Growing Up Asian in a Racist World

Just before Christmas, my dear friend, Netta did a Tarot card reading for me. She listed the question, provided the card she pulled, and wrote down …

Growing Up Asian in a Racist World
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Happy New Year 2021 新年快乐

Many of you, like me, will be happy to see the back of 2020, with its many challenges and trials, and some with tragic losses. Let us not dwell on the past but look forward to a brighter future.

I wish you all a better 2021. May you stay healthy and safe; may you find contentment and peace of mind; may you have love in your life, and if you are working, may you find a great deal of job satisfaction. If you are not working or retired, enjoy the little things in life and treasure the good people nearest and dearest to you. You have survived the turbulent OLD year, and you will be richly rewarded in the NEW. You surely earned it!

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Delightful Discoveries in #Dorset and #Devon

Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, like many of you, we had not been able to venture anywhere for a few months. Luckily since the relaxation of rules in July, we have been able to exploit travel within the UK. covering many miles, from Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northumberland on the East Coast all the way to Outer Hebrides in Western Scotland, then to Southern countries of East Sussex and Kent, and most recently to Dorset and Devon. 

In today’s post, I’d like to share a few of our delightful discoveries during our week-long trip to England’s magnificent Jurassic Coast, stretching nearly 100 miles between Dorset and Devon. Apart from its stunning natural beauty, the coast has outstanding geological significance hence it is the first and only World Heritage Site in England awarded by UNESCO. Besides, I love everything associated with the sea, its various blue to golden shimmering, the sounds of the sometimes roaring sometimes gentle waves, pebbles and shells on long stretches of curves of sandy or shingle beaches.

Our original three-night stay in Dorset was cut short to two nights due to the unforeseen Storm Alex which was raging across the UK, especially hitting the coastal areas. Obviously we had visited these parts of the country before, and this trip wasn’t intended as an extensive and comprehensive exploration, rather, a time to explore a few new places. 

As always, I took hundreds of pictures that captured the beauty and unique characteristics of the places, and if you have not been but feel intrigued or enchanted, you know what you have to do: Go and Explore. 

Lyme Regis – The Pearl of Dorset

This coastal town really lives up to its nickname. Given our Basecamp was parked only a short distance away, we were able to visit Lyme Regis and walked along the historical Cobb, an old stone pier as an extensive harbour, believed to trace back to the time of Edward I, at least 1313. More recently though, it was made famous by being the film location of “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” – I vaguely remember Meryl Streep walking along the Cobb in stormy weather. Perhaps fitting that when we visited during Storm Alex, the weather was pretty bad too. Watch out the waves behind me – I’d do anything for a photo ;)! 

Apparently, in Jane Austin’s last novel Persuasion, her character Louisa Musgrove jumps off and falls near where I took the photos. But that was fiction, right?!

At the Victorian Pier on a good day, you can also enjoy a panoramic views of Charmouth and Golden Cap. We very much enjoyed our walk along the coast path to the Gold Cap, stopping to see the ruins of St Gabriel’s church and views of wonderful Jurassic coast. I would have loved to try to find those famed fossils on the Charmouth beach, but then the weather was not on our side. We did, however, order a fish and chips lunch at the beach cafe. The brief appearance of the sun allowed me to take a few snaps of blue sky and fossils for sale. The battle between the sunshine and rain did mean that we were greeted by various rainbows on our drive from Dorset to Devon.

Dartmouth – South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

We paid a very brief visit to this lovely town some ten years ago but this time we stayed a little longer. Our second base was within walking distance of Dartmouth castle so we were able to walk down and along some narrow, hedged lanes until we got to the mouth of River Dart. 

The town sits very prettily along the river banks, exhibiting many medieval and Elizabethan buildings and street patchwork. From Edward III, Dartmouth was home to the Royal Navy, and the narrow mouth of the Dart was protected by two castles: Dartmouth Castle on the one side and Kingswear Castle opposite. 

