Sunday, 30 August 2009

Amsterdam...and a lil bit of everything

I know I haven't been updating this blog for a while now and I'm about 2 weeks late on my Amsterdam update (yes, we took a short break and headed to Ams for 4 days). Now i cant seem to remember half of what we did/saw..intricate details i mean... and most of my readers (yeah i have a total 6 or 7) would have seen all the pics on FB and orkut and so I'm not gonna bore everyone by going on and on about it again. For the others, me and Ro had a gala time relaxing and taking in all that Amsterdam had to offer...well almost. Except for the first day, where we took an organized tour of the Dutch Countryside, we soaked up the sun in the cafe's and went totally wild at the 'coffee shops,' if you know what i mean! My whole perspective of a holiday has changed, i must add. Initially i used to love going around, catch glimpses of the local attractions, shop and do major touristy stuff without even taking a breather and at the end feel so pooped and tired and wait for the hustle bustle to end. My parents keep going on holiday to these resorts and do nothing but eat and sleep and not even step foot out of the resort. I used to shout at them saying they are such losers and have been to so many places, but haven't actually 'seen' any. I now know what exactly they mean. Its probably signs of getting old. I just love to the hotel by the pool, or at a cafe sipping Iced tea's and Sangria..which is exactly what we did in Amsterdam. The cafe culture in Europe is just amazing. Its popular here in London as well, but because of the crappy, unpredictable weather, cafe's are not the most fun thing to do when you want to sit with your jackets and shawls and umbrella. Amsterdam was laid back, but filled with tourists and so commercialised. The countryside was good, but even that has been preserved as an attraction and infested with tourists. We missed the tulip season, which was something i actually wanted to see so so badly. But if you ask me if i saw the famous Rembrandt and Van Gogh museums in i didn't, did i see the cathedrals and shop, no i didn't do that either. But what i did was completely relax and eat and sleep and took a real holiday for once. The last time i remember doing this was on our one week honeymoon in Goa (i would have to admit that was the best trip i ever had). Came back and it took me one week to recover and get back to routine (read boring) life. Posting some pics, just to add to the rant.

The cheese factory. Was so sick after tasting all the varieties of cheese.

The beautiful, but awfully uncomfortable clogs

What gets served in the 'coffee shops'

The beautiful Dutch countryside

The Alkmaar Cheese Market, where buyers and sellers come face to face.

Taken on our canal cruise. The canals are a major attraction and are filled with houseboats. We thought of renting one, but they were incredibly expensive.

The wild the Red Light District

Tulips (wooden, plastic) at the flower market

Orchids @ the flower market

Street side entertainment. This old man was very popular with his wacky moves and skimpy thongs

One of the cafe's we lounged at

I had mentioned previously that we were apartment hunting and that we were almost gonna make an offer on one. As usual with Ro breaking his head on the pro's and cons and by the time we decided to say yes, someone had already done the deed. We were quite bummed by it, so gave up our hunting and decided to stay put in our one bedroom abode since winter was approaching and we didn't have any family visiting us till next summer. Friends have our pull out sofas to crash on :)
But just last week we went and saw an apartment just for the heck of it and we liked it. But they were asking for about 200 bucks more than what we are paying now and we still battled the odds and said no. the agent harassed us to make an offer anyways and so we went ahead and made a bizarre offer which surprisingly got accepted....even the terms and conditions. I now keep asking Ro if there is something seriously wrong with it, that the LL agreed to it. I shall update you on that once we move in. We are, however, going from amazing views on the 5th floor to absolutely no views on the 1st floor. The only draw back, but not bad enough to say no to the apartment and moreover with winter fast approaching, the views and balcony wont be of much use. So yes, we are moving in by Sept 2nd week and i am looking forward to setting up the new place, but dreading the packing.
Talking about winter, i completely dread it. Temperatures have already started dropping below 20's and it gets dark by 8. Before i know, leaves would start changing colour - Autumn and then the horrific winter. We are getting ready to pack our fans and get our thermals out. In fact according to BBC, the coming week will be the last of sunshine and warmth we can enjoy. Yeah i know, weather has become an important part of our lives and i have begun to appreciate the sun and warm weather just like the Brits. No wonder they all come out in shorts and bikini's the moment the temperature hits about 23C. 25 above will be declared as heat wave and they make such a big deal out of it.
Its nice to catch up with this space after a long time. I have been completely hooked on to my food space and been ignoring this one long enough. I enjoy pouring my heart out on this one, but most of the time laziness gets the better of me and i chuck my random musings for easy-to-type out, brainless recipes.
Its a long weekend and the last of the bank holidays that we have this year. The Nottinghill Carnival is on and i am covering it for a mag. So, long day tomorrow, but sooo looking fwd to it. Will be back with pics. Till then, ciao from me.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The London Loop Walk..finally!

After a really late night on Friday we were woken up pretty early on Sunday by Ro's friends asking if we wanted to join them on the London Loop Walk to Richmond. Since we were anyway awake, we decided to give it a shot, and boy did we make the right decision. The day was as gorgeous as ever and the place even more beautiful and serene. We were about 5 adults, 1 three year old, 1 baby and 1 over enthusiastic dog. The trip started off with us missing the first train to Richmond and commotion at the ticket gate when the 2 buggies got stuck and Auro (the dog) wouldn't barge without his master. Me and Ro stood back and enjoyed the commotion (how very helpful right?). So we managed to take the next train out and got to Richmond at about 11.30am. The town is pretty quaint and the shops there gave me a feeling it was very expensive. Other than the big brands, there were also individual labels which are usually a sign of being in a high-end area. We walked further down and got to the river and voila..was i right or what..huge mansions by the river side and apartments with great views, offered for a minimum rent of 3000 quid a month. Expensive restaurants, swanky yachts, joggers with expensive dog breeds etc. are some of the other qualities that made me realize it was an expensive area. So, down the drain went my dream of living there. Like a friend mentioned, 'you have to be rich to be living in Richmond.' After taking a nappy and feeding break for the kids we decided to trek up Richmond Hill and on to Richmond Park. At one point me and Ro were stuck with a buggy and Auro and we were completely lost. Ro even banged the buggy on a tree in his struggle to get it moving. And Auro gets very restless when he doesn't see his master who, by the way, was very brave and brought along his 8 month old so the mommy could have some alone time. I think that was a very kind gesture and he was unbelievably awesome with the baby and she, a darling to the core, not bothering anyone.. all the time cooing and smiling and then sleeping in her buggy. Auro required more attention than her. But the good part was...we now know what buggy to buy and how to handle it to an extent :)
Richmond Hill apparently is/was home to a lot of celebrities the most known of them being Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones). The houses were massive on the hill top and the views from there were so beautiful, it would have cost them a bomb to stay there. The restaurants and pubs on the hill were also on the expensive side and quite empty as for that matter. We made our way through to Richmond Park which stretches for acres and acres and is supposedly three time bigger than Central Park in New York and the largest park in London. After the boys spent a good 15 minutes trying to figure our where we were on the map and how to get to point B where we would have lunch, and after a few phone calls to locate a pub which was child and dog friendly (yes they are very strict on that), we made our way through the park. We spotted a few red and fallow deer and Ro managed to get a few close-up's which was pure luck though. There were a few weddings taking place in the park and we saw the grooms-men and ladies in fancy dresses and hats make their way through to the scenic areas. It was a glorious day to have a wedding, i thought aloud. The walk was longer than expected but built our appetite quite a bit. We waded through thick flora and fauna and at certain points the views were brilliant. After a one hour trek through the park we finally made it to the New Inn, a child and dog friendly pub with a huge beer garden. Settled down with our drinks and the rains welcomed us. Bag, baggage, buggie, baby we rushed inside and restlessly waited for the food. Stuffed ourselves with BBQ ribs, Chicken Fajitas, Pork Chops, Lamb Cuts, Fries and Cheese and pints of cider and beer. The bill came up to a whopping 100 odd and we were convinced that Richmond was definitely not the place for us. For the money we paid, the food didn't come up to mark, but left us satisfied for the time being. We were in no mood to walk again after the heavy meal and so decided to take the bus back into Richmond town and then take the train out from there into Central London. The day didn't end that way. We headed back to a friends place and stayed there till the wee hours of the night, partying and merry making and was so so pooped by the time we got back, we didn't wake up till 11am the next day. Aching legs and back didn't stop us from staying at home on Sunday..shopped till we dropped and caught a movie too.
On another level, we have started house hunting again and cant believe 6 months just passed by so quickly. For those of you who have been following my blog from day one, you would have read the drama attached to the house hunting session. I completely dread the whole scene all over again, but looks like we are lucky this time. Its very rarely that me and Ro agree on the same topic, but we somehow seemed to have agreed on a particular property and am keeping my fingers crossed on this one. Its a 2 bedroom property and our only logical reason for moving into a bigger apartment was either because we had family visiting or we were going the family way. Winter is approaching and no family is visiting us for another six months..and the family way..we still haven't reached a conclusion on that. But taking everything into consideration i think this is a good deal, money-wise and also apartment-wise. Will update on the scene laters.
In the meantime, here are some pics of the Richmond trip. Not the best because it was a bit over cast at times.

Riverside apartments

The expensive Gaucho restaurant


Trekking up Richmond Hill

View from the hill

Align Centre
Richmond Park

Deer spotting in Richmond Park

Notice the houses on the right...bloody expensive i presume

View from Richmond Hill

Lamb Chops at the New Inn Pub

Pork Roast