Sunday, February 28, 2010

More of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

From the Main South Shield Park, after Najla had her fun at the swing and the sand shovel, we went to another park nearby, by the mouth of the River Tyne, an area where there were displays of metal sculptures, in bronze I think they were, nicely made by one Spanish Artist (deceased). I forgot his name. The place is called "Conversation Corner", with stories behind them if one care to let one's imagination flow.

Hi! Little One

Senior Folks In A Meeting

A Family Gathering?

A Hand In Friendship Was Offered, Najla Shook It In Response

Looking Out To Sea In Anticipation, For The Ship To Come In?

A discussion going on?

"My oh my, look at the time", Keeping An Appointment With A Friend. Where Is He?

There were many more other sculptures similar to the ones in the pictures above. They were really conversation pieces.....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,

Friday, February 26, 2010


View From The Top Of Castle Keep in the City Center

Of all places why Newcastle? and at this time of the year? they said..... For one its been there and we have not been there yet but for another, and this is the main reason, to visit a close friend, Henk (HVA) and his wife Norma, whom I have not met for years, more than the number of fingers in both hands. We were together in the oil and gas project of building an oil refinery. We have not been in contact since we parted ways that long time ago. Recently another friend sent me a group photograph of the pioneering team for the refinery which triggered my memories and of the times spent with each member of the team in the photograph. That was also when I decided to locate this friend whom I know lives in UK and alternate with Greece depending on the heat of the sun. Since I was going to UK very soon I thought it would be nice for us to get together. I asked around, got hold of his email, followed through and the result was this trip to Newcastle.
Another View of the City
The Colourful Millenium Bridge

After arriving at the apartment in Sandhill Road, Quayside, I called HVA who was expecting my call anytime then. I had pre-informed him of our expected time of arrival and he had expected us to call over for dinner at his home. With the satellite navigator it was no hassle finding our way to his home, an apartment some 10 minutes out of the city. Dinner was Greek food, something not quite unfamiliar for us as we have had Greek food before, and something that we looked forward to to try. The food was good but we were so immersed in exchanging stories and catching up on lost times that the food became a secondary element of the visit. The children on the other hand were enjoying themselves with all the attention given by the elders, Najla had wooden building blocks to play with while Fieras was free to roam about on all fours, most times annoying his elder sister by knocking her building blocks down!!
With Norma
On The Trampoline in The Study

Henk and Norma were most hospitable and took care of us while we were in Newcastle. They took us to South Shields, close to the mouth of the Tyne, to a museum first, then to a park and later saw metallic sculptures by a Spanish artist and sculptor in another sandy park, the Conversation Corner of South Beach, close by. The sculptures tells an unwritten short story if only one would observe closely and let imaginations flow.

At The Museum

Najla was most excited on this outing as she had opportunities to do activities that she enjoyed. Starting with the Museum in town we spent quite a while viewing the exhibits shown including some live, glass-caged reptiles.

Najla was most fascinated with the snakes. She spent quite a long time at the display.

I am not scared of the snakes

Coal Mining Displays, Stressing on Operation Safety

At The Playground

From the Museum we moved on to the park where there was a pond and several children playgrounds suitable for various ages. In fact there were facilities suitable for 'children' of toddlers age upwards, those with walking sticks included, ha ha ha!! I noticed many children, parents and grand parents, including yours sincerely, enjoying themselves. The weather was good, sun shining bright and a slight breeze on our faces.
With Granny Norma feeding the ducks
Operating a sand shovel. "I am Bob The Builder"
Lovely Day and Weather

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A February Birthday In Tenby

The weather was wet and gloomy, outside temperatures in the very low single digit, occasionally going below zero, the sun hiding behind dark clouds, but the day was a special day for Tok Mi, one that is celebrated annually, come rain, snow or sunshine, heh heh. If not for anything else but for reminding that the age number is up another notch although at this age we have begun to consider age as just a number, a combination of digits that keep changing annually, and secretly wishing that we add it up one by one annually as many times as possible, with the Blessings of the Almighty.....

Najla prepared a special card for Tok Mi, one she did all on her own, in her own hand, quite an effort for a five year old. I asked her in the afternoon, when she returned from school, what day this was, and she replied that it was Tok Mi's Birthday and that she has a special secret for Tok Mi to be given to her at dinner time. True to her plans she handed the card to Tok Mi just before dinner together with hugs and kisses naturally....

The Address on the cover

The Message For Tok Mi

Dinner was at a very nice and cozy restaurant in the country side not too far away from Tenby that Fahrul brought us to. It was in a large country house with a large waiting area and a proper fireplace. There wasn't a crowd that night and we almost had the place to ourselves, thus A-ok for the kids too. Normal dinners are usually starters, main course and dessert, but here the portions were big and we all could only manage starters and main course. All had to give the dessert a miss although the cheese-cake was very tempting. This was the third time I had to give cheese-cake a miss sheeeesh!

In the Waiting Lounge

Three Generations

The Fire Place

Tenby Family

We took our time for dinner and we were not rushed. They served as and when we were ready, no hurry. The food was good, the portions big and true to our family's tradition each individual orders were different and the dinner plates kept rotating amongst us, ha ha. A way of satisfying our varied tastebuds all in one dinner.

At The Dinner Table With Fieras Heading The Dinner!!
A Birthday Cake?

