Cynhynfa Country Guest House and Singapore hawker food

So, the story is that I belong to a Facebook group called Singaporeans in the UK and, a few weeks ago, I told the group that I was going on a road trip to Wales. I asked for suggestions and got a lot of helpful advice, which helped me plan my route.

Someone also mentioned that a Singaporean lady owns a bed and breakfast on the border of England and Wales. Since it was in a location that could fit into my then very sketchy route, I thought it would be a great idea to stay a night there.

And so we did!

This is Cynhynfa Country Guest House. (It’s pronounced something along the lines of “ker-nin-fa” if I recall correctly.)

 

Cynhynfa Country Guest House

 

Singaporean Nora runs the bed and breakfast together with her English husband. She’s full of funny stories, on Facebook and in real life, so it was a real pleasure getting to know her.

Her house decor is beautiful! Every piece of furniture and ornament seems to have been carefully picked and thoughtfully placed. The stylish setting indoors was a real surprise after driving through miles and miles of country.

 

 

Our bedroom:

Cynhynfa Country Guest House

 

 

Another bedroom, a little one with a slopey ceiling:

Cynhynfa Country Guest House

 

 

The dining room:

Cynhynfa Country Guest House

 

 

The view from the dining room:

Cynhynfa Country Guest House

 

 

Outside the house:

Cynhynfa Country Guest House

 

Nora was really hospitable. She made us feel at home immediately and fed us some homemade curry puffs because I’d told her that Piers is mad about them, haha. (I mean he is literally crazy about them. When we’re in Singapore, he turns into an excited puppy every time we pass by a stall or shop that sells curry puffs. He’ll be, like, “Oh looooook curry puffs omg!!!”)

She also cooked us a nice Asian dinner at no extra charge because I’m homesick for Singaporean food and it was gorgeous. She and her husband sat down to dinner with us and we had a nice time swapping stories and getting to know one another.

 

 

Sambal tomato prawn:

Sambal tomato prawn

 

 

Chicken curry:

Chicken curry

 

Speaking of Singaporean food, I told Piers about the Gordon Ramsay vs Singapore hawker food challenge and he was really excited because he’s a huge fan of Singaporean food and he thinks it’ll be good for the celebrity chef to try it.

Not quite the reaction I had expected.

Personally, I find it a bit silly because people of different cultures have different taste buds, so the winner of the challenge is going to be affected by where the judges come from and what sort of tastes they’re used to, so how will that prove anything?

Also, they’re going to make Gordon Ramsay cook something he’s probably never even eaten (he did mention a lack of experience in Singaporean food) against people who have cooked those dishes for decades. Huh?

 

Gordon Ramsay vs Singapore

 

Then again, this whole thing is just a publicity stunt to promote Singapore hawker food and give Gordon Ramsay as well as the organisers a lot of publicity, so it’ll probably just be an entertaining show where all parties come off winning, in some way or other.

Sorry about the digression but I had sort of come to an end, anyway.

So, Cynhynfa Country Guest House was a nice start to our entry into Wales. We didn’t really have time to visit around the area but if you look in the website, you will find many great places to visit nearby.

And that’s the problem with holidays, isn’t it? There’s always too much to see and experience, and never enough time to do everything!

TVR night at Poole Quay

Went to a TVR showcase event at Poole Quay last night. It’s an annual summer event showcasing a different make of cars each week. Owners of specific cars can drive there and park along the quay for free between 6 and 9 pm on their allocated nights.

 

Sheylara at the Quay

 

I suppose the draw for car owners is to have their cars gawked at and perhaps, for some, free parking while they sample the entertainment offered at the premises (bars, restaurants, scenic views, seagulls being a nuisance).

So, June 28 was TVR night and Piers never passes up a chance to fraternise with other TVR owners. That means I get to tag along event after event, looking at the same cars again and again, listening to the same conversations over and over…

“I’ve just installed a brand new zndltggnla dpe lnweo nxjiifi! Tqqwlxm eh pzxb lopq wrvsd!”

“Oh, I say, that’s brilliant, old chap yytnvlq snptrrus trqr angggseylmt qw xyzl or frhglmp b ix!”

Well, I tend to tune out after a second or two, so I’ve had to make up a conversation, sorry.

 

Fraternising at (near) the Quay

 

So, seagulls being a nuisance.

Yes.

