29 January 2013

January - white #worldcolors #worldcolours

Through the world of Twitter and thanks to another blogger and Twitter user I recently found out about a fun project for 2013 called #Worldcolors or, being a Brit, as I prefer #Worldcolours.

The idea behind it is for it to be a joint effort between bloggers from all over to collate their photos  using the theme of a different colour each month, starting with white in January.

It's not to late to join the fun if you want to get involved as well, just check here for all the details.

Now let the photos do the talking.  Just by way of explanation, a few of these are photos of photos, i.e. in the days before I owned a digital camera.  So I hope you'll forgive any that appear a little lacking in quality!

Random moments

Llama walking in Ashdown Forest, UK
Vapour trail from a plane taken from our plane somewhere over Europe
My beautiful wedding bouquet 



San Francisco, California


Athens, Greece


Prague, Czech Republic

Prague castle

Venice, Italy 

The Bridge of Sighs

Lisbon, Portugal

Niagara Falls, Canada


Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles
Raffles Hotel

Fort Canning Park
Chinese and Japanese Garden

Chinese and Japanese Garden
Labrador Park area
White tigers at Singapore zoo

Courtyard in Raffles hotel
Singapore Art museum
Making Putu Piring
The Istana
Wishing Spheres at New Year
ArtScience museum as created by Nathan Sawaya for 'The Art of the Brick' exhibition
Duxton Hill area
The Tiffin Room, Raffles Hotel

Bali, Indonesia


Hong Kong

Tea at The Peninsula

Puerto Banus, Ronda and Casares, Spain

Puerto Banus

The Bull Ring, Ronda
White Village (Pueblos Blancos) of Casares

22 January 2013

Malay Heritage Centre

The Malay Heritage Centre was somewhere I'd been wanting to visit for a while but for most of last year it was closed for refurbishment.  It reopened in September and instantly made it back on to my list of places I'd like to visit.

The Heritage Centre serves to showcase the history, culture and contributions of the Malay community in Singapore.  The centre is housed in the Istana Kampong Gelam and is just opposite from the Masjid Sultan mosque. 

By way of a little background to the building, it is a former Malay palace and was originally built by Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor in 1819 in the Kampong Glam area.  It was originally in a much bigger compound than it is today but its size was reduced as Singapore was further developed.  The building that exists today was commissioned by his son, Sultan Ali Iskandar Shah and was built between 1836 and 1843.  The building and its land were refurbished as part of the development of the Malay Heritage Centre in 2004.

The heritage centre itself has several permanent galleries as well as special exhibitions at various times.  The permanent galleries have stories and artefacts from both Singapore's national collection as well as contributions from individuals.  There is much here about Kampong Glam's importance as a thriving port town prior to the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles.  There are though sections focusing on the Malay influence on all manner of things including the contribution of prominent Malays throughout Singapore's history and the influence of Malay popular music and movies amongst much more.

Additionally the centre also offers a number of programmes and events throughout the year that promote the heritage and culture of the Malay community.  You can check their website or Facebook page for more details.

18 January 2013

More Liebster Blog Award Answers

Sometime before Christmas (November actually - ahem) I got nominated by Dear Diary for another Liebster Blog Award.  If you've read my previous post as a result of my nomination by Living in Sin you will know I sort of bent the rules a bit and didn't nominate anyone else, just answering the questions posed.  I did that because it seemed every blog I read had already been nominated but I still liked the idea of sharing some random things about me here and answering the questions posed.

Well following my second nomination I've been meaning to take the time to answer those questions too and here, finally, are my answers.  Officially I'm also supposed to give you eleven random facts about me too but I did that last time and to be honest I don't know if I could find another eleven more truly interesting things to share!

1) What’s your favourite spot in your home?

I love sitting in the armchair nearest our balcony whilst looking out of the French doors.  Now we are on a lower floor in our condo our view isn't amazing but I just enjoy the peacefulness of looking at the sky and clouds and watching the birds in the trees nearby.

2) What do you love about your mom and what do you love about your dad?

I think I'll give a joint answer for this one.  I love that they always know the right things to say to me when I'm feeling a little down (even now I'm married and living on the other side of the world) and that I know they'd do anything to help me out if they could.

3) What is the one thing you like about your body?

I'm not much of one for singing my praises but I guess my eyes, just because I've been paid a few compliments about them in the past so I guess they must be OK.

4) If you had a perfect day what would it be like?

I think the day would have to take place somewhere a little cooler than Singapore as I envisage the weather being cold but it being a crisp day (maybe with a touch of frost) with a beautiful blue sky.  I'd start the day with a brunch style breakfast in a local cafe, then go for a long walk in the countryside finished off with a delicious meal in a country pub in the middle of nowhere and a couple of glasses of wine.  After this I'd be happy to while away the rest of the day sat by a roaring fire with, maybe, another glass or two of wine, good company and some great TV or a DVD.

