Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chocolate Chocolare Chocolate

We drove back to Tenby from York last Sunday, a six hours road journey. The weather was fine, no rain, just pockets of dark clouds here and there. We broke journey at Birmingham and visited Ram's distant 'grand'nephew who lives there with his family. He has two young children the elder one is about Najla's age and the younger about three years old. they live just outside of the city, close to the University. We were there for about two hours.

As usual, Najla was slow in fraternising, perhaps sizing up the friends first. Half an hour later they were playing together as though they had been friends for a long time!! By the time we were to leave Najla was not ready to leave. She wanted to continue playing. We had to coax her to leave with alot of persuasion and some promises too heh heh!! It is rare to see Najla sitting on the lap of someone she has just met!!

On leaving Birmingham we visited Cadbury World, the chocolate factory and outlet, located not far from the house we visited, just about 10 minutes away. It was about 4.30pm when we reached the factory outlet.The place was still crowded with people at that time of the day. There were chocolates and more chocolates of all types, varieties and sizes all over the outlet. They were all attractively packed and displayed and we just could not get enough of them. We spent quite a tidy sum buying the varieties.

We continued on our way straight to Tenby. We still had about three hours of travel time and of course, plenty of chocolates to nibble and keep awake while on our way. Surprisingly Najla was awake all the way. She was playing with her toy computer all the time. We reached home at just before 9pm, 'pooped' and ready for bed!! I slept very well that night, satisfied that we were able to spend time with my niece and her family and at the same time able to visit the other family in Birmingham, a worthwhile trip for the weekend and something to remember for a while yet......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekend In York

It's the weekend and we decided to go over to York and visit my niece, who is lecturing in the University, and her family. She has completed her doctorate programme in Environmental Economics following which she lectures the subject there. We left in the evening of Friday and arrived York at just after midnight. They waited up for us, we chatted, there were alot to catch up with, and finally went to bed at about 2 in the morning.

We had heavy breakfast next morning, nun with lamb and chicken curries, rice and salads. It was 'branch' really as it was already mid-morning then. After breakfast we took a walk to town, which was only about 20 minutes away, walking by the river, in the beautiful morning sun with temperatures hovering around 12 celcius. Many people were out then and the town was quite crowded. The cafes and restaurants were open and had seats on the patios and pavements and any open space available. I see many 'crazy' people with glasses of beers and other liquors, and that early in the morning? Wow, that's self-control gone awry perhaps! People were also taking boatrides on the river while others rowed along in rowboats. It was a pleasant morning indeed.

We continued our walk, cutting across the park and headed for the Railway Museum, touted to be the largest Railway Museum ever. It is situated in an old refurbished Railway Workshop building dating back to the 1800's. What used to be a dingy, rusty and unkemp old building with dirty and grimy floors have now turned into a clean, well organised display bulding, shining floors, clean walls and roofs receiving thousands of people passing through it daily. The display was also very comprehensive, from the oldest locomotive right to the latest Eurotrain and Shinkansen. There were also simulators, a library, a children's briefing corner and of course kiddy rides which Najla never fails to be attracted and will throw tantrums if she does not get to ride them all in turn!!

After the walk around the sprawling indoor display we stopped at the cafe that had various refreshments available and rested our legs for a while. We finally got home in the late afternoon. No we did not walk home. We got Din, my nephew-in-law, who had just finished work for the day to fetch us. He had to make two trips to ferry all of us home. The kids played in the garden when we reached home. The weather was so good then that the children refused to take naps. They continued playing until late. The adults were on the other hand pooped and just dozed off on the couch, ha ha ha.

We were brought to a very nice Thai restaurant for dinner. Apparently this place requires advanced reservation and true enough when were there the place was full. The food was good, authentic Thai, with their signature Tom Yam and most of all not as hot as the original in Thailand!!

It is Sunday, today and we are due to leave in a couple of hours. It will be a six hours drive back to Tenby and we plan to stop in Birmingham to visit Ram's distant nephew working there. The weather today is as good as yesterday, no need for the thick, wooly clothings that hinders proper movements..... Let's hope the weather stays this way for the rest of the week......

Railway Library

I wonder what this building is

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's One Month Already?

My oh my, it has been one month since my last posting. How fast time flies and there has been alot of happenings in the last one month. To begin with, there were four February birthdays in the family, 3 celebrated together in Bintulu and one in Tenby. I had returned to PeeJay from Tenby, went down to JayBee,for a day trip to be with mum, then on to Bintulu and now back in Tenby. In between all these I had given lectures on two different one day sessions on the downstream activities of Oil and Gas in Malaysia to two different groups of new executives at my previous place of work, guided a group of young and fresh intakes of process operators of an ammonia/urea fertilizer plant in their on-the-job training, and participated in looking at the training needs and methodology for a gas plant, not full time but on a consultancy basis only. All the above were supposedly to keep me occupied, and occupied I was indeed.....

