Sunday, January 13, 2013

3 Years Short of Half A Century

When you have lived for three years short of 5 decades, there is no other important birthday wish that you would make except that you wish Allah grants you good health.  Next comes the other religious wishes that one would make in the doa selepas  solat, the very looonggg list because you may and may not know what you have sinned for the last 46 years and you don’t know what Allah will test you for the years to come sehingga akhir hayat.

So those were what I wished for on 11th January this year as I gracefully turned 47. My oh my… I still feel like I am 35! However after analyzing the wrinkles on my face, the gelebeh on my cheeks, the grey hair that are mushrooming on my head and the many more hair falling; all are accelerating than previous years, I feel that I am almost turning 55. Huhuhu…

I felt that it was only like a few weeks ago that I celebrated my 46th birthday with the family.. and already it is 47?!! To say I am not excited, is an under statement. Honestly, it is like a ritual. When the florist delivered the basket of flowers to me, from the beloved husband and 5 Aces, it was no surprise. My new office mates were ooohhhh… and aaahhhh and went gaga over the fact that I got lovely flowers for my birthday. I told them that the delivery of flowers for the birthday is like a SOP already and if it did not arrive, then that smells trouble. Betulllll !! Wonder what is Datuk CT’s birthday SOP? A diamond ring the least from the husband agaknya.

The "birthday" flowers which apa yang tertunggu-tunggu
is what will they be this time

There was three birthday cakes, one from my bestest Srikandi 83 friends, one from the office mates and from the family. All of them mean so much to me. Just like all of the friends and relatives on fb who wished me and some included beautiful doas. I feel very blessed. Insha Allah, Allah will grant to them the same doas which they made for me.

The makan-makan get-together was actually planned with the Srikandi 83 friends last year after Eiduladha. Plan punya plan and, entah macamana eventually we ended up to do it this month, 2 days before my birthday at Coz* Cor*er. Coincidentally Eli, one of the orang kuat came back for the holidays from Kuwait. The makan-makan turned out to be cum surprise birthday celebration for me and Ina (thank you, thank you!)  Whilst age is the usual topic of discussion, second favourite after life-in-STF-that-was, the other interesting topic was in regards to sea-weed collagen. So happens one of the SKs who turned up that day, Notie, is a distributor of collagen. At this age, we just want to maintain our (eternal) beauty, where possible.

Kawan-kawan Srikandi 83 daku yang sangatlah
vogue and sentiasa di hati

Birthday Cake 1 - Thanks dearest SK friends :)

Potong birthday cake pun ada skill

Ina and I. I am 10 days older than Ina.
She looked amazing despite her illness

On the very day, my staff threw another makan-makan. As a department we have arranged for monthly birthday celebrations for everyone in the department. The January babies are Isa and myself.

Birthday Cake 2 from my staff.
A shared cake with a colleague,
Isa whose birthday is on 15th Jan

The family celebrated it with me at Kelanta* *elights this time. I love the ambience and the waiters are chirpy, funny and friendly. Too bad Ali was not there with us. (By the way he called me to wish me Happy Birthday and instead of me being emotional about it, he was! Anak bujang sorang tu... ish ish ish ) 
Birthday Cake 3, only to be eaten the next day when Ayna is back from KMS

The next day after my birthday, we received another good tiding. My youngest sister gave birth to another baby boy. An addition to the existing 4 sons. That makes it 16 of my mother’s grandchildren. Alhamdulillah.....  I have not planned when to see the new Abdul. But what I have planned is, if I were to be a wedding planner (no need the Pak Engku equivalent lah) enough of me being in charged of the buat bunga pahar and bunga telur. Ahaks.. That makes it 16 occassions, including my very own 5 Aces. Mahu I will be the most favourite if not kaypochee auntie \\\\\, kan  ;)) Will I be alive to witness and be kaypochee for all the 16 weddings? 

*tadahtangan* ... semoga panjang umur to me and diberi kesihatan yang baik, Ameen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bye bye 2012 Hi 2013

The last time I updated my blog was in September and how fast the time flies…Happy New Year to everyone. I wish I can make a resolution that for 2013 I will update this blog more often and if I can do it once a month, that would achieve my KPI. Hahahaha... That would be wishful thinking because I can foresee what 2013 has in store for me. Anyway, it is worth to have it as a resolution, who knows I am able to meet it.

What have I achieved for 2012? Both at the homefront and office, 2012 has been kind to me. Alhamdulillah. Although it started off with me maid-less, I managed to pull through. Oh dear that means the maid's permit will be expiring soon. *Mental note by February renewal of work permit and coupled with her passport's renewal.

Coming back to the highlights of 2012, to sum them up ...

