Archive for January, 2008

La La La Human Steps

Shan, Ben, Jon & I went to catch La La La Human Steps – Amjad at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Shan had heard that La La La was a fabulous dance group to watch, and since they were in town, we had to catch it!

The choreographer Edouard Lock constructed this performance using elements derived from the classic pieces Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. He felt that these two ballets were rare examples of dance-generated memories that has been integrated into our culture. It is this that inspired the elements in Amjad.

The stage was kept fairly empty. The only props being the side panels that was a modern art take on the forest. Lock was intrigued by the common forest theme present in both Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and he extended the use of the forest as an allegory of the unconscious, non-rational side of human nature – the aspect that falls outside the norms of society. He attempted to pull these elements into the dance work as well.

Technically the dancers were very strong. Shan & I were particularly impressed by Xuan Cheng – when we came out of the theatre we were excitedly discussing how good she was. She had excellent technique, was very strong and controlled, but yet always exuded grace and emotion. She was beautiful to watch. Contrast her with another dancer Talia Evtushenko who although had a good physique and was a strong dancer as well, was too hurried in her movements. Even though the choreography is indeed very fast paced (one critic described it as ballet fast-forwarded), but she was overly rushed. It made me feel very kan chiong watching her.

It was a very good show. I was amazed at how strong the dancers were, I was taken with the choreography, and amazed at how they danced to the music which had no fixed rhythm, and occasionally no discernable rhythm at all. I don’t believe they are counting throughout the dance…there must be some other rhythm they are following.

The bonus for me was that the music was all played live! My favourite part of the show was when the violinists, cellist, and pianist each took one corner of the stage and launched into a very powerful song that the dancers performed to. The music was stirring, powerful and moving all at once; and the choreography reflected this (or the music reflected the choreography..not sure which way it was done).

I didn’t really understand what the dance was showing at times, but overall I still enjoyed myself thoroughly.

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All wired up!

I must say, I loved being wired up. The past few months we’ve been using wireless connection, which has been erratic, unreliable, and sometimes just plain non-existent.

Blogging can be a pain when connection suddenly dies as you are uploading photos and you have to start the whole process all over again.

But now! Ah ha! The maintenance people have come and fixed up the Lasting Access to the Net connection, and the More Order Dominating Every Moment device! Sooo..I have faster and more reliable connection now! Yippi!

So much for the snazzy wireless connection. Sometimes I just sit there waiting for the connection to be “good” (else I can’t do anything on the internet). Much like waiting for a crush to call you. Unreliable. Give me a husband any day! ;)

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After the visit to Forest Hill, the day was topped off with a wonderful dinner at St Moritz at Wardour Street near Tottenham Court Road tube station. We met Shan and Ben at the restaurant for a good dose of cheese fondue! They’ve been telling us how good the fondue is, and we had to try it! We especially wanted to have fondue when the weather was still cold :)

The servings were good, and the cheese was…er..cheesy? We tried 2 types of cheese fondue. Fondue Moitie-Moitie was a mix of gruyere and vacherin cheese, and Fondue Forestiere was a combination of wild mushrooms and cheese. Both had a stronger taste of wine than we expected, but were still very good! Served with bread and new potatoes, we ordered extra dishes of chicken cordon bleu, swiss sausages (which turned out to be more like ham slices), and rosti! Such a hearty happy meal, with such cheery chummy company ;)

Special note for Nessie: They had a plate specially created for you (and Shan haha)!

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What a lovely weekend!

Jon & I met up with Uncle Chacko and Sheela at their cosy Forest Hill home. It was a nice Saturday afternoon excursion for us since we had not yet gone to that part of London, which also turned out to be nearer than we expected (in terms of transport links at least – just 45mins away)!

A good hearty and healthy lunch of roast chicken, lots of veggies, super tasty potatoes, and Sheela’s fantastic brownies with toasted buttered coconut and nut topping! No pictures, sorry, I kind of forgot about my camera :) But I assure you, it all looked great!

