Friday, September 25, 2009

Birthday in London....

Yup. We are now in London. Arrived at Stansted on Tuesday evening 1/2 hour ahead of schedule. Not bad for low-fares Ryan Air. Unfortunately, this also means a 1/2 hour wait for our car transfer driver. Decided to get a car transfer as the Stansted Express train worked out to be more expensive, plus it terminates at Liverpool Street, which is on the other end of London. On top of that, there's the tube fares to be considered....and all the hassles with the luggage. We have 2 large, and 3 trolley hand-luggage.

Anyway, will be meeting my sis GK for dinner....to celebrate yours truly's birthday at Halepi. Went over to Sloan St to pick up my birthday pressie from H. Will post more later....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We are in Rome!

After a long flight to Stansted, we arrived at about 11. 40 pm, Thursday. After immigration, customs etc, we headed out to our prepaid room at Holiday Inn Express. Managed to have 2.5 hours of sleep. Thank goodness we did not decide to wait at the airport for our flight out to Rome. Wouldn't be comfortable and we would be zombified!
Arrived in Rome on Friday, 9.40 am...and our limo driver was already waiting to pick us up... We travelled in style on a Mercedes E220. This guy took us on a scenic route instead of the highway, which was a plus. We were on the Via Appia. Continue later....as blardy difficult to post now on the E71.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Going on a Holiday....

Yup. We are going for a family holiday. And I did some last minute search on the internet for restaurant discount vouchers. Managed to print-off discounts from Pizza Express (2 pizzas for GBP 10), Cafe Uno (Kids eat free), Covent Garden Grill (free wine with main course), Pizza Hut (50% off) and a few others. When I told H about it, the first thing he said was "I am not going to Pizza Express. Just because the boys are with us, doesn't mean we have to forgo our foods. I still want to go and have my steaks, my pates, etc etc". Well, plus we are going to drown ourselves with all the gelato in Rome. So....looks like I need to whip out the apatrim pills after-all.

Death???

Have you ever had your hired help use the excuse of "Death in the family" for not turning up for work?
I'm sure you do. I've heard countless of stories... grandmothers who seem to have passed-away five times! How many grandmothers can one have? Usually, the "Death" excuse is used to skive work.
But to hook a doctor???? That is original.
Ok. This case may not be real since it's from a show. But if it can be on the screen, I'm sure it happens in real life too! Anyway, this lady lied to the attending doctor (a good-looking one, of course) that since her grandfather has passed-on, she needs to sell his AED, and would he mind to give her an estimate. What a load of crock, right????
By the way, AED stands for automated external defibrillators

Quick and Efficient!

My family visits two Chinese restaurants rather frequently. Let's call them CJ and DK. Whilst both restaurants have POS systems in place; when it comes to efficiency, I have to say CJ wins hands down. With chinese food, we want all the dishes to be served simultaneously, to be eaten with the rice. CJ always fulfil this criteria. Plus the food is of excellent quality. However, with DK, though the food is good, there will always be an occasion whereby one dish only comes after we have finished all our rice. I wonder what went wrong. Perhaps they need to upgrade their POS system. Perhaps I should go and tell the restaurant manager.

Cepat. Cepat.

Got to cepat-cepat finish all my assignments. Cepat-cepat because I probably have no access to a computer in the next 2 weeks... and we have to leave for the airport in less than 2 hours for our flight to London today. There was a report in the newspaper this morning that there was a loooooong jam going to KLIA at 2 PM yesterday. The fasting month is creating lots of havoc on the roads. Even when we left for the airport from our home, the jam was really quite horrendous.
Oh yeah. BTW, we over-nighted here at my parents' house in PJ.
Later...

Fancy Tools?

As you know, one of my hobbies is scrapbooking. But unlike many scrappers, I don't own many fancy tools. For example, I actually use a simple box cutter and a metal ruler to cut my papers and photos. Yes. I agree that it is not as jiffy nor efficient, but it does serve the purpose. Would I ever get specialty cutters in the future? Perhaps.

