The Perfectionists’ Cafe at London Terminal 2

img_2356We spent a good couple of hours at the refurbished London Airport Terminal 2 which had a good selection of shopping and nice restaurants / cafes. I spotted Heston Blumenthal’s caricature from afar and decided to check out the place. We were pleasantly surprised by what we ate and drank and decided to come back again to the Perfectionists’ Cafe just before we boarded our flight back home.

img_2360For one of THE BEST fish and chips that we have ever had, I think this is it – The Perfectionists’ Cafe EXTRAORDINARY FISH & CHIPS! Even the Man who’s a fish and chips snob agrees fully with me.

The batter surrounding the fish was simply light and crunchy. We later found out that they use a special beer batter that is aerated through a siphon to create the lightest, crunchiest texture possible. The chips were super yummy and that possibly can be attributed to the fact that the triple-cooked chips were cooked in duck fat. So sinful but oh-so-good compared to normal chips.

img_2358I’m usually not a fan of Bloody Mary but this came highly recommended by our server. I let the Man have a go at this first before even wanting to take a sip out of the straw from this. Did you know this cocktail is considered as a breakfast beverage? Funny! But I eventually gave it a go and it tasted pretty good. Like I said, Bloody Mary would not have been my choice of alcoholic poison. But the one at The Perfectionists’ Cafe is one that I would recommend.

Now you know.. factor in more time to fill up your bellies before the long flight home if you are ever flying out of London Heathrow Airport Terminal 2!

Tips for WIFI for overseas travel

Wifi… a definite need when I travel and not just wifi that you get at the Apple store or the hotel lobby, it’s something that I want to get on-the-go. It’s like a requirement for all hotels to provide complimentary wifi now in the rooms and when I don’t get that, I’m like meh….

Before I head off on our holidays, I like to do a quick check of the different data-roaming plans/ rates offered by our Telco first. Some of the fixed daily rates are quite competitive or perhaps I’m just lazy to go find out what’s cheaper out there, so I normally just activate the data-roaming plan.

This is until I discovered Pocket Wifi which fits into my needs perfectly! Well, I don’t need people to call me while I’m on holiday plus I don’t really need to receive my SMSes too unless I’m doing my internet banking. All I needed when I’m overseas is pretty basic – checking of emails, to remain connected on my social media platforms as well as chat with my friends on What’s App.

In case my mombie-brains fail me, I thought it would be nice to share some of the affordable wifi options that you can get from these countries that we have recently been to and what we used for the trip.

img_4325EspressoWifi in Italy was used by our friends when we were up in Milan and Tuscany last October. It could connect up to 10 different devices so I basically just tapped and used their wifi whenever we were together. To be honest, I only thought the usage of pocket wifi is commonly used in Japan, so I was pleasantly surprised at the rental of such devices that I could now get online without fretting where I should head to tap on free wifi when we travel.

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Which brings me to this – pocket wifi in Japan seriously rocks! There are several providers in Japan and a friend recommended that we check out eConnect which was what we used when we were in Fukuoka last year. They offer really competitive price plans and the site was easy to navigate. I ordered my pocket wifi 3 weeks in advance and even received a 15% discount off my total bill. This works well if you are an organised traveler who plan your itinerary well in advance.

For us, the Man made some changes to our itinerary last minute and mentioned in passing to me. I totally forgot about this until I rang the first hotel to check on the shipping of some items and was horrified to learn that we are no longer going to be staying with them (ie: they couldn’t find the booking). Luckily, I managed to email the folks at eConnect with details of our new hotel and they changed the shipping in time.

When we arrived at our hotel in Yufuin, I was happy to see the eConnect package sitting on the table. Ripped it apart almost immediately and put it to use.

Verdict? Works pretty well and had strong 3G/ 4G connection when we were in the  city / town. At mountainous areas or when we were driving along the roads, the wifi connection was a lot weaker.  I guess given the price, this works pretty ok. Plus it was such a breeze to return the device! All I needed to do is to pop the wifi device and the charger into the prepaid envelope and get the hotel concierge to help me send it out via post. It’s that easy!

