Several wonderful hours in Singapore.

The hubster and I visited Singapore as part of our Honeymoon some twenty two years ago. “What’s that I hear you say? I must’ve been a young bride?” Fast forward to 2018, and the eldest offspring Melina has just spent 5 glorious months at University in Singapore on a swappy semester abroad whereby she studied her normal course plus travelled about with her newly acquired mates. The hubster and I have popped out to pick up Melina, plus are going to hop around to some other parts of the hood whilst we’re here. Sadly this has only left one day at the beginning of our tour and one at the end to be in Singapore. Things have really changed in all the years and I’m not talking about just my physical appearance, but Singapore to a very young ahem bride didn’t seem as exciting as it is right now. I just thought I’d share what we did and how to feel like you are getting some traction even if you only have a few hours to spare like us.

  • We arrived into Singapore early, which was helpful. We looked like we had been dragged through hedges and aged significantly after our flight. I wonder if the pilot can take an alternative route home, not near The Himalayas, my goodness it was rough. We headed straight for our hotel for our first night in hope that we could check in several hours early. One can always hope and this time the hoping turned to an early check in. Very lucky I know. I had visions of the hubster and me kipping on the sofa in the lobby with unkempt hair straggling all over and dribble on the plush cushions. I need not have feared. We had a little siesta and shower before walking to the Orchard Drive shopping areas then wandered into the Paragon centre where I was pulled swiftly outta there after falling in love with a pair of sparkly wedges that cost eleventy billion dollars. Next we had a coffee and checked out the world from a window seat at the Tiong Bahru Bakery. The daughter was enroute from a ghastly Shakespeare exam so we met up and headed for Boon Tat street. Now… I had been told to savour some Satay in this said street, and after marching the hubster and daughter up and down this Satay street for 5 times searching for the best satay, was flummoxed that I couldn’t find Satay at all! The hubster was starting to get hangry, so we settled in a very friendly little place. The lovely chap suggested little Asian DimSum and various dishes and we devoured them excitedly. They were very cute, well executed and fragrant. We stayed around an hour, quaffed a couple of cheeky vinos and then walked to Chinatown via a very strange alley that backed onto several restaurants. I peered into the kitchens and witnessed an array of exciting produce. I felt slightly uneasy at raw fish not being on a Blue chopping board, but guess colour coding isn’t the top of the agenda in Singapore. We wandered about Chinatown which I guess is much better at night and took a Uber to Clarke Quay where we hopped on a river cruise. We spent a fab forty- five minutes seeing all the iconic buildings and learning about the very interesting history whilst soaking up the sun and taking selfies. After this, we returned back to catch up on our sleep for a couple of hours before heading back to Clarke Quay for Dinner and drinkies. We invited Kayley from Maryland who has been buds with Melina the past few months to join us. Kayley, being a student also, was totally up for eating properly for a change and we decided at the girls request to dine Mexican by the river. It was apparently happy hour, but there wasn’t anything happy about the measures of Chardonnay and frankly knocking off one dollar a drink isn’t the type of happy hour I’m used to. I knocked back three Chardonnays and still felt as sober as a judge. The food was great though, Mexican Calamari and quesadillas for me. Totally scrumptious. We walked after dinner and went to a very undyynamic bar that brought out cocktails one at a time. We had ordered four and I think the bar chap only had one shaker poor thing. The hubster and I left the girls and went for one more drink at the Canary Bar on the fourth floor at the Grand Park hotel. This place is so relaxing and we sat near the pool outside and had another minuscule Chardonnay costing eleventy billion pounds. My goodness Singapore is quite pricey but lovely. It’s a wonderful place and I’m thankful for its safety that’s protected my cherub for the past few months.

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The Restaurant at Coworth Park Ascot.

  • My blogging has been a tad non existent of late. Mainly because I’ve been concentrating on work and also because I just haven’t been delighted! This however took a positive change yesterday.  I’d been looking forward to a lovely rest over Easter like many, and when the hubster suggested we go to Coworth Park for Lunch, I literally leapt out of my chair and trotted off upstairs in search of something elasticated and elegant to wear. We invited our very good friends Mike and Jayne and set off up the very congested and rainy M4.  Memories of my husband’s placing my of a green house in my Dining room (due to lack of germination) and constant headache inducing  sawing dispersed as I enjoyed my Pear Mimosa in the very busy bar at Coworth. We went through to the Restaurant around 2pm and decided to choose from the ‘Best of British’ menu which priced at just £35 for three courses is just such an acceptable priced treat. I chose Asparagus soup to begin with followed by Potato dumplings with Kale in line with my less meat more vino current diet. The hubster had went fishy in line with a Good Friday theme and opted for a beautiful Salmon starter garnished with Gin and nestersions (are they making a comeback?) and then Monkfish. It’s very evident to see why this restaurant has just gained a Michelin star. The style of food is clean, modern and with not too many elements, but extremely well executed, perfectly cooked but not overly busy nor chaotic. The little touches are very important like the selection of butters to go with your sourdough and the Little American styled Dinner roll with something tomatoey at the bottom which arrived with the soup. I’m a big fan of simple plates and save being served at the table to add a little wow factor. The food and service were spot on and humble and just perfect. We had some desserts and lovely cheese before taking coffee and fresh mint tea in another room used for Afternoon Tea. We then took a buggy to have a peek at the Spa and wandered around the grounds with huge brollies and light hearts. What a wonderful afternoon and start to Easter! Highly recommended.

