Monday, September 02, 2013

A glam breakfast

There's a district in Singapore called Kampong Glam, and that's where we all had breakfast this morning, at a cafe called CAD in Haji Lane. A nice little place with Toby's Estate Coffee. Yes, it was a hole in the wall, but the street was super-cool and the coffee was good (though Leonie said hers was a bit hot).

We saw a cat, and Miriam went all google-eyed. She's missing the quadruped apparently...

Oh, and she (Miriam, not the quadruped) tried kopi today, a Singapore approach to coffee. It's thicker, richer, and with cream and sugar or condensed milk also sweeter, but she's sticking to the Western variety for now!

Chillin' with a morning coffee at CAD in Kampong Glam

Yep, pretty cool. Also just around the corner from
two jazz clubs, so cool quotient definitely up there...

Witticism in plant pot. I could not resist and even climbed
up for a better look...
"My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them."

A jazz fix - with Yotam Silberstein and band at Sultan Jazz Club

A trip to a jazz club tonight - it was inevitable I suppose. She put on her jazz skirt and her jazz sandals, booked a table (that must be a first for Little Miss 'I'll take my chances') and off the two of them popped to the Sultan Jazz Club. It was a really enjoyable night of music. Yotam Silberstein on his guitar, Barak Mori on bass and Amir Bresler on drums. A tight, really enjoyable trio with lots of great latin grooves and a palpable sense of joy in the music. Enjoyin' the joy in the music. A little bit of vodka, a little bit of toe-tapping, a cool breeze from the air con... and the band grinning. Local piano player Kerong Chock joined the trio for a few songs. Highlights included 'Body and Soul' (always a favourite for Miriam) and the Silberstein original 'Canção'

I should also add that Miriam nearly got them lost on the way there. But luckily Leonie got us there.

Messy-no-more - hotel bathroom art

Being in a hotel means that someone makes your bed, empties your bins, replaces your towels... and tidies up the bathroom.

I've never seen tidying up quite like it, and neither has Miriam ... she took a picture (just for the memories). Whoever is cleaning the room is a very tidy person!

L&M toiletries laid out neatly. It happens every day, like magic.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Hidden hardware - a coffee adventure

Being from Melbourne, she's caught the trend towards coffee wankiness enthusiasm. Her friend Leonie likes coffee too (I like Leonie; she doesn't put me in a sock. Ever). So as well as savouring local cuisine, they decided to look for some of the new coffee shops that are springing up all over Singapore. Trendy little places that think about single origin coffee beans, and pourover techniques.  M & L had asked their friend Mark from Eureka Coffee (he's at the Farmers Markets and stuff) and another friend (Hi Eugenia) to make coffee shop recommendations.  There were a few and today they dragged me to one of them. Not sure why they bothered as I'm not a coffee nut like them. I guess they just love me for my witty conversation.

That's me in the bottom left hand corner.
Definitely not tall enough to require a ticket!
After yesterday's long and winding walk, we opted for the train. Singapore's MRT is pretty easy to use, we found out. I didn't need a ticket - we checked and I wasn't quite tall enough to warrant buying one.

Everything in the train system is clean and shiny. In fact I've been noticing that whenever they take me out of Miriam's handbag. No rubbish, no dirty dusty stuff. Even the building sites we pass have very little grime coming out of them. Miriam finds it a bit freaky. It's a bit of a theme-for-the-day (you know how she gets those... she'll get a topic into her head and just keeps coming back to it all day long, ad nauseum)

The coffee shop we went to today was in a part of town much less shiny and clean (Hooray, said Miriam) It had that steamy Asian smell, that she's experienced in Hong Kong and Bangkok. There were buildings that had weathered, roads that were cracked, some untidiness and mess. Still not much rubbish though.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware. Inside here be trendy coffee nuts.
Noam reading the menu at Chye Seng Huat Hardware
The menu... a simple range of breakfast fare and small meals
The coffee shop was in a converted hardware shop (still bears its name Chye Seng Huat Hardware) It had a hidden doorway, and once inside, you could have been in any Melbourne coffee shop, with the pourover station, the propped up list of single origin-coffees-of-the-day, the earnest young twenty somethings turning coffee making into something between art and science.

The coffee was great, according to her nibs. She had her regular long black with cold milk. She chose the solid Blue Batak blend.

Leonie's coffee was good too... (Nuts and Bolts blend) a kind of nuttiness and natural sweetness with light notes that made it a delicious breakfast beverage. (gawd, now I'm starting to sound like a wanker enthusiast too!)