Myrtle Beach

The first time I heard of the place Myrtle Beach was many many years ago....when I was still in college. My longtime good friend, KL took up a theme park job in Myrtle Beach over the long summer holidays to earn some dosh, plus some traveling in the US. Me? Didn't go along. Did I miss a thing? I don't know. I supposed I could always visit Myrtle beach one of these days. Not for the theme park though. But more for the Myrtle beach golf courses! My guess is that the courses ould be quite challenging...with the winds blowing from the sea!

Do you have one?

Do you?
I mean Life Insurance.
If you don't, I think you really should. ... especially if you are the main breadwinner and have dependants. You certainly do not want to leave them in the lurch, with nothing to fall back on if something happens to you. Do you? If you don't know where to start or which one to buy, start by getting some life insurance quotes...from different providers. Assess what is important before making a decision.
Get a life insurance, and you can be assured that you loved ones will be taken care of.... even when you no longer can.

Lie to Me!

We have just started watching this series called "Lie to Me". It's quite interesting because apparently you can tell a person whether he or she is lying by their facial micro- expressions! If one is faking a smile, the eyes do not have any expressions. A genuine smile will always show through the muscles around the eyes. When H tried faking a smile; true enough, the eyes were sort of expressionless. And when he did give me a genuine smile. His eyes were different. The wrinkles that were absent in the fake smile suddenly all showed themselves around his eyes. When I told him so, he said " go get me the best eye wrinkle cream !" . He then kept going to the mirror to check out those wrinkles! Hahahaha...

Always Missing!

Kids! Always losing their stuff. If it's not the water bottle or lunch boxes, it'll be their PE Kit. And with the schools being more tech-savvy, my kids are are now submitting their homework in soft copies saved in flash drives. But with them being prone to losing things, I find that they lose their flash drives frequently. Thank goodness for some of the Promotional flash drives that H gets from his work partners and suppliers! Otherwise, I would be out at the shops buying flash drives every other day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Posting Posting...

Am actually posting this while waiting for my flight out to KUL. Didn't realise that I have so many posts to do for extra "dui". Was checking facebook and all sorts of nonsense. Then thought I might as well just log in to check. Had a shock when I saw that I had a whole long list of overdue posts to do. ALAMAK! I logged in two days back and saw there were no assignments wor... Anyway, I tried to post some more...but I think there may be some problems with the site or something...as after the last posting, I can't access into it anymore... Guessed will have to do it another time. I think it is time to go to the gate. Better go visit the loo first though.

Hi-Tech Production

Did you know that these days, almost everything is manufactured my machinery? From tiny PCBs to your children's toys to large industrial equipment. The factory production line is practically seamless with the use of industrial computer specifically designed for the task. The production cost is much lower than if the items are individually handmade. Not to mention the reduction in costs! I supposed that is why genuine handmade items are quite hard to come-by these days.

Very Last Minute Indeed!

Just finished printing off our Trip Itinerary. Yeah. I know.
Very LAST MINUTE as we are flying off this evening.
(Yes....will leave home after boys get home from school later this afternoon....)

Not only that, I only wanted to start packing boys' stuff on Monday night. Just to be sure, asked my boys to try out their long pants/jeans. ADUH!!!!
ALLLLLLLLLLL of S1's pants except one do NOT fit him anymore. They were waaaaaaay too short. S2's pants/jeans were fine as he had loads of hands-me-downs from S1. This was already 8.30 PM. No way we could go out to the malls to purchase new pants. Besides, it was already the boys' bedtime.

Decided that we will head out to the malls the next day to get at least a pair or two of pants/jeans for S1. The traffice was bad, and by the time boys got home, it was already 4 pm. Still had to get them to "try-out" their old sweaters/sweatshirts etc. ALAMAK! S2's old sweatshirt was waaaaaaaaay to small. So...not only I had to search for pants for S1, I had to get S2 a sweatshirt too.

Off we went to the mall. Ended up buying everything from Zara....as their jeans/pants have adjustable waists. You know my S1. TALL and VERY LANKY. Legs so thin and long, like a PAIR OF CHOPSTICKS! But with such a tiny tiny waist! Bought him a pair or corduroys and a pair of jeans. Got S2 a simple blue sweatshirt. Both boys ended up with NEW leather jackets too! S2 told his dad that he should get one as well....so that the three of them can be THE SAME! H replied "I did go and check the adults section. But they do not have it!". Hahahah...
Me? Nothing for me lah. Gonna wear my old white Zara one...Yeah. same one that I wore to London in February. Did get myself a pair of walking shoes 2 weeks back from Aldo. H said it is "So Apoh" (so grandmother???). But what to do? Can't exactly wear flip-flops nor heels, right? Plus don't think it is cold enough for my boots yet.....

Okay. Better go now to double-check that I have everything... PASSPORTS, BOARDING PASSES, ITINERARY, BOOKING VOUCHERS, MEDS..

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lebaran Holiday Trip

RE my London accommodation fiasco; the loss of GBP 800 is heart-wrenching!!!
I was telling H that I need to have another ten orders like this to recuperate my losses.
Thankfully, he has not blamed me for the losses. Otherwise, I think I would feel much much worse that I already did. He did make a couple of jokes out of it.
He told the boys..."Boys. The next few days, you guys better start collecting cardboard boxes. Because we need to sleep in them when we are in London."
And told me "Well, instead of buying five handbags, you'll just have to make do with four."

I am not going to let this go. I am going to put a CLAIM to Holiday-Rentals under their RENTAL GUARANTEE scheme. I did register for this scheme, and did get a registration confirmation from them. I have also reported both Holiday-Rentals and Paulina Thomas to the Consumer people.
All I have to say that this has caused loads of headache and stress! Not to say the hassle that goes along!

Anyway, I have cancelled my booking at Citadines South Kensington, and booked So Quartier over at Kilburn Park; which costs GBP 100/nite for a one-bedroom apartment from Laterooms.com. Yes. It's in Zone 2. Figured that we are not going to spend extra 52 pounds from travelling from Zone 2 to Zone 1. Difficult to gauge from the current posted reviews as to whether the apartments are good or not. But photographs look quite nice. Go here for a peep.
It's quite close to where I used to live yonks ago... in West Hampstead, which is not too far from Kilburn Park. Will post about the accommodation after the holidays.

So far, I've got almost everything sorted out. I've booked the following:
- One night Hotel Room @ Stansted Airport
- Roma Passes
- Tickets for Vatican Museums & Sistene Chapel
- Rome Apartment (this was also booked through Holiday-Rentals. But I think it's A-OK for this one. Nope. Did not pay full amount. The owner only required a deposit of 110 euros.)
- Limo Transfer from Rome Ciampino to our apartment
- London Apartment
- Tickets to Buckingham Palace State Rooms
- Tickets to Tower of London
- Discounted Tickets to London Dungeon
- Theatre Tickets for Sister Act (but this one I am abit confused whether the purchase is confirmed. Have emailed for clarification)

Why Sister Act?
Well, I've not watched this one. H initially suggested Lion King, as the boys could relate to it. I was like "Huh? Lion King again? So boring. If I were to watch it again, I DEFINITELY will fall asleep".
H replied with a "That's true. Think I would to." BTW, he did FALL ASLEEP when we watched this in February c/w snoring and all!

I didn't want to watch something that I've seen. And Oliver was waaaaay too expensive. As there were some offers for Sister Act,...why not?
So now, I just have to get the boys to watch the film version of Sister Act, which Whoopi Goldberg starred. I also have to watch Angels & Demons so that I could follow the TRAILS where the cardinals were murdered! Hahahahaha

I think the planning/booking is almost done. I now just have to decide how we are going to get from Stansted to Central London. Train is out as it is too expensive compared to the other options. We will either take the coach/tube OR take a pre-booked taxi. Will have to check on the costs again.

Later....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Feeling Gutted!!!!

As you know...was cheated out of GBP 800....!