It was a good dinner outing, the extreme cold notwithstanding, and I think Ram enjoyed herself. About three hours for dinner was something extraordinary, easy and laid back but with overfilled tummy was something we were not used to cope with. But then, it was a special occasion and something we rarely do even if birthdays comes once a year!! But then next birthday will be quite a challenge then......

Between Starter and Main Course!!

Always In Control!!

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Long Distance Driving in UK

Our third week in UK was spent travelling Northeastwards to Newcastle. Fahrul could not get away from work and remained behind in Tenby. With two little kids, Najla and Fieras, we took the country road through Aberyswyth and then to Liverpool. We stopped at several places to view the sceneries and the facilities and then stayed overnight at a hotel in Chorley just outside of and to the North of Preston, Lancashire, which is further north of Liverpool. The weather along the way was cloudy with rain here and there and of course cold, but we had the warmth of the car!! Approaching Aberyswyth

No fan of the Team but just had to stop over

We had a surprise when we woke up the next morning in Chorley. It was snowing and the grounds around the hotel were all white... brrrrr.... Snowfall stopped by mid morning and we were on our way off to Newcastle taking the country roads again and avoiding the motorways as much as we can. We took the country road through Barnard Castle, a small, hilly town with the castle on top of a hill. We stopped for a while to stretch ourselves and then off on our way to Newcastle-on-Tyne targetting to arrive at our apartment before it gets dark. We arrived at Gateshead, Newcastle-on-Tyne, at just before 4pm, timely enough before it was dark, met the apartment owner who showed us the apartment, our residence for the next three nights, and got ourselves settled. The apartment is on Sandhill Road, close to the river and close to various attractions nearby, including many restaurants and shops. A Tesco Express outlet was closeby. The two kids were very excited once we got in into the apartment, clearly relieved that they could run around after being cooped in the car for hours on end. The apartment was very comfortable, nice and practically designed, big enough to accommodate 5 adults. If the couch in the lounge is converted to a bed two more adults can be included. The kitchen was well and fully equipped, hence we were well accommodated for the stay. There was a jacuzzi in the bathroom, very handy in the cold weather heh heh!!

The Apartment is with arched windows on the firat floor to the right of the Red Building

The sitting lounge with breakfast table, kitchen door at right and Bedroom door at left

The main bedroom with door to annexe room

Excited kids favourite play area at upper level of the annexe with a double bed

The couch converted to a double bed

We started planning our outings as soon as we settled down and the kids having got over their excitement. More of these in the next posting.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Tenby, Pembrokeshire,

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Long Haul Flight

We are in UK already, after a 14 hours flight and arriving in the wee hours of the morning. We were originally scheduled to arrive at about 9.30 pm but the flight was rescheduled to arrive at 3.00am. I have travel insurance which compensates flight delays in blocks of six hours and I am just half an hour short….. sigh!

We were apprehensive taking the flight. It is not the first time that we take these long haul flights but this is the first time we do it on a budget airline, but it is one voted the best budget airline in the world. We took this flight as it is very much cheaper when compared to the regular airlines we are used to. There is a more than 50% discount actually. We were apprehensive when we got a lot of negative comments and flak from others who hear that we will be taking the budget airline. And when the airline rescheduled this flight I thought, “oh my! Will this be the beginning of all the negativity I hear about?”

We arrived at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang just in time for the flight. We’ve checked on-line, hence it was a no hassle bag drop at the counter. Just had time for the evening prayers and then on to security and immigration formalities, no hassle too. No time to even browse at the D-Free shops as they had called for boarding. I was using walking stick and the attendants were extra helpful during boarding. We got to our seats (at the back of the plane, purposely chosen to be near the toilets!!) and were surprised that the seats were comfy and with sufficient leg-room!! A good start to the journey, I thought.

The flight was uneventful. We were comfortable all the way. No free entertainment on board (but one can rent Air Asia X hand-held entertainment-pod for RM30 with a wide selection of video-on-demand). We skipped that because even when we travel MAS we very seldom watch movies. We had pre-purchased food and they were good, slightly small portion than MAS but what the heck! We can always order extra if not enough. Pre-ordered food came with a bottle of mineral water. They have quite a selection of food, beverages and drinks, sandwiches, chocolates and tit-bits.

In-flight I was reading a lot. I finished their in-flight magazine front to back, and I had brought along reading materials of my own. I also had the i-pod which was convenient.

We arrived about 10 minutes behind schedule which the pilot attributed to strong headwinds during flight. Formalities at the arrival terminal were without hassle and there were no customs officials at the check-out. Fahrul was already waiting for us when we exited the arrival hall with our thick clothes. It was 1 Celcius outside!!

So, where were all the negativity and the flak others threw about the flight? We would do it again, and at more than 50% discount to the regular ticket if flying by other airlines, we thought we made a good choice. Only downside is the flight arrived at Stansted airport which is way to the East of London but convenient transport facilities were available if required.

We travelled the six hours road journey to Tenby with Fahrul and Sita alternating in the drivers’ seat. Najla and little Fieras were excited of course. Fieras just took a few moments to size us up and was soon all over us giggling and smiling. He showed off that he can crawl and beginning to hold onto things to stand up. They were quite active when on the road, keeping us entertained somewhat….

Winter Penguin??

Lost in Baggage?

Overall it was a good trip. Our return in six weeks time will be the reverse and I hope that trip will be as good as this trip….. and may the Almighty grant us this priviledge and may He be pleased……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales.