Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fortune Cookies

Temperature : 12 degrees Celsius
Weather : Mostly sunny
Mood : Peckishly good humoured

Today, Pickles and Slackjack cracked into a box of Silk Road brand ("no two fortunes are the same!") Chinese fortune cookies.

Pickles loved fortune cookies. He was always filled with excitment and anticipation, and usually choked on the cookie in his haste to get to the fortune.

Pickles was very pleased with his fortune as he felt it rung true to his nature. He knew he was short a few peanuts in the brains department.

Slackjack, a founding member of the Leporidae Skeptics Society, thought that fortune cookies were pure rubbish, catering only for guai los and drunks. He always marvelled at the number of laughs he got from reciting "this insert has a plastic coating".

Impressed, Slackjack is now reconsidering his position on the fortune cookie.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Temperature : 4 degrees Celsius
Weather : partly cloudy with a few snow/sleet showers
Mood : post traumatic stress

After much debate and deliberation, logical economics won over sentimental ideals :- this morning, Mr Pig and Parissa waved goodbye to their beloved car.

Dark blue, BMW 330 coupe with beige leather seats. *sniff*

It had been such a good car, so trustworthy, sleek and beautiful ... and what a sweet, sweet engine! It was the only thing that made driving in London bearable.

It had been on ferries, on trains ... had crossed misty highlands, circumnavigated lakes ...

... and it had fulfilled its mission to drive on the autobahns of Germany (the large numbers are MILES/hr, small numbers are KM/hr).

There was no denying that the car was much loved ... but Mr Pig's and Parissa's decision was based on the fact that it simply wasn't useful to have a car in London. One must spend time getting it serviced, repaired, worry about it being vandalised (as there is only street parking), worry incessantly about getting parking tickets and suffer the dual agonies of always driving a dirty car, and watching pigeon shit/tree sap being baked into the paintwork.

Here is one vandal caught red-handed writing obscenities on the rear windscreen ... is that snow or bird crap?

As an indicator of how often the car was used, it wasn't a problem when the fuel cap was jammed shut for 3 months. And apart from being of service to their friends (trips to and from airports, helping move house), Mr Pig and Parissa were rarely able to use the car for themselves in London.

For the hip pocket, it just wasn't worth paying 17GBP per day to have a car sitting on the street. So with great reluctance, Parissa made a call and arranged to have the car picked up at 10 o'clock this morning.

In preparation for the car's return, Mr Pig was told TWICE by the car company to make sure there was nothing left in the car that wasn't present originally. So, being a rather obsessive compulsive creature, Mr Pig went through the car with a fine toothed comb and removed everything that could be removed .. and did it all last night so she would be well prepared for the morning.

After staying awake most of the night to watch the 3.30am replay of the Olympic women's figure skating final, Mr Pig was suddenly struck at 8.00am with one thought :
"Without the resident parking permit (so carefully removed last night), the car could get a fine!".
Rushing downstairs to check, her fears of seeing a plastic envelope on the windscreen were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay superceded by seeing no plastic envelope, no windscreen ... in fact, no car at all!!!!
First Mr Pig reassured herself that the car wasn't stolen and it had most likely been towed away by the parking attendants. But when this was confirmed by Westminster council, who then politely added that it would cost 200GBP to free the car from the "Car Pound", she began to wish that the car HAD been stolen.

A very flustered Mr Pig calculated she had only 1 hour to get the car back before it was due for pick up by the car company. Luckily the Car Pound was close by, though situated in the middle of a labrynthine carpark, underneath (!!) Hyde Park. From the carpark entrance one is forced to walk underground, along a dimly lit concrete corridor which is sooo long that were it not for the irregularly shaped urine puddles, a person could believe it was a hall of mirrors. Every 50m a sign "Car Pound ahead" reminds the forsaken individual of their final destination ... and so one keeps walking and walking, head bowing lower and lower at each sign ... on and on and on until they know they're walking the walk of shame.

After exiting the horror-house corridor, one is forced to weave through the carpark towards a massive cage. The only entrance to the cage is via a payment office, where the 200GBP extortion must be handed over before one is pointed towards a one-way door, through which no light is visible. Walking into the darkness of the cage, one's eyes adjust until hundreds of cars in various states (some clamped, some stickered, others unharmed) become visible...all stolen by Westminster Council and held for ransom. The only way out is via a massive iron gate, controlled by the payment office guard who requires a wave and gritted-teeth smile before he'll press the "OPEN" button. And finally, for the finishing kick to the kidneys, the car park ticket given to the defeated individual is YELLOW and stamped "CAR POUND" ... and the carpark exit attendant makes sure his snicker is heard loud and clear.

