Sunday, March 30, 2008

Edinburgh, Scotland

Like most people without children, I haven't celebrated Easter since I was a little girl chasing for eggs in the garden, but, I keep a wonderful memory of Easter day as that little girl, with the bells of the church down the road ringing continuously from 10 to 12, with a blue sky and shy sunshine wearing a little cardigan to protect from the lingering cool wind of April, and victoriously finding my first (and usually only) egg hidden behind my great-grand-mother rose bush. My brother would have found every other single eggs by the time I got to my first one.

Nowadays, Easter is the opportunity to go on a break; two years ago we went back home; last year in Prague and this year, it was the wonderful city of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland. Honestlty, wonderful seems to be the adjective always associated with this town, but it did not make my heart jump with excitement at every street corner. It was sunny yet looked grey, it was cold, it was windy and it is on a hill and requires to walk up and down and up and down and up and down so I spent most of my time looking at the pavement rather than up at the buildings.
(the steps up to the castle)

The castle was great, build over and maintained for the last 28th centuries as they discovered part of the castle dating back 8th century AD. It supposedly fires a canon at 1pm everyday to this date, but we did not have a chance of hearing it. It is still used today for official functions and has a church where names of all the Scottish soldiers who died during any wars recorded are listed in beautifully bounded folders.

(view of the momunent erected in the memory of Sir Walter Scott, poet and writer; it gives a good idea of the up and down)

(In a pub, where we tried the local dish Haggis. The other specialty of Scotland is whisky, here a window promoting Jack Daniels.)

The main attraction of Scotland is the ghost tours; that was not my cup of tea to start with and much to our disappointment we did not see any ghosts, nothing, nada, niet, rien. But it wasn't without a fright and a scream in the dark (to my surprise I realised it was my own might I add). But it was scary enough as I was busy looking over my shoulder the whole time, expecting someone in a mask to creep up behind me and scare the hell out of me.

One day, we went on a coach tour of Inverness and Scotland country side, working our way to the Loch Ness; the best bit of the day was meeting Amish a 12 year old woolly cow.

The second best bit of the trip was this castle ruin on the side of the Loch Ness, it was well pretty, but I lost Alex in the ruins (it wasn't that big though). Then we went on a boat ride on the Loch Ness, it was lovely, but again, no monster. such a shame, I was looking forward to seeing what I imagined is a gentle giant beast. Although it was all a great trip and that I would recommend to anyone, I won't be going back anytime soon.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Brie, The Bullet and The Black Cat

You have to read this blog post with a heavy French accent... To celebrate the New Year, Alex and I were invited by Alex' friend Grit and her husband Sean.... We met Grit and Sean in Heathrow before Christmas and they invited us to the dinner, a Murder Mystery party.... Grit told us this much and thus the story begins.(remember the French accent)

October 1942. You have been invited for dinner at the Official Residence of the Deputy Mayor of Casablanca. Morocco is a colony of France governed by the Vichy French regime. The guest of honour was to have been France's greatest living mime artist. He fails to arrive, he has been murdered.

I was Nicole Le Grandbutte, the hosts' daughter, 18, both snob and rebelious.
Alex was Otto Von Pinkelwurst, a fanatic gestapo officer.

The party included :

HUGHES LE GRANDBUTTE - Deputy Mayor of Casablanca
EDITH LE GRANDBUTTE - his wife, a former dancer
NICOLE LE GRANDBUTTE - their daughter
OTTO VON PINKELWURST - a Gestapo officer, fanatical and possibly mad.
KIRK RANSOM III - an American who runs Kirk's African Cafe in downtown Casablanca
COUNTESS BOGOV - an exiled Russian aristocrat
MONSIEUR OILY-CARTE - booking agent for the Moulin Bleu in Paris
PIERRE PAYANSKI - a 24 year old half-Russian poet
CHERIE BOOT - a French cabaret singer in her mid-20s
INGRID PITH - a Danish art dealer

I shall not tell you more, for I shall recommend that you gather around enough friends and have the murder party yourself.