Glorious Crete.

The family and I have just returned from two stunning weeks in Crete.  To begin with my expectations were average as I imagined Crete to be living in the shadows of Santorini and others.  I was completely blown away and smitten and have got severe withdrawal symptoms from my latest love.  Crete is a perfect holiday destination, from its picture perfect coastline with clear waters, to its beautiful beaches coupled with an abundance of things to see and do.  Being six of us this year including my two teenage nephews we opted for the Sensatori resort which is all- inclusive.  To be frank, this may not be my preferred way of board option, but with teenagers it’s a great way of having plenty of options and all times of day.  If the little cherubs go clubbing for example and miss breakfast, it’s no skin off my nose if they go grab a snack to keep the going till Lunch.  Alternatively, if the darlings spill a cocktail/ milkshake or ice-cream, the can just get another.  If they want endless passion fruit Martinis, then not a issue.  Being on campus however gets a little tedious after one has unwinded the first three days, so we do always ensure that we go out for dinner, day trips and Lunch at local places to provide the needed balance to our holiday.  This all said, I am a fan of the Sensatori brand and enjoyed an amazing time at their Side property last year.  I’d like to visit them all actually, plus Rhodes and Croatia are joining  the portfolio in the next year or so.  My highlights of the holiday included Elounda, Agios Nikolaos and namely the journey between the two resorts.  Sissi bay was beautiful although a little more touristy.  We hired a car and explored, and also took the buses which were intact coaches with much needed air-conditioning.  Water sports were in abundance for the children to enjoy, and for semi- tame clubbing, Hersonissos was ideal.  Hersonissos, I adored, especially the Old town, and I’ve found an amazing restaurant called Cavos of which was serene at lunchtime and packed out at dinner.  Fishing boats would arrive during dinner to offload the gorgeous fresh Red Mullet to the waters edge where we sat on whitewashed chairs sipping the local vino.  All in all, I’m feeling much refreshed and the teens had a great time too.  Highly recommended.

Who needs New York when one resides in Newbury?

To be honest, one has been feeling a tad glum of late.  Things have not been going too well for me work wise, however I’m all about positive thinking and looking at the bright side of life.  I’m also into reading positive quotes and  poetry of which I can identify with and generally doing everything I can to keep my pecker up.  I’ve taken to writing a journal, and am having a bit of therapy to get any negativity out of my mind and must say this really helps.  Whilst maintaining a positive stance, I decided to seek the positives in the home town that I reside in,  as all too often we can become consumed with gloom.  I hope that this will be useful for any one visiting or just a general reminder to my neighbours!

Here we go then, in no particular order.

1- The Racecourse.  I’m no expert on racecourses, but I believe it to be a decent course.  I certainly have a jolly good time whenever I go.  I tend to go racing maybe three or four times a year.  I’ve got a good mate who invites me to her box, and I get very merry on the endless champers.  I love a day at the races, never win anything but it’s a good craic.

2-The Corn Exchange. I love this little theatre, I prefer going to the cinema here too, it’s much more intimate, and you can take a glass of vino in with you.  I’ve been to many a production here, and the Pantomimes are hysterical at Christmas.

3-Highclere Castle.  It’s stunning and full of Downtown Abbey charm.  Events happen here all the time.  Its wonderful for the odd tour, also it’s a fabulous Wedding venue.

4-The Vineyard Hotel.  I of course have to mention this place.  The hubster runs it, one of the most special places to dine, with the most amazing wine list.  The bedrooms are luxurious, service is sublime.  If they don’t get a michelin star this year, then I’ll be well miffed. The afternoon tea is awesome too.

5-The Woodspeen. Another lovely place to eat.  Michelin starred, but very relaxed whilst being high end at the same time.  One of the best steaks I’ve eaten demolished by moi recently.  Really like this place, plus there is a cookery school too.

6-The Walks.  There are plenty of local country walks, from The Chase at Woolten hill, to Snelsmore Common, to The Ridgeway. Great for the canine babies.

7-Golf.  We seem to have an abundance of Golf courses.  Donnington Valley is one of the best, but seriously there are loads to suit all budgets.

8-Spas. Again The Vineyard hotel and Donnington Valley both have lovely Spas where one can chill and luxuriate one.

9-Shopping.  Well, this is a tricky one, as our Town centre is a bit of a patchwork.  There are a few nice shops and chain restaurants, but also a few dire ones.  It’s probably best if you’re going to venture into Town to park at The Parkway end.  We have the usual favourites plus some goodish coffee shops.  Waterstones has been revamped and worth a little pop into for a coffee and a flick through some pages.