In the end, Mr Pig made it back on time .. but couldn't help mulling over these few (ironic) points :-

  1. They gave up the car to save money .. but it ended up costing money.
  2. They gave up the car to stop worrying about parking hassles ... the car gets towed.
  3. The car just HAD to be towed away the very morning it was due for pick-up. Not in the 50 weeks before, not a week before, not even a day before.
  4. The pick-up company inspects for damage ... damage that could easily have been caused by being forcibly placed on a tow truck. .. and the Car Pound has big signs that say you can't claim for damages after leaving the site, despite it being so dark in the car park that a mobile light is required (and not sufficient) to inspect for damage.
  5. Trying to prevent problems by cleaning the car out ahead of time, actually caused problems.
  6. The previous night, Mr Pig had signed up for some medical experiments which pay 100GBP for blood donations. Parissa insisted that Mr Pig make recompense for her thoughtlessness.... so, the cost of losing the car will literally be paid with blood. Mr Pig's blood.

Sometimes life is just funny like that. Though Mr Pig seems to get more than her fair share of 'funny' stories. Anyone other than a die-hard athiest might start to feel persecuted!

Goodnight! Goodnight! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow....

... when I replace you with this cute little electric car!! (joking!! I love you man!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Today I died and went to heaven ... in suede!!

Temperature : 7 degrees celcius
Weather : sunrise at 8am, cloudy all day, dark by 5pm
Mood : happy happy joy joy !!!!!!!

Mr Pig and Parissa recently went to Rome and came back with two beautiful pairs of suede Mary-Janes. Mr Pig couldn't stop admiring the velvety softness of the suede, found the black with white trim and buckle simply irresistable, and thought the velcro strap coupled with gorgeously coloured tan was sheer genius. So when the shoes turned out to have the perfect heel (slightly taller than kitten), 80 euros a pair seemed like a bargain!

Returning to London, Mr Pig displayed her new purchases up high on a chair where all could behold their beauty (but not touch). She forgot that monkies climb and rabbits jump.

A few days later, Mr Pig decided to check out the post-Xmas sales, and found this pair of copper trimmed purple suede shoes she'd been eyeing for some time. They are named "ANNA".
Take note of the "cleavage" front (ie. closed toe, but cut low so that tops of toes can be seen), designed to a make any fat foot look slim, elegant ankle strap and perfect heel height.

Discounted from 65GBP to 45GBP, Anna shone from the shoe rack to Mr Pig as if lit up by an unearthly radiance. But what came next is the real topic of this blog :

"Will these shoes be reduced any further ?" asked Mr Pig, feigning innocent curiosity as she already knew the sales would be going on till Jan 28 and there were still 5 pairs of size 4 shoes left (current pair were meant to be a gift for Colorado Clara, and only 1 size 5 left, therefore, too risky to wait any longer).
"Unlikely to, they were only put on sale 2 weeks ago." replied the salesgirl.
"Oh." sighed Mr Pig, looking forlorn.
"I tell you what!" piped up the salesgirl, "If you go to the basement, we just received a whole load of Carvela stock from a store that's closing down...and that's where you''ll pick up a real bargain. They're all being sold for 9 pounds a pair."


Not wasting a second more on niceties, Mr Pig reviewed "the Art of Sale Shopping aka War" whilst running down 6 flights of stairs, sharpened her elbows and adopted the footy-scrum position before plunging into .... nothing. There was NOBODY in the basement. Quiet store music, plenty of shop assistants standing ready, the occaisional shopper browsing through racks, but no crowds! Mr Pig, starting to hyperventilate, realised that she had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow .... the unadvertised sale.

Though appearing to leisurely stroll through the aisles, the reality was that Mr Pig was in a daze, struck coma-like by 55GBP, 65GBP, 70GBP (do you know how much that is in AUD$$$$??!??!?!?! Like, you know, only $130, $160, $175) Carvelas plastered with discount stickers ... the final sticker being consistently : 9 POUNDS.

There were sandals, strappy heels, sensible work shoes, trendy walkers, joggers, funky eskimo boots, everthing imaginable.

So, Mr Pig had no choice but to start stockpiling shoes.

'Hepburn' was originally 70GBP - they look great on anybody, including Slackjack. At 9GBP each, two pairs had to be bought... one will go to Colorado Clara (so Anna will have some company).

Up next are 'Chelsea' and 'Lola' - originally 65GBP and 55GBP respectively. Both shall be used as sensible work shoes as both flat pumps. Classic pointy toe (never out of fashion) and ballet-slipper toe (current trend).

And finally, we have 'Lauren' - another grey/pink/purple suede number, but this time in fashion sneaker style. Original price : 55GBP.

So in total, 5 pairs of shoes were bought at the sale. Original cost : 315GBP. Actual cost : 45 GBP.

