Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Separate Long Distance Journey

Ram and I were scheduled to return to PJ, leaving Tenby on Saturday. We planned this several weeks ago and chose Saturday as it would have been convenient for Fahrul to send us to London it being a weekend. That’s what we thought. As always we, mere mortals can only plan but He disposes. It turned out that Fahrul had to return to KL for some work starting on Sunday evening. For Fahrul to leave Tenby with us on Saturday would have been too much of a rush for him. So, he decided to leave Tenby on Friday. As Sita has fully recovered from her confinement they decided to travel together to KL and take this opportunity to introduce little Muhd Fieras Naufal to the family back home. Thus it was planned that Fahrul, Sita and the two kids leave on Friday while Ram and I leave as scheduled on Saturday. We could have changed our tickets to travel with them on Friday but it would have been too costly to change with all the additional charges and penalties.

It was also planned that Fahrul and family uses the office car, a van rather, to accommodate the entire luggage and baby paraphernalia, to send them to London Heathrow on Friday. Ram and I were to drive the car to LHR on Saturday and leave the car at the long term parking facilities for Fahrul to pick it up when he returns to LHR from KL in two weeks time. It was a nice arrangement indeed.

So it was, all preparations were made for the travel. The packing started one day in advance, Najla getting in the way with excitement now and then and little Fieras demanding attention just the same. It was also planned that Najla skips school on Friday. The school had planned an outing to the local beach for all the children on Friday. Najla is one who would not turn down an opportunity to be at the beach. She loves playing in the sand but this time she does not mind missing it as the prospect of travelling back home was more exciting. On Friday morning we told her that if she wanted to join her school at the beach she could as there is enough time for her to do so since they were only leaving for LHR in the afternoon. This was how the conversation went in the early morning of Friday soon after Najla woke up from her sleep:
Fahrul: Good morninggggg Najla. How are you today?
Najla: Fine
Fahrul: You want to get ready to go to school?
Najla: No
Fahrul: Your school is going to the beach today and there is enough time for you to go if you want. Don’t you want to join them at the beach?
Najla: No
Fahrul: I thought you like to go to the beach and play in the sand…..
Najla: Yes, but I do not want to go today
Fahrul: Oh! Really. Why don’t you like to go to the beach today? You can play in the sands with all your friends….
Najla: But I have already said goodbye to all my friends and told them I will be travelling home….
Ha ha ha! That made sense. It can be embarrassing still for a five year old to meet her friends again after having said her goodbyes….

They left in the office transport at about 2.00pm. We were quite apprehensive with the thought of Fieras having to travel long distances, of whether he could take the journey but according to Sita it turned out to be ok. Fieras and Najla slept most of the way in the 5 hours car journey and the 12 hours plane journey. The only thing unusual she noticed was that Fieras tended to pass motion more often, and a lot each time, when in the plane but was none the worse for it. Perhaps pressures of the plane cabin did that.

We started our journey to LHR from Tenby at about 1.00pm, after spending the morning packing the bags. The weather was not so good. It had been gloomy, raining and drizzling the whole morning and was the same almost all the way into London Heathrow. After two hours of driving I began to get sleepy and had to stop at the next rest area to nap. It was a long nap, more than half an hour, and had a leisurely afternoon snacks and coffee at the restaurant lounge after that. We finally arrived at the long term car park area at close to 7.00pm, parked the car (all formalities were done online earlier by Fahrul), and was soon on the way in the shuttle provided to terminal 3 in LHR.
All flight formalities went smoothly. The flight was full but it was pleasant and restful for us, long queues at the limited toilets aside. Arrival formalities at KLIA were also smooth. Tessa was at the airport to fetch us and we went straight to Shah Alam as planned with Tessa and Sita to meet Ram’s sister who underwent a cancer operation recently. Sita and the little kids were already there waiting for us and of course Ram’s sisters too. Then came Ram’s nieces and their families. I think Najla and especially Fieras must have been overwhelmed with all the attention showered upon them.

We decided to put up in Shah Alam for the night and returned to PJ the next afternoon. back to the routine rigmarole of cleaning, laundry, etc., amidst satisfying the jet lag and sleep cravings. More later….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, July 10, 2009

For Want of A Better Location To Visit

It was a wonderful Thursday. The sun was up and the weather looked promising for the day. Najla was in school and Fahrul at work. Sita had gone out with the ‘wives’ friends for brunch and brought little Fieras along. We decided to take a drive to another town called Fishguard in the west coast of Wales, for want of an outing really.