In January, I got pingat ASNS from the Yamtuan Negeri Sembilan which was like a birthday present to me.

In February, it was my first time spent in HCMC with Aliah and Ayna and succeeded in going through the small narrow Chuchi Tunnel. The trip at HCMC was followed with another office trip to HCMC in October. For the second trip, it was a lot familiar and I managed to cheat the cheats in HCMC.

Also in the same month, Ali went to SBPI Selandar. He went back for 2013 session just now as a SPM candidate this year. My my... has he grown up.

In April, Ayna got good results for SPM and managed to secure a place in Kolej Matrikulasi Banting in June.

In May, I was promoted to a higher position which resulted in me elevated to have a bigger room. Perks to name a few, I  have the newspaper sent to me every morning and lilies delivered every week. It may seem small but the small things do matter, kan! Of course with big big responsibility to shoulder on and unexpected soft issues to handle with amazing Legal team.

In June, I was with Aliah and Alina on a raya shopping spree (also winter clothes !) in Bandung.

With the time spent on work mostly plus the festive season ... tup tap tup tap...dah December and in this month which is last but not least, the most highlighted event of the year … drumrolls please….

I treated the family (sob sob minus Ayna and I feel sorry for her) to London. Yay! This is the biggest sweetest achievement ever so far. For some, it maybe nothing, just a family vacation. All 6 of us gallavanting in UK for almost two weeks... I am amazed with myself too *wink*

Never have I imagined that I could treat the family to London.  I have been to London many times before between 2001 to 2006 due to one of the Projects. Was frequenting London, Paris, Dubai and Tehran almost every month then. My first time in London was in 2001 and that was after almost 12 years working in the company. I remember my ex-boss was as if in the mode of being electrocuted when I told her I have never been to London before (some of my peers probably have been to London more than 3 times at that time). Yelah.. saya ni local grad je boss. Parents pun tak de duit nak bawa we all pergi holiday overseas. The furthest we went for holidays was Langkawi (umrah visit not counted).

In my many trips to London then, there was always this intention and hope that I will return with the family. I don't want the kids to be like me, that is at the age 30 something had I step my foot in London. Save punya save and kerja kuat bagai nak rak, finally the moment had arrived.  Going to London for work was indeed a far cry from going there for a holiday.We could do things at our own leisure, take the Underground train and bus everywhere that we want, spent time at the Halal fish and chips restaurant whilst surfing on the internet like it is our very own cyber café; you name it ! Every little treasured moment was cherished to the very bit.

Parliament House - I love the architecture

I cannot write on the whole trip because there is so much to write, it would make this post spill over until the next vacation trip. Ha! Is there one already?! Suffice if I list down the things that I miss most and wish I can do them  again.

Big Ben sneak peak

First on the list… I am not trying to be like a Malaysian snob. Although I may have complained about it once in while when I was there. Now I realize that I miss being in that condition ....  I miss the cold weather! Miss wearing my overcoat, the gloves and the layers. It is not that Malaysia is hot or what. I don't mind the hot weather here. Made me looked tanned and  pretty exotic kan! It is just that when I kept all the winter clothes in the storage box a few days ago, sadly, my heart was saying that I don’t know when will be the next time, we as a family will put on those wool jackets again in the metropolitan London.

I remember Alim and hubs who were still on the jetlag mode on the first few days we were in London, when they woke up at 4 am and felt hungry in search of maggi mee. After enjoying the hot maggi assam laksa, they went out into Inverness Terrace to jalan-jalan enduring the freezing weather. Most of the times when we were there, the night's temperature dropped to below 0 deg C. In that freezing temperature, Alim was like so terror running and playing in the cold. He enjoyed the layers he was in plus the new basketball jacket which I bought for him at Primark. His newly bought windbreaker from Bandung (this is so cheap one!) also contributed its part to keep him warm.

Alim all wrapped up

Secondly… Oxford Street. This was not a shopping trip definitely. However sightseeing in London would not be complete if we did not window shop and walk along Bond Street to Oxford Circus and further down to Tottenham Court Road. We shopped at Primark mostly to buy some remaining winter clothes and necessities. I think we were at Primark for four different days for different reasons. Other reasons for being in Oxford Street was for Alim's toys at Hamleys and we made big mistake of buying his toys there after discovering that Legoland at Manchester and Toys'rUs at Whitleys were selling them at a cheaper price, hence the reason to buy additional toys at the two places!

Oxford St
Oxford St lagi jalan-jalan
Aliah's windbreaker is Pull & Bear from Bandung hehehe
Lalu je.. tak masuk, betul!