We did a wonderful walk which followed part of the Dartmouth Valley trail. Along the route, we passed Greenway, which was once home to novelist Dame Agatha Christie – Given that all National Trust properties require prior booking these days, we didn’t go in. We did manage a ten km walk up and down some very steep hills and valleys, and were rewarded with stunning views. Despite having to wear facemarks and dodging the downpours, we took boats and ferries along the River and were greeted with wonderful views. We had one small ferry all to ourselves.

The roads in Devon were mostly narrow and wiggly country lanes, so driving needed quite a bit of concentration and caution. Through weaving our way around, we made interesting discoveries and encountered lovely sights. One of the National Trust properties we did book and visited was the hilltop “Overbecks”. The house itself was closed but the garden was full of subtropical plants and flowers, with an amazing view of the River and the stunning waterside town of Salcombe. 

Salcombe was delightful, with narrow streets, specialty shops, cafes and pubs. Given the times of Covid-19 when we can’t fully enjoy being a tourist popping in and out of shops, sampling local food to our heart’s content and so on, we did manage a leisure walk along the streets, indulging in an ice cream and coffee, overlooking the breathtaking views of the sheltered waters of the estuary. 

During our short stay in Devon, we were able to drive along the beautiful coast, stopping and snapping at the Slapton Sands, where in April 1944 during WWII, a terrible tragedy happened, hundreds of American servicemen (the numbers recorded vary) died during Exercise Tiger, the rehearsals for the D-Day landing on Utah Beach in Normandy. This disaster was kept secret by the authorities for decades. A memorial was built on the Slapton Sands to commemorate  the victims.

We also enjoyed a walk to the Start Point Lighthouse (in fabulous gothic style) and the nearby Mattiscombe Sands.  

On a final note, I seem to have used up all the allowances of picture sharing on this blog site and I will have to make a decision whether to carry on under the current free plan with only texts and pictures from my current media gallery, or upgrade to a fee-paying plan with more features. The cost is not an issue. The issue will be if I intend to carry on blogging or not.

To blog or not to blog, that is the question!

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Pictorial #Tour of Western Isles of Stunning #Scotland: The Colour Palate

As many of you know, I recently travelled to Scotland. As usual, I took hundreds of pictures. Most of them will be keeping me company on my iPhoto, as part of my burgeoning digital library.

On the social media both globally and locally, some of my closest friends and followers keep track of my various trips over the years, and in 2020 so far, for obvious reasons, these travels are within the borders of the United Kingdom, and my Scottish trip by far the furthest and longest journey in our recently acquired Basecamp.

Because both John and I lived and worked in Scotland, we have travelled far and wide to many places within that beautiful country. Scotland, without a doubt, is my favourite and her place closest to my heart was further secured after this trip, from the Highlands, to the isle of Skye and finally Outer Hebrides, Isles of Lewis and Harris.

Without further ado, I’ll let the selected pictures speak for themselves. By the end of the pictorial tour, I hope that you would have enjoyed the virtual treat and add Scotland to your bucket list, if she is not there already.

The Colours of the lochs, the Ocean and the sky: Blue

The Green green grass of landscape, mountains and home for sheep, Highland Cattle, horses, wildlife and Scots.

Golden sunsets and sandy beaches

The Colour Purple: Firereeds by the roadside, Thistles, Heather covered hillsides

White, for lighthouses, puffy clouds, seagulls and waterfalls

The Colours of History: Castles, Standing Stones and “Black” Houses

Finally, a multi-coloured fairytale land which will continue to tell stories for thousands of years!

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Out of #Lockdown, To the #English #Nature

After the 4th of July, after nearly four months of lockdown and social distancing, people in Britain are allowed to get out and about at long last, although there are still restrictions as to where and how many. I, for one, am very happy to able to leave our neighbourhood and venture a little further. 

