Saturday, 14 November 2015

Warner Brother Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter

I belong to the generation that grew up reading Harry Potter.  I remember when I was first introduced to the book.  It was when my mum was sent on assignment in the UK for the first time and she sent us all the UK HP Edition book.  I remember not knowing how to pronounce Hermione.  I used to call her Hermi-one whilst my cousin called her Hermi-yown.  I was fascinated with the book and wizardry just like all the kids my age.  I had to learn British words which is so different to my American training. Can you imagine learning British English when English is not actually our first language?  It is amazing how I understood the film despite having difficulty understanding British English when I first moved in the UK.

My husband's siblings including himself is a big Harry Potter fan.  I admit, I enjoyed the film and the book but they can remember each and every detail on the film.  I probably have outgrown it but they could watch it over and over again and get excited about it still.  I remember my husband mentioning how excited he is when the little one can understand the film and he can introduce the baby to the world of Harry Potter.

My tips when going to the WB Harry Potter Studio:

1.  Book in advance.  I think you might be able to go for the day without booking but there is no guarantee.  It is always good to plan.

2.  Bring cash and loads of it.  If you are a big Harry Potter fan, there is a a tendency to buy all souvenirs.  You can buy wands, marauders map and broom.  There is no shortage of things that you can buy from the film.  You just have to restrain yourself.

3.  Try the Butter Beer.  I won't ruin it for you but you will be able to tell which drink it is.  You can probably recreate it at home.  You can buy the cup that comes with it which is always a novelty.  I bought 2 and gave one to my sister. 

4.  Bring camera that can take good photo in the darkness.  

5.  Use comfortable footwear.  You will spend majority of your time walking or queueing up.

6.  Enjoy the Diagon Alley.  Going to the HP World is like going to IKEA.  Once you passed the area, you will have a difficulty going back.  It is best to enjoy everything at your pace.  :)

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Nigella Lawson's Book Signing

One of the perks of living in the first world country is accessibility of the people you see on telly.  I know, this is a travel blog but it is worth mentioning (I think) that our cooking idols and celebrities that we love are very accessible.  I am only human after all.

If you like movie stars, please check the Leicester Square Premier schedule if you ever visit London.  We saw Marion Cottilard and Johnny Depp on purpose and the cast of World's End unplanned. 

I was excited to see Nigella.  I admit, I watched loads of cooking shows even before I started to cook.  I learnt all the principles that equipped me to be the cook that I am today.  Ang bigat.  Growing up in Manila, you have access to Filipino celebrities but to see chefs, you have to have a connection.  There is only one cook that I want to meet and will queue up for book signing and I am glad that I have met her in person.  

Sunday, 11 October 2015

London Day Trip

I can't stress how much I love London.  When I was younger, I wanted to move to the city.  It wasn't as expensive then as it is now.  To give you an idea, a Brixton one bedroom flat is almost the same price as our 3 bedroom detached house in Wokingham.  Wokingham is not cheap by any standards BUT London has been very unachievable lately.  

Currently, there are a lot of free museums in London.  You can go to the British Museum, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern and Victoria and Albert Museum for free.  You will have to pay for some exhibition but you can just go for the day and not spend money and see "treasures" of the past and modern art.  I tend to go to at least one when I visit London.  It just makes me feel cultured.  Hahaha.

For my sister's bday, we planned for 3 things:

1.  Louis Vuitton Series 3 Exhibition 

This is free and we obtain the ticket by downloading online.  I work in the Fashion Industry and is very much interested in Fashion so I like to keep myself updated on the trends.  Although we buy for Health and Beauty, it is still a good exposure to see what is new and to take inspiration from them.

2.  Tree by Ai WeiWei

This was free from the Royal Academy of Arts as well.  This is the second exhibition that I have seen of him.  The first one was the sunflower seeds exhibition in Tate Modern.