Thirdly going on the Original Tour bus following the different routes (we went for all the 4 routes). The bus actually went around Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace over and over again until we got bored. The shortest way to see London is by going on this tour. The package included the walk tour to Buckingham Palace to see the change of guards. As you know around that time, the news were buzzing about Kate Middleton being hospitalised for acute morning sickness. Almost everyone in the group was commenting on it.

On the bus tour, despite the cold weather, we chose to sit on the upper deck of the bus most of the times. I think I can be an amateur tour guide after being overdosed with London chronicles!

Have seen this three times yet still enjoy tengok lagi
Marching left right
Ramainya orang
Eager waiting for the guards

Alim on the higher deck, cold cold cold
One of the many buildings which we took pic. Banyak lagi actually,
penuh memory card

Fourthly, going on the London Eye. Actually I have been on London Eye before. So it was not that thrilling compared to what the 4 Aces felt. Taking the breathtaking pictures were awesome. I love watching the 4D show after we boarded London Eye. It showed regarding London in a different perspective; a child’s perspective. It is a huge WOW! If you are going on the London Eye, don’t miss this 4D show.

Breathtaking view

Fifthly, our trip to Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire Oaks. Hubs' niece and her husband are studying in Manchester. They left after they got married last year. Recently we heard good news to be shared with the family and being the caring uncle and aunty (also the kepochi one) we brought together with us a luggage full of goodies so that she tak miss or mengidam some of the Malaysian food. Other than our niece, a cousin’s son is also in Manchester, hence it was a get together of the cousins.

Of course we visited Old Trafford, Etihad stadium in Man City and we can’t leave without satisfying the two loyal Liverpool fans. We did the stadium tour at Anfield. Awesome! I enjoy reading about Bill Shankly. A legend.

We also went to Cheshire Oaks which I found that the clothes were selling like 75% less than the retail price. We got ourselves some Gap, Levis and M & S without any much thinking. Sorry, cannot resist although I made a promise to myself that I will not purchase M & S bargains for obvious reasons.

In Manchester we stayed at Premier Inn Old Trafford which offered us the biggest ever room in UK I have ever stayed! One room was accommodated with 2 queen sized beds. How can you beat that! The price was also reasonable. The wonders of internet booking. Slack nya the last nite we were in Manchester at 4 am, some one tampered with the water sprinkler and there go busting the fire alarm. The firemen arrived in no time. A false alarm which had us stand in the open air for a good 45 minutes.

Legoland Discovery Centre was awesome. Although Legoland Windsor was close for winter until February, being indoor is good enough for the lil ones.

The hotel we stayed in front of Trafford Centre
No 6, we love and miss Bayswater where we stayed. Berjaya Eden Hotel was the bestest choice and we are very thankful that we signed up to be a Berjaya Vacation member 18 years ago. We saved so much on the accommodation… Alhamdulillah. Actually if we didn’t get the rooms in Berjaya, we may not go for the trip at all. The tube stations, Queensway and Bayswater are just 5 minutes away from Berjaya Hotel which made the trips to the city a lot easier. Accessible to others like Msia Hall and the supermarkets Sainsbury and another Oriental supermarket.

Nak jump juga tu

No 7, the Museums; Science Museum and British Museum. I wish we could spend more time there. If I were alone, I would but with the children, well… there are other priorities.

British Museum near Russel Sq

I love this one

No 8, Madame Tussauds, the wax museum. The most celebrated time was when we took pictures with the celebrities and sports men. Lights, camera and action... and we feel like a superstar !

The hearthrobs
Who's looking at me?
Feel like a sportsman for a mo

No 9, the boat ride on the River Thames. It was a 2 hour ride up to Greenwich. At Greenwich the temperature was minus 5 C. Wish we could explore Greenwich more, but the weather then was just too cold for us. Our body was not acclimatized because we went on the cruise on the second day. Nevertheless, it was educational. Cruising along River Thames proved to show that for us one of the most memorable events was seeing the famous and historic buildings along the River Thames.

Tower Bridge

The ship at Greenwich

No 10 and not last on the list because it is endless, family and friends in London and Manchester. They are wonderful people. Other than nieces in Manchester, also rekindled with Kak Teh the famous blogger and journalist, Zaza my Srikandi friend and family, kak Limah, kak Masni, kak Dik the founder of Taharah and Azli*d* who is one of the successful Malaysian lawyers in London, with office right in front of John Lewis… Best nyaaa…   Not forgetting I bumped into one and only Dat** S*iki* who seemed to enjoy Bicester Village more than I do *grin* (Babe.. I know you are reading this)

Bicester Bicester Bicester oh lalalalala...

2012 has left us with a bang with the most wonderful trip carved in our hearts and minds. I hope 2013 will be better in all ways, insha Allah.

Happy New Year (again) everyone ......