Fishguard is about 40 miles from Tenby lying on the west coast of Wales. The road leading to Fishguard was small and we took about an hour and a half to reach it. It is a small town with just one cross street and a roundabout. There were many small restaurants however and several shopping outlets on the two long main streets. Several outlets were on sale and we got ourselves several items to take home.

We were hungry and stopped at one café serving all day breakfast. It turned out to be a disappointment though as most of the items in the menu were no more available then. We moved on and finally stopped at a chicken outlet operated by a Kurdish guy who assured us that the food he served are suitable for us. We decided to have lunch there and moved on.

There wasn’t much to see in Fishguard but the trip there and back was nice. The countryside with rolling hills and green expanse was fascinating. We had to go back to Tenby before late evening to fetch Sita and the two kids from a friend’s house close to Najla’s school. It was just another day of outing for us and another experience to add to our travels……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Lazy Days

It had been lazy days this past week, mostly spent at home playing with the kids, reading, watching TV, especially the Wimbledon finals and the MJ memorial service, and whiling away time cruising the net on my HP Mini. The downside of this low physical activity while staying at home is the increased frequency of opening the fridge door and the kitchen cabinets rummaging for snacks and the ever available ‘waistline enhancers’!! Sita’s habit of stocking up the fridge and the larder with goodies of all kinds ensures these back and forth trips happen. So, it was a week of sedentary activities and exercises limited to punching the keys on the HP mini, working the TV remote, and trips to the kitchen and bedroom, heh heh. We did go out but these outings were mostly to restock the kitchen or to eat out.

I was conscious of what all these sedentary activities will do to me and I do monitor the effects daily. No adverse effects noticed though. Perhaps it is too short a span of time to have any effect. Anyway, we will be travelling home this weekend and once at home there will be a lot of activities, travelling and errands to run that I do not have to worry about inactivity and waistline structure effects.

We were out for breakfast at a very popular all-day breakfast outlet in Narbeth about 15 miles from Tenby. It was a Saturday, the day when the two William sisters were matched against each other in the Wimbledon Ladies single finals. No rush for us to watch the match as one William will win anyway!! The sun was out, temperature around Celsius 20s and hence pleasant for a family outing. The baby had to be taken along but he was a good baby all the way. He slept most of the time that we were in the restaurant. We took our time with the good breakfast, crispy roasted vegetarian panini, very fresh and crispy salads, rocky chocs, lemon cakes, with black and white coffee, white choco drink, chocolate and strawberry shakes and so on…. The restaurant was well patronized, with all tables occupied and we had one that was close to the entrance, which meant almost everyone who enters the restaurant will notice the baby in his pram, and there will be pleasantries and pleasant banters, especially from the elderly ladies. One family with small children, looked like three generations just like us, at the table next to ours was all the time eyeing the baby, especially grams sitting across the table in direct view of baby Fieras.

After breakfast we took a walk around the quaint little town, with Sita and Fahrul stopping at a baby shop to look over at baby stuff and bought several items for little Fieras while Najla insisted in buying a pair of shoes for herself. She just would not give in to baby, typical of small children, little streaks of hidden jealousy.

It was mid afternoon by the time we got home and on TV Serena Williams was winning over her elder sister, just as I predicted. The next day, Sunday, was the men’s finals with Andy Roddick matched against Roger Federrer. We had to stay in and watch. In the morning we went to a car-boot sale nearby and made sure we return home before the finals start. Najla wanted more books and car-boot sale is one place she can have a wide selection to choose from. I was glued to the TV the rest of the afternoon, all through the tough fight between the two tennis giants. They had to go four and a half hours of a total 77 games in five sets and Federrer finally got his 6th Wimbledon singles title and 15th grand slam title beating the reigning Pete Sampras 14th. Even Andy Roddick apologised to Sampras over his failure to deny Federrer his grand slam title. It was a tough fight and very tiring for both I am sure and it was a game worth watching to the end.

So, that was how the weekend went by, quiet and lazy. The following days of the week went quite similarly and with baby Fieras needing constant attention we really do not mind staying home. It was pleasant all the way……

At The Car-boot Sales

Wimbledon Champion

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,

Thursday, July 02, 2009

At Home In Tenby

I arrived in Tenby at close to 1.00am last night. Everyone’s asleep and Fahrul has to be in office in the morning. I am all pooped up and was ready to go to bed, a most welcoming activity after the delayed train journey. Ram said I was sleeping like a baby.

