Memories and Yearnings

The place we live in for a number of years, leaves it’s own mark on us. Marks that may fade, marks that may become faint memories or just photographed memories in the years to come. Initially, however, they remain fresh for a while, and come back to make you yearn for them.

Christmas time is probably one of the times when we will miss UK a lot. All the lovely winter weather in India, doesn’t seem to make our yearning for the Christmas fervour any less. The lit up high streets, Santa’s Grottos, Christmas food, the school Christmas play, writing out Christmas cards… So many things… I’m hoping that by next year, we would have moved on, and forgotten about it all.

Daughter especially seems to be missing Christmas and snow! The other day, while talking to husband, I casually asked him if it has started snowing there. Only to find daughter in tears. Apparently, she’s been missing snow the most. She even wanted Daddy to cancel his holiday so that we could travel there instead! Just so that she could have Christmas there, and play in the snow. Some expectations some people have, eh?

CR’s comments on this post, made me yearn for all the trappings of winter back there. Coats, scarves, hats and boots! I miss my boots! And there is no way I can wear them here, unless I want to look really pretentious and crazy ๐Ÿ™‚ I would be happy enough if it got cold enough to wear some scarves.

Although, I have to say, Bangalore has been trying very hard to make me feel at home. So what if it can’t give us snow, its sure very successful in making us cold and wet! Now, if not boots, how about some wellies?

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And then we met:)

You guys know how I had been complaining about not getting to meet any bloggers while living in the UK.

So far in the 4 years I’ve been blogging, I had met Deeps and Pallu(for like 5 mins). A couple of weeks back, RM was here, and I was seriously lucky to get to meet her(and a whole set of bloggers).ย 

TGND and I had been planning to meet up before I even left the UK. After coming here, nothing materialized. Initially, I was busy getting the house into a livable state, and then have been unwell..Last week, we had been chatting on the phone, when I asked TGND, if she wanted to meet, the only fly in the ointment being, I couldn’t travel, (thanks to the migraines I’ve been having). TGND and her OH would have to travel all the way from their place to meet us. It made me feel terribly guilty later when I realized just how far they traveled, and both of them being such lovely people, just played it down. So it was fixed, Saturday it was.

Friday, I had a terrible headache, and it made me wonder if I should cancel. Finally I decided to give myself until Saturday morning before canceling.

Thankfully, Saturday dawned, gorgeous and painfree. I was super happy. Especially as it turned out to be a packed day. I was scheduled to meet my aunt, and then rush home to get daughter ready for a birthday party. Yes, the birthday parties have already started for her.

I just had time to bake a cake, which was not the greatest:( and rush and get some samosas. And then rush back to pick up daughter. My friend, the birthday boy’s mum would not hear no for an answer, and pressed a loaded plate of goodies, which I polished, of course:)

And then we returned home to wait for TGND and her OH.

And then they came. Loaded with goodies, which we are still eating. And we talked. Rather I talked a lot. I’m reallt hoping I haven’r scared them away with all the chattering I did. TGND is just how I imagined her. Shy, sweet, and makes a lot of sense when she talks, unlike people like me who can go on and on spouting nonsense. OH was super patient when we went on about blogs and books and stuff. They are such a cute, well-matched couple! Touchwood!

What a fun evening that was! Hopefully, it was as much fun for TGND and OH too. I felt terrible that they had to go back all the way. It was terribly sweet of them to cone such a long way. They practically live on the other side of town.

Daughter just read through the evening. She was glad to get the time to read with Amma busy with her own friends.

On a side nite, RM, TGND found me different from what she expected from the blog, so you’re not the only one:)

PS: I’m not linking up any body because I’m typing all this on the phone. My laptop, after weeks of troubling me, has completely given up. So I’m totally dependant on the phone now. And my fingers are numb with all the typing:(

Busy, busy, busy!

That’s my life at the moment.

We’ve booked our tickets to return to India, and suddenly there is just too much to do.