Another pocket wifi company that my friend used in Japan is Japan Mobile Rental, charges look a lot higher than eConnect but she shared that she had strong connectivity on the internet throughout her trip. She was in the city though so couldn’t quite share if connectivity would be the same if she was on the roads or up in the mountains.

img_2684For our recent trip to UK and France, I was contemplating to get a pocket wifi device but after searching online and given that I will be going to both UK and France, the charges for the rental of the device does seem to be on the higher side. Here are some companies that I managed to find:

  • Hip Pocket Wifi
  • My Webspot
  • Overseas Wifi from Changi Airport : Even though this looked like the most promising of the lot because I can just pick it up at Changi Airport and drop it off upon my return, I decided not to rent it because the per day charges don’t seem attractive plus usage is capped at 400MB per day which I feared I may just bust checking Instagram alone.

In the end, after doing the research, I decided not to get a portable wifi device because we were moving from place to place and I was worried that I would not be able to receive the device by post on time. Asked around and Mama Libby also suggested that I might be better off just buying a SIM card and using the data-plan attached to the SIM card from the telco provider. So this was what we did.

img_2709Upon arrival into London, we walked past a kiosk selling SIM cards. I told the sales assistant my requirements – basically, data for surfing in the UK and France. He then recommended this plan from Three which fulfilled my primary need of data thrown in with text messages and talk time. For GBP35, I had unlimited data in the UK and up to 12GB of data in France. I was pleasantly surprised that I could also surf in Geneva and Italy when we did short stop-overs before/ after France. One point to note is that we couldn’t activate the Personal Hot-spot sharing when we were in Europe so the Man couldn’t share my wifi.

Just thought I share what some of my friends did prior to our trip in Europe was to purchase this pocket wifi device from Huawei in Singapore first. When they arrived in France, they then purchased a 2GB data card  in one of the tobacco shops which cost them under 20 Euros (if I’m not wrong) for the entire trip. This was handy as we could tap and share the wifi when we are in a group.

Hope you found this simple guide that I’ve compiled useful for your upcoming holidays. If you have other providers or tips on where to tap on wifi on-the-go, please do share them here so I can add them on this list.

Checking out: Prêt-à-Portea

img_2597Finally managed to check out Prêt-à-Portea (afternoon tea) at The Berkeley. It’s been one of the things that I had wanted to do (man, since 2009), but I never got round to doing it. So when I found out that we had a free afternoon in London and planned to catch up with the stylish little one, I decided to just book it! I mean, what better way to mark the catch-up with some stylish bites with the stylish not-quite-little-one anymore.

img_2710Having flown in from Geneva, we were pretty tired. I mean, check out my super-tired face. But it was so nice to meet with S whom we have seen grown up over the years.

The afternoon tea is supposed to be served at the Caramel Room (touted to look really fashionable with designer furnishings), but unfortunately for us, it was under renovation! So tea was moved to Koffman’s instead.

img_2604Having skipped lunch, I was looking forward to the afternoon tea, I mean I’ve been waiting for years for this! After we ordered our teas, we were served each with a tray of tea sandwiches plus some savory bites. If you are wondering if those have any links with the fashion items, I’m telling you – No. These are served as a taster before the fashion show-stopper starts.

The Fashionista’s Afternoon Tea gets refreshed every season and mirrors what you can find on the runway. As we were still in Autumn/ Winter 2015/2016, we got a glimpse of the bites dressed up in the sweetest fashion.

img_2622CaptureThe full-fledged tray of sweets were really a lot and by then, all of us were stuffed! When our server set the entire 3-tiered tray, my eyes opened wide at the visually stunning work of art that looked too pretty to be eaten. And in summary, that was probably what it was. Sweet treats that looked better photographed than in my tummy. Maybe the novelty wore off after so many years of yearning to head there. The Man simply rolled his eyes at us when us 2 ladies were more interested in literally playing with our food (ie: taking them from the trays and then placing them around for it to be photographed). Well, we did have fun.

img_2614If there was one thing that they did possibly right for the tea would be the scones! Served warm, they were fluffy to the bite and that dollop of clotted cream along with some raspberry jam was the perfect finishing touch to the long afternoon tea before we headed out into the cold.

Glad I gave into my long-awaited craving. Gonna check this off my list and say ‘Been there, done that.’ Not sure if I want to head back for there are probably better tea places that I will definitely check out the next time we are in London.

img_2613Try this if you are true-blue fashionista who wants to live, breathe and eat fashion. Otherwise, just enjoy the eye candy and move along.

 

I survived….

img_2341Oooh-kay… I survived my first-ever trip away from Bubba. All of 11 days! The first few days were tough.. I was wondering if she would be ok, will she miss us, will she cry? But the equal time that she spent with her grandparents plus the voice clips, photos and videos did reassure us that she’s in good hands.

img_2522But it was a good break.. hanging out with our friends on the slopes, catching up with dear ones over car-rides and just taking in the moment.

img_2541img_2401Thanks to the Man, I scored myself a new spanking new outfit complete with board, bindings, boots as well as helmet and googles. Yup, decided to go with muted tones for my new snowboard outfit this time round. Am tired of sticking out like a sore-thumb on the slopes especially when I’m super slow.

img_2394We made Chamonix the base of our trip for our friends very kindly offered up their place for us to stay. It was a blast but not too over-crowded having 9 people under a roof.

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Here we go – Chamonix 2016

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I was trying to see when was the last time I actually hit the slopes. I found this.. Hakuba 2013! Suddenly, it feels like ages ago! I forgot in between, I got pregnant, had a child and basically, felt old and didn’t want to break my bones falling down the slopes!

Our friends had planned for their annual ski/ snowboarding trip and invited the Man and I along. The Man thought it would be good to get back into the groove and hit the slopes, plus take some time off from Bubba. I was a little reluctant to do so but who knows what will happen the nearly 2 weeks that I will be away from her since her birth. Gulps, how will I survive without seeing her everyday??

We are leaving her in the good hands of my Mom and my MIL. I know she will be dearly cared for during our absence but as a Mom, I can’t help but worry. What if she cries for me to put her to bed? What if she thinks we have abandoned her? But my Mom assures me that she will be fine. I know she will be. Furthermore, the trip has already been planned for, so I will go. I know she will be be in good hands but I’m not sure about me.

20130227-180535.jpgMore importantly, I worry and hope I will be able to survive manoeuvring the treacherous slopes of Chamonix. I think my old bag of bones may not be able to make it, but well, the Man promised me new gear and a spanking new outfit to replace my old one, so I guess that’s an incentive for me.

Fingers crossed!

Long haul travel with a toddler

I think this called for a post on its own for we have learned so much about traveling with a toddler this trip. Ain’t no expert but would love to share our experience and document this trip down. Obviously, if there are other tips that you lovely readers would love to share, I would be most happy to hear them out. 🙂

Flying with a toddler:

When the Man booked our Europe (Geneva/ Italy) trip earlier this year, we didn’t quite know what to expect. We had travelled with Bubba since she was 3 months small to Tokyo and then to Phuket plus Perth. The first trip was daunting especially my solo flight up to Tokyo but we survived. The subsequent trips, she had done fairly well. But a trip on a plane for close to 12 hours? Alarm bells ringing for CABIN FEVER for a bubbling toddler. YIKES, what were we thinking of?

Our flight out to Zurich was about 1am, so we put Bubba off to bed and headed off to the airport at about 11pm. I strapped her in my Tula and off we went in a cab. She did continue sleeping before waking up at 11.30 pm slightly buzzed from the flurry of activity.

IMG_2744During take-off, she was curious about the surroundings but thankfully, could manage to sit still after I conned her with some DHA vitamin sweets. An hour lapsed after take-off and she felt a little tired, so I managed to put her to bed and she slept for about 5 1/2 hours straight! Woo hoo… Mama here managed to get some rest as well. Thereafter, she was contented to run up and down the aisles in the dark plus make friends with other babies/ toddlers on the flight. She didn’t quite enjoy her in-flight meal made up of mashed peas, potatoes and eggs but she did try cornflakes with milk for the first time and loved it.

