Archive for the ‘street markets’ Category

If you are looking for somewhere to donate items that you do not need but that are still in good condition, consider donating them to the MINDS Shop.  It is a social enterprise that provides vocational training for MINDS’ intellectually disabled clients, serves as a venue for them to interact with customers, and helps to raise funds through the sale of donated items.

I stumbled upon it one day and thought that it was much more accessible than the Salvation Army thrift store as the shops are smaller and not overly cluttered.  You can actually find quite a few gems there without sneezing your head off in the process.  Because the shops are small, the turnover rate for products is also faster, so there are frequently new items on the shelves.  With the small size I also feel like the things I donate will have a higher chance of reaching somebody else who would want them since the chance of discovery is higher.

One of the shops

One of the shops

They accept everything from clothing and books to household appliances and furniture.  You can even bring down your used paper bags from shopping trips too because they use them to bag items bought by customers.

Recently I picked up some lovely vintage crystal glasses for just $3 a piece.  I love them, and think they’re great for little aperitifs or port, or whatever else you want to put in them.

My vintage crystal glasses

My ‘new’ vintage crystal glasses

I also picked up a bunch of children’s books at great value, some as low as $1!

It’s a good place to send your things if you have no more use for them, just be considerate – nothing that’s broken and spoiled!

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We went for a family holiday to Australia along with Jon’s Dad for 10 days.  The plan was to spend most of our time in Sydney and a couple of days driving out to the Blue Mountains area.

The flight there was tiring.  We had hoped that by taking a night flight the boys would sleep on the way there.  Asher was still pretty alright, though he slept much later than usual and woke once.  But Ellery woke often, refused to be put down in the bassinet, and Jon and I had to take turns carrying him the entire flight.  In contrast we took the evening flight home, and it was much better.  We settled their dinner on board and basically ran through the night routine on the plane.  So by the time the lights go out it’s about time for them to sleep too.  Ellery was also much easier to handle and allowed us to put him in the bassinet for quite a large part of the flight such that I actually got to watch the rest of Transformers: Dark of the Moon (I watched the first half on the way up), Friends with Benefits, a few random episodes of kids cartoons, and still managed to get a little sleep.

Sydney was fun!  We checked out several kid-friendly sights like the Sydney Aquarium and Australian Museum, did the harbour cruise, checked out a couple of street markets, walked the Rocks and the Royal Botanic Gardens, played at the relatively new Darling Quarter playground twice, and took a trip to Manly beach.  We only had half-a-day each day because of the jetlag.  By the time the kids were up it was about 11am Australian time, but we didn’t really want to push them to adjust.  We were prepared for a slow, relaxing pace, and let the kids adjust in their own time.

Our roadtrip was hit by bad weather which prevented us from catching the views of the various Blue Mountain features.  The first day was bright and sunny when we were at the Featherdale Wildlife Park.  We thought the next few days would be equally sunny since the previous 4 days in Sydney were blessed with beautiful weather too.  But we found the next two days in the mountains utterly dreary.  It rained non-stop, the temperature dropped to a low of 7 degrees celcius (it had been 27-28 degrees in Sydney!), and there was even sleet at one point!  Piled clothes onto the kids to keep them warm, though I was less worried about Ellery since he’s normally a sweaty monster in Singapore.

Instead of waiting out the rain (which would have been futile anyway), we went to explore the Jenolan Caves – apparently the best in the Southern Hemisphere.  Perfect.  Temperature moderated place that’s unaffected by the rain :)  On the last day we also went to the ZigZag Railway for a ride on real steam engines a la Thomas!  It was freezing that day, and we could even see the mist on our breathe.  But we huddled in the carriage and munched on snacks to keep warm.

Overall it was a good trip. Very relaxing and enjoyable.

There was one horrific experience we went through though. Ellery had a little cold that he’d caught from Asher before the trip and the phlegm was difficult to blow out.  On the first night at our Blue Mountain cabin (where we were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by darkness), I was feeding Ellery when I suddenly noticed he was looking at the wall behind us.  Then I asked what he was looking at and realised he was not responding.  I picked him up and found he was absolutely limp!!!  Rushed out to find Jon and we saw he was turning blue.  I tried very hard not to panic but I was very scared.  Then he started to have fits!  We prayed and prayed, and pat and pat, hoping the phlegm would come out – we assessed that it was probably that which was blocking his breathing.  After I don’t know how long, the Ellery suddenly coughed up the phlegm.  His eyes started to move but could not focus for a good many minutes more, and he still did not respond.  He’d be looking at me but not registering anything!  Prayed and prayed some more.  Thank God that he eventually started to mumble something, and regained his colour, and started to be responsive again.  What a fright!!!  What a horrific experience!!!  It was only after the kids were settled into bed later that I felt the stress of it all and cried to release the tension.