3.  Ice Bar

This is something that we have to pay for and book in advance.  It is literally a bar made entirely of ice.  Drinks are served in ice glasses.  You have to go on your allotted time and leave when you needed to.  There is no cheating as you will be asked to leave and you know when your time is up as they stop the music.  :P  I admit, it is a bit gimmicky for my taste but everyone should try anything once and I am not getting any younger.  The place is good for photo opportunities although it can get a bit crowded.  Camera phones might not work all the time as the temperature is freezing but it is still good fun.  :)

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

I will say this again, I love my husband's sense of adventure.  I admire his ability to overcome boredom by coming up with a plan.  :-P When we are both free and the weather is good, he takes me to places which I/we haven't been.  I don't know where he gets the idea.  But Luke genuinely loves to explore.  Where I like to know exactly where to go, he will push further and see what's out there.  I think this is why our relationship works - he is able to push me slowly out of my boundaries and he is able to introduce me to a lot of experiences.  They don't need to be expensive, as long as we are together and we enjoy the company, we are happy.

Cheddar as you have guessed is the home of legit Cheddar Cheese.  In the old times, according to my husband, all Cheddar Cheeses has to come from Cheddar, Somerset.  They have an actual museum in Cheddar where you can see how they make the cheese old school.  The Gorge is famous for rock climbing and walks.  There would be loads of Pay and Display on the area where you can park your car.  Just make sure that you have change ready.

 This was one of the rare occasions where I was in my sneaker.  Nowadays, casual shoes is all I wear.  I gave most of my high heels to charity as I don't have need for them anymore.  I can always buy when I need some don't I?  

I can't even begin to describe how charming this place is.  I have been to a lot of places in England and this is just truly unique.  It combines the old village feel with tea houses and ice cream parlours with adventure of going to the cave, hiking and climbing.  It is definitely worth going for the day for.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Reading Festival

2015 was the year that I went crazy with gigs.  My taste in music varies depending on who I am with and what year we are talking about.  In Uni, I listen to ska/reggae and alternative, indie/indie pop and some main stream hip hop and soul in High School.  Sometimes I listen to Jazz and Bossa too.  Let's just say that I am very open and enjoy variety of music.

I lived in Reading when I first moved in the UK.  So naturally, this is not my first Reading Festival.  I went in 2009 when Kings of Leon was hot.  I wanted to go again in 2015 because I want to see Bastille.  I am glad that I went now as, fast forward to the future (May 2016), I am currently 8 months pregnant.

There are loads of things to consider when attending Reading Fest:

1.  What to wear.  This is not Coachella.  People genuinely go to this festival because they enjoy music.  Americans vs British Music Festival is very much the opposite.  People dress up but they don't dress up to look cute.  Usually, it is sensibility  that reigns - rain boots (as the British weather is so unpredictable), light jackets, onesie.  It can vary.

2.  Arrive early.  If you are camping out, I can't help you as I only go for the day.  I am not the camping type as you can see on my blog.  I love the luxury of hot water and hotel.  If you are going for the day, I suggest going early especially if you are watching acts.  We had to queue up for an hour to get in.   Don't try anything stupid like bringing illegal stuff as you will be searched.  To be fair, we have seen people with drugs but I don't do drugs so I will not know how to smuggle them.

3.  Bring some cash.  Most concessions are cash only.  You can collect used pints in exchange of money.  I have seen some kids collect them.  

4.  Bring some wipes.  This is a festival and hygiene is always a question.  This is the reason why we sell Dry Shampoo and Dry Soap in Primark.  Yes, I work for the team that buys them.  :P

5.   Don't do anything stupid like queue jump.  We saw a guy, on the first day of the festival try to queue jump and was stopped by the marshals.  He embarrassed himself.

6.  If your favourite act is popular, try to push in front or get a good view before the actual act starts performing.  Bastille was so popular that everyone was stayed to watch it.  I say, more than Mumford and Sons.