The scrambled eggs breakfast that Miriam had was not so exciting... white bread more dried out than toasted, sad snow peas that had been drowned in dressing and baked beans that looked suspiciously like they had come out of a can. The scrambled eggs were soft and light, though. Leonie's muffin was delicious.

They were both going on and on about how nice it all was. I have to say I liked it too. It was strange though, to have this little specialist restaurant / coffee shop right in middle of a street that feels not coffee-shop-ish at all...
Me hanging off a cup of coffee - lovely aroma
 With coffee and breakfast in their tummies, Miriam put me back in her handbag and we headed out into the steamy Singapore air...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sound, light and clouds in Singapore Gardens By The Bay

On their first day here, M&L went to the Gardens by the Bay. Everybody said things like 'you have to' and 'it's a must see' so they didn't really have a choice. By the time they got the day started on Friday it was pretty warm, and they walked all the way there... so they had run out of steam a little by the time they reached this highly recommended Singapore attraction. Leonie had heard there was a sound and light show each night at 7:45 and 8:45 and Miriam wanted to see the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, so they decided to come back and visit one night during the trip. Tonight (Saturday 31 August) was the night!

This time they took the MRT system - the incredibly efficient, clean and regular train system - to Marina Bay then a quick change to the Circle Line and Bayfront station then up the stairs to Gardens By The Bay. There were quite a few people there - lots of kids and couples. A warm night (are they ever not, here?) and we all headed up to the ticket window for the domes. The ticket lady informed us that there was not much lighting in the Flower Dome, and we might not enjoy it as much as during the day. The previous ticket lady had informed M&L of no such thing, so Miriam made a sarcastic remark to that effect. Why she does it, I cannot fathom. It's not useful, helpful or dignified. And besides, it often falls on deaf ears. Like on Saturday night. So once Miriam had that little bit of nonsense out of her system, our adventurous duo of M&L bought tickets to the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Both these exhibits are in great glass domes, which are designed to be sustainable.  Miriam's planning to research more on this. Both exhibits are also new(ish) and so are the super trees. Everything needs to grow more... You can imagine in a lush, humid place such as this, the plants all seem to be jumping out of their bark ... there are new shoots, tendrils and growth all over the place, but in a couple of years all the man-made structures they are climbing on seem likely to be covered over with green.

But back to the Flower Dome... it's a dryer environment than the outside world and at night it's a bit hard to see anything (the ticket girl without the sarcasm radar wasn't wrong!). The little signs weren't lit up but M&L read bits and pieces where they could. So unfortunate thing number 1 was the lighting snafu. But there's more... of course there is because Miriam was there. The Flower Dome has a venue in the lower level and there was a celebration happening on Saturday night. A loud and enthusiastic host, tables and tables of people. It sounded like a mix between a dancing competition and a bingo call... The Flower Dome is (potentially) a wonderful meditative space full of plants from all over the world and instead the atmosphere was ruined by the goings on. So ticket lady warned us about the lights being dim and forgot to mention that our experience was going to be ruined by loud music and emceeing...  Look, M&L aren't going to make a fuss about it (M's little sarcasm burst aside) because they;re trying to have a good holiday, but even from inside the handbag I could tell there was a little bit of 'not happy, Jan' happening in the Flower Dome.

A whole raft of carnivorous plants in the Cloud Dome
However, the Cloud Dome made up for it. A cool, misty world with walkways that took us from ground level up seven stories (the height of the indoor waterfall, incidentally) I would love to see this place in a few years too... it is full of ferns, orchids and other plants of all kinds. There has been quite a bit of effort to turn the place into an educational experience, but the information is very light on - even with my limited knowledge of flora I felt there could have been alto more effort put into some more scientific info for grown ups. Disappointing too, to see the display of crystals that had large stalagmites on display plinths at one of the levels. They'd cut these things out of real caves to use as a display here? Oh, and Miriam wants to know if there were real frogs in the Cloud Dome, or if they were just recordings. And were those mushies plastic or real? She asks the darnedest questions.

The gorgeous supertrees all lit up. 
That segues into another observation that her smarty pants-ness keeps making about Singapore... this sense of it being a theme park. Lots of dumbing down and being nice. She always wants more harsh reality, more truth, more science... you know what she's like. People here seem to get along fine.

After the wonderful experience of the Cloud Dome, M&L took me out to the 8:45 pm light show in the Supertrees grove. Wow. We were all rapt. Music, lights... it was magical. Yes, theme parky, but we all liked it, and we made our way back through Bayfront to Marina Bay then City Hall stations smiling and humming. Well M&L did. I'm ceramic and the vocal chords have problems with even the littlest hum.