Last weekend, for instance. It started off with Friday. There was a Fashion and Beauty Night at school for the mums, and I had planned to go. I never end up going to these events because husband is never around. This time the event would go on from 7 to 11 pm. Daughter had dance class until 7:30, and husband would be back by then. I had it all planned out. Drop daughter off after dance class, handover-takeover with husband, and off for my fashion and beauty night. It is another story that daughter wanted to know, ‘ Amma, you are not Fashion or beauty, so why do you want to go?’. If she ever finds me looking good in anything I wear, her biggest compliment is, ‘You look Fashion, Amma!’. Which by the way, does not happen much, as much as I would like it to ๐Ÿ˜‰

As I was saying, I had it all planned, sorted to the last minute. Until I received a text from husband -‘Flight delayed by an hour’! That was it, all my planning down the drain. Fashion and beauty was not going to be a possibility. That was Friday sorted. Saturday was the usual saturday rush, to get to swimming, get back home, and this time, instead of rushing out again, I got daughter to sleep. We had a dinner at a friend’s place, and I wanted to get her to sleep. We are bound to stay later than her usual bedtime, and I will have a cranky, unhappy child if she doesn’t take a nap. I lay down with her, and before I knew it, both of us were in dream land. Thankfully my contribution to the evening was already made – Tres Leche – I put on weight just thinking about it!

Dinner, of course, was loads of fun. And for me, tinged with a bit of sadness as well. I am going to miss my friends here.. Its been such a great time, full of fun, laughter, and loads of food! My friend had made some yummy, yummy food! I drool thinking about it! It was just yum! A perfect evening it was- stuffed to the gills with food, cheeks aching after laughing way too much, just the perfect weekend treat!

Sunday started early – for me. Somethings happened to me, no matter what time I sleep, I wake up at 6:00 in the morning! Six in the morning on Saturdays and Sundays! I must be mad! Since I can’t go back to sleep, I use the time to drink a leisurely cup of coffee sitting in my conservatory, listening to birds chirping, and basking in the warm sunlight. Of course the peace only lasts until daughter wakes up.

Daughter had a ballet exam on Sunday. They had been planning it since ages, and finally it was here. It’s funny how exams are such fun things for these children. She and her friends were super excited about it. The excitement dimmed a bit only when they(and we) realized that we wouldn’t get to know the results until another 4 weeks. That was a little disappointing but never mind, nothing keeps us down for too long.

We had planned to go shopping after the exam, but the weather was just gorgeous! Too gorgeous to waste on shopping! So off we went to Yorkshire Dales, and landed up in a gorgeous scenic place. We parked the car, walked to a river bank, with cows and sheep gazing at us, soaking in the gorgeous sunshine, relaxing and having fun doing nothing. Daughter found herself a new hobby, collecting stones! We now have a bunch of stones in our car boot. We could stay there forever and ever.

We then managed to go further and find a cute pub which would accept credit cards( I ran out of money and husband did not bring along his wallet. Sigh!). Before I forget enroute, we passed a car boot sale. Normally car boot sales are in the mornings, and I always have a million and one things to do in the morning. I saw signs advertising a car boot which would end at 4. It was 3:30 then, so we decided to stop and check it out. They waived off the entry fee for us, we realized why when we entered. It was almost empty. Needless to say, we did not buy anything. Infact, I felt I could donate some of the stuff I have in my place:) We left with an ice Lilly for daughter.

So going back to the cute pub. We landed in a tiny village where most restaurants accepted only cash. It was daughter’s dinner time, and we gratefully entered the only pub which was ready to accept cards. Daughter had her dinner while we snacked on onion rings and we started our journey back home.

That was it for the weekend. Monday and Tuesday seems to have whizzed past. Why does time fly so? I’ve got all the sorting and clearing left to do, while squeezing in meeting up with friends, planning playdates and hoping that I don’t miss something important. Also the realization that you have just a month to sort everything out, and you have two holidays scheduled in that month! I suspect though, that the month after I land in India will put this one to shame.

PS: I’ve been reading you guys, I’ve just not been able to get down to commenting.

On a gorgeous summer day…

– You actually get to use the sunscreen that you bought in spring, in the hope that the weather will be kind to you.

– You walk out confidently without hauling around jackets – just in case the weather changes

– Your dosa batter rises like never before.
– You go on diet just because its too hot to eat- that doesn’t last too long though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

– You get to drive with the car windows down. What bliss!! And you get to switch on the AC instead of that perpetual heating!

– Your daughter comes home with an empty water bottle.

– You can see neighbours dining in their garden.

– For a change all the windows in the house are wide open and the house is still warm!

Oh, for summers like this! All I need is a cool, cool mojito on a hot summer evening like this to make it totallyย  perfect!

Back-from-Holiday Blues..

..is in full swing around here. Made worse by the fact that we had to come back to this cold wet place after a few days in glorious, cheerful sunshine.

We couldn’t help look enviously at people who had just arrived in Venice. They have a few more days of fun..

We also had a change of luck with the weather. Remember how I lament about bad weather following us? This time, despite predictions of rain, we had the best weather! Holiday luck changing for the good? I certainly hope so!

The food! The food was to die for! I’ve come back a few kilos heavier, but I was beyond caring. Stuffed to the gills with pasta, risotto and pizza.

And the place… It was gorgeous. There is a reason why Venice is called the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’. What an elegant queen she is!

Wishing I was there is all I can do now. I could have stayed there for a week and not run out of things to do..Husband says he could have lived there forever… Hopefully one day, we’ll be back there..

So how have all of you been? I will start blog hopping tomorrow, today is the ‘clear-up-after-holiday’ day ๐Ÿ™‚

Day Out – White Scar Caves

There couldn’t be a better proclamation of Spring, than the weather last weekend. Gloriously sunny, warm, perfect!

We always wanted to book a B&B and go away on a spur-of-the-moment trip – but alas, we couldn’t, this week. Daughter had a Kumon award ceremony on Sunday, so we couldn’t really go away. We still wanted to make the most of the time that we did have, so off we went to the White Scar Caves in Yorkshire Dales. We had been to a show cave in Wales a few years back, and had really enjoyed the experience.

Just a 1.5 hr drive away, the caves are Britain’s longest show cave. ย We only started at around 1:30, after daughter’s swimming lessons and lunch. On a side note, Husband will never be happy with the fact that the swimming lessons are on a Saturday- it kind of cramps the day, you know. But then, swimming is a life skill, and I did not want to compromise on that, when we have nothing available on any of the other days.

The route was scenic, as always. Yorkshire Dales have a distinctive look, and it feels amazingly calm and peaceful. All you want to is stop the car, and lie down on the grass.. with sheep grazing nearby, and streams gurgling away.. The only thing I don’t like is that it is difficult to park the car and reach some of the most gorgeous places..

You can catch a glimpse while driving through, but not much more.. I so wish we could find a B&B near these most scenic places, and then find a walking trail – that would be just great! We had once been to a place like this. We keep planning to go back there- but funnily enough, have never managed to.

We reached the caves just after 3. After that glorious sunny weather, we were shocked to be greeted by cold winds. Thankfully we had our jackets with us(you never know, when the weather changes, in this country!). The next tour was at 4:00, and we had a long long wait – in chilly, windy weather. There was a cafe, thankfully, we sat there, nursing coffees while daughter inhaled a doughnut – I’ve never seen her eat something so fast. Sitting there, we noticed that there were some ponies and ducks, so we decided to go and say hello to them, for a change.

Only here, do we get all excited when we see goats, and hens ๐Ÿ™‚ Daughter, was too chicken to touch, she was happy enough to just see them. I’m not complaining, I was happy to not have to run to the washroom to wash our hands again.

Finally the tour began. Just to give you an idea of how old these caves are..

These caves were first discovered by Christopher Long, a student from Cambridge. Apparently he stumbled across these caves, and entered it with just a few candles balanced on his hat. A model of his is placed there to give us an idea of what Christopher Long did back in 1923.

He had wanted to open it up as a show cave, but he died in 1924 before that was possible. In 1925, miners were brought in, to create an entrance so that visitors could view the show caves so thankfully, we did not need to crawl through to get into the caves.

The first stop – the water fall..

Then on, we followed the water trail to go further up. The only way to see these caves are by by tours. Each tour takes about 80 minutes, passing through two low height tunnels -we had to crouch low to go through, a squeeze(not too bad, to be honest ๐Ÿ™‚ ), and 97 steps. We covered about a mile underground. We had been given hard hats, and we had assumed that they were just general health and safety procedures – but most of us did bump our heads – especially in the low height areas – even short people like me!

Can you see the gushing waters? We walked over it on a metal grid pathway.

Dark and spooky….. ย ….it would have been, if we were not accompanied by a group of chattering tourists ๐Ÿ™‚

And we saw formations – stalactites and stalagmites.. of all sorts.. If this had been in India, at least one of them would have been worshipped as a ‘natural’ Shiva Lingam ๐Ÿ™‚

And now, I am too tired to upload any more pics!

Okay, just a few more. We also got to see the fossil of a sea snail, much to daughter’s delight. She has been fascinated by fossils ever since she started learning about dinosaurs.

And finally reached the Battlefield Cavern(climbing up 97 steps -not so easy, as we realized). It was so named because it looks like some giants had a battle there, throwing boulders at each other. It also had the most delicate, beautiful stalactites ever! They were gorgeous! Photography was not allowed in this cavern.

Check out these natural pavings – don’t they look man-made?

And can you see the witch of the cave?

That was the end of the tour -all we needed to do was make our way back. And that was much faster. Most people seemed to run back. Of course, all that speed went off as soon as we reached the Gorilla Walks, where we had to crouch and get our heads bumped – all over again. Coming back into the open, felt so different. The sunlight never felt more welcoming.

That was one wonderful Saturday afternoon. Even if we ended up underground on a gorgeous sunny day. We did make the most of Sunday’s good weather – but I feel too lazy to to write about it now.

So what did you do this weekend? Who else is celebrating Spring?

Playing Favourites

It has been ages since I took up a tag. For some reason, tags and I don’t work.. Nancy tagged me last week, and a particularly tough tag too. Not only did she tag me, she has also been checking to see if I put it up yet(so much for hoping that Nancy would forget that she tagged me ) ๐Ÿ™‚ So I thought that I should do it. At the very least, I would end up reading my archives, something which I never do.

As I said, this tag of Nancy’s is tough. It is called the 7 meme post. And here is all about the tag.

What this is about:
To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.Rules:
1) Blogger is nominated to take part

2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog โ€“ 1 link for each category.
The links are:
โ€“ Your most beautiful post

โ€“ Your most popular post

โ€“ Your most controversial post

โ€“ Your most helpful post

โ€“ A post whose success surprised you

โ€“ A post you feel didnโ€™t get the attention it deserved

โ€“ The post that you are most proud of

3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.

4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers

5) And so it goes on!

Here’s my take…

โ€“ Your most beautiful post

Goodness! How on earth could I decide that? How about I ask you guys to nominate? It’s bad enough to have to read what I write, but to judge my most beautiful post? Let me move on and come back to this later(This is what I used to do during exams while answering tough questions, but back in those days I would have had some idea of what would be the answer)

*Back later, still clueless*  
This is tougher than I thought.. Ok, the best that I can come up with is, Unharnessed Thinking.  I’m not sure if it is beautiful or not, but for me, it records an important learning.. To let daughter do her own thinking – a learning which motherhood seems to be teaching me again and again

โ€“ Your most popular post
Ah! This should be easy – my stats should give my an idea, don’t you think? But the stats seem to point to posts with pictures. So I think people land here after all sorts of searches – some of them mind-boggling to say the least:)

The top most post which does not have pictures is this I don’t want my child to be obedient

โ€“ Your most controversial post
Controversial – I haven’t written controversial stuff.. And even if I did, I’ve not had trolls to make it controversial.. But this post, I think generated a few differing comments.. The Bad Bad West

โ€“ Your most helpful post
This one is easy – at least I have one post which I know, some of my friends referred to, and people seem to land up on my blog searching. How to Make a Princess Cake. I spent hours on the internet researching this cake, and I have put together whatever I learnt in this post.. And I think it might have helped a few folks out there?