When I first came to England (from Singapore where there are no seagulls), I was of course delighted with them because they fly so near you and they’re so tame they’d eat off your hands. And then hop on your head and peck your eyes out.

I exaggerate. They’re not that vicious. Unless you consider someone pooping all over your freshly polished car a vicious act.

That, in fact, is what seagulls do, and they are extremely unapologetic about it.

 

Seagull dropping a bomb

 

Last night, this happened to an unsuspecting TVR.

The guy parked and stepped out of the car. I walked over to take a photo (not specifically of it but of a larger area that showed more TVRs driving towards us).

I took one photo.

 

TVR

 

Then I took another photo.

 

TVR

 

And I heard exclamations.

“OMG.”

“What just happened.”

“Did you see that.”

“How in the world…”

And I looked at the car (see above pic) and it had like 30 splatters on it, all possibly the work of one seagull (I didn’t see but that’s how it was told) and all within a second.

How does ONE seagull do that in ONE second?!

 

It started to rain lightly about 15 minutes after we got there but still okay for walking around, admiring the cars and the views. When it got colder and rainier, we went indoors for dinner.

Dinner was at Italian Gossip, a restaurant serving Italian (duh) cuisine. Service was ultra friendly and food was reasonable.

 

 

Pan fried chicken liver on toast. Yums. But not as yums as Nando’s chicken liver.

Chicken liver on toast

 

 

Spaghetti Vongole. I have yet to be impressed by a pasta dish in England. I keep hoping and I keep being disappointed. They’re always quite bland; you might as well just boil a pot of spaghetti and eat it straight up.

Spaghetti Vongole

 

 

Salada Mista. Well, it’s just salad. Nothing to get excited about, just something you have to live with.

Salad

 

That’s the food done.

We’re going to get back to cars.

It stopped raining by the time we finished dinner.

We walked around a bit more and Piers took a load of photos; I was tired of taking photos of cars after two years of this kind of thing, so handed him the camera.

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

 

 

TVR

 

Anyhoo, I was a bit more excited when we went off to Waitrose in Christchurch to buy a bottle of semi-expensive balsamic vinegar (£12). We can’t all have the same hobbies, for shame.

We encountered a dude at the Waitrose carpark who was driving a TVR decorated with smatterings of stars all over, who drove in and parked right next to us while we were walking to our car with groceries in hand.

He was apparently lost and looking for a way to Christchurch, not realising that he was in Christchurch.

So, that was it, another Friday whiled away. What did you do on your Friday night?

A year in two posts — Part 2

And we continue on my journey of randomness through the “lost months”, during which I disappeared off the face of the blogosphere.

(Click here for Part 1)

 

October 2012 — Thundering TVRs

One Sunday morning in October, I had to wake up at a stupid time like 2:30 in the morning to make the drive to London to take part in an event called TVR Thunder in the Tunnels, which saw something like 100 TVRs thundering through the streets (and tunnels) of London city.

 

Early morning camwhoring

 

TVRs are British-made race cars that sound like a cross between a jet ski and an earthquake.

When you’re sitting in one, and it’s racing through a tunnel together with two or three other TVRs, and you have the roof off, you’re experiencing one of the finest examples of aural abuse.

 

TVRs in row

 

TVRs in row

 

TVRs in row

 

I tried to take some action videos, but race cars are not the smoothest rides in the world so you don’t really want to be taking videos while you’re sitting in a racing TVR.

Watching the replays, which were mainly supersonic speed montages of ceiling, floor, body parts and metal, nearly gave me a seizure so I deleted them all.

 

November 2012 — Bangs

Cut my hair!

It’s been half a year since, and I’m still in two minds about it. Some days I love it and some days I hate it and wish I had my old hair back. But then I would remember that there were also days I equally hated my old hair, and that the wisest course of action would be to retreat into a Zen meditation state of chocolate bars and iPad gaming. End of story.

 

Bangs bangs bangs

 

December 2012 — Graduation

I don’t remember ever feeling so relieved about completing something as much as when I graduated Montessori College.

 

People

 

And people

 

I am now a certified Montessori Directress and my plan is to stay home and take a break forever to recuperate from the trauma of seriously the most mentally, physically and emotionally taxing course I’ve ever undergone.

It’s a good course, though. I appreciate and understand children a lot more now. I mean, I loved them before, but they were just screaming bundles of cuteness. Now I see them as proper human beings who have individual personalities just like adults, and they have valid reasons for everything they do, even throwing tantrums, so give them a break (but not a Kit Kat, it’s bad for them).

