Category Archives: Life in Bath

Pancakes with Strawberries

The (Not-so) Little Teochew updated her blog with a strawberry shortcake recipe and watching Ochikeron’s video on how to make strawberry shortcake I felt like eating strawberry shortcake. At least something with strawberry and cream. Lucky for me Sainsbury’s was having a 2 for £3 offer. Unfortunate that I made the wrong decision to buy single cream (kononnya less calories lah pffttt). Next time when in doubt, get the fatter option.

I thought of improvising a butterscotch sauce using the single cream, but the strawberries were already sweet and I was craving for the sweet-tangy flavour. The initial plan was to hand whip the cream with a light lashing of icing sugar. Attempt to whip the single cream yielded a frothy mixture that seems pretty good to top my coffee with, just not as photogenic to top pancakes with. Hungry girl is hungry so she simply wallowed the pancakes and strawberries in a pool of cream.

The next pancake recipe follows after the next picture. For the one you see above,

Pancake #1 (makes approx. 6 medium sized pancakes)

  •  1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Measure everything into a bowl and whisk the life out of it. Heat oil in pan and be patient. The pancake cooks better when the pan is properly heated. Ladle some of the batter into the pan. Dance around. When the pancake is somewhat halfway done, flip over. Shimmy for a bit and slide it out onto a plate. Repeat until the batter is finished.

This recipe is pretty much the staple for many food blogs all over the internet. Nigella and Nigel Slater uses about the same ratio of ingredients.

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This, was perfection for me.  I modified the recipe slightly with an alteration to an ingredient and to half the serving size (because six pancakes with all that cream turns me lazy and unproductive). This one smelled and tasted like Papparoti! 😀

Pancake #2 (makes approx. 3 medium sized pancakes)

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cream (I used single cream)
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tablespoons of milk (you’ll require more or less depending on how thick/runny you’d like the batter to be)

Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the vinegar to the cream and let it sit. Meanwhile, break the egg into the bowl of dry ingredients. Pour the soured cream into the mixture and beat it with a whisk – batter will be extremely thick at this point. Add milk gradually while whisking until you the batter form ribbons when you lift the whisk. It is now ready for the pan.

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Two Tunnels Greenway

Couldn’t stop gushing over the bright blue skies prominent the past few days. Discovered access to the Two Tunnels Greeway not far behind where I live and someone I met along the way told me of the Two Tunnels Festival this Saturday to mark the opening of the tunnel that extends the cycling route by about 10miles to almost Radstock (check out their poster here http://www.twotunnels.org.uk/media/twotunnels-opening-festival-poster.pdf ).

I loved that they considered wheelchair users in building the path (http://www.twotunnels.org.uk/gains.html). This faintly reminds me of a conversation I had with an ex-housemate who’s studying architecture and how catering for the disabled adds a level of complexity to the design they’re working with, hence I’m impressed that an outdoor route actually incorporates accessibility for the disabled.

My starting point was here. I walked towards Midford/Radstock until Bear Flat and returned down the path to Oldfield Park.

Had the bridge been partially done in wood it would’ve been the almost perfect setting for the bridge in Spirited Away xD

I’ve always looked over from above the bridge wondering how to get on this path. Happy now that I’ve found it!

The second green bridge on the route.

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At this point the weather turned really windy and my hair was in all directions and people gave furtive glances. The pictures looks quiet and empty as the path wasn’t crowded today. With a little patience you’ll get just enough clearing to take ’empty’ pictures.

Squashed poster.

The tunnel opens this Saturday! Woot woot! You’ll find three sparta figures near here (not pictured).

This picture is out of order: view of the rail track about two bridges away from Oldfield Park station. The starting point of the Two Tunnels route is just behind me.

Do not be deceived by the sunniness of the pictures. It’s still FHREAKING COLD and snowing in some parts of UK.

Have not been updating much as so many things happened, so many words I’d like to write, and owing the amount of time I like to spend on a single post (resizing pictures, upload, write, edit, write, edit) I wouldn’t have time  for procrastinating coursework. Since I still have a few more days of Easter break left and the mojo to write, I’ll probably write a couple of post before the next hiatus.

Bath On Ice

Snow’s fun when its fresh, fluffy like cotton candy, white, pretty. Then it solidifies, turning the pavements and roads into a free-for-all ice rink. Pedestrians sliding and skidding, cars and buses losing grip on the icy hills, bendy buses and trailers jack-knifed causing gridlocks, and motorists abandon their cars on the road side continuing the traffic congestion the next day.

Chaos.