The excitement and thrill of such a triumph was shared by Slackjack and Pickles (both atuned to spotting a real swindle) and so the rejoicing went on till the early hours of the morning.

Unfortunately, somehow, Parissa got forgotten in the celebrations and was only found the next morning in the discarded wrappings pile.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

'Gravel rash bunny' aka 'the Pellet'

Temperature : 8 degrees celcius at midday.
Weather : cloudy but not windy thank goodness.
Mood : extremely elevated. Manic, even.

Thanks to the craftiness of my good friend Fresh Bec, I am now the owner of a giant soft-toy reincarnation of my dearly beloved Pellet. Previously only the size of a panadol capsule, or rabbit food pellet, it dangled off my mobile phone in the days when I tried to be mock-Honky in order to mock Honkies. Pretty soon, the pellet was joined by a sticker version in my wallet-of-punishment which Bec named "Gravel Rash Bunny".

Needless to say, the Pellet fell off its hook one day, the wallet of punishment got out on bail, the trend was over. And so, I was alone....

.... until this massive parcel arrived on my doorstep !! Thanks Fresh! Gravel Rash Pellet (new name) shall now be placed on my pillow every morning. Which side faces out shall depend upon my mood.

GRP can also be used as a passive-aggressive tool for keeping order in the house.

For example, finding Angry GRP in the microwave could mean "How bout you try scrubbing away curry that's been cooked for 7 million minutes! Cover your bowl, or else clean up your own filthy mess! You're a disgrace, a bloody disgrace!"

... and finding Angry GRP on the toilet could mean "for the love of God!! What are you eating, man?!?! Use the frickin brush!! Or at LEAST the deoderiser!! Ach! "

Friday, November 25, 2005

Finally! A NEW post .... and NEW pals .....

It's been a long time peeps.

Since my last entry, Hyde Park is now covered in frost in the morning as night time temperatures drop to sub-zero, the long-anticipated "KS does EUROPE" has been and gone, I've turned the big THREE OH, and it's almost the end of the year.

In fact, it's been so long, and so much has happened that the pressure of having to do about a million updates has become too much.
So I have decided to quit this blog. At least, quit till I get a few things (photos) sorted out - which will hopefully be sometime before the end of the year. Hey, what's another few months?

Meanwhile, let me introduce two of my new buddies :-

Introducing : Medium Slackjack (the Ripper) Rabbit. Slackjack graduated from Cambridge University with a Masters in Political Science, but became disenchanted with the Blair government and took solace in a life of crime. Purely a "brains" rabbit, Slackjack keeps his velvety paws clean by relying on a trusty sidekick to bring in a little pocket money by means of petty theft. His real income comes from white collar crime.

Meet Medium Pickles Monkey. Pickles is not really known for his brains (he is, afterall, only a monkey) but he's streetwise and handy with a razor. Pickpocketing is his forte and main source of income, and in his leisure hours, he likes to smoke cigars and take self-portraits and mock-ups with his newly acquired Canon IXY digital 60.

Slackjack had been scoping out this one joint for some time, and when it's occupants went away to Brussels for the weekend (to celebrate their wedding anniversary), he sent in Pickles to get the goods.

OOOH nice pickings, Pickles!

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Summer morning's walk

Ever since we got the elliptical, I haven't had to run round Hyde Park in the mornings. Instead, I go for exploratory walks. So this morning, armed with a new camera, I decided to take photos of my usual jogging route...and any other detours.

After saying goodbye to Eric at Lancaster Gate, my jog starts here : at the Italian Gardens, Kensington Gardens (which joins Hyde Park). That's me, the shadow. At the moment, there is quite a whiffy smell in this area because of the rotting algae in the water. There are also heaps and heaps of birds everywhere ... so it could also be the smell of other things rotting.

This is actually a very nice photo at normal resolution. I liked the heron (not _that_ common) and the algae/moss covered statue of 3 cherubs holding up a giant clam. The river is the Serpentine - and I usually jog down one side and back the other side.

In the mornings, I usually catch a glimpse of ONE rabbit in this particular patch. But lo and behold, there are actually SIX rabbits!!! They've come out to eat the food being thrown at the pigeons by an old man. In fact, it is a feeding frenzy. Rabbits, pigeons, those black waterbirds with long yellow feet, squirrels, crows...animals are running everywhere, I'm just glad I have a digital camera and don't have to worry about wasting film (because I'm merrily snapping away).

This is a squirrel that was HOPING to get in on some of the pigeon feeding, but had been barged out by the rabbits. He is instead, hoping that I'll throw him something - that pathetic posture, begging eyes, hands slightly outstretched. Bah, squirrels ... they think they're so cute.

The other day, Eric said incredulously "You mean acorns come from oak trees?".