Singapore in a sock

If you used to read my witty little posts about MZ you know the whole saga. I don't particularly like travelling in a sock... she always puts me in a sock to travel... [yawn]. Nothing's changed, except that this time it was two socks. She tells me that's because she's sick of losing pairs so it was better to have them together. Double the humiliation. Half the logic. I give up.

Packing. I tried to get away...
We're here in Singapore... at the Fairmont, on level 25. The pool is on level 8. I haven't been there but she's there now... so I'm blogging in her absence.

Across the road is Raffles. That famous hotel with the Singapore Sling, which her Lonely Planet guide says is made better by other places, even though it originated at Raffles. She read the ingredients somewhere and realised it's a pretty sweet drink so she's kind of lost interest. Not that she's an expert on cocktails or anything (and they say sarcasm and gnomes don't mix) but looks like that's one type of drink I won't be hanging off on this trip.

So... plane trip was great. I was under the seat in the bag... marginally better than the overhead locker. 7 hour flight from Melbs. She's travelling with her friend Leonie, who is an expert at such things, being in the business of travel...

We got in during the wee smalls... a little nightcap then off to sleepy land. Friday (today) was our first full day and I was brought along for the ride. Fab. She took me out of the sock but the inside of her handbag is all linty, with small pieces of paper, wrappers, pen tops and the perpetual risk of an actual pen job... the surprise markup from a leaking biro is never as fun as it sounds.

My impression [and I acknowledge that this is extremely subjective] is that this is a city of guard rails. Somebody in city planning got a great offer on a job lot of railings and they've plonked them all around the place, painted in a range of (fun!) colours.  I managed to perch on a few of them as we travelled around today:

With Leonie - Marina Bay Sands in the background.
It has a pool in that section at the top of the three pillars.
The view from our room (green railing)

Caught blogging. I must be getting careless in my old age.

Leonie... leading the way...

The Merlion (in the distance) - silver rail this time.

Dragonfly bridge view - pink railing (see what I mean about the railings?)

Supertree grove at the Gardens by the Bay...

Leonie blazing a trail...

Topiary Urangatan

Ferny stuff

Pretty flowers, archway, path, elbow...

Checking out the seemingly suspended sculpture of a baby.
This bloke from The Guardian doesn't think much of it. 

Fishies big and small. That's my out-of-focus cap.
Pictures by amateurs. Great.

Delicious lunch at the end of a very long walk and lots of sights. Great hummus!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Going back to Provincetown!

It's sock time! She's choosing a sock for me! She reckons it's three weeks from yesterday until we go. So I'm going to be in an overhead locker, stuck in backpack of some description for a long haul flight or two. I'll cope, because I'm going to see the breakwater and walk on the snowy beach and say hi to Jim and chat with Jane and see people I know at the GU and maybe even climb the monument (if it's open) Oh, yeah, plus New York. Meh.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Arty arternoon

Well, an outing at last! She took me out to do art this afternoon. We learned about Polaroid Transfers. What fun! You take an image of a slide using a special Polaroid machine and then transfer the partly processed emulsion onto paper or fabric or somesuch to make a pretty groovy picture. Robyn used to do this with some of her amazing travel slides from around the world, and Miriam brought some old family photos to play with, as well as a Mt Isa shot from the sixties by her Grandma Cathy.
She took me out of the (damn) sock and let me help. Yaay! Our tutor for the afternoon was Wave. Cool name, eh! He let us do the workshop in his little place in the West End of Provincetown. It was set up like a little photographic laboratory! I got the job of checking the water in the plastic bucket. It had to be within a pretty strict range of temperatures.

MZ tried wet paper and dry paper. For the wet paper she had to put it in this container for a few seconds. And I had to supervise. After all, it's not as easy as it looks. Nothing is, really. And it is Miriam we're talking about. She needs constant watching.
Luckily Jim was there, taking care of the details. He's working here on one of the photographing machines... you put some Polaroid film in the bottom and a slide in the top, then push a few things in and pull a few things out and peel the thingy off the whatsit and roll the black thingy (face down) onto a sheet of paper. Easy!

The bit they let me help with, other than paper-wetting, was the rolling. Great. The roller is bigger than I am. "Press harder!" was all they could say. "Press harder! Work evenly! Don't let the Polaroid slip!" Ye gods. I did a great job and don't you let anyone tell you different. Here's proof.