Observing the local traffic news reminds me of the KL scene during heaving rain and flooding, except that the cars have a lot less grip on the ice. It occurs to me that the drivers here are not very prepared to drive in wintry weather. Using the regular threaded tyres on slippery surface is one thing, there are plenty out there who did not clear the inches of snow from the top of their cars before driving out (crazy people).

The following pictures were taken during the first and second day of snow last week. I headed out for a bit in the morning, had fresh snow for breakfast, rolled around in the snow as morning workout before hitting the books again. Missing out on snowball fights SUCKS but flunking sucks harder hence the decision to stay in. I lost my wellies during the summer (don’t ask how or why), so in my trusty Converse I ventured out for groceries and penguin shuffled much to the amusement of passers-by.

7.30-ish a.m of the first day of snow. Lymore Gardens, Bath.

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Discovered Narnia behind our backyard!

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Frozen playground.

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Frosty pathway.

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Oldfield Park rail station.

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P.S : Exams over! Weewooooo!

Empty Streets, Abandoned Tracks

Christmas is the time of the year again when the streets would be deserted, shops closed, public transport halted. For some it would be a day of joy, or a day of depression, or a day of boredom. I stayed up and woke up late, spent half a day finishing Merlin Season 5, took a walk to stretch my legs before going on a Running Man (an extremely fun Korean variety show) spree.

Last year I lived in one of Bath’s eminent location, a stone’s throw from the Royal Crescent and a roll down the hill to Victoria Park. This year I lived in Oldfield Park, where the student population density is one of the highest in Bath. Taking the opportunity of the zero rail service and very light traffic I took some shots standing in the middle of the railway line and on the road.

I’m sure many of us were saying our thanks to the heavens for not raining on Christmas. There was a slight shower early morning, the rest of the day was pretty mild for a winter’s day.

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New Year’s resolution. Save my a$$ off  for a decent DSLR and then save up a bit more to get those swashbuckling prime lenses (let’s see how far I get by 2014).

Took a sneak shot of my neighbour’s mistletoe. I wanted to take pictures of the Christmas-kiasu neighbours with their lights, but was afraid someone might come after me with a frozen leg of lamb for breaching privacy or what not. My red winter jacket’s too distinct. Even if I run I might bump into them on the streets. Jeng jeng jenggg.

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Spent almost the entire Boxing Day at home save a trip to Sainsbury’s local to stock up on tissue rolls and milk. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do any shopping though. Couldn’t resist bargains on ZARA and ASOS online stores and bought a couple of belated Christmas presents for I am my own Santa.

An additional note about Muslims prohibited from celebrating Christmas, that is because Christmas is associated with the Birth of Jesus who is worshipped as the Son of God. This is syirik in Islam – Allah does not have an offspring or is He an offspring of another.

I say, check your intentions before wishing another person Merry Christmas. For most of us, Christmas is the few occasions for a proper family gathering and this nurtures relationships, silaturrahim which is enocuraged in Islam. So it’s fine to wish your neighbours a good time with their family and friends. Christmas dinners aren’t mandatory though you can always take part as long you aren’t saying they’re prayers and the turkey is halal 😉

One thing I noted while I was out taking pictures on Christmas, more than half of the people I encountered on the streets either look unhappy or have a blank expression. Nobody wished anybody else “Merry Christmas”. Next time I should wear a reindeer headband and bounce around singing “Jingle Bells” at the top of my lungs.

NOT.

Slacker

Skipped today’s last lecture (and the fifth lecture I skived this week) as my tummy was feeling uncomfortable and mucus was about to clog up my brain.  Thankfully I wasn’t sneezing my head off during the lectures before, would have been funny if the Madlab lecturer kept getting interrupted with an “AH-CHOO!” every 5 seconds.

Single digits, negatives, and water freezing point temperatures are making it increasingly difficult to sleep and get out of bed the next morning. I tend to wake up at least once in the middle of the night and when the alarm rings the next morning, it’s way too comfortable in the duvet to roll out and embrace the chill. The bathroom is practically the same temperature as it is outdoors.

I was gossiping about some of the other second year retakes with a couple of friends over lunch, and core of discussion was how come these people are repeating second year when they are so bright?

Tabled was student A and student B. Student A was reported to know A LOT of things and can even replace the lab demonstrator to explain how the experimental rigs work. This student scored 4A* for his A-levels. Student B is very quiet and hardly interacts with the current batch. The one time I copied – and copied this student’s assignment – I scored 95%.

As for myself, I was crazy busy doing 9342750983 academically unrelated things and came exam time, there was an overwhelming amount of studies to cram and my neurons fizzled out. Not to mention I screwed up the Madlab module which was a 12 credit module (other modules are either 6 or 3 credits), therefore sinking the elephant.