We concluded that he’d had a blocked nose, but at the same time was very hungry and wanted to nurse and couldn’t stop drinking.  As a result all his airways got blocked.  It was especially shocking because just a few minutes before he was perfectly fine!

We were just so thankful he was ok.

So yes, it was an eventful holiday.  One good thing that came from the trip was that when we got back to Singapore the kids were kind of on Australian time so they slept much earlier, giving me more time in the evening :)

Ok, think I’ll share more on the individual aspects in a few posts over the next few days.  This was just an overview.

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Who’d have thought there’d be a farmers’ market in Singapore?  Thanks to my cousin, we’ve discovered a new spot to head to for breakfast “overseas”.  Organised by The Pantry Cookery School, the Farmers’ Market is held twice a month on Saturdays.  It’s not quite the Borough Market that I love so much, but it’s as good as it gets in Singapore I guess! 

There are stalls selling French Provencal produce, Spanish jamon & paella, Cornish pasties (I never thought I’d find them in Singapore!), artisan breads, UK beers & ciders (if I weren’t preggers I’d prob pick up a pear cider!), pretty cupcakes, jams & spreads, and tapas-y olives, stuffed tomatoes, and artichoke hearts which I love!

You get the feel of being overseas, but you also pay as if you were overseas.  Things aren’t cheap.  But since we were there to enjoy ourselves and the experience, we just closed one eye :)  

 The stall by Little Provence which imports foodstuff from that area in France.  The tapenades looked great, and I had difficulty choosing just one to buy home.  Will probably go back again sometime to buy home another flavour (or two, or three) :)  The one I got – green olives with sun-dried tomatoes – was heavenly!
 The ‘rib-stickers’!  Didn’t get one that day cos wanted space to try other things :)

Too pretty to eat!

A rare sight here

We bought a box of paella to try, and it was not bad, though I think I’ve tried better.

Yum yum yum

Bacon butty.  Can anything with bacon go wrong?
There’s also a little shop called The Childrens Showcase that sold many pretty and unique things.  Not seen many of these products anywhere else, which arguably makes the price-tag worth it.  Lots of colourful melamine ware too (Jane!!  Are you still looking for them?).  I picked up 2 pairs of kid’s chopsticks, and a giant bubble maker – which Asher currently enjoys playing with in a non-bubble-making way (more on this in a next post) :)

If I had a daughter, I think I’d be sooooo tempted to buy this!
I particularly liked that the place was very kid friendly.  There were many play areas and play things available – blocks, bead-chasers, riding toys, wire jeeps for pushing around, and a proper playground.  Asher made a new friend there too, a sweet older girl called Chloe.  She took a liking to him, and helped him climb up climbing frames, up the ladder to the slide (which is high and very fun!), and even slid down with him in tandem several times.  And Asher looked so happy, heh.   

Two very sticky children :)
 My breakfast the next morning – organic bread, tapenade, artichoke hearts, and sardines.  What a great way to start the day!

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There’s a weekly antique market in Islington called the Camden Passage Market, which is actually not that near Camden. It’s a cosy little place, and all the wares line narrow passages behind the main row of shops lining the road. The Camden Passage Market also takes in the Pierrepoint Market, which is similar in nature, just a little distance off the main thoroughfare.

It was fun poking around the place looking for interesting buys. Quite a lot! But most out of my budget :) So just browsed…though I did get my parent’s Christmas present from there! Was quite pleased with myself :)

When I went to visit the day started nice and sunny, then it suddenly burst into rain, even though the sun was still shining. That’s the crazy British weather for you. But it did make for nice photos :)

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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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Here are more pics of the various places Ganga and I visited :)

On the way to Leadenhall Market we stumbled upon a second-hand book shop set in a church where we picked up some cheap reads! Beautiful place for a bookshop.

Leadenhall Market all decked out in Christmas decor:

Patisserie Valerie – Ganga was looking for this place cos it was recommended by her friend. The cakes and pastries did look good, and some were just so cute, like this hedge hog!

And this was an interesting find! Wedding couples of all orientations, races, and ethnic groups :)

One of the nights we decided to have a potluck of sorts at Sat’s and THH’s place. Ganga made some curry, Sat did stir-fried beansprouts, and we brought some baked salmon, and 2 veggies. Quite a healthy meal :)

We were taking the chance to discuss and plan our road trip to Cardiff and Bath which was that coming weekend. And also to decide on a musical to watch! We decided on Spamalot! So Ganga and I were tasked to go grab some tickets the next day for the night’s performance :) Yay more musicals :)

More on Spamalot…next.