Like many people all over the world, we were forced to cancel our non-essential travels both domestic and international. For a frequent traveller like myself, it seemed a big disappointment but in the scheme of things when large quantities of people were losing their lives to Covid-19, it didn’t seem such a big sacrifice after all. France, Portugal, Spain and wherever else we had in mind to visit in the spring, summer and autumn, all cancelled or delayed, until it is completely safe. 

In my previous blog, I talked about reflections on life during and post the pandemic, and I am not sure about others, but within my immediate family, we certainly did some thinking and adjustment, and one of the decisions we made was to travel more within the UK, and then eventually further afield in Europe. We came to realise that there were many places in the British Isles which we have not been to and definitely deserve to be explored in more depth. 

Our first mini trip after the easing of lockdown, we headed to Shropshire. In its capital Shrewsbury, we paid a visit to  my former supervisor from University of Glasgow, Prof Lala Bown. At 93 years old, Lala was definitely vulnerable, but we were delighted that she remained in good health and good spirits. and she was delighted to see us too. Leading towards the visit, I prepared a portable dinner for us  to share in her garden, continuing to observe our social distances. Given Lala’s extensive African experiences I included some couscous.

It was a tremendous joy and privilege to be in her company. We were able to catch up on what has been going on in our neighbourhood, nationally and internationally. Lala’s extensive knowledge and sharp mind, as always, and our shared views on many world issues made our time together both enjoyable and enlightening. We shared our relief at surviving the pandemic.

We camped in a stunning village close to the town of Much Wenlock. Perhaps not many people, even English people, had any idea of this historic market town and what it is famous for. A certain Dr William Penny Brookes established the Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850 and he is credited as a founding father of the modern Olympic Games. The town was recorded in the Domesday Book as Wenloch and one of the London 2012 Summer Olympics mascots is named Wenlock after the town. Much of the town was closed when we visited last Sunday but its charm and wonderful heritage were plain to see. 

To continue the good habits of physical activity and our love of outdoors, we made a couple of forays into the Shropshire Hills. First up on Wenlock Edge, a 16 mile long limestone escarpment of great scientific interest, especially in geological terms. We tried to locate the Ippikin Rock, which did’t come easy as the signs were not clearly marked. Local legend tells of a robber knight and bandit named Ippikin, who buried his ill-gotten gains in the vicinity of the edge. Apparently, it is said that should anyone stand on the escarpment and say “Ippikin, Ippikin, keep away with your long chin” that they will be pushed over the edge by the ghost of the erstwhile villain. Fortunately we only heard of the legend later in the day. No shouting for us.

Well hidden behind trees and after a good climb and some bush-whacking, we eventually found the location. The pictures below show the rock with a prominent rounded fossil stromatoporoid, probably related to the sponge family. Just imagine, 40 million years ago, this whole area was under a tropical sea.

We did another hike through grazing pastures and came in close contact with a beautiful horse, and many sheep dotted around the stunning hills. Plenty of wool shed from the sheep decorated the lush green landscape. 

We very much enjoyed this brief visit to Shropshire, to celebrate the end of lockdown.  It is one of England’s most rural, hilly and sparsely populated counties. Given its close proximity to where we live, we have visited parts of the county often, especially the Birthplace of Industrial Revolution, Ironbridge where we sometimes took special visitors for day trips, and on our way to Wales too. Shrewsbury naturally, because Lala lives there. The River Severn, Great Britain’s longest river, runs through the county, via the  Severn Valley. 

Slowly, we are getting back to a life that can be called the new normal. Soon, we’ll travel further away from home, where we have stayed put since we came back from our extended trip to New Zealand in January. In the past twenty years, I don’t remember a time when I stayed in one place for over half a year without a trip or two overseas, but life under Covid-19 has changed the nature of travel, for the time being anyway. 

Soon we’re taking our next trip, first to Norfolk, then Scotland, and the Continent. The Far East and the rest of the world will have to wait.

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