How did it happen?

It all started when I wanted to SAVE MONEY on our accommodation in London. BUT instead LOST MONEY! Bleah. Humbug!

We wanted to stay in a self-catering apartment. One with a kitchen and washer/dryer so that it is more conveninient. With the boys, figured that it would be quite good to be able to cook simple stuff. Plus greedy me want to buy the packaged foods from Marks&Spencer to chuck in the oven (reminiscent of old college days!). I love M&S Chicken Kiev. Yum Yum... We needed the washer/dryer as cannot exactly bring 2 weeks of clothes with us. Surely we needed to launder whatever we have.

As usual, I surfed the world wide web for the best deals on two-bedroom apartments. And came across a number of RENT direct from Owner sites. This particular site is quite a major one. It's is www.Holiday-Rentals.co.uk and I shortlisted a few apartments that I liked. Wrote to the owners etc etc. and they replied. There was this two-bedroom apartment at Queensgate (near my old college...so around my "thei-tau" (area that I am familiar with)) and the price was right. GBP 100 per nite after some negotiation with the owner. I thought "Wah. Good deal. 100 pounds per nite for 2-bedroom apartment, and in Queensgate!". The only problem was that payment has to be made in advance. Looked around, and ALL the apartments in London required pre-payment of TOTAL STAY plus SECURITY DEPOSIT if within 4 weeks.

Of course I was a bit cautious, but this Holiday-Rentals had a BIG advertistment on RENTAL GUARANTEE. Obviously, I registered for this RENTAL GUARANTEE....and waited for them to acknowledge my registration. Only after the receipt was received, I instructed H to transfer the money. All 800 pounds of it...600 for the rent and 200 for damage security deposit which was to be refunded on check-out.

I don't know whether it is sheer BAD LUCK or what! The moment after we paid. All things gone WHACKO....and then I received a WARNING email about the owner of the apartment I rented. They said "under investigation". WTF!!!! Shouldn't they investigate and make sure that the properties listed on their website is legitimate PRIOR to listing? I wrote to them and they advised me to get my refund from the owner.
WTF!!!!
What is the stupid RENTAL GUARANTEE for? FALSE advertistment???
Wrote to them again...and NO reply yet.

And the owner??? I cannot even contact her AT ALL!!!!
Is she OUT to dupe people?
I don't know. Apparently, she has SIX properties in and around London for rent to holiday-makers, and has been doing so for a couple of years. She advertises in a few different websites. There were people who stayed at her place, and was quite happy. But they did acknowledge that she was disorganised. I donno....
All I know is that just after I paid, all hell broke loose!

I am NOT the only one. There is a forum page on this TOPIC now. About this owner...btw, her name is PAULINA THOMAS. So do NOT rent from her. Be warned!!!!
Holiday-makers from all over the globe. Australia, Moscow, Italy, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Ireland and of course little 'ole me ARE in this MESS. And we want our money back. Either from the owner or from Holiday-Rentals. Either one. I don't care. I just want my money back.
Think will call the consumer watchdog people about Holiday-Rentals' FALSE advertistment when I am in London.

And NOT only I do not have my 800 pounds. I now have to scramble around to look for alternative accommodation. I've booked a 1-bedroom apartment at Citadines South Ken at a whopping 152 pounds per nite. Boys would have to sleep on the sofa-bed in the living room. I am still surfing the net to see if I can get anything cheaper. Well, there are of course cheaper alternatives...like GBP 500 pounds (total stay) for a quad room in some other not-so-nice locations and not-so-nice hotels. But I want the kitchenette and laundry facilities. Plus don't want to stay too far out. Nor want some crappy place.
So....still surfing.
So still very stressed.
Until I nail down on our accommodation, I cannot book our transport to the hotel.
So far...looks like we have to stick to Citadines (Yeah. This is under the Ascott Singapore group). It's already Saturday, and we leave home on Wednesday evening to fly back to KL. Our flight to Stanstead (using AirAsia ...) is on Thursday, 17th.
Stay a night in London, then next morning fly out to Rome. Yes. Yes. Seems very rush.
4 nights in Rome, then back to London for another 6 nights.
Okay lah...later

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Cheated!!!!