I saw a squirrel eating an acorn! How cliched is that?!?! Hyde Park is full of "acorn trees" at the moment.

More astonishing than the acorns, is the sight of these blackberries!! Growing wild! I always used to curse these big stretches of thorny, suspiciously-leaved-like-nettles bushes that line the river ... only now I know they are blackberry bushes and have spotted many a local Londoner stopping to eat the ripe fruit. They look a lot like our mulberries. Wonder if they taste the same. Not sure if I have the courage to try one ... will have to take them home to wash first.

Food on trees, freely available to the public, ahhh warms a Chinaman's heart.

Since the beginning of spring, I've been following the progress of this mother swan and her four chicks/swanlets/ducklings. She's kept them well away from the main pack/flock/gaggle/group of swans because despite their appearances, swans are actually very aggressive birds. The last time I saw these little ones they were still covered in down and didn't have feathers yet. Now you can see they're almost full-sized, feathered, but still grey.

Ahh, brings a tear to the eye. *sniff*

Dog poo isn't the problem in Hyde Park, it's this : geese shit. These geese are BIG. They come up to my knees and when you get too close to them, they hiss and lunge. There are millions of these birds all over the park and consequently, the ground is covered with large, 10cm-15cm x 2cm green bombs. They're mushy and fill all those bits on your sneaker sole that a stick can't get into.

Midway in my route, I always go through a massive rose garden which is full of bumblebees. Having never seen them in Australia, I get quite thrilled at the site of a clearly "buzzing", yellow and black striped, furry, round blob the size of a 10cent coin. ie. MR DOOBY!! This bee has even got pollen all over its legs.

Another bumblebee. Oh yes, even though it's a rose garden, it has other flowers in it too.

A slight deviation out of Hyde Park, and you come to this spectacular monument - Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner. They say that you can have a party inside one of those horse statues. Since the tube bombings, bicycle sales have gone up by 100% in London ... it was all I could do to avoid the rush of cyclists on their way to work.

Following the cyclists through Wellington Arch and down a tree-lined rather majestic avenue, I suddenly came to this.

"Hmm, looks rather grand" I thought to myself. Circling round the huge round-about to take this picture, I suddenly spied red uniforms and black fluffy hats - AHA! Buckingham Palace!!! I never knew Buckingham Palace was just around the corner from my house!

Couldn't resist taking a picture of this equestrian crossing. Only in England!!

Even funnier is the dedicated horse pedestrian crossing button (see up high on the traffic light). Oh and the dedicated bike pedestrian crossing button.

When I see this bridge, I know I'm almost back to the beginning of my route, and at the moment, the river is lined with these pretty yellow flowers.

Hyde Park in summer is a really nice place to be, but bring your own picnic blanket because you get charged 4 pounds to sit on a deck chair and no patch of grass is goose poo-free.

Will be going away to Turkey for two weeks backpacking. Will give an update on Parissa and Mr Pig (who have been spending all their time on the elliptical) when I get back.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

"I still call Australia, I still call Australia...."

Weather : (is it ever any different?) Chance of showers, intermittently cloudy
Temperature at midday : 19 degrees Celsius
Current mood : slightly flustered but chirpy

"You don't know what you've got till it's gone" - should be my catchphrase for the past month. First it was a 10 day visit to Singapore to surprise Eric's dad on his 60th birthday - a trip filled with glorious food, catching up with friends/family/babies, warm weather and fabulous shopping. Suddenly, everything was affordable and available. Foodcourts, hawker centres, seafood buffets and an exchange rate that made it a crime not to buy that $50 skirt. And what a luxury, being spoilt rotten by the parents (in-law) who ensured every comfort was catered for - who worries about 2am insomnia when rambutans, mangosteins and an endless supply of novels and cold drinks are close at hand?

The next two and a half weeks were spent in wintery Sydney where the sky was that Australian bright bright blue and so high above you get a crick in your neck craning to see how high it goes. And of course, 'winter' is 22 degrees celsius with cloudless sunshine and light crisp breezes. I never missed it until I saw it again .. now, Qantas may as well employ me 'cause I've been singing their theme song ever since. My two weeks in Sydney were the best! Makoto, thainatown, dumplings, korean hotpot, superbowl, yumcha, casino and high-rollers room (with free cocktails and buffet), all the old favourites plus the company of best friends (who specially made time - thanks guys) and family (who seemed uncharacteristically indulgent of my wishes). To top it all off, a weekend skiing (where the unheard of happened - we didn't ski Sunday!! A sure sign of old age) complete with throw-caution-to-the-wind races, hours of painful "Animal, Vegetable or Mineral", cornbeef (not dog food) sandwiches, poker tournaments and the makings of "the Modern Australian Woman" calender.

The Modern Australian Woman