It was good to catch up. Jon hadn’t seen Uncle Chacko for almost (or more?) than 10 years, I hadn’t even met him before, and we last saw Sheela only last year (which was also my first time meeting her). So it was a lovely time of getting-to-know-you, and getting-to-know-you-more; sharing our lives and personal experiences.

I was quite stuffed after lunch, and so I was glad when Uncle Chacko suggested we all go for a walk – I could walk off some of the fullness ;) The neighbourhood is peaceful, calm and has great views of London City. From the top of the hill (Forest hill rem?) you can see the dome of St Paul’s, the London Eye, BT Tower, Barbican, and all the way to Canary Wharf. Actually, it’s like the view from Primrose Hill but inverted horizontally. Whereas from Primrose the view of London is from the north, here it’s from the south.

Uncle Chacko then led us to the Horniman Museum, and what a little gem the place was! The first thing we saw were the sprawling green fields of the museum that are open to the public. Reminded me a little bit of Fort Canning park, but think wider expanse of space.

We explored the museum’s natural history exhibits and the surprising section on aquatic life. In the natural history section were thousands of stuffed animals such as the Dodo bird, rabbits, foxes, fish, and most interestingly a gigantic walrus! Lifesize might I add! It’s full dimensions are approximately 1.5m tall, 2m long, and er..at the widest point maybe 0.6m in radius? :) LIFESIZE! Sheela and I were laughing at the mental image of a herd of those things flopping towards us…bizarre!

Other interesting exhibits included insects in such wild colours like turquoise and shimmery violet, giant crabs which feed on coconuts (just try to imagine how it would open that hard fruit!), and sharks teeth (a full 5 rows of it on both the upper and lower jaw!).

The hightlight though, was the Apostle’s Clock, an old wooden clock decorated with different sections depicting different scenes. At the top was Christ on the throne. At 4pm everyday figures of the apostles would enter from a door, bow before Christ, and exit through another door. All would bow except for Judas. Well..this happens almost everyday.. we waited eagerly for 4 o’clock to arrive. And when it did…nothing happened. How anti-climatic :) Apparently it worked the day before! I guess the apostles must have had a bout of stage fright that day. Well, we’ll just have to make another trip down to the Horniman another day! (And this time, I’ll bring my camera!)

The aquarium was equally engaging. I found the jellyfish, with their almost glow-in-the-dark quality, very intriguing and beautiful. The particular breed we were looking at were the Moon Jellyfish, distinguished by the 4 glowing rings in their heads. A cute find were tiny tiny starfish, about the size of the head of a nail! If you don’t look carefully you’d not even notice them!

Well, we head back and spent more time in conversation on all sorts of topics. What a time! I love such good conversation :) We didn’t think we’d stay so long, but my, times flies when you’re enjoying yourself :) Forest Hill certainly won’t be a one-off stop!

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I had read about Piccadily Market in the London Planner – a free local tourist guidebook of sorts. It sounded interesting, but in the end the place was a bit of a disappointment. Not as exciting and interesting as the other markets I’ve been to. It was set in the churchyard of St James’ Church which is along Piccadily Road. There was one thing that I found out from there though. There was a picture of a monument I had seen on the cover of one of the tourist magazines in October, and I saw it again on a postcard at the market. I had been wondering where to find that monument cos it looks quite grand, so I decided to ask around. A few of the shopkeepers weren’t sure where it was, but finally one person solved the mystery! It’s the Albert memorial and is found at the south end of Hyde Park. I’ll go by there one day to take a look! I was feeling so pleased that the mystery was solved :)

Anyway one of things I like about the old buildings in London are their glass windows. They tend to be made out of many small pieces of glass, and I like how the glass pieces capture and reflect images differently. St James’ Church had these windows. It’s just one of those small pleasures that I enjoy :)

Having some time on my hands I decided to go check out Sir John Soane’s museum at Holborn. John Soane was an architect who decided to establish his home as a museum to ‘educate and inspire amateurs and students in painting, architecture and sculpture’. He collected numerous pieces of random fragments from as far as Rome and Greece, and even possessed an Egyptian sarcophagus! In accordance with his wishes, the house/museum has been kept in essentially the same state as when he left it.

It’s a fascinating place to wander about. It has to be seen to be believed. To see how Sir John collected everything and took care to display everything in the house. At some places you can hardly see the wall because there are so many marble fragments. He also left a huge collection of books on all topics – history, natural history, philosophy, architecture, etc. Very inspiring to browse the titles on the shelves. And I loved that all the books were old and worn. I love the look of old books :)

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When You’re Gone

I love the lyrics, so very moving, so appropriate given recent events.  In a morbid kind of way, I know I’d feel like this if I didn’t have Jon with me.  Together with the video, the song is even better.  The video brings out the meaning of song, I feel.  Suits it to a T.  Especially touching is the story of the old man and his wife…so sweet…

Avril Lavigne – When You’re Gone

I always needed time on my own
I never thought I’d need you there when I cry
And the days feel like years when I’m alone
And the bed where you lie is made up on your side
When you walk away I count the steps that you take
Do you see how much I need you right now

When you’re gone
The pieces of my heart are missing you
When you’re gone
The face I came to know is missing too
When you’re gone
The words I need to hear to always get me through the day and make it ok
I miss you

I’ve never felt this way before
Everything that I do reminds me of you
And the clothes you left, they lie on the floor
And they smell just like you, I love the things that you do
When you walk away I count the steps that you take
Do you see how much I need you right now

When you’re gone
The pieces of my heart are missing you
When you’re gone
The face I came to know is missing too
When you’re gone
The words I need to hear to always get me through the day and make it ok
I miss you

We were made for each other
Out here forever
I know we were, yeah
All I ever wanted was for you to know
Everything I’d do, I’d give my heart and soul
I can hardly breathe I need to feel you here with me, yeah

When you’re gone
The pieces of my heart are missing you
When you’re gone
The face I came to know is missing too
When you’re gone
The words I need to hear to always get me through the day and make it ok

I miss you

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mí enyalie

Death sets a Thing significant
The Eye had hurried by
Except a perished Creature
Entreat us tenderly

To ponder little Workmanships
In Crayon, or in Wool,
With “This was last Her fingers did”—
Industrious until—

The Thimble weighed too heavy—
The stitches stopped—by themselves—
And then ’twas put among the Dust
Upon the Closet shelves—

A Book I have—a friend gave—
Whose Pencil—here and there—
Had notched the place that pleased Him—
At Rest—His fingers are—

Now—when I read—I read not—
For interrupting Tears—
Obliterate the Etchings
Too Costly for Repairs.

Emily Dickenson –

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Playing With Food

I’ve been experimenting with new stuff in the kitchen this past week :)

Made sushi over the weekend! And I’ve new respect for sushi makers…it’s not that easy to make a nice sushi roll! On my first attempt, the rice was not compacted enough and it was falling out when trying to dip it into the soy sauce, haha. It’s a different technique from rolling popiah! When I tried the popiah way, the ingrediants were not centred in the middle. Eventually I found a way to roll the rice tightly and centre the ingredients :) But no photo of that cos I was so pleased with it I just gobbled it down haha! :) But I’m still far far away from perfecting the technique! This photo is of the second or third roll I think. Anyway, making sushi is really fun, and not that difficult to prepare :) Think when we get back to Singapore, we could hold a sushi party!

Next experiment was to make Char Siew! The last time we went to Kitty’s house to play the Wii, Kitty’s mum made some realllyyy yummy Char Siew. As I asked for the recipe, Kitty’s mum gave me a bottle of Char Siew marinade! So I eagerly brought the bottle of marinade with me to UK, and have finally had a go at the recipe! Here’s the final product! Quite yummy, if I may say so myself. But I think Kitty’s mum’s one it still better. More practice required!!