Soooooooo STOOOOOOOPID!!!!

Who?

Me lah. Who else???

Summore thought that I had a good deal of getting a two-bedroom apartment at Queensgate for GBP 100/nite. Bleahhhhhhhh... Now? Cheated of GBP 800!!!
GBP800!!!!!!!!!!

Feel so crap now. Can't continue.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Earthquake!!!!

Yep! There was an EARTHQUAKE this afternoon....just before 3 pm local time. I was on the phone with a friend, and then I felt the bed shaking and heard creaking. I thought "Aiyo. Mmm-hai hai mah? Stay three years in this house already, then only yau-kwai??". Then realised must be EARTHQUAKE. I told my friend on the phone, "Eh. I think earthquake lah". Then she said "No wonder I thought why suddenly I am dizzy!" ....We ended the call immediately. I don't know why but I walked over to the window and saw that the water in my swimming pool was splashing and sploshing OUT of the pool! By this time, tremors already stopped. Boys were on the bus from school. When they arrived home, I asked "Did you guys feel the earthquake?"
"What earthquake??" was their reply in unison.
This was the first time that I felt the quake. Since we moved here, there had been 3 quakes including today's. The first time, we were all sleeping like piggies. So couldn't feel anything. We probably had a good dream thinking we are being rocked to sleep like a baby!! The second time,  we were all in the car. As the roads here are bumpy as h@ll, we couldnt' feel the tremors then too. But this time, I was wide-awake and it did last quite long. I would say 10 to 15 seconds.

Anyway, besides the EARTHQUAKE being THE event today.... I got my butt out to the furniture shop recommended by my friend. I ordered a 8-seater dining table, a single bed and chest of drawers for S1. Wanted to get a daybed as well...but they couldn't make the design that I wanted. My friend's furniture took a month. But the owner said that they will be available for delivery on the 12th! Wah...So quick. Wonder if they cin-cai (Simply) do? The owner said that so soon because they have the teak wood in store already. So...we shall see lah.

Was very good today. I did gardening (after the quake, went downstairs...and decided to just do gardening) and even made dinner - albeit a simple dinner of roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Jumbled Thoughts...

Baked these today.... Have to say that baking without a maid is quite tiring. Not so much of the baking, but more of the washing-up afterwards. Most times, H would be helping out with the washing. But today, he was at work...and then is en-route to Singapore for work as I am typing out this. Actually, when H told me that I have an order... I was like "Hahhhh??". Very difficult hor? Got order, complain. No order, also complain. Hahahahha....

S2 is better already. He did go to school today. I fed him with Chinese "cooling meds" and also young coconut water. Had my driver buy them from the roadside stalls on his way to work. Can't buy them from the supermarkets as they are usually of the ROASTED kind, i.e. which will be "heaty" instead of "cooling".

Resumed painting classes today. H complained that I was supposed to finish off the Assyrian Lion in time for his birthday. But instead.... by the time it is finished, it would be MY birthday. heee heee. I am almost finished with it. One more session and I think it would be done! Then I can start on a new piece. Don't want to paint anything detailed for my next piece. Perhaps something that looks rather contemporary. One that I can splatter paint everywhere and nobody would think that it's NOT right. Hahhahahah

I have to say that I am a real procrastinator! I was supposed to get a new dining table and the boys new beds TWO years ago!!! And until today, I still have not done anything. Bleah.... I think I better do it tomorrow since I have the car all to myself. S1's bed in particular needs to be changed. It doesn't provide the necessary support for him anymore. Don't want him to have aches and pains like me.....

Btw, did I tell you guys that when I came back after five weeks away, MOST of my plants were dead???? Some really lush ones also MATI! *sigh* So sad! But don't think I will do anything now lah. Not going to replace until after Hari Raya holidays...since we will be going away for two weeks. Don't want my new plants to MATI also!