The three birthdays in Bintulu were the birthdays of the three siblings, Hifzhan, Haziq and Haadieya. Shaffik and Mini held a combined birthday party for the three kids at their local clubhouse on Sunday afternoon February 22nd which was Haadieya's and Ram's birthdays. I was in Tenby then but looking at the pictures taken the kids must have had a swell of a time. I was told that there were something like 25 kids and for that several adults had to be roped in to keep the goings lively. One adult was assigned solely for toilet services!!

On the same date there was a gathering of Malaysian families in one of their houses in Tenby. Since it was also Ram's birthday, they all decided to bake a birthday cake and surprised her with it. Of course when it came to cutting the cake the kids took centre stage, including Najla who was very excited herself.

I stayed in Tenby until the end of February and returned to Malaysia in time for me to facilitate the first lecture which was on March 2nd. Mum was in hospital, while I was in Tenby, for a suspected heart enlargement. She had difficulties in breathing and was very weak and depresed when my sister took her to the hospital and was detained for a thourough check up. Mum did not agree to an intrusive investigation as suggested by the medical specialist, and we amongst the siblings agreed and supported Mum's decision. She is 87 this year and any investigative operations may prove to be too much for her to cope with. So medication treatment was opted and she seems to be responding well since. She was in hospital for four nights until she was strong enough to be discharged. I was in close contact with my sister daily when in Tenby and I decided to visit Mum on my return to Malaysia.

So it was, after the lecture, which was planned in advance, I made a day trip to JayBee. I flew by Firefly Airline early in the morning of 3rd March (6.55am) and returned by the early evening (6.35pm) flight. Brother Kifli fetched me from the airport and we went straight to Mum's house. She was her usual self, a little run down but nevertheless cheerful. Looking at her you would not believe that she was recently in and out of a hospital!! I think the presence of all her children to see her was antidote to all that ails her. For an 87 year-old her memory is still good but there are times when she begins to forget things, or names, or places. She remembers her prayer times and spend alot of time reading the Quran, but she is beginning to forget her meal times. Sometimes she thinks its meal time when it was just about an hour earlier when she had her meal or sometime the reverse. She forgets her money and other personal belongings. My sister has been very patient with her and helping her all the time. I had the whole day with her and we chat on many things. She did not tell me much about her stint in the hospital except just to say that she did not want to be operated on and that she was happy to continue with medication only. She was more comfortable chatting with me about family things and also on politics. Yes politics, which is in her blood, the topic of which brightens her up always...... Soon it was time for me to leave as I had to return by the evening Firefly flight and had to go to Bintulu the next day.

I was on the 8.30am flight to Bintulu on 4th March. The next two weeks were spent mostly overseeing the On-the-job training of the Process Operators in the Fertilizer Plant. They were all on a two cycle shifts and for me to be able to meet them all in turn I had to schedule my time in the plant such that I can meet up with those working on day as well as those on night shifts. My hours then was like 2pm to 6pm and 8pm to 12MN. I often reminisce the times when I was working shifts and the times I was running the plants. It brought back fond memories and it even got my adrenaline flowing when the plant went into emergency situations and had to be shut down due to some encountered problems. That condition was also a very conducive learning occassion for the Trainees.

By mid March I had to be back in KL to give another one day lecture to another batch of new Executives. That night night I was on the flight to Heathrow arriving early the next morning London time (Tuesday 17th). I continued my journey to Tenby by train from London arriving Tenby at about 2pm just in time to pick up Najla from her sxhool at about 3pm.

The train journey to Tenby was an interesting one. I was on the fast train from Reading to Swansea and had to switch over to the local train from Swansea to Tenby. The fast train was a modern train just like any other diesel engine operated train. Nothing much for me to write about here. But the local train was something else. It was a one coach antique, travels at a much slower speed and sometimes stop at little stations that seemed to appear in the middle of a jungle!! The train itself appear to be using hydraulics for motion and the diesel engine driving the hydraulics gave that unmistakable sound of the engines of the sixties or seventies, a loud roar on starting that can be heard some distance away and once the hydraulics take over the engine revs stabilise out. As the train was going slowly one can hear the unmistakable sound of the train wheels trying to level the rails out with its klikkety clack klikkety clack sound each time the wheels go over the rail joints, and at the bends one can hear the sound of the wheels trying to straighten the rails!! The passengers too seem to blend with the train, mostly white haired and aged senior citizens, just like yours sincerely. They had buffet service on board, surprise, surprise, and was indeed a welcoming service, considering the time it takes to complete the journey. Even the trolley for the mobile buffet service was antique. The conductress was a petite lady but her ticketing paraphernalia was antique, blending with everything else on the train, ha ha ha. It was quite an experience. Tessa had warned me what to expect from this train as she took the same train service on her last visit to Tenby, but I had to experience it myself to really get the feel of its antiquity. It was fun nevertheless and I would certainly repeat the journey, given the opportunity to do so in the future!! Ah ha! Now I remember. Years ago there was a TV series called 'Petticoat Junction' which featured an antique train. That train however was steam engine driven, but the general outlook of which was about the same as this local train!!

At Tenby Station

Outside of Tenby Station with View of Fahrul's Apartment in the Distance

I have alot more to write, but alot more other things to do too that I have to find time to write. I shall do so, I shall do so, soon I hope......

MKI Ramblimgs Unlimited
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,