Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Very Kiwi Christmas: Episode 1

Swimming in the Clutha River, Alexandra, NZ

So here we are at last! A whole two and a half years after farewelling Aotearoa, we're back in paradise on earth. Today was picture perfect Kiwi Christmas Summer Holiday stuff. Picnic, swimming, sun bathing, reading, blobbing on big towels, having sandwiches and grainwaves with ginger beer. On the banks of the idyllic Clutha river, no other souls save ourselves around. Perfection.

D's uncle K made a swing, and within half an hour of him perfecting it, a bunch of kids discovered it and were swinging from it and plunging into the river.

Soaking in the sun

We're staying in the most picturesque place in Ce ntral Otago (with D's aunt who is housesitting for a friend), replete with outdoor spa pool! Sensational. Gearing up for a massive home cooked Christmas lunch of gushpazho (sp?) soup, smoked manuka ham, new potatoes, baby carrots. berry ambrosia and dark chocolate and raspberry tart. Yum!

Me and F striking a pose - Millie waiting patiently for us to throw her a stick in the river.
It's just wonderful being with D's family again in beautiful South Island. Can't wait for Christmas! For a party of six, we have a rather disproportionate number of presents! Think a big mound. And the culture here where we open presents one by one... will guarantee a rather busy Christmas day I'm sure.
Love and warm fuzzies to all this festive season - catch you in the new year!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Singapore's Own Hady Crowned Asian Idol!

Migoodness, against better judgement, I started watching the first ever Asian Idol broadcast over the weekend. Shoddy production, sound gaffs and a so-in-your-face-you-had-to-give-them-props biased focus on Indonesian contestant Mike aside, I found myself rather hooked. And yes, I cast a 60-cent vote!

I love it when underdogs win, and this was so the case. From a frosty reception by some judges, and the fact that Singapore's population is tiny compared to the giants like India and Indonesia, Hady was up against some pretty startling odds.

But in the end, Idol is very much about commercial appeal, and I think Hady had the most regional appeal. Idol is also very much kept afloat by adolescent girls - and though there were better singers in the competition, none had his boyish charm and looks. I think Indian Idol (who was pretty cute himself) was hurt when the media focused on his wife who was supporting him in the audience.

Favourite quote of the night (And most squeamish moment)...

When Malaysian host Kui Jien said after Hady's duet of George Michael's Freedom with (rather freaky) Malaysian Idol, Jaclyn, "Singapore and Malaysia in perfect harmony. Something you don't see very often!" Can't believe he said it. Talk about a complete faux pas. May be true, but I'm reminded about one of my favourite Far Side strips: A couple of dogs standing around at a party, all holding drinks and engaged in small talk, then one dog pipes up a bit too loudly, hey did I tell you I have worms? All other dogs fall quiet.

Something like that. Well that sums up the moment for me in any case.

In any case, good on ya Hady!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Bicycle Built for Two

My bum may be smaller than D's, but my head definitely isn't. I tried many helmets until the magic one came along - a Giro Havoc helmet. The only one that fit comfortably, and set me back almost $150!

OK, so it's official. Years of angst and unfortunate nicknames aside, I now embrace the inevitable conclusion that not only is my head massive, but that I have married a man who has a perfect, regular-sized head. It confirms all the theories that people look for symmetry and regularity in their life partners. Except not sure where D was looking when he met me, hehe.

We went shopping for our scary 5-day cycling/camping Mt Cook adventure today. Went to the most excellent Joo Huat Co, located at Blk 91, Zion Rd, which we stumbled upon using the Yellow Pages. This was after a failed attempt at a supposed Bike Shop in Bukit Merah Central (which also sold mattresses!). We left after one of two brands of helmets they carried advertised it as the model with "best head-retention". Err...

Anyway so back to Joo Huat Co - the affable and knowledgeable proprietors took us through the different models of bike helmets. D ended up buying the first one he tried on, a Lazer Devil - it fit him snugly, and he looked like he was always meant to wear helmets. Then it was me. Feeling very much like Cinderella's step-sis, nay, maybe the pumpkin itself, helmet after helmet just wouldn't sit right. Which prompted lovely stoic bike shop lady to say, "eh I think she needs the biggest model for round heads!". Whereupon they got this pole with a hook at the end, and proceeded to retrieve from the highest shelf (literally) a helmet in a rather dusty box. I put it on, and can happily say it was the only model that actually covered my forehead. And it was double the price of D's Lazer. Sigh. the good thing is that it comes with a warranty and an owner's manual (what kinda helmet needs a manual?!)...

At least my butt's smaller than D's - we got pretty spiffy padded bike shorts. An Italian brand called Giordana. Apparently, made to last and should keep us comfortable for years to come.

So this wraps up an incredible retail weekend for The Turnips (that Christmas bonus better come in as scheduled!). Christmas shopping in full swing, stuff for our cycling trip, oh and of course our tickets to The Police concert (on 4 Feb) with S & Z!!! Woo hoo! In fact, am listening to the best of right now as I type! Uh doo doo doo, uh dah dah dah...

Food for Thought's peach butterscotch crumble

This weekend, we also discover what I feel will become a favourite cafe of ours here. It's called Food for Thought, on Bras Basah St (opp the National Library). The menu just made total sense to us (e.g. a bratwurst and chorizo sandwich, lychee and sage freezes), real food, pretty astounding prices (sammys around the $6-8 range, all beautifully presented with fresh salad), and a social conscience to boot. Despite the fact they they'd sold out of a lot of their desserts, they whipped up a peach butterscotch crumble for D on the spot. And they don't charge silly prices for tea - a solid $2 a cup, regardless of Japanese green or more atas camomile. We like! Oh yeah, plus they play good music. Unlike another fav place Cedele in Wheelock Place, where at more than double Food for Thought's prices, they were playing... get this... Savage Garden's Truly, Madly, Deeply but in instrumental muzak/Kenny G mode! Erk!

One of Food for Thought's social missions. (Source:

Oh and I thought I'd end off with the funniest, most random item we saw on display during our Epic Retail Expedition. This is from a shop called Action City in Bugis (where we actually got quite a lot of our presents from). It wins the most unintentionally funny Christmas present of all time.

To the Cheebie gang of Temasek Hall, this one is for you... All my love this Christmas. May '08 be filled with more of the random miracles that make up our lives.