  • 10-Must say I’m struggling now! But Angelica’s Terrace in Camp Hopson, Newbury’s main department store is worth a little jaunt to.  It’s recently been refurbished and sells coffee, teas, Proscecco and Artisan products amongst other things. The furnishings are very glam, it’s quite lovely and you can sit Al fresco on the terrace and look across lovely Newbury!

Langlands Brasserie, Langlands Bay.  

I just feel that I need to share this glorious place.  We stumbled upon this gorgeous fishy led Brasserie last October when we visited offspring number one at Swansea university.  My thoughtful hubby booked this place for Sunday lunch and I couldn’t wait to go back.  Booking is necessary as it’s really busy and easy to see why.  We opted yesterday for the really reasonably priced Sunday Lunch.  The weather was not too stunning, but that didn’t stop the enjoyment of being inside the buzzy gorgeousness that Langlands Brasserie is.  I opted for juicy plump Mussels as I always do when they’re in offer, braised to perfection in a creamy, white wine and Thyme jus.  Then I savoured the Roast Beef, which was cooked to perfection and served with all the trimmings.  The vino was a mega gluggable Merlot which warmed the cockles on a nippy day.  No space sadly for pud but went on a hilly and glorious walk instead.  This place is so adorable, it’s vibrant, lively and the staff look like they’re having fun.  We’ll be back really soon.

Fuzzy feeling recognition.

We all love to be recognised.  It’s fact of life, it makes us feel proud, stand tall and harbour feelings that transport us back into our school days.  Recognition manifests itself in three main forms.  Workplace, academic based and customer based.  Too often these days we are victims of arduous work deadlines that force fake recognition which is used to show up our colleagues who have not delivered. This naming and shaming really gets me down but this culture  is becoming far too much the norm.  

Genuine recognition is lacking as Austerity is prevalent,  cutthroat tactics bed in, people are trampling over one another to be heard, kept in work, get ahead and be be promoted.
It’s a crying shame that we don’t always support, build up and champion one another. In the long term this behaviour has a detrimental impact on business.  I am a firm believer in employees needing to be in love with its organisation for clients to fall in love with it too.  We need to dedicate more time to being human and kind in the workplace.  This in turn will have positive impact in the long run and flourish the business.

Happy workforce promotes genuine and excellent service.  An example being good old Marks and spencer.  A company rigid and unwavering in its core values.  This company for me will not dilute its brand and for me this is hugely admirable.  I used to run restaurants and operated by the same ethos, despite hitting a recession and battling cut throat competitors that could deliver cheaper offers with cheaper paid staff.  I stayed however true to myself till the bitter end, and bitter it was….

Since then, my values have remained the same.  I operate with high amounts of intergrity and honesty.  I adore my staff and build them up and develop them. I am a fighter of inclusion, diversity and have a thriving and tolerant team.  It goes unnoticed as higher managers are more concerned with bottom line profit and retaining business.  I of course get all of this, but vehemently persist that people are the core.

Going back to Marks and Spencer, in my local store, there is a woman named Jenny who works on the same till both Saturday and Sunday.  Shopping in M&S is always a pleasant experience.  Quality goods and service.  Jenny is service excellence in a nutshell.  I am sure she serves hundreds of customers but she still remembers me, who I am, and asks after the family she’s not met.

I  regularly regard the empty self- scanners and Jenny’s knee deep queue and for me this says it all.

As good old Richard Branson says, “Respect is how you treat everyone, not just those you want to impress.”

Quite Possibly the tastiest Little patties.

2017 has kicked off and one is really trying to be healthier this year.  I am power walking, Swimming and Dog walking which is blowing away the cobwebs and having an über positive impact.   I’m chuffed to report back in week one I’ve lost three and a half pounds. I decided to make some super healthy burgers and chips for Supper last night.  I have to say the Burgers were the best I’ve tasted. I gave them a Middle Eastern twist and served them with a lovely lemony and olive oil dressed salad, potato wedges Yoghurt , Garlic, cucumber and mint dip, Hummus and whole meal Pitta.  

In a bowl I combined 200 gms of minced lamb and 200 gms of mincedbeef.  I added in one really finely chopped onion, one egg, a teaspoon of Sumac, a chopped handful of Coriander, the juice and grated zest of one lime and sea flakes and black pepper.  I mixed this thoroughly with my hands, formed a large mound of meatiness and broke off 10 equal balls rolled them and flattened them.  I then grabbed a large non-stick frying pan, heated some Olive oil and pan fried my patties for around 3 minutes on each side. I gave them a good squeeze of lemon, sprinkled more coriander and Hey presto.  The wedges take around 35 minutes to cook on 180 degrees centigrade so had poppped them in 20 minutes earlier. To keep up the lightness of the dish, I popped the cork on a delightful Gavi from Waitrose priced at £11.99 and worth every penny.