5) What goals do you have for 2013?

I think I got a little complacent about living in Singapore last year, particularly after I started working and didn't have as much free time as I obviously had before.  So this year I want to make the time to get out there and discover parts of Singapore I haven't been able to yet.  I know there is plenty still out there to do even when it feels like there isn't.  So far I've been doing pretty well and I have a plan to help me with this which will be revealed here soon.  

6) Complete the following: If I won a million dollars…

I'd take some time out to do some travelling around this part of the world visiting some of the places on my 'wish list' of places to go, invest some of it and give my parents some to treat themselves or do whatever they wanted with.  I like to think I'd still work though (when I worked full time I always imagined if I won the lottery working part time instead but as I now do I guess I'd keep the job I'm doing) just to give me some purpose still and ensure I kept my feet on the ground.

7) Who inspires you?

My husband, parents and all my amazing friends.

8) Your favourite food where you are living now

I like a lot of different things but I've recently fallen in love with murtabak.

9) Morning or night person

I like both but I guess maybe mornings slightly more.  I love being up really early, getting to mid-morning and being chuffed with all I've managed to get done.  When I was a student and worked shifts at a petrol station if I was working mornings I had to start at 5.30am (well we opened up at 6am but had to get there before to prepare for opening).  At one stage I was about the only one doing early's as I was the only one who could be relied upon to get up and be on time.  

10) What book are you currently reading?

The Law of Angels - Cassandra Clark, my Mum passed it on to me.

11) Do you like to cook?

I am officially the world's worst cook.  I love watching cookery programmes, eating and trying out all the amazing food my husband cooks (thankfully he is a much better cook than me but bless him for eating my efforts) but sadly that love has failed to make an impression on my own cookery skills.  My Grandma was and my Mum is a great cook but that part of the gene pool clearly wasn't passed on to me!

15 January 2013

Breakfast at Lau Pa Sat

Before heading off to OH! Open House 2013 the other weekend, my husband and I decided to have breakfast in Lau Pa Sat for a complete change.  He was travelling that afternoon for work and I knew would have left by the time I got home from seeing Open House.  As I work Saturdays, Sundays tend to be the only day we get to spend some quality time together with neither of us working (if he isn't away) so going for breakfast seemed like a good way to achieve that.  We were there soon after 9am which I think is the earliest I've ever been in a hawker centre/food court and not unexpectedly it was pretty empty.  Though it may also have been more empty than usual as it was a Sunday morning.

There were only a few stalls open but still a good variety of choices.  In the end Indian food seemed like a good idea and we settled for murtabak.  Murtabak, in case you don't know, is a stuffed pancake or pan-fried bread found in various countries.  In Singapore it is usually filled with mutton, chicken or beef and garlic, egg and onion and served with curry sauce.  The ingredients do vary depending on where you go though and in Indonesia you can apparently also get sweet versions too.

I'm not certain but I think our murtabak may even have come from the same stall that I had curry from on a previous visit to Lau Pa Sat.  Either way though it was very good and hit the spot perfectly.  My husband and I had thought about having one each initially but on seeing the size of it opted to share one instead.  I'm so glad we did as I was more than satisfied by the time we'd eaten.

As well as the murtabak no trip to the hawker centre/food court would be complete without a kopi.  Something we do frequently on Sunday mornings at our local food court (although usually a little later in the morning).  Our kopi at Lau Pa Sat was served in these beautiful cups and saucers.  I believe these are in the style of the traditional design that were used in kopitiams in Singapore.  A lovely relaxed way to start our Sunday and spend some time together.

13 January 2013

New Year = New Chill Out Bars

For the new year here are some more bars to check out in Singapore courtesy of my husband.  Follow him on Twitter, @AskSirStamford.

As it has been awhile since I have written an update to the Chill Out Bars series and the fact that I am struggling to write a work-based document, here is another post (in the name of procrastination).

SpeakEasy, Tanjong Pagar

Someone posted a while back on Twitter that a bar in Tanjong Pagar did a Sri Lankan brunch.  Having been to Colombo I thought I would give it a go one Saturday afternoon.  The bar is located at 50 Tanjong Pagar in an uber-cool old shophouse (I love shophouse architecture and want to live in such a house).  I arrived at the allotted time, midday, to discover that my companions were having taxi sourcing issues (like that never happens in Singapore, please note the sarcasm), so I had a beer whilst I waited and looked around the joint.  The ambiance was oldie world with dark wooded furniture and bar.  The staff were helpful and attentive, a surprise for the shockingly poor standard usually prevalent in Singapore, but praise where praise is due.  The beer was a German style ale, served in a earthenware mug, was cold and refreshing and went down very well. 