Tempura (or rather, mini-tempura) was the next challenge. Er..the initial bits weren’t so tempura looking. But after playing around with the batter, I found a way to coat the seafood better :) As you can see from this pictorial comparison, the piece on the left was hardly coated, while the piece on the right looks more correct. You’ll have to cut me some slack on this one cos the instructions on how to use the flour were completely in Jap! So I just tried to follow the pictures, which according to my interpretation said “flour + water, then stir together. Fry”. Didn’t say anything abt the coating process :) Maybe the words actually say how to do it properly, heh :)

For lunch today I made pork loin, with a fusion style sausage, beansprouts, carrots, and capsicum stir-fry salad. Don’t wrinkle your nose! It tastes nice! :)

And finally for dinner today, I made a pork and olive pasta in cream and tomato sauce! I think this is quite yummy too, and easy to make! :)

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Jon watched his first live Everton match at Stamford Bridge, and it was an exciting and entertaining night, both on and off the pitch.

We weren’t able to get tickets with the Everton away fans, and ended up sitting with Chelsea home fans. It was fairly entertaining hearing the fans jeer at the players and the referee. They were making snide remarks about the Everton players. Like when one player fell and was down on the ground, someone shouted “make sure he doesn’t steal the pitch!!!”.

But being in the home side meant that Jon couldn’t cheer freely. So when there was a call that the Chelsea fans weren’t happy with and were standing and shouting “boo!”, Jon would secretly go “woo!!” =)

Chelsea scored first, and I was hoping Everton would score for Jon’s sake.

And then they did!!


Jon stood up and cheered…

….and suddenly realised he was cheering alone and everyone else sitting around him was quiet…

then he quietly sat down…

From his point of view he saw the goal, then he saw the Everton fans standing and cheering and followed suit, forgetting he was surrounded by a sea of Chelsea fans. He was just so excited and couldn’t help himself! :)

Less than five minutes later a steward came by and asked Jon rhetorically, “Sir, would you like to follow me please”. Jon went..and never came back! I SMSed him to find out what was going on only to find out he’d been thrown out of the stadium hahahahaa…It is funny :) I had thought maybe he was escorted to the Everton side, but instead he was escorted right out of the stadium. Apparently the steward told him that they could not guarantee his safety, and that there were thousands of Chelsea fans out to get him. He couldn’t stand at the back, he couldn’t go to the Everton side, he had to leave. Period.

In a way it was good cos he left when Everton was on a roll cos the match ended with Chelsea scoring yet another goal in extra time. Final score Chelsea 2, Everton 1.

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Back to Cooking

December was really eventful! Jon & I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, I went back to Spore to attend PS & DK’s wedding, flew back to London and hopped on a train for Belgium and Netherlands over the Christmas holidays, and back in London for new year :)

So after all that holidaying (and you thought a lady of leisure couldn’t have yet more holidays, heh), it’s back to hard hard work – cooking, laundry, ironing, blah blah! ;)

2008 has been quite yummy so far. We had vegetable soup and brinjal topped with sambal shrimp when we got back from Belgium. Soup was good cos we were both feeling a bit under the weather.

The post Christmas sales were taking place in the supermarkets as well, and we got a Christmas cheese platter and sausages wrapped in bacon for ourselves. This we had for dinner on one of the nights together with really sweet cantaloupe and grapes.

The new year opened with curry and roti prata! (forgot to take photo of that). Then we had fried rice (cooked with bak kua as a replacement for lup cheong!) together with leftover curry.

Bak kut teh was really shiok for a cold day. Shan & Ben had recommended Ma Ma brand bak kut teh spices, and it was really good!

And today, I made sweet and sour pork!

So with all this food in my stomach I will start to catch up on the many blog entries that I’ve left undone! I’ll be back-dating some entries for Dec 07, so do check out the previous entries for updates! Stay tuned!

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