7.  Download the app.  I think this is quite helpful so you can plan what you want to watch.  On that day, we saw Palma Violets, Panic! at the disco, Bastille, Alt J, Mumford and Sons, Limp Bizkit, just to name a few.

I learn a few things on this festival.  One, you should be with the company that will enjoy the same music as you are and two, my husband hates going to festival.  I don't want to say that he is old because I have seen older people in the crowd but he genuinely hates being grazed but kids who are drunk and or taking drugs.  At one point, he told the kid to get away from us.  :-P   

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Day trip to the Sea Side - Worthing

I struggled getting into the job that I wanted when I moved in the UK.  First, I didn't have the right degree although I have the right training.  I did Business Management in Uni but it was in a Philippine University.  I have retail management/ merchandising and manufacturing experience back home.  I wanted to go to Retail Buying Office in the UK but I ended up working in shops at first then I luckily did some buying for Thames Water until finally, I landed a job in Primark.  I had to sacrifice loads of time and weekends just to get to the job I am in today.  For few years, I am an absentee wife whilst I try to build my career and get into what I wanted but my husband looked after us.  This is why Luke and I would do anything when we get our weekends off together.  His is guaranteed as he works in the office whilst mine was not.  Summer is especially peak in retail.  

England is a great place if you can drive.  There are so much things to see or do depending on what you fancy.  You can be shopping in London, eating Fish and Chips in Brighton and visiting Windsor Castle.  I guess that would be the perk living in the South.  If you can't drive, the trains are well connected too but you have to plan your trip to include delays. 

Whenever Luke and I get the chance and the weather is good, we tend to go driving.  We liked to explore areas which we haven't been before.  This is why we have random day trips everywhere.  Luke genuinely loves to drive when the weather is good.  We chose Worthing because we haven't been and it's good to go to the seaside during summer.  Very very British.  :)

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Bad Girls Reunion - Bali 2015

It is amazing what a difference a year makes.  Since my last post, I fell pregnant, got a job in Buying Head Office and moved house in the suburbs.  I have been busy with work and life that I don't have the luxury of time to blog anymore.  I am currently on my Maternity Leave and whilst waiting for the arrival of the little one, I thought I should update this blog.  :P

Bali was chosen just because it was so hyped up during that time.  Like every Filipino celebrities were holidaying in Bali and the photos looks amazing.  

We rented a villa in Seminyak then my hubby and I moved to Sanur for the remainder of the trip.

Day 1 - Seminyak at Night

Seminyak is one of those tourist driven places.  If you like accessibility, then stay in this area.  The beach is walking distance and you have different variety of foreign restaurants, massage places and shops.  You will be spoilt for choice.  Cash machines are everywhere so are the money exchange areas.  But beware, don't go to dodgy dark streets to exchange money and you might get mugged or come back with money less than expected.  If I have to go back to Bali again, I will bring strong currencies like GBP and Dollars.  I took Philippine Peso with me and lost 25% of it's value on the first day.  I felt robbed but I should have done more research.   It was such a novice move on my part.

On our first night, naturally, we have to check the area.  We can't decide where to go so we ended up in one of the "carinderia" type to get a feel of the Balinese food and we weren't disappointed.  It was good value for money and we naturally had a great night.  :)

Day 2 - Tours 

It is amazing how quickly you get lured into doing cultural tours.  I will say this again, I go to a country thinking I won't be able to go back, therefore, I will do anything.  The villa management provided us with tour ideas.  You know, laminated photos of places of interest.  I am sure you have an idea what I am talking about if you have been anywhere in Asia.  We only have to pay for the driver for the day to take us and all other expenses will be paid by us.  This works well in a big group as the more members you have, the less you have to pay.  To be fair, it isn't a lot but if you are on a tight budget, this is recommended. The driver took us to a place which they show you how to weave which happens to be adjacent to the place which sells overpriced woven items and souvenirs, to the temples where you should come covered, the the luwak farm just because you are in Bali and you must do it and to a place resembling a rice farm.  As a Filipino whose grandma owned a rice farm, this is nothing new to me.  But seeing this in my husband's eyes, this must be what European considered exotic.  :P