 

January 2013 — Freedom

So here’s me taking my break, doing some gaming, some cooking and, occasionally, some camwhoring.

 

Slug

 

Prawn aglio olio
Prawn aglio olio

 

So, it was January, a new year, a very special time of the year for resolutions and renewal. And I made a resolution to make no more resolutions for the rest of my life because we all know how they end.

Okay, well, the truth is that I was (still am) in a bit of a transitional period, shuttling between two countries, during which time a lot of things are out of my control. So my solution is… yes, chocolate bars and iPad gaming.

 

February 2013 — Singapore

I went back to Singapore for six weeks. It was mostly an eat fest. What else is there to do in Singapore?

I should rephrase. What else is there better to do in Singapore? Nothing, is what. This time, I didn’t have to go all over the place to eat my favourite things, which is a huge relief because I would be the happiest girl alive if I never have to take an MRT again, ever.

My dad had renovated his kitchen last year so he enjoys cooking doubly now, I think. He cooked everything I wanted. Some of the things I asked for he had never cooked before, so he Googled it and produced it and it was good.

 

In the kitchen

 

Sweet and sour pork
Sweet and sour pork

 

Fried carrot cake
Fried carrot cake

 

Kung po prawn
Kung po prawn

 

Chilli crab
Chilli crab

 

Laksa
Laksa

 

Sambal ladies fingers
Sambal ladies fingers

 

Roti prata
Roti prata

 

Char siew pork rib
Char siew pork rib

 

Tahu goreng
Tahu goreng

 

Hokkien mee
Hokkien mee

 

And that sums up my 6-week stay in Singapore.

Okay, not really.

That’s just a modest sampling of the stuff my dad cooked for me. And Piers. Piers came to visit for three weeks, lucky boy. He got to watch my dad make chinese rice wine. I love that wine.

 

March 2013 — Bangkok

When Piers was in Singapore, Nanny Wen had to make a sudden trip to Bangkok for work (she’s looking after the Nuffnang Thailand office at the moment) so we decided to follow her on a whim.

I don’t want to do a whole post on my trip there, so I’m going to try to sum it up in a sentence.

Bangkok is a repository of utility poles and power lines wound around each other 20 times over in a scary fashion admidst a hodgepodge of contradicting sights of dirty, rickety street stalls selling food covered in flies, modern shopping centres and very pretty women on billboards.

I don’t suppose that gives a very flattering picture of Bangkok, but I loved it there because people were friendly and the food was great.

Geez, you’re thinking, does this girl’s life have to revolve around food?

Yes, I’m afraid.

But it was a good holiday and here are some photos to prove it.

 

Back of my head

 

Indeed, a picture of the back of my head is excellent proof that we had a good holiday in Bangkok.

Nanny Wen did my hair, you see.

You know how girls are stupid over things like hair.

 

Okay, here we are in Chinatown, at a street restaurant where the tables are literally on the pavement of a busy one-way road. The tables also go into the alleyways between buildings, so as to make full use of every inch of real estate in the area.

 

Chinatown

 

Chinatown

 

Chinatown

 

And there’s a “Western Street” full of bars that promise not to check your ID while giving you very strong cocktails, push carts with large varieties of skewered fried insects which you have to pay money to photograph, and countless stalls offering fake ID services. You can get any ID for anything in the world in Bangkok.

 

Bar

 

There’s a nice chill-out place for eating, shopping and partying called Asiatique, which is accessible by a free ferry service if you’re on the wrong side of the island or don’t want to drive because, trust me, you don’t want to get caught in a traffic jam in Bangkok.

We took a ferry in but then followed Nanny Wen’s friends out by car. We were stuck in the car park for about an hour and a half because everyone was trying to get out of the car park and the road outside was also jammed.

 

Asiatique

 

There’s a really good restaurant called Somboon Seafood which I would highly recommend. The curry crab is really good.

 

Curry crab

 

And here’s a group photo to round up my Bangkok trip.

 

Group photo

 

You can see the boys in the mirror, lol. On the right is Piers, taking the photograph, and on the left is Nanny Wen’s business partner, who drove us around to nice eateries in Bangkok.

 

April 2013 — Leeds

Once again, Piers’ company annual dinner and dance happened in Leeds because that’s where the head office is. The event was held in a ballroom at the Royal Armouries Museum, which is a nice touristy place to visit.