The menu is termed on the establishment’s limited website as a ‘hangover buster’ on Saturdays, with the theme being Sri Lankan.  Priced at around $40, there is a choice of three starters, three mains and a couple of desserts.  Plumping for the hearty option, I can report that the salad was an excellent choice for a starter, with a great early Saturday chili kick up the arse. For mains the choice was between chicken, fish or veggie hoppers (kind of bowl shaped pancakes with or without a fried egg) they are also great and a little, but not overly, spicy. The hoppers are eaten with one’s fingers.  I didn’t have the dessert as I don’t have a sweet tooth but these also looked good.  I was thankful for not selecting pudding though as the starters and mains had filled me up. 

Fern & Kiwi, Clarke Quay

The Fern & Kiwi is a fairly new bar within the Clarke Quay complex, therefore if it is busy or not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other choices, try Mulligan’s Irish Bar or The Pump Room. The decor is modern, fresh, light and airy, in fact, it’s perfect for a chilled Saturday afternoon or a special meal (we came for a double celebration birthday feast).  There is a well stocked bar on the ground floor where the punters can sample numerous beers and wines from New Zealand (yes as the name suggests, this is a Kiwi bar) and partake in a bar snack, whilst chatting with friends, making new ones or watching rugby on the numerous screens.  A word of warning if you are not supporting the All Blacks, this is a partisan bunch that likes the game with an odd shaped ball.  There is also an outdoor area, overlooking the taxi rank and River Valley Road.  Upstairs there is a restaurant that serves up excellent food from an extensive menu.  The rack of ribs is great (served in a unique fashion, go and order it to find out how) but messy to eat, the peppered squid goes well with the fries, delicious, and the cheese platter is grand for a confirmed cheese fan.  Also of note is the ice cream selection that is served utilising individual cones with different flavours in each.

Apologies I have no photos of the nosh or the environs, but would recommend a visit.

For another traditionally named pub, with a twist, try the Queen & Mangosteen overlooking Sentosa Island in VivoCity, they serve an excellent British Sunday roast and a decent pint. 

The Immigrants GastroBar, Joo Chiat Road


I am an immigrant, so this bar should be right up my street, well it’s actually around a couple or three corners and down a long road in the East.  It's on the same strip of Joo Chiat Road as Fatboys Burgers (another excellent burger joint with weird experimental burger combos, worth a try). 

Anyway, back to the bar.  When we lived in St Margarets near Twickenham in London we had a pub at the top of the road we lived on (handy place on the way home from work and opposite a great fish and chip shop) called the St Margarets Tavern. This was a traditional style pub, in which the customer could enjoy a quiet pint and a good meal whilst relaxing.  Since moving to Singapore we have been looking for something local to our condo that had a similar atmosphere.  After a few false starts (including the convenient and horrendous Boat Quay establishments next to my previous employer and the now defunct Big Bad Wolf on Tanjong Katong Road) the search for nirvana may be over.  As a few weeks ago, whilst searching for a different bar for Friday night beers we stumbled on the website of a nearby newly opened joint, The Immigrants.

The bar is located in a narrow shophouse type property, with the bar on the left in the middle of the building, in front of the kitchen.  The dining tables are at the back and down the right hand side of the bar (a concrete slab of a bench down the side of the wall) with drinking tables at the front and on the pavement.  We initially attended on the Friday for a drink only, sitting at the bar.  We were waiting for a table at the excellent curry house nearby, Zaffron Kitchen (try the biryani), opposite I12 Katong shopping mall. 

The bar serves a range of drinks including wines, Japanese beers and an extensive range of standard and rare whiskies from both Japan and Scotland, these can be served by the glass or the bottle for the rarer ones.  I will try a Japanese whisky next time I go.  The bar staff are friendly and efficient (if a little forgetful, we also got someone else’s drinks served with ours) and the atmosphere is chilled.

Food-wise the chef serves a range of local Peranakan dishes ranging from spicy sambal squid (this was really hot, clearly not for the faint of heart) and chicken wings (is there a bar in Singapore where a hungry drinker cannot get a serve of chicken wings?), through to more substantial meals.  We shared an excellent beef cheek biryani, which was just melt in your mouth tender.  All the dishes are served tapas style (Spanish small plates) on old style enamel plates and are excellent.  

The place is fun and worth a trek out east for a relaxing drink or a good feed, we will be frequenting regularly, especially to try the water of life from Japan.

chicken wings
beef cheek biryani

If you need more bar tips, check out the following previous posts, Top 5 Chill Out Bars in the Lion CityChill Out Bars in the Lion City - Part 2Chill Out Bars - Part 3 and Chill Out Bars Returns.
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