Here are a couple of bits I did and really like - they are on silk.

Spring is sprung

Something she really loves about the USA is that they stick to the proper dates for the change of season. For example, Spring starts the day after the March equinox. Not on the first of the month!

She hates this thing that's happened in Australia where we start Autumn on 1st of March and Spring on 1st of September. It wasn't always this way. When she was in primary school, the seasons started on the old fashioned dates of 21/22 ish of March, June, September and December... around solstices and equinoxes.... But all that's changed now and she gets to grit her teeth four times a year when the 'seasons' change. Aaargh!!
Truth is, maybe those dates don't apply in Australia anyway, because apparently our seasons in Australia aren't the same as the four that exist in the northern hemisphere. But she's adamant (you know how she can get) that seasons are about the earth's cycle and not about the convenience of a calendar. And here, in Provincetown, there's no escaping the real seasons, so she gets to be right. Which can make her unbearable (you know how she can get)...

One piece of evidence that spring has sprung is that the crocuses are in bloom. They are a first sign of the new season; they are dotted in gardens all over Provincetown, and she loves 'em.

The Breakwater

The Breakwater is a long rocky wall that stretches across from the bottom end of Commercial Street across to Long Point. Yesterday she went for a walk across there - it's a great adventure... she checks the tides and then heads down there when the time is right; walks across the wall and then onto the other side. The last few times she's done it, it's been the other end of winter - with the town quiet and only the most foolhardy aliens making the treck across the slippery rocks.

This weekend was the first one of spring... and Sunday was warm. That's relative of course. It was 52 degrees F. That's about 11 or 12 degrees Celcius. Mmmmmm Toasty!!!

The trouble was, she turns into a bit of a loner when she's here and going walkies. Basically it's just her and the quiet. Clean air, bird song... the sound of her own breath. And me, of course. But I'm quiet most of the time. It's these ceramic vocal chords. And on Sunday, being so toasty, there were other people out walking and a few of them were on the breakwater. Mostly quiet but one couple came along and the guy was yelling and laughing... filling up the silence with what even she described as inane noise. At first Miriam thought he was laughing at her because she leaps from rock to rock with her hands out for balance and it seemed that the guy was imitating the way she did that. And you know how she is. Sometimes she just speaks when she shouldn't. She stopped and let him catch up and said how glad she was that she had managed to amuse him. She had that particularly sarcastic tone of voice that we all love so much.

"Oh, no," he said "I wasn't laughing at you! I was laughing at my wife. She's scared of heights and I was laughing at how she's walkin' with her arms out for balance."

"No, no", he went on, loud and blustery, "No, I would never laugh at someone I didn't know!"

So Miriam just looked at him and let them pass. After they had gone, she took the photos in the previous post... and then walked quietly home. She'll go back on the breakwater again on a nice quiet weekday before she goes home. A cold grey day with nobody else around.

Here's the guy and his wife... in the distance, where they belong.

Monday, March 31, 2008

breakwater 360 degrees

Words coming later... but here's a 360 degree shot taken from halfway across the breakwater at the end of Commercial Street that goes out to Long Point.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Comments now anonymous

Hello! MZ has just changed the settings so you can post comments anonymously to the blog, without needing a google account... Hooray!

A little ray of sunshine...

Amazing eh! This is the picture she took in the sunshine, from the deck. Looks like a different place to the grey view a couple of days ago!

It may have been sunny today but the wind chill was vicious. Three hours of walking in the Beech Forest cleared the cobwebs...

She saw dunes:

And the Pilgrim Monument from a distance:

And Race Point and Provincetown Airport (airstrip):

All from the Visitor's centre, shown here on this handy map.

Oh, and by the way I only know any of this because she told me later. She forgot to take me. 'Forgot'. Huh! I bet she was just daydreaming about the quadruped. Shown here drinking water from the tap in the bathroom, the day before we left for America. At least she doesn't have to empty MY litter!

Lorraine's & Jim's

Lorraine's is a mexican restaurant that stays open in the off season and what a blessing that is! A slightly overcast night, the end of the week, and that's where we went! Margaritas! Chilli! Yaay! And yes, she took me, because... of course... there were going to be glasses for me to hang off and you know how much I love that. Love love love it! Not!

And then we went to Jim's where Easter decorations still linger.

Jane's for dinner

We went to Jane's for dinner. She showed us the crocuses that had come out just today - they're some of the crocuses that Ewa bought a few years ago to plant around town in memory of Robyn... They close up at night but I took a good look at them anyway!