Lessons learned? We decided not to use the bassinet and let Bubba sit with me instead. On our flight up to Zurich, we are thankful that she fell asleep quite quickly but she did experience some cabin fever when she woke up. We loaded her up with snacks and food to keep her duly occupied. Letting her run up and down the aisle (with adult supervision as you don’t wish to disturb the other passengers) also help burn off some of her restless energy. On our flight back, as there was a time difference, she was pretty much wide awake for most of the flight while both the Man and I were dead-tired. So we tried to confine her in as little a space that we possibly could and let her expend her energy by climbing up and down the seats.

IMG_3245If all else fails and if your baby wails, then tune out the dagger stares. That’s what we did when whatever we did could not please nor satisfy Bubba. We just let her cry it out and after she felt much better, she then either slept or did whatever she felt like doing.

Adjusting to a new time-zone:

IMG_2862In Geneva, the meltdowns happened. She was fussing at mealtimes or rather slept through dinner time. When we woke her up, she unleashed her angry cries and refused to open her mouth for any form of food. Nice dinners originally planned for were difficult to execute as we tried to calm an angry toddler who at the end of the day just wanted to sleep.

IMG_3164Lessons learned on toddler’s meltdowns during sleep-time: Don’t wake a sleeping baby! It may take a while for their body-clock to adjust to a new time-zone. Bubba also woke us up at about 3am and then again at 4-5am two consecutive days in a row. We tried to minimise any form of excitement when she woke up in the wee hours of the morning, so we usually gave her a bottle of milk and then let her babble for a bit. After an hour or so, she would usually feel tired and then head off to bed on her own.

Moving around and sight-seeing:

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IMG_3193Even though we were just in Geneva and Italy, we moved around quite a fair bit in Italy from Florence> Siena> Borgo> Milan> Asti> Milan by car. When it came to exploring the towns and places, we travelled by foot and put Bubba on her Zen Yoyo (which we love to bits because it’s lightweight and easy to fold up).

IMG_2873On good days, the little Missy would be cooperative and sit happily in her stroller for a bit. On days where she gets restless (case in point in below pic), she would be fussing and screaming for Daddy to let her out of her stroller.

IMG_4397A point to note is that traveling to Europe can also be slightly tricky because most of the streets in the older parts of Europe tend to be cobbled stone which means that it may not be that comfy a ride for our lightweight stroller. It may also be difficult to navigate the winding and tiny streets with our stroller and a toddler who only wants to run around instead of being strapped in her seat. So, we are also glad that the Man and I brought along our baby carriers on the trip.

IMG_3331When it was all wet and rainy in Siena, we ditched the stroller in the hotel, loaned umbrellas, strapped Bubba into the Man’s Boba Air Carrier and explored the quaint city by foot.

IMG_4277In Alba, when Bubba was simply too tired having skipped her naps, I was glad I brought my Tula and baby-wore her to sleep when she got too cranky. It took a while but she eventually took her nap leaving the Man and I to have our lunch using both of our hands. Phew!
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Eating out with a toddler:

Now, let’s go on to my fave part of the trip – mealtimes with Bubba!

Mealtimes are sacred because the Man and I, we both love our food to bits! Bubba, on the other hand, well, I think she lost weight during the trip from not eating her meals consistently. The first couple of days were tough, largely due to the time-difference and she was more interested in sleeping.

IMG_2920During mealtimes, we still brought her along with us but fed her bits of whatever we ate. From bread, to vegetable sticks to pasta to fish, she just picked on the food.

IMG_4248For breakfast, we found out that she has taken to cornflakes, so that was her staple at the hotels which we stayed in. She enjoyed picking them off from her bowl or feeding herself with a little spoon when we poured in some milk along with them.
IMG_3506For her lunch and dinner, as we dined out most of the time, we got the restaurants to help whip up a small portion of pasta. She has no love for the plain old pasta with tomato sauce, it was a tad bit too sour for her but pasta with ragu, that she lapped up the dish quite happily. Once she got sick of this dish, we found out she loved ravioli with a simple chicken/ vegetable soup stock.