For whatever reasons the other brilliant students had to repeat the year, lesson learnt is that shit can happen even to the best of us. Second year is one massive step up from first year, and I’m a bit grateful to not be in my final year now given the shaky state of my academics. Also I get some time to recover from all the stresshitdrama before entering the final leg of my degree studies.

Pre-departure

I need to learn how to take things easy. Getting agitated over little things will take me nowhere. Right now feels almost like how I felt before my exams which ended not too long ago. The anxiety, the stress, and the massive amount of work to be done feels too similar except the assignment is not the sit-in-exam-hall-with-pen-and-paper type.

The problem with me when things become rather overwhelming is that I lapse into a period of procrastination. The act of procrastination then leads to more stress as the workload piles up and I have to rush to do so many things in the last minute. More often than not when this happens, Murphy’s Law kicks in and plans start falling apart like collapsing Jenga blocks.

There’s still laundry hanging to dry, clothes strewn across the bed, waiting to be folded and packed into my mid-sized luggage. Hopefully everything can fit without getting over the weight limit. Or that the weight indicator gets stuck at the maximum luggage allowance so I get away with it :p

The HR office of the company I’m supposed to be doing my internship with has yet to come back to me with the details. Tentative start date is on Thursday morning and I touch down the night before. My mind would be more at ease if I know the details in advance so I can plot a rough idea of how to get through the day after a long haul flight. If under any circumstances should they turn me down in the last minute, I would prefer to be informed now. There are so many pending plans and decisions which rely on the timing arrangements of the internship.

Receiving a notification shortly before the closing time of the Student Service center of the university to come collect a letter from UKBA today simply upped my frustration levels. My student visa has been “accidentally curtailed” a few weeks ago, so I need that letter for a smooth re-entry back into UK. I’ll have to pop over to the campus to say hello and get the letter from the Student Service center, return home, bring myself and the luggage over to train station. I sincerely hope that I do not have to apply for a new visa. I absolutely loath the conditions of the application center and had such a nightmare doing my applications a few years back. Super kanasai.

I hope tomorrow will go well. It’s difficult to feel excited about finally going home when you’re stressed about so many things.

I need to take things easy.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Looking on the bright side, I was treated to aeropress filter coffee and almond croissant breakfast and sushi dinner (separately by two different people) today and met up with a lot of friends and had fun the past couple of weeks. From the unexpected dinner date after a scenic walk down Bathwick Hill from university, getting kicked out of a pub for looking too young and not having valid I.D to verify age, swearing out loud in the cinema watching The Dictator because I got too grossed out by 60% of the scenes, indoor tea party because it rained during the Jubilee which stretched for 12 hours (I got home at past 4am), to taking my visiting friends a walk along the canal on a surprisingly lovely couple hours of summer (before it returned to the wet, gloomy, English weather), I should take time to count my blessings everyday.

Amateur Theatre

The ordeal is over! Banzai!

I have just finished with a Malaysian cultural theatre performance in Bath in which I was playwright and director. Over the winter holidays, exams in January, and throughout the entire semester my head was a mess of engineering and arts with frustration levels constantly on high. The Easter break has begun but I’ve still a deadline due 9am tomorrow morning, Matlab coursework backlog to clear, and ASPEN coursework due after the break. The gorgeous weather and view of a fun fair right outside my window doesn’t help to increase productivity either.

I have always loved being part of a performing group be it dancing or acting (I’ve never sang onstage before). However, being a director is a whole new experience for me and so is scriptwriting. All in all, the casts and dancers did an amazing job and lines of the script is still stuck in some of our heads, making way into ordinary conversations fitting into almost any given situation.

Getting started on the script was difficult. I had a friend to constantly badger me for drafts, one act or one part a day. The first draft had way too many characters and the story line was a drag but I kept writing anyway. After letting the story in my head simmer and stew for a bit, I cut the story short and finished the script towards the end of February (the performance was on the 31st March). I used mostly ordinary words and short sentences, which probably explains how the lines were memorable. The first complete run through of the play in entirety took two and a half hours, the next few took two hours, and it turned out during the actual performance the total run time was one hour.

What kind of a play lasts only an hour from start to end?

Maybe my work should be classified as a mini-theatre?

I hoped the little gathering after the performance with complimentary bandung and bubur pulut hitam made up for it. Members of the audience hung about quite a while that we actually had to nicely ask them to leave so we could start packing up props and keep the costumes.

