s rough beginnings. We were having fun.

And so our promise to go to the strawberry farm was finally fulfilled. What a long day it was, at least for Daddy. What will be in store for us tomorrow?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Auntie Eva at Leeds

We are now in Sheffield. Daddy drove down from Scotland yesterday with Pak ‘Usu. That was a 6-hour drive. Everybody else took the train. Just like in Dundee, all the car rental companies are closed here in Sheffield on the weekend. And seeing as we need a car this weekend, Daddy had to drive down. Daddy picked up everybody from the train station, and we checked into our ‘cottage’ accommodation late yesterday evening.

The cottage is pretty nice. It’s a converted barn… not as nice as the Neids Cottage, but nice just the same. But since it’s in the farmland, we had nice odors all day long. The cottage is newly renovated, and the loft was beautifully made. We quickly made it our home.

Some of us were still recovering from yesterday’s travel day. And so Mommy, Daddy and the kids took the car up to Leeds to visit Auntie Eva. Everybody else stay home. Auntie Eva is an old family friend, who recently had a second baby girl. Auntie Eva and Uncle Alfie were VERY hospitable. They’ve settled down quite nicely in the UK, and shared many of their experiences with us. They also recommended an outlet mall called Castleford. We looked forward to fitting that into our schedule this week, before we head to London.

It was unfortunate that Nenek was unable to join us today. Auntie Eva really wanted to see her again, and so we made it a point to visit Kak Eva again later this week. Before heading home, Uncle Alfie showed us to the local Halal food store, were we purchased some meat for the week. Halal food is pretty easy to come by in the UK. I guess we were told that, but didn’t really know what to expect.

And that was pretty much our first full day in Sheffield.