Day 3 - Nusa Dua

Am I right to assume that everyone who has been to Bali has been to Nusa Dua?  We spent the morning of our third day sunning and tanning just because you don't come back from a beach holiday white skinned.  :P  The beach is clean and the area is not so crowded.  Having seen Bali, you have to carefully plan which beach you want to go to.  It is big and it caters to different crowds.  If you are into surfing, staying in Seminyak is a good option but don't follow my advise.  You have to do more research.  :)

Just like all Asian tourist places, or tourist places in general, you have to pay for the sun lounger.  You will be offered a menu and get the lounger for free which of course, we availed.  We brought our drinks with us as the villa provided us with a cooler but we purchased the food on the day.  Food = free sun lounger.  If you are fuzzy about toilets, then you might have a problem with this.  The toilet provided is shall I say, not European standards.  It might not be true on all places in this area but definitely on this beach.  The massages are offered as well.  You can haggle the price but I suggest not doing this as this people make a living through the tourist.  Think about helping the economy and the local people.  Sometimes, I am self righteous like that.  

Day 4 - Souvenirs

Husband went diving this day and we spent the whole day looking for souvenirs.  Okay, this is not your typical touristy souvenir place.  My cousin actually found a market that sells cheaper than usual items.  We might be earning a lot of money (considering the GBP/Australian dollar conversion) but we are not stupid with our money.  Going to places like this is part of the experience.

When we arrived on the market, we had no clue on where to go.  We started browsing but because we look lost, the lady helped direct us to the stall which sells batik cloth.  I am using the word help lightly.  If you want to go shopping in peace, don't ask for help or make eye contact.  We were taken to her sister to buy the batik and because it is her sister, we had to buy from here mother and to everyone else she knows.  It is like a scam.  You don't have to buy of course but she will start pestering you.  :P  We ended up buying one from here sister and her and the rest we just browsed ourselves.  

On the way home, we had to rent a van and haggled our way to get to the villa.  I know, haggling is a recurring theme but if you don't ask, you don't get right?  It pays to be Asian as well, I think.

This is one of the famous spots where Filipino Celebrities go.  The cute colour always get me.  :P

Day 5 -  Sanur Arrival

We originally plan to leave on the fifth day but since we have nothing planned in Manila, Luke and I thought that we should stay a bit longer in Bali.  We found a hotel on the last minute which have it's own beach.  We even have wi-fi.  :)  Really, really important in a foreign place.  

The plan was originally to go to Gili's island.  Noone told us that it will take hours to get there.  We thought that you take a ferry and that's it, you are in Gili's but it is more complicated than that.  Sanur is less touristy that Seminyak.  Less restaurant choices and slower pace.    I remember going to the beach on the first day and having massage only to have been hassled the whole treatment as the lady said, she offered first. Definitely less zen experience but what can I do?  They need to make money and need to learn boundaries.

Day 6 - Lembongan Island

From Seminyak, you have to take an hour ferry to Lembongan Island.  
I love my husband's sense of adventure.  My world will be a lot smaller without him on it.  I am one of those people who you would consider safe.  I do calculated risk.  I would try things once but the good girl in me always comes out.  I blame my conservative, morally upright grandma.  :P

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip.  Luke and I didn't have any idea what to do in the island.  We saw people renting out motorbike but we didn't at first as we thought it is not necessary.  We ended up walking and realise that we will go nowhere without it.  This day is like a packed 3 day Seminyak trip only better.  We have seen temples, beaches and a traditional burial ceremony.  

Day 7 - Departure

Had a little scare on the departure day as the volcano showed some activity.  Luckily, we left before it erupted.  Unlucky for us, it was raining when we return in Manila.  We remained holed up for few days and it was the most boring few days we had.  It was relaxing but the days was better spent doing something else.


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