The play was meant to be serious but it turned out COMEDY. The audience was in stitches everywhere! The actors deserve an applause for not laughing loudly on stage. During one of the rehearsals, the whole room burst in laughter and we were on a merry-go-round of acting, laughing, and calming ourselves down.

Feedback from non-Malaysians who watched the play – it was very entertaining but they do not quite understand the story line. A cast member mentioned I could have added a bit more scene depicting several aspects of the main plot to build on the details peppered in conversations between the characters. Noted.

If you were part of the audience or even cast/crew on that day, do let me know of any comments, ideas, or general feedback. This is for self-improvement, as well as pointers I could share with the next committee organising similar events in the future.

I was told the transitions between scenes were quite smooth and it was difficult to hear anybody backstage – this is good! Many times over I had to tell the casts and dancers to keep quite off-stage during practice. I also had them to stow away their mobile phones – young adults nowadays (myself included) are attached to these pieces of devices. We can’t live without them. I would panic if I were to lose my phone.

I felt a tinge of disappointment at the lack of pictures or recording of the Chinese dance at the beginning of the performance. Even the applause wasn’t as loud as the other dances 😦 .I’m guessing the way I fitted the dance into the play was a little unexpected, and because the rather unusual combination I used everyone put their cameras down to watch carefully. I don’t know.

The lack of audience appreciated reminded me of one of my works which my art teacher commented “too creative” that he couldn’t understand it. My concern – what’s the point of creativity if you cannot get your message across?

The choreography was original and as far as Youtube is concerned, I don’t think anyone else has used the song for a fan dance. I kept the fan dance movements simple and basic as I was constrained by limited time to train the dancers (I also had to direct the play) while bearing in mind of the members who are doing dancing or dancing a fan dance for the first time. I’m very happy with my dancers, especially the boys who did so much better than during practices.

I would like to thank everyone who was involved in this performance from the cast and crew members to the audience for making it a success!

To the cast and crew, big thanks for putting up with the director! 😉

February Snow

I’ll put politics aside for the time being and enjoy the snow while it lasts. WordPress, bring back the snow theme please!

This is the view of the allotment behind my flat a couple of hours after it started snowing.

This picture was taken earlier this week.

Not too far off, about the same venue, at a different angle and climate, today.

I had my wellies on and held an umbrella in one hand while took pictures with the other. I lost the other side of my only pair of gloves quite sometime ago, so by the time I returned home (which was almost an hour later), they were frozen stiff.

There were even parent pushing their babies in prams at Victoria Park.

The note which has been stuck on this bench since autumn was still there, flowers and all.

Might venture out for more snow shots and may even roll a snow man tomorrow morning if the snow stays overnight.

A Modest Celebration

Nothing beats exam stress like chanting “First Class! First Class!” while tossing random vegetables in the air. Enter second week of exams and I took the kitchen to the room, shredding cucumbers, carrots, red cabbage, and red pepper for nearly an hour, and peeling quarter of a pomelo to make yee sang. There’s only so much design equations and formulas you can take in a day and I find cooking/assembling a dish a good break. It’s more productive than drooling over recipes for hours during revision break.

I took ideas from here. For my version I used half of a carrot, two leaves of a red cabbage (which is actually dark purple in colour), half a red pepper, half a cucumber, quarter of a pomelo, a heap of mee hoon (cooked as per pack instructions), Sainsbury’s Basics Smoked Salmon Trimmings, and a drizzle of chopped mixed nuts. For the sauce; Lee Kum Kee’s Plum Sauce and a generous dash of lime juice. You will be able to find all the ingredients in Sainbury’s, although I bought the mee hoon and plum sauce from an oriental store. Considering it was a first try, the result was good. Not as fancy as the ones you would get in hotels or restaurants back in Malaysian/Singapore, but I was happy with it. It was plum sauce overload too, making it “the Chinese version of Rojak” (Chong, 2012).

Happy Lunar New Year to all celebrating! Wishing everyone and their loved ones abundance of wealth and health for the year ahead 🙂

 

Toppings and Company Booksellers

Revision is progressing at a snail’s pace, I’ve got a script for a play to finish, and applications for internships with deadlines looming to start. What better way to forget your worries for a while and immerse yourself in little havens of fictions and various literature. Popped into Toppings and Co. after lunch about a week ago. Lovely place. You don’t find bookstores with this kind of ambience back home.

Quite a number of the books they sell are autographed by the authors. You can also find first editions here. They have a wide array of maps for people who fancy travelling. Loved the idea of complimentary tea or coffee while you browse. Perhaps one of these days I should come by with samples of my cupcakes and befriend the manager and the staffs. Hehehe 😉