Urban Life: The Little things that matter

Living the urban life comes with its daily challenges for many. From travel in crowded trains and other public means of transport, to achieving a work-life balance, or just simply raising children in urban communities, one has to be fully engaging and equipped to make good one’s time.

Whilst waiting on the train platform this early Monday morning, with my two daughters, on our way to school, I observed a young mother struggling with a rather huge buggy, trying to find a space on the platform, as it was quite packed with commuters. Heaving and puffing, she looked out of breath, obviously from being in a hurry as not to miss the train.

Continue reading “Urban Life: The Little things that matter”

Travel for Self-Awakening!!

“Travel not to escape life, but so life doesn’t escape you” ~ Unknown

The other day I was engaged in a conversation with a friend about travelling and the difference, if any, between a tourist and an adventurer.

For me, a tourist goes on holiday or trips to enjoy the time away from home, to rest and get away from routine. A tourist goes to see popular places, has a set of goals to conquer. It is not surprising to find some tourists limiting their trips to just within the resort, venturing out just to take a few photos and explore a few local places of interest.

Continue reading “Travel for Self-Awakening!!”

Travelling with Underage Children!

Most of my holidays/exploring abroad are usually with my two little daughters. We always have an amazing time together, visiting great sights and experiencing new cultures and people.

I consider travelling a form of education for my daughters, where learning and exploring are a part of understanding and developing knowledge of the peoples and cultures of our world, especially in our increasingly more multicultural societies. We are Londoners after all, arguably one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Getting them appreciating where many of their classmates came from is an eye-opener for them as it provides them a better insight of their friends’ cultural backgrounds.

Sometimes though, having young children on holiday with you means you have to shut your eyes to certain events and activities you would have loved immensely. It can be rather frustrating lol.

On a recent trip to Cologne, Germany, I had one of the most amusing moments that got me wishing my girls were adults already.

We often take walks down the Rhein River Promenade, watching folks go by, tourists taking pictures, many in festive moods, drinking, singing and dancing, and lovers in tender embrace.

Walking towards the Rhein River Promenade, Cologne

I had promised the girls, on a previous visit to Cologne, we would go on a cruise up the River on one of those river cruise boats that had on-board restaurants and bars when next we visited.

So, on this beautiful evening, we were standing on the Promenade watching a few cruise boats going up and down the Rhein. One caught my attention. It was a huge tourboat playing loud Dance music. There was a massive party going on with lots of people singing, dancing and drinking. It was electric!

I got my phone out and began recording the scene. Within five minutes the tourboat docked and more people started getting on-board. My girls turned to me and with excitement, said, “daddy let’s go”, pulling my hand and dragging me towards the entry point, where other revellers were walking up towards the boat.

As they pulled me closer, I gave it a brief thought and decided to go see the possibility of joining the party. Deep within me I knew this was not going to end well for the girls. Looked like an ‘Adult-Only party’ 😂.

We walked boldly to the docking point where this rather youthful lad was standing at the entrance, ushering ravers on-board and letting others off. He looked not older than 18!!!

Got to him with my two escorts in tow. I asked if it was possible to join the party and how much it would cost me and my girls, smiling rather sheepishly. Looking at me with concern, he smiled back at me and in very hurried English, stated that the party was for 18 years and older only!!

“Dang”, I said, turning to my girls and calmly explaining to a very disappointed duo that they’d have to wait till they turned 18 to enjoy more adult stuff. Oh well, to say I didn’t feel I had missed out on some big party is putting it mildly 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣.

The Shabby Chic Culture – A Fast Growing Trend

Over the years, there has been an explosion of a culture, or perhaps a movement, in interior decor, of furniture and furnishings, known commonly as the Shabby chic look, which seamlessly blends the old with the modern, resulting in a distressed, tired, yet modernistic appearance.

This style was quite popular in the 1980s amongst modern Bohemians and Artisans in the United Kingdom who challenged the fashionable and expensive culture of the upper middle classes with their unconventional, non-bourgeois style.