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I’ve been slack in updating the blog! Between planning for holidays, running around London, and reading some super engrossing books (more on all this later), there hasn’t been much time for blogging!

There’ve been several visiters to London! Ganga came up to visit Sathia, and together we’ve been wandering some bits of London that we’ve both not seen (she’s visited before) :) We explored places like Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields Market, Leadenhall Market, British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum Christmas Market, and a spot of shopping (well maybe several spots, heh) at Oxford Street :)

The visit to Petticoat Lane was unplanned, but a good find! I managed to find some good buys there :) I had thought it’d be mostly household items and bric-a-brac, but the part that we came across was like high street but half the price :) Didn’t go crazy shopping (I seldom do), but did get two really good fitting pants there! I was so pleased! :)

Sculptures outside Liverpool Street Station

Some British Museum exhibits:

An interesting piece. Turning weapons into works of art, this chair is made from machine guns!

Like the Taoists, the ancient Egyptians also believed in providing for their dead by making replicas of houses, food, providing servants, etc. But instead of burning these, the ancient Egyptians left these replicas in the tombs of the dead.

The Rosetta Stone! This is a really important piece of history! This stone bore the inscriptions of the same message in three languages – Egyptian hieroglyphics, Demotic, and Greek. Because of this stone that the ancient hieroglyphic script was deciphered.

850BC relief of Osorkon II

This is one grumpy bird. C’mon, give a smile!! :)

Ancient sculptures belonging to the Babylonian Empire. These used to stand at the entrance of city gates, their respective pairs being located at the New York Metropolian Museum.

[ps: will add more comments and photos when we come back from our trip! we’re going away for Christmas!!]

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The weather forecast for (last) Thursday indicated that it was going to rain. But it looked so sunny out the window, and I had already planned to go check out Primrose Hill. Plus there was one weather forecast website that just indicated a clear day (looking for reinforcing news? ;) )

So I took a chance, disregarded the weather forecast (but brought a brolly just in case), prayed that God would hold the rain, and went for a walk :) And it really paid off! Saw lots of things that day :)

Took a bus to Great Portland, and a peaceful walk through Regent’s Park to get to Primrose Hill. Didn’t really spend much time walking around Regent’s Park cos I’ve walked there the last time I came to London. Primrose Hill was new to me, and I only came to know of it through Shan. It’s not even mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide, even though it’s only 2 streets north of the well known Regent’s Park!

Anyway, the beautiful part about park walks this time of the year are the trees. The colours are so striking and warm, even if the wind is cold. I’ve never actually experienced autumn. When I went for the exchange programme in Chicago it was Spring term, which stretches over the end of winter and into spring. So I saw the bare trees become lush and green, and plants start to flower (which is also very beautiful). But I’ve not seen it the trees blush red, giving the parks that special glowing hue.

Anyway it was not to far to Primrose, just about a mile or so (Yes my sense of ‘near’ is getting further since we’ve been walking so much. Anyway the Londoner’s sense of ‘near’ is also quite far I think). Primrose Hill is quite nondescript compared to Regent’s Park. There are no pretty flower gardens, fountains, etc.

The only distinguishing feature is the hill in the centre of the park, from the top of which you can enjoy views over London! Quite an unexpected view because you don’t (or I didn’t) expect that small hill to be high enough to look over all the buildings and roofs! But its a pity that there are so many on-going construction projects in the city, rendering a less-than-beautiful city skyline. Also, everything was pretty far away. So I’d just say it was ‘a find’, not quite ‘a spectacular find’.

The London skyline in the distance

London Eye! (Pity about the cranes…)

St Paul’s Cathedral

Canary Wharf

An interesting tree. Notice the tree trunk has grown in a spiral! It was the only one in the park that was like that.

Lunch at the top of Primrose Hill – leftovers from the night before, with what else…chilli padi!! :)

After Primrose Hill Park, I went to walk around the Primrose Hill town. It has a rather small town feel with cafes, bookshops, and boutiques lining the street. But it’s definitely an upmarket small town. Boutiques were really ex…the kind where you see something and think, “hey this is pretty”, then pick it up look at the crazy price in pounds, then put down again. When the shop assistent asks if you need help, you just smile and say “just browsing!” =)

Primrose Hill is supposed to be very popular with celebrities, with many of them buying houses in the area (e.g., Kate Moss, Sophie Ellis Baxter, etc). And guess what? I did see a celebrity! A well known one, known by kids and adults alike! In fact, he even waved and smiled at me from his house!!!!!!!! Who was he? See the pic below to find out!

