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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