 

My name

 

After the party

 

I didn’t take many photos because I didn’t like the way I looked. Haha. That is a completely valid reason to put away the camera all night. Yes, it’s one of those stupid girl things you will never understand if you’re not a girl, that is, a vainish one.

And that ends Part 2 of my year in two posts.

From here on, it is my plan that I will update frequently rather than wait until next year to lump another entire year in two posts.

That, I think, is a rather good plan if I may say so myself.

How to lose your appetite fast

A few months ago, I started experiencing a loss of appetite and it has been really disconcerting.

If you have been following my blog over the years, you might have concluded that I was an irredeemable glutton, such was my penchant to share endless gastronomical conquests, replete with mouthwatering photos.

 

Noms

 

I have loved food, especially unhealthy junk food, all my life. Barring the occasional loss of appetite due to temporal sickness, depression or jetlag, I’ve always lived to eat and looked forward to every meal with hungry impatience, always dreaming of all sorts of savoury delights rolling around my taste buds.

And then, all of that suddenly gone. Almost overnight.

I woke up one day and found no urge to eat. No food excited me, not even my favourite things, and I have many of those, trust me. One day rolled into two days, which rolled into one month, two months.

Piers would ask me, “If you could have anything to eat right now, anything at all, what would it be?” And I would say, “Nothing at all!”

Putting something into my mouth to chew and swallow started seeming a bit like a chore, even when I was hungry. I did still occasionally enjoy tasty food, but the enjoyment would be at about 30% of what it should have been.

“O.M.G. I’ve died and gone to heaven” became “Okay, this is quite tasty so it’s less of a chore to eat”.

 

Om nom nom

 

At first I thought it was because I was sick of the food in England, since the variety there is quite limited, and I’ve always craved variety. I thought my appetite would go back to normal once I was back in Singapore and I looked forward to eating all the food I missed.

But I came back to Singapore and nothing changed. Faced with all the best food you could find in the whole wide world, my appetite remain unmoved.

It has been two weeks since I’ve returned to Singapore and I have woken up with dismay every day, no urge to eat, thinking of each day wasted that I’m not scarfing down chwee kueh for breakfast, chicken rice for lunch and chilli crab for dinner. I’m only in Singapore for six weeks.

But I just have no interest in eating, whatsoever.

My mind ruminated all the possible reasons. Prolonged jetlag? General malaise from having finished my course and undecided on my next step? Old age? I did use to wonder as a kid why adults never seemed to want to eat tidbits all day, even when they had all the money and freedom to do so.

 

Let there be bread

 

And then, today, I suddenly put two and two together and discovered the culprit of my malediction. It is the stupid Omega 3 fish oil capsules I’ve been taking daily since Novemeber last year!

It didn’t cross my mind that something like that would suppress my appetite. I started taking it a month before my exams because our psychology lecturer told us that fish oils supplements have been proven to boost brain function. After that, I continued taking it because I noticed that my skin was getting smoother, too.

I think my appetite might have started buggering off around that time. I had then stocked my snack cupboard to the ridiculous brim for the exam period, expecting it to be all gone within weeks. After my exams, the cupboard remained untouched, still stocked well enough to last me through an apocalypse and a half.

 

Snack cupboard

(I don’t have a photo of my snack cupboard in England, but it’s bigger than this one I had in Singapore about 5 years ago.)

 

After my exams, I would literally not eat until about 7 pm when Piers would get home from work and we would have dinner together. For a couple of months, there were many days in which I ate just one meal a day. (Other days, I would force myself to eat something in the day.) But dinner would be a huge meal, which made up the calories my sedentary lifestyle needed, although it was probably not too good for general health.

So, today, I woke up and I looked at the bottle of fish oil capsules on my table and something clicked in my brain. I got up and Googled “fish oil suppresses appetite” and there was my answer.

While the evidence is compelling — the articles confirm it and my timeline fits — I can’t say for sure that fish oil is the main cause of my lost appetite. I suppose I will have to stop taking it for a while to see if the good ol’ appetite comes back. I only have 3.5 weeks left to eat my fill in Singapore!

If I am right, then I have found a way for me to maintain a healthy diet while at the same time benefit from the multitudes of health benefits of this supplement. I’ve never been able to stick to a healthy diet plan for my junk food cravings always got the better of me.