Today, it is well-loved in the urban community, with many fashion-savvy folks, ‘urbanistas’, keen to evoke a more rustic decor than an ostentatiously lavish, gleamy look.

The Shabby chic style does remind one of those old English country houses where you find well-worn Chinz sofas, heavy fleur de lis curtains showing wear, embroidered curtains whose gold material and threads have faded into dull creamy colours, of old French chateaux and farm houses where most of the paint have peeled off the external walls and hardwood furniture, revealing original wood or a blend of discolourations, or even of the 18th century Swedish painted decoration.

Conservative yet bold, the Shabby chic culture represents a very cosmopolitan take on the vintage, of age and well-used, yet stylish, trendy and exuding great taste.

Timişoara, Romania, 2018

Recycling old fabrics and furniture is very much part of the Shabby chic culture.

I fell in love with the look when, many years ago, I holidayed with my family in the village of Maffliers in the Val-d’Oise department in Île-de-France in Northern France.

There, I was fascinated by the old, faded-looking beautiful French buildings lining the narrow streets and in one home I was invited into for a drink, I was blown away by an old chaise longue. The piece had this time-worn heavily embroidered, silk-like material covering. But what caught my attention was the old Satin blue paint peeling off the entire wooden leg surface, exposing a rather dull creamy-coloured hard wood underneath. The design on the legs of the furniture was ancient-looking, very Gothic. The material covering the chaise longue looked tired but adorable. I fell in love!!

That was my Shabby chic awakening moment!!

Now I’m always looking out to rediscover that feeling in every piece I come across.

Here’s one I designed and hand-painted recently:

Inscription: BE AWESOME, BE UNIQUE

If you haven’t been bitten by the shabby chic bug just yet, you just wait, there’s no escaping it!

screenshot_20170115-140316
An old building typical of many structures I saw and fell in love with in Maffliers, a French village in the Val-d’Oise department in Île-de-France in northern France. This was the little village where I fell deeply in love with the shabby chic culture.

Travel – An Escape from Reality

Lifestyle Choices

Back in December 2014 I took some time off from my London life to enjoy the sights and sounds of beautiful Turkey. It was a holiday I was looking forward to with eagerness as I needed some time away to relax from a rather challenging year.

Turkey is one of the most exciting countries I have ever had the privilege of visiting. An 8-day guided tour saw me travel across some of the most beautiful locations and breath-taking scenery you could imagine. From Instanbul through to Antalya to Izmir, Kusadasi and Pamukkale, visiting ancient ruins of Aphrodisias, Ephesus/Kusadasi, the UNESCO world heritage site of Hierapolis-Pamukkale and many other sites of astounding beauty across the mountains and coasts.

We had landed in Istanbul from Stansted Airport and caught a connecting flight to Antalya. Antalya is one of those old ancient cities lining the Mediterranean coast with some famous waterfalls such as the Kursunlu Waterfall, the 13th century Seljuk Bridge, and a few mosques, one of which is the Yivliminare Mosque, which was first built in 1230 and then reconstructed in 1373. The present day mosque was built around the 14th century after the destruction of the original mosque and today, it houses some fun and exciting stuffs like the ethnographic museum. There are displays of clothing, kitchen utensil, tapestry, embroidery etc. That place left an impression on me.

The entire region is surrounded by the Taurus mountains, with winding roads and views to die for. Driving through the winding roads up the mountains, I remember our guide telling us how for hundreds of years, the mountains were a place for many ancient temples of the storm-gods. Alexander the Great was also said to have defeated Darius III Codmanus at the Battle of Issus down at the foothills of the mountains along the coast.

In Ephesus, I was struck by some monuments such as Odeon, Temple of Hadrian and the Scholastica Baths. This ancient Roman city, which is now ruins, left me thinking how folks back in those days lived such beautiful lives, with pillars of marble lining the streets, on the ground, everywhere.