I was up early this morning and waited for Najla to wake up. Baby Muhd Fieras Naufal was up earlier and crying for his milk. It has been four weeks since I last saw him and he has grown but not as much as his cousin Hadeef in Bintulu. Hadeef looks chubbier. Fieras appear to prefer to cling and not wanting to be left alone. Its demanding on adults when he does that. One just can’t do anything then except to hold on to him. He will scream soon after he is put down.

, Initially drowsy on waking up, Najla was excited when she saw me, and had many questions for me later. She had to prepare for school, however, and was reluctantly dragging herself to the bathroom etc. I continued my sleep for a couple of hours after Fahrul and Najla have gone. It was a leisurly Thursday for me, playing with baby Naufal and chatting with Ram and Sita. I was in no mood to go out although the weather was pleasant to be outdoors. I spent time mostly watching the Wimbledon tennis ladies semi-finals where the Williams sisters entered finals and will fight each other in the finals on Saturday.

The day was uneventful, spent quietly at home and playing with the kids. Luckily Najla agreed to go on-line for her favourite programmes and games leaving the TV free for us to watch the semi-finals. What to do tomorrow? We will see how the day goes….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Tenby, Pembrokeshire

A Train Journey Gone Awry

I love the train. I have always been fascinated by the train. Ever since I was small I have always viewed the train in awe and wonder. I enjoy train rides. During my engineering student days I had to do a six months practical training and had several options, one of which was to do it in the National Train Central Workshop. Yes, you guessed it. It was a natural option to take and I went through the practical training at the workshop and enjoyed it very much. Whenever I am near a railway track and when a train pass by I will stop whatever I am doing and view the train as it passes.

I am now on my way to Tenby from Reading by train – the First Great Western Express. I have arrived earlier from KL by MH4 MAS flight. The flight was normal and arrived in London Heathrow on time, and that was 4.15pm London time. I took the regular rail-air link express bus service from LHR to Reading where this train journey began for me. I had pre-booked this train journey from Reading to Swansea and a connecting train to Carmathen, where Fahrul is supposed to come and fetch me. I have done this trip several times before and it is so very convenient, but ……… not this time though.

The train was initially delayed by about 20 minutes in arriving Reading, due to some signaling problems they had in Paddington, the starting point of many train journeys from London. Apparently many trains were delayed as well. However there is a greater delay now. Someone had shoved a shopping trolley onto the track somewhere near Swindon and a train ahead of ours had run over it causing its hydraulics to rupture and left it immobile. So, there we were stuck on the track in between stations. The Train Manager announced a plan of reversing the train several signals behind and divert the train onto another track to Swindon. We waited….. Then the Train Manager announced that they are not able to execute the plan to take the alternative track as there are now a couple of trains behind us in the queue. So we waited some more.

It has been more than an hour of wait and it is now 10.15pm. They have resolved the problems of the train ahead of us. Finally we are on our way but the problems have just begun. Many passengers have connections to make and similarly for me I have a connection to make at Swansea. The Train Manager is arranging for the connections, most likely by taxis for all. I am in contact with Fahrul and are looking at the best option for us tonight.

Fahrul decided that it is better for him to fetch me at a station just before Swansea, the Port Talbot station, and forgo the connection of Swansea to Carmathen as it will be a hassle at Swansea to catch a connection to Carmathen. One will have to wait for the Station Manager to do a headcount of passengers needing the connection service and then arrange for the appropriate bus or taxis and so on and so on. Fahrul had gone through this before and it is no fun and will be very slow with a lot of wait and wait, especially when it is late at night!!, hence the decision to meet at Port Talbot.

The train is moving very fast now, trying to catch up lost time I guess. We were told that we can have drinks and snacks at the buffet car ‘on the house’ and off I went to the car several coaches ahead. I opted for coffee (to stay awake) and biscuits and look forward to stop at Port Talbot. Better record this experience on my new HP Mini I thought. We are almost reaching Port Talbot now and the time is about 11.40pm. It will be another two hours to Tenby by car and I am so very sleepy now……

Will I take another train travel? You can bet I will, today's experience notwithstanding.....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,