So, yay?

I do miss foodgasms, though, so now I’m kinda undecided what to do.

By the way, this is not an advertorial for fish oil or a recommendation to try it or whatever. Take it at your own risk and stick with reliable brands!

 

Update: 6 July 2017

Four years after publishing this post, I’m still getting questions about this, so I’m going to answer them here!

 

FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT FAQ

Q: What brand of fish oil did you use?

A: Seven Seas

 

Q: Can you show me a photo of the exact one you used?

A: I’m sorry, I can’t! Seven Seas has since updated its entire range of fish oils so the one I took isn’t there anymore. All I know is I chose a fish oil that promised to boost brain power and memory. :D

 

Q: So, which fish oil would you recommend?

A: Keeping in mind that I’m no expert, I would recommend reputable brands to be on the safe side, but also keep in mind that even reputable brands have been found to exaggerate the health benefits of their supplements. But, generally, what you want is Omega-3, so just look for that.

 

Q: Fish oil or cod liver oil?

A: I chose fish oil for its higher content of Omega-3.

 

Q: How many pills did you take daily and at what time, etc?

A: I don’t really remember, sorry. Just follow the instructions on the bottle!

 

Q: How long did it take before your appetite went away?

A: About two weeks.

 

Q: Did your appetite come back after stopping the supplements?

A: Yes! It probably took a few weeks for my appetite to go back to normal.

 

Q: Any other advice?

A: Yes. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Always do a lot of research before forming your own opinions, and consult your doctor when in doubt. If you’re pregnant or diabetic or have any major health conditions, definitely consult your doctor before taking any supplements!

 

 

Flowers and cakes

Just a quick update now cos I’ve been busy and I’m leaving England for Singapore tomorrow!

Actually, that’s all I need to say but since I’m already here, I suppose I could say a few more things.

It’s Valentine’s Day today. I’ve never really been partial to the commercialism of the whole event, not because I think it’s a scam (which it kind of is) but because I think it makes people lazy in relationships, thinking that they’ve got this one day to excessively shower their loved ones with love, and then the rest of the year they can take it easy, take the relationship for granted.

Regardless, I am not above appreciating some Valentine’s Day flowers.

 

Tulips!

 

Piers got me tulips instead of roses because he said he couldn’t find roses in colours that I like (white and champagne pink) and he wasn’t overly sure of the exact shade of pink I like, anyway, cos to him, all pinks look the same.

Which is fine because I actually prefer tulips to roses.

Flowers are relatively cheap in England and we can get pretty tulips all year round so Piers was happy to buy me a bunch every week to pretty up our apartment at the beginning of our relationship.

Eventually, though, I told him to stop because I got tired of maintaining them, having to replenish or change the water every so often. I started leaving them to wilt for weeks before I could be arsed to dump them and give the mouldy vase a good clean.

You just can’t please a girl.

But, seriously, since I’m leaving tomorrow, it means Piers has to take care of these tulips and dispose of them when they die, so that’s perfect for me. I am very pleased!

 

A few days ago, I baked this fresh cream chocolate cake because I felt like eating cake.

It was a bit of a disaster.

 

Cake

 

It started off being an 8-inch cake and ended up being a 5.5-inch one because I left it in the oven too long and the sides got rock hard so I had to cut them off. Because of that, the sides looked ugly so I decided to cover everything with fresh cream, only I didn’t have enough cream so everything just looked uneven.

If you look on the inside, you can see a hole in the middle filled up with cream:

 

Cake!!!

 

That was me gouging a hole in the middle of the cake to check if the middle was edible.

It was barely edible, tasting like stale cake because it was so overcooked.

Piers was excited when he saw it, coming home from work. He thought it was his Valentine’s Day cake because of the heart on the top. But that was just me trying to make the cake look less ugly but even then I didn’t do a great job of it.

We each had a small slice for tea and he said, “Wow, that is really delicious!”

And then he said, “Hang on, I need to have a sip of tea. It’s stuck in my throat, need to wash it down with a drink.”

On the bright side, the cream was quite tasty.

 

Well, I can’t wait to be back in Singapore where I can buy anything I want to eat, without having to try and make it myself, and poisoning my boyfriend in the bargain.

And now I’m off to spend Valentine’s Day with the boyfriend sans poison. We are eating out today.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. Hope you have or had a great one, depending on when you read this.