The dinner was great, everyone was in character when we got there. Alex played a very good mad fanatic gestapo agent and everyone put on their best French accent, possibly better than my own genuine French accent!!! dinner started at 7.30 and the night finished at 1.30 am! It was so much fun, it can't hardly be described.

I was a great night, excellent fun and now we can't wait to have a place big enough to have an oriental murder mystery night of our own.... to be continued....

The Comtess Bogov, Nicole, Cherie and Edith Le Granbutte (Mother)

Hughes Le Granbutte (my Father), Monsieur Oily Carte, Pierre Payanski (My boyfriend), Otto von Pinkelwurst and Kirk Ransom III (The lover of both my mother and ingrid Pith).

(We were so much in character, that I failed to remember their real names....)

Julie's Birthday

Julie is my colleague, she is in Customer Service and is possibly the loveliest person in the company. She has taken over a lot of the Marketing when I moved to Sales, so I guess I used that as an opportunity to get closer to her, besides we work in the same open plan for the last 2 years ++. In the last few months, I participate to decorate omy colleagues' desks on their birthdays. For Peter last year, I put his face on Borat and for Hannah, who shares the same birthday, I put her face on Jodie (a British Hottie); but this time, I outdid myself for Julie, because she is extra special, I gave her a whole new family. Julie has a weight complex which I don't know where she gets it from because she is very fit and slim and as she left work on Thursday, she begged us not to put her face on The Vicar of Dibley, a funny British comedy, where the Vicar, played by Dawn French is a very big lady. We wouldn't have thought of it if she had not mentioned it, Hannah came up with the idea of using a picture of the cast instead of just the character and I went to work...

Bottom row: Hannah, Ann and Julie. Top row: Ron, Nick, Me, Peter, Martin, Mike (The company Director) and Jane.

The Best Birthday

Another year, another digit, the clock keeps ticking... but hey, I sound like my boss!!! :P It's been an awesome 31 years so far and I lived so many experiences, visited so many countries, felt so many feeligns that I could be 60, so 31 is plenty young and I possibly have another 50-odd years to continue my journey of discoveries - world, culture, feelings, friends and experiences. My next big projects include:
  • Buying a home - big enough with a proper dining area to throw dinner parties
  • Starting a family - you'll hear plenty more about this when it happens
  • visiting Egypt; and
  • Japan; and
  • Mexico ; and also
  • San Fransisco and Arizona

My birthday this year was awesome; it was on Mother's day Sunday, on the Friday, Ron, called me into his office, to ask something silly about work, and after 3 minutes I wanted to go back to my desk, because this was truly wasting my time, so I went back to my desk only to find that the girls had decorated my desk with the traditional birthday card, bottle of champagne and photos on the wall and desk. They're so lovely (including Ron who was actually trying to by them time!)

Later on the Friday, I received lots of emails and text messages from Dani and Alison from SA; Dan (Blah Blah Blog) and Jay (Kill the Goat); even Alex friend' Justin remembered thanks to Facebook. In the evening, I went out with Sarah and Alison but we celebrated Alison's boyfriend Hywel's birthday.
On Saturday, I got to chat with the whole family in Malaysia and my dad opened a bottle of champagne, Anna baked my favorite chocolate cake and we all 'tchin-tchined' over MSN.
In the evening, we had invited all our friends who did not know each other, but as you would expect, everyone got along famously and we had a fantastic evening at the Nyonya restaurant in Notting Hill, where I got even more spoiled; Nadine gave me a fantastic grey scarf and matching necklace that I wore all week this week; Grit gave me a spa balm for hair, Orla gave me more spa treatment creams to pamper myself with and Seow Ling a book voucher that will buy the guide book for our next holiday - Edinburg. I also got a fantastic pair of shoes from Alex and a guide book from Sarah and Alison, 'Time Out London - for Londoners'. It made me proud, since they are the ones who helped me settle in England three years ago.

It wasn't over until Sunday, when I got phone calls from all the family, including my cousins, whose birthday I always forget, and even Rudiger, the EUMEA Marketing Manager from Germany remembered to text me his wishes.