โ€“ A post whose success surprised you

Why I am happy to oogle at girls! was my first Blogadda post, and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least ๐Ÿ™‚

โ€“ A post you feel didnโ€™t get the attention it deserved

This is tough.. I don’t think I have any posts which haven’t got the attention it deserved.. For that matter, how do I judge how much attention a post should get?

I can only come up with this – Managing Expectations.

โ€“ The post that you are most proud of
The only post I can think of is my post on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Why this one? Because I did some research for this post. Normally, I post, as and when I feel like. I always wished to be the sort of blogger who writes well-researched, well thought out posts, but it never happened. Well, what can I say, I am one lazy person ๐Ÿ™‚ But this post, as it was part of the Bloggers Premier League contest, I actually did some research, and planning, for a change. So I am proud of it -or rather of myself for having done it, at least once ๐Ÿ™‚

And that’s it! I am done with the tag!

And while I’m at it, let me also share some stats. It has been over three years since I first started blogging! Three years! How time flies! And have notched up 393 posts – that surprised me more than anything. I mean, I knew I could talk, but 393 posts? No wonder husband has learnt to tune out my rants! For those who did not know, I started blogging when husband started ignoring my rants ๐Ÿ˜ฆ And you know what? These days he reads my posts without any prompting from me ๐Ÿ™‚ Infact, he is one who goes – you should write this down in your blog. Especially my travel tales, they are here, mainly because he was after me to jot them down before we forget everything.

That was a tough but fun tag! Thanks so much, Nancy, for tagging me.. It was fun browsing though my archives, cringing at some of the posts, laughing out loud at some of the comments(I miss those days of blogging madness!), just reliving the last few years when blogging added a totally different dimension to my life…

And now to tag 5 bloggers. How about I try and get some old timer to blog again?

Hitchy – Does he need any intro? Jump on to his page, and you’ll know ๐Ÿ™‚

Ashwathy – I miss your matrimonial mishmashes so much! Any chance post wedding series ๐Ÿ™‚

Swaram – I would love you to dig through your archives and post some of those wonderful posts – I am sure I must have missed a few ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

R’s Mom – I have started reading you very recently, and being lazy, I would love to read some of the wonderful posts that you churn out!

Bikram – The same as RM, I started reading you very recently, and I am so sure that I would the posts you come up with ๐Ÿ™‚

Scribby, I wanted to tag you too, but the number of times yo uhave shifted blogs, make me wonder if you could take up this tag ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But if you could, then please consider yourself tagged ๐Ÿ™‚

I know, I am supposed to tag only 5 – but what’s the fun if you don’t tweak the rules a tiny bit, eh?

Holiday Tales 1

This trip of ours was a complete mixed bag, so to speak. Not every thing went as per plan,ย  but that did not stop us from having a whale of a time!

– First the weather, yes, it got cold. How could it not? And this time, I was over optimistic. I carried a couple of shawls for myself, no coats. I just about survived. The weather was extremely erratic, to say the least. The first day in Athens, I felt that we would get roasted alive. It was scorching! The next day cold and windy. Santorini was gorgeous and warm, most of the time. The rest of the time it was cold and windy. That just meant that we had to be prepared – All THE TIME.

-Greek People. They must be one of the most friendly and helpful people in the world. I could write a full post on how lovely they were.

– The experience. We did everything we wanted to. Did all the touristy things. Saw the Acropolis in Athens, went on the Red Bus Tour( we had never done the city sightseeing tours, we normally explore places in our own way). This time daughter wanted to get the bus with no roof. So we indulged her. It is another story that we always got on the bus when she was tired after hours of walking and they ended up being a sleeping tour for her ๐Ÿ™‚

– Ended up living in a ghost town. More on this coming up in a separate post.

– Stayed at an old windmill and a traditional cave house.

– Food. Ate, ate, and ate like there is no tomorrow. Especially a tomorrow when clothes refuse to fit. The Greeks serve cakes at breakfast, and I made the most of it. And their bread – delicious! Stuffed vine leaves – I drool at the thought of them. I should stop talking about food now.

