The Sutton Hoo Collection at the British Museum

How these Suffolk treasures and my museum company taught me how to appreciate the history of human civilisation, and museums in general.

I am rubbish at museums.

I don’t know why I always end up going to them. During my first month or so in London, I even had a museum-and-cake buddy – we made a pact to visit a new museum every weekend and have a cake afterwards. I secretly only looked forward to the cake, but I didn’t know my friend too well back then to admit that most museums bored me to no end.

(I suspected he realised that pretty soon, and our museum-and-cake meetups transformed into anything-but-museum meetups after a few weeks. Which suited me very well and we became much better friends after that.)

I think it boils down to the fact that I don’t understand much of art and history. Later on, I realised that having the right company – one who appreciated the artefacts way more than I did and were willing to explain the history patiently to me, would make all the difference to these museum visits.

I have been to the British Museum several times, but I remember enjoying my last visit the most. During the first few visits, I mostly just admired the structure of the building and the immensity of the place.

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If you look really closely, you can see the cakes at the bottom right hand corner.

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Continue reading “The Sutton Hoo Collection at the British Museum”

The first (and hopefully not last) English summer.

Some change in the weather, and a little more.

Summer was in its full force the past few weeks in London. The temperature went up to a whopping 31C, and the East Asian roots in me would soon take out my purple and flowery anti-UV umbrella out of fear of getting tanned (and wrinkles).

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Guess whose umbrella is that.

I took advantage of the rare glorious weather to do a lot of walks all over. I explored the streets of the City of London, from St Paul’s churchyard to little alleys filled with bars and cafes often overflowing with lawyers and bankers in their work dresses and suits, beer in hand. I also ventured further into my neighbourhood, up to my favourite Primrose Hill and then went as far as the Parliament Hill at Hampstead Heath (finally).

Continue reading “The first (and hopefully not last) English summer.”

The Muffin Man & Co., Primrose Hill Market.

The world is a terrible place at the moment, and most of the time I feel helpless about it.

When there is nothing that I can do about a situation, I normally turn to my good old trustworthy friend – food. During my thesis writing period where I felt mostly helpless about not panicking as much as other people thought I should, I consumed some scary amount of chocolate that could make anyone rethink their friendship with me for fear of contracting diabetes by proximity.

But now that I have no more excuse to lead a sugar-clad lifestyle, I stopped doing irrational eating and started consuming healthy stuff again. As I’m writing this, a tray of grilled courgettes are in the making in the oven, drizzled with some conservative amount of olive oil and salt plus a generous dash of black pepper and cayenne pepper.

I know, I almost can’t recognise my own reflection in the oven glass sometimes.

(Nevermind that I gobbled down a big cup of frozen yoghurt after lunch earlier today because that is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT to this story.)

Ahem.

So what I’m trying to say is, because I can’t consume irresponsible food for the time being to pacify myself about the world crumbling down, I try to do the next best thing, i.e. recalling some of the delicious food that I had and writing about them. The first guilty pleasure that comes to mind is the pork belly muffin from the Muffin Man & Co. at the Primrose Hill Market.

During my second visit to the market, I vowed not to have breakfast before visiting so I could taste one or two of the stalls piled with delicious looking delicacy.

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Continue reading “The Muffin Man & Co., Primrose Hill Market.”

I lost my hat (and I’m done with my thesis).

I am back, after a prolonged period of absence where I was just basically avoiding all forms of human contact apart from with my flatmate. It was getting dangerously addictive to stay away from all forms of electronic communications that I was so tempted to never emerge again, but I realised I have so much to account to my friends back home that I had to immediately banish that thought. Plus my mind was getting all tangled up from the lack of non-thesis-related writing that in the end I had to force myself to get up, get over my post-thesis laptop trauma and compose this post.

Just to get you up to speed with what has been happening, I had been bogged down with my thesis for the past 6 weeks or so. It was a long period of time to be concentrating on something if you ask me, but my supervisor clearly did not share the sentiment; after seeing my progress four weeks before the deadline, he freaked out a little (a lot) – according to him, I was very much behind the schedule with my writing and when he saw that I did not have a single trace of panic in my voice, he made me write this on my laptop screen, capital letters and all, to drill down the message.

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True enough, the weeks following that were nothing short of manic. I spent hours and hours in the library, trying to make up for lost time. I guess my friends were right all this time: I should have started writing much earlier.

I did not know how I did it in the end, but I managed to churn out a 6,000-word story plus a 6,000-word dissertation in 2.5 weeks. It was probably not my best piece of work, but hey my supervisor offered to be my reference for my job application in the end, so I guess it wasn’t too shabby after all.