The highlight of my tour across the Southwest of Turkey was my visit to Pamukkale, a natural site in the Denizli Province which contains hot springs and travertines, a white bed of carbonates covering the size of more than three football pitches. Everywhere is white as snow, extremely beautiful and awesome to behold. Pamukkale sits nicely in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley. The climate is mild for most part of the year, making it one of the most ideal places if you want to escape from a freezing cold December winter.

Back in Antalya on my sixth day, I went into Antalya. The ancient part of Antalya magically transports you back into the ancient times. The beautiful little shops selling native wares and tourist jewelleries, ornaments, textile etc was just a tourist delight.

Tried some of their local foods, sweets and some stuff like yogurt which I thought was nice.

Back at the hotel, we were treated to some fantastic belly-dancing and I had to join in the fun dancing after a few drinks and some strong Turkish coffee.

I do hope when you go on your various travels, you do make out time to enjoy the locals and what they have to offer. See things not just with the eyes of the tourist, do try to blend in and be one with the locals. That’s how best I enjoy my travels.

Travel – An Escape from Reality

Lifestyle Choices

Back in December 2014 I took some time off from my London life to enjoy the sights and sounds of beautiful Turkey. It was a holiday I was looking forward to with eagerness as I needed some time away to relax from a rather challenging year.

Turkey is one of the most exciting countries I have ever had the privilege of visiting. An 8-day guided tour saw me travel across some of the most beautiful locations and breath-taking scenery you could imagine. From Instanbul through to Antalya to Izmir, Kusadasi and Pamukkale, visiting ancient ruins of Aphrodisias, Ephesus/Kusadasi, the UNESCO world heritage site of Hierapolis-Pamukkale and many other sites of astounding beauty across the mountains and coasts.

We had landed in Istanbul from Stansted Airport and caught a connecting flight to Antalya. Antalya is one of those old ancient cities lining the Mediterranean coast with some famous waterfalls such as the Kursunlu Waterfall, the 13th century Seljuk Bridge, and a few mosques, one of which is the Yivliminare Mosque, which was first built in 1230 and then reconstructed in 1373. The present day mosque was built around the 14th century after the destruction of the original mosque and today, it houses some fun and exciting stuffs like the ethnographic museum. There are displays of clothing, kitchen utensil, tapestry, embroidery etc. That place left an impression on me.

The entire region is surrounded by the Taurus mountains, with winding roads and views to die for. Driving through the winding roads up the mountains, I remember our guide telling us how for hundreds of years, the mountains were a place for many ancient temples of the storm-gods. Alexander the Great was also said to have defeated Darius III Codmanus at the Battle of Issus down at the foothills of the mountains along the coast.

In Ephesus, I was struck by some monuments such as Odeon, Temple of Hadrian and the Scholastica Baths. This ancient Roman city, which is now ruins, left me thinking how folks back in those days lived such beautiful lives, with pillars of marble lining the streets, on the ground, everywhere.

The highlight of my tour across the Southwest of Turkey was my visit to Pamukkale, a natural site in the Denizli Province which contains hot springs and travertines, a white bed of carbonates covering the size of more than three football pitches. Everywhere is white as snow, extremely beautiful and awesome to behold. Pamukkale sits nicely in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley. The climate is mild for most part of the year, making it one of the most ideal places if you want to escape from a freezing cold December winter.

Back in Antalya on my sixth day, I went into Antalya. The ancient part of Antalya magically transports you back into the ancient times. The beautiful little shops selling native wares and tourist jewelleries, ornaments, textile etc was just a tourist delight.

Tried some of their local foods, sweets and some stuff like yogurt which I thought was nice.

Back at the hotel, we were treated to some fantastic belly-dancing and I had to join in the fun dancing after a few drinks and some strong Turkish coffee.

I find travelling to new sites and locations quite exciting. Learning new cultures and ways of life of others gives me an immense buzz.

I do hope when you go on your various travels, you do make out time to enjoy the locals and what they have to offer. See things not just with the eyes of the tourist, do try to blend in and be one with the locals. That’s how best I enjoy my travels.