Those of you who wanted Greek gods, let me tell you, there are museums full of them ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Daughter on the other hand is obsessed with Athena. Not a bad thing, I guess, if she is fascinated by strong women, as a lady observing her said. Also, she shows great potential as a future tour guide ๐Ÿ™‚

Belated Diwali wishes to you and your families. I can see that most if you have been super-active while we were away. So many new posts !

Autumn walks and summer flowers…

You guys know, how much I like to walk. And living here, sometimes it feels even more wonderful to be able to escape to woodlands within minutes of one’s house. Last weekend, however, it was the parking of a nearby pub, that drew our attention.

Apple trees laden with apples.

And they fall all over the place! I don’t know why but fruit laden trees make me jump with joy. Be it mango trees dotted with mangoes, or cherry trees full of cherries or apple trees groaning under the weight of apples. How I long for a house where I get to plant my trees and get to literally ‘eat the fruit’ of my labour ๐Ÿ™‚

For now, I am just going to have to be satisfied by the sight of the first sunflower that I managed to grow ๐Ÿ™‚ Sunflowers seemed to elude me. Last year the birds ate up my sprouting sunflower seeds. Early this year, snails and slugs ate up my tiny plants. Finally, I planted some indoors and transplanted them when they seemed strong enough to withstand birds and slugs. All through summer, I waited and waited, pestering husband when I was in India to check on my precious sunflowers. Not a bud in sight. The plants grew nice and tall, though, taller than my garden shed. Finally, finally, now, we have one solitary sunflower!

Memories.. Old and New..

Some thirty years ago, one of the things I remember clearly are the annual circus visits. I think it was during the winters, when the little town I grew up in had visiting circus companies set up camp at a certain ground, and all of us would wait for a chance to go there.

I think we did it regularly, until it stopped somewhere down the line. I actually don’t even remember when. What I do remember is the excitement, the awe that we watched the performers with, the animals( I do realize that it was so cruel, but for a young child, it was still something out of the world). The clowns and their antics – it ย even made grown-ups laugh!

Last year, we were in Blackpool, and were thoroughly disappointed with the place, when we got to know that there was a circus there. We went to watch it, and really enjoyed it. It was not the same as the ones back home. It was inside a building, and too posh? Maybe? Something was just not the same. The magic that I remembered from my childhood was missing. ย Of course, it can’t be the same can, it? I am a grown-up, now! Silly me!

A couple of weeks ago, husband came across a circus being held here, near us. He booked tickets, because we thought it would be fun – much better than just eating out – which is what we would have done otherwise. Yesterday was the day. We(husband and I) did not have very high expectations, but daughter was super excited! All she wanted to see was the clown!

The very first sight of the circus made me strangely happy, and nostalgic! It was just the way I remembered it from my childhood. The pitched tent, and colourful decor. This was no posh circus, it felt real! It felt like those circuses that I had watched as a child! It was a Russian circus, and the performances did not disappoint either!

Two hours just flew by! We laughed at the clowns antics, wowed the acrobats, and the other performances. It was just perfect! The only disappointment, according to daughter, was the the popcorn was sweet ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Daughter and I like the salty popcorn, while husband loves sweet(he loves sweet in everything), and they only had sweet popcorn.

It was such a fun outing. Hopefully daughter will have wonderful memories of circuses – just like I have. I managed to take a picture of the circus tent, just as we were about to drive off, after the show. Does it bring back memories for you guys?

To make the weekend even more fun, we went to an Asian fair, this morning, at a park nearby. Had loads of chaat. For a change, the chaat here was delicious. Or was I delirious with hunger? Probably a combination of both. Husband and daughter feasted on jalebis. Daughter got into loads of kiddie rides, and we did a family ride which went on and on until we were ready to beg them to stop. Even the rains held off until we were ready to go home.

And a weekend, where we did not eat out. Not counting the chaats! I had food prepared, and ready at home, but we can’t resist eating when there is delicious fair food available!

Perfect weekend, by our standards ๐Ÿ™‚ How was yours?