Now that I’m back, I wish I could start by telling all of you about something cheerful – my library exploration, the trips to Stockholm, Oxford and Cambridge and possibly about all the chocolates that I consumed while writing my thesis. Alas, I have to get back to the surface with a rather grim matter, something that has been bothering me for the past few weeks. Just like everything else, I figured I would feel slightly better if I just rant to the whole world about it through my blog. So here goes.

I lost my hat.

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The very hat that I had previously flaunted to everyone and anyone polite enough to listen to a weird person talking incessantly about her hat. The very hat that had kept my head warm throughout the winter in London and Copenhagen.

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At this point, I find it pertinent to inform all of you my lovely readers about this one important fact: Just in case you haven’t noticed, I really like my hat.

Owing to my abnormally large head size, finding a hat that suits me had been a real challenge. Wearing a beanie has invoked much laughter from my sister and friends: my dear sister said I looked like a Hershey’s kiss. One of my friends had a much better PG-13 description: she said I looked like I was wearing a grey condom.

So imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this beauty at the discount rack of an Accessorize outlet at Paddington. Not only did it look pretty, it miraculously fit my head (if I squeezed hard enough)! When I wore it, it felt a little like when Harry Potter held his wand for the first time at Ollivander’s – sparks were flying everywhere and I immediately knew that this particular piece of clothing had chosen me to be its owner.

Continue reading “I lost my hat (and I’m done with my thesis).”

I am and will be MIA until the 5th of May.

I decided to write this post for several reasons.

One, because I’m in a real danger of breaking my track record since this blog started – I have written at least one post every month since December 2013.

Two, because I just submitted the first full 6000-word draft of my thesis to my supervisor so my brain has some capacity to churn out words. I still have another 6000 to go, but that’s besides the point.

Three, because my stress level is at an all-time high, I get irritated by little things very easily. I simply have to rant.

In particular, this recent phenomenon of people not taking my warning seriously.

Recently, I posted this on Facebook, which I’m sure many of my Facebook friends saw judging from the number of responses that I received.

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And then a strange phenomenon happened. More people are starting to text me on Facebook, people that I haven’t even heard from in a while (I’m talking years).

I appreciate a lot of the well wishes that came for me in completing my thesis. And I do understand that there are some questions that you might forget if you didn’t send me right away. I sincerely apologise for not having gotten back to you. Many of you have been incredibly gracious and understanding and you don’t know how much that means to me.

Plus you are fine, you are not the ones who irritate me.

It is those who then proceeded to text me again to nudge me for not replying. If I have read your messages and not reply you during the next week or so, that’s because I simply haven’t got the time to. Which part of “I will be rubbish at replying to your text messages” do you not understand? Unless you are my parents (and possibly my flatmate) who will genuinely get worried whether I’m alive if I didn’t reply for a day, you will simply have to wait.

I know I sound really snobbish and I should not be ranting about this. I should even be grateful that I have friends who still text me. But that is precisely why I posted that picture with the caption, because I do cherish my friends and will always do my best to reply everyone promptly but I am simply going to be rubbish during this period. And I will get back to you in due course, just please don’t text me again simply to nudge me to reply.

Even chocolate baits won’t work. Maybe.

Primrose Hill Market, London.

I was recently introduced to a friend of a friend who went backpacking around South East Asia last year. When I spoke to her, I felt a familiar feeling of shame creeping into me, the same one that always appeared whenever I spoke to travellers like her.

She, after a few weeks in my side of the world, has visited more places than I have the twenty six years I was living in the region.

Usually, a few minutes into the conversation, the name Cambodia would come up and I would have to reluctantly admit that I haven’t stepped on that country’s soil even once.

“I have been to Myanmar though,” I normally added in a bid to present myself as a more appreciative South East Asian.

I attribute this shameful phenomenon to what I call proximity ungratefulness. When a place is so close to where you live, you will naturally find it less exciting and will not go out of your way to visit.

I am thus careful of not letting the same thing happen to me here in London. I try to appreciate things around me, even stuff that is within walking distance from my flat.

One of my most recent finds was the Primrose Hill Market.

Primrose Hill is world-famous, and I have been there countless times. It has a beautiful unobstructed view of London and is equally charming during the day and night.

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But today I’m not here to talk about the Hill. I’m here for something that happens at the foot of the hill every Saturday, unbeknownst to many: the Primrose Hill Market.

Continue reading “Primrose Hill Market, London.”