On days where she didn’t feel like eating, meaning whatever we tried to feed her simply ended up on the floor or she protested in tears on her high-chair. We resorted to tanking her up with her milk. She’s currently still on Bellamy’s Organics Stage 2 (which has more nutrients/ vitamins) and gulps her milk down like a Milk Monster, so we weren’t too particularly worried about starving her. Plus, during the trip, she had learned to verbalised her wants which took us by surprise! When we asked her if she wants milk, she would nod her head or say Yes if she really wanted milk.

IMG_3353As for baby chairs, we brought along a portable one that folds up and fits nicely into our diaper bag. In restaurants that don’t have baby chairs, we simply whip this cloth chair and turn a normal one into one that Bubba can nicely sit in for us to feed her. We also brought along a whole bunch of disposable bibs for our travel. While we love our pretty bibs, it’s also a pain to wipe and wash them every night. So for travel, we just use these and trash them once Bubba is done with her meals.

 IMG_4228Well, its not that bad travelling with Bubba. The first part of the trip was kinda challenging initially as we tried to figure out her schedule. At some of the meals that we had where she had a total meltdown, we couldn’t help but feel frustrated as nothing we did could pacify her. Yes, we did succumb to dishing out our iPhones and iPads loaded with her fave nursery rhymes to keep her from screaming. Once we figured out how she clicked, we just changed our strategy. Instead of an early dinner, we headed out for a late dinner (at about 8.30pm). Once we gave her her milk feed, dressed her up in her jammies and she went to bed. That’s when us as parentals went out to party! We did a few nice dinners towards the end of the trip while Bubba snoozed in her stroller. Cheers to that!

IMG_3512So, YAY, we survived our 2 week holiday with Bubba in tow. It wasn’t easy but we had a blast hanging out with her nearly 24/7 during the 2 weeks.

Next up, a winter holiday in Japan to usher in 2016! Wish us luck!

 

Last leg: Milan & Asti

And we are back from our 2-odd week holiday in Geneva and Italy (Siena, Milan and Asti). Phew.. and what a trip it was. Will be attempting to do up a blog-post on travelling long-haul with a toddler to summarise my thoughts on the family vacation. But in the meantime, a photo-dump of what had happened at the last leg of our Italian holiday.
IMG_4714Checked into the LaGare Hotel Milano Central which saw us had one of the most restful sleeps during the holiday. Love the boutiquey black-and-white feel to the hotel. Then we zipped off to meet the Man’s BFF who flew in specially from London to catch up with us over dinner and breakfast. We all clinked our wine glasses over dinner that evening and laughed about the changing times where dinner convos revolved around our children’s antics. We also held back after 2 bottles of wine where in the past, we would be drinking at least 3 to 4 bottles at dinner time.

IMG_4715And in Milan, we did our best to squeeze in as much shopping as we possibly could. How different shopping was as well. Gone are our leisurely days where we could browse through racks. Instead, the Man and I take turns to watch over little Miss Bubbly here who was more interested in messing up the racks / displays and what-nots instead of actually going to nap during her supposed nap-time. What’s up with toddlers and not going to sleep at proper times? Argh!! Drives me up the wall!

IMG_4716We had about 4 days in Milan so to break the monotony of staying in shopping city, the Man booked us a night stay in Asti (Piedmont region). It was a lovely stop-over where we did a side-trip to Alba (aka Tartufo land).

IMG_4272We bought our very first Truffle and learned so much about how delicate these things were to transport back. More on that to come.

IMG_4314And finally, we came back in Milan. Did more of the city via foot with a mad rush of shopping to boot before packing our bags and heading home to a hazy Singapore. 😦

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IMG_4300 All in all, the holiday was a great break away from work for me to just be a full-time parent to Bubba. Yes, talk about 24 hours literally 7 days a week for about 16 days. I think the Man and I both had our hands full with this little one where at times, she really tested our patience but we both agreed that it was also very fulfilling to be with her during the trip and see how she has grown developmentally which we may just have missed at home.

That rounds up our trip very quickly! Till our next one … looking forward already! 🙂