Kermit!!!! :O)

Path to Camden Lock

Part of Camden Lock

Anyway, I found a backstreet, canal-side path to Camden Lock! It was quite nice, I felt like a local walking the canal path. It was almost like a little-venice as the buildings lined the canal, and there were boats plying the route.

Camden Lock is a market with many shops selling antiques and other curiosities. I realise that I’ve actually wandered the place the last time I came to London, just that I missed out one little corner – the first bit that you come across when walking the canal path. The rest of Camden Lock market was familiar, and a bit like Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. I bet that many of the stuff available there can similarly be found in Chatuchak for a fraction of the price!

A lucrative business to import stuff from Thailand and sell them here! Or even stuff from Singapore! I saw some things that can be bought for about S$10-15 at home being sold for around 15-20 pounds! Idea… :P

A funny incident happened at Camden Lock. One of the girls who was running a stall told me that there was something in my hair, and I thought it was a leaf since I had walked through 2 parks in windy weather. Then I untied my hair and flipped out whatever it was. Then she said, “I think it was a worm”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!! Good thing she didn’t tell me before I got it out, but after!! I would probably have panicked and squashed it in my hair…eeeeeewwwwwwww… Just the thought…..eeewww…ok don’t think… Anyway, because I thought it was a leaf and had got it out of my hair by the time she told me, I was a picture of calm when I found out it was a worm, and gladly squashed it on the floor (sorrryyy, no mercy here).

So anyway the day ended perfectly! I found that I had a direct bus home from the area, and guess what? Just as I was nearing my stop, it started to rain! ;) Thank God! He held up the rain until I got home :)

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Borough Market

Last Saturday I brought Jon to check out Borough Market – a foodie market located near the London Bridge tube station.

There’s plenty of specialty food stores selling cheese, sandwiches, burgers, cheese, chocolates, salami, jams, more cheese, cakes, organix produce, and still more cheese. It can get really crowded at lunch time with people looking for a quick and yummy bite.

There was this stall selling melted cheese sandwiches, and it was really interesting how they got their melted cheese. Ordinarily you would think they’d spinkle cheese on bread and then melt it in a toaster. Here, they put the cheese under a hot metal heater which melts the surface of the cheese. Then when enough cheese is melted, they simply scrape off the cheese onto the bread! How interesting!

See the cheese melter at the bottom right hand corner?

Check out the pig’s heads! One is drawn and one is real! I’m sure you could tell..

After watching the Arsenal-Man U match with Shan & Ben (where Arsenal won! much to quack’s great delight ;) ), we went back to Borough market for lunch. Jon & I shared an excellent fish & chips! And Shan introduced us to a wonderful brownie – super chocolately! I must have it again another day :)

Some funny banners we saw:

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Went to check out Portobello Market on Fri. Quaint little place, known mainly for its vintage shops. Here are some pics of the place:

A 1960s super retro shoe

(Mee: The little toy soldiers!)

Met Jon in the evening for a date at the Tate Modern :) Friday’s it opens late (until 10pm).

The Tate Modern from the Millenium Bridge

Twilight over the Thames (the British pronounce it as “Tams”)

There was an interesting piece of work at the Tate Modern called Shibboleth by Doris Salcedo. It’s basically a crack down the entire ground floor space of the museum. In the crack she has carefully embedded wire fencing. I really wonder how the work was done in the first place, and if they will ever patch it back up.Anyway Shibboleth according to the Oxford English Dictionary is “a word used as a test for detecting people from another district or country by their pronunciation; a word or sound very difficult for foreigners to pronounce correctly”. In Salcedo’s conception then, Shibboleth is intended to depict the separation between people. Interestingly this word refers to an incident from the Bible. The Book of Judges describes how the Ephraimites, attempting to flee across the river Jordan, were stopped by their enemies, the Gileadites. As their dialect did not include a “sh” sound, those who could not say the word “shibboleth” were captured and executed.

Some pics of the crack:

Besides that, we only saw the fifth floor collection. Some of the pieces was er..not quite to my taste. But there were some rather interesting pieces. There was this room with various takes on square and cubiod figures that I found rather intriguing. In particular was a painting that looked completely black from a distance, but on closer inspection there were actually squares of different shades of black – some with blue undertones, some with red or green.

There was also a video installation that was quite interesting. Confetti that is used for Mardi Gras celebrations was strewn among leaves in a forest, near an ant nest. The little ants started to pick up the colourful confetti and drag them into their nest. On first glance, it looks like the confetti is moving on its own. Then later you realise these ants are carrying them. It made for very interesting viewing to see the shiny colours flickering with the movements of the ants. Like they are having a celebration of their own as well. Their nest must look really beautiful after that exercise.. :) Free redecoration.

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