British cuisine is known for its specific set of cooking traditions, which have been passed down for centuries. Regardless of what the French might think of English cooking, they can pack a punch, given that they are made with fresh local ingredients, matched with simple sauces to accentuate the flavour, rather than disguise it. British food has traditionally been based on beef, lamb, pork, chicken and fish. It is generally served with potatoes and one other vegetable.

Even the full English breakfast is a mighty meal by itself. It is delicious and usually inexpensive. To enjoy this meal and many others to the fullest, stay at great value budget hotels in Earls Court, such as Hotel Lily, which offers a breakfast that consists of sausages, mushrooms, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes and more.

5 Traditional Dishes to Try While in London

Here are five must try dishes during your stay in the capital of the UK:

      1. Fish & Chips: Traditional Fish & Chips has been on the top of any foodie’s list for not just decades, but maybe centuries, for times when they visit London. The dish is a combination of fried battered fish and hot chips. They are often garnished with salt and vinegar and are traditionally eaten with mushy peas.
      1. Sunday Roast with Yorkshire Pudding: A true British classic, the Sunday Roast is typically served on Sunday, as the name suggests. It consists of roasted meat, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, and accompanied by Yorkshire Pudding. The pudding is made of batter consisting of eggs, flour and milk or water. You’ll find this dish in the menu of almost all cheap & budget hotels in Earls Court. The size of the dish is such that you might find it difficult to finish all by yourself!
      1. Pie and Mash: This has been the staple diet of Londoners for centuries. It is traditional working-class food that originated inthe city itself. The dish has come a long way from the simple steak and kidney pie to pork pies. You’ll have a whole plethora of pie types to choose from in Britain. The pie is served with a pile of creamy mashed potatoes and lashings of gravy.
      1. Eton Mess: A traditionalEnglish dessert, this dish is a fabulous mix of crushed meringue, whipped heavy cream and strawberries. However, several variants are made using different kinds of fruits or with ice cream instead of simple cream. But nothing can beat the classic strawberry version.
      1. Beef Wellington: Moorish, flaky and filling, Beef Wellington is a standard British classic, made of filet steak, covered with pate and duxelles. It is then wrapped in a puff pastry and baked. However, the tenderloin may be sliced into individual portions prior to wrapping and baking. Spices like allspice and ginger are added to enhance the flavour.


Eton messFor a great experience and best value, stay at the reputable budget hotels near Earls Court Station. And, the next time you visit London, don’t miss out on enjoying the ultimate British tradition, the afternoon tea, which begins with a glass of champagne-rose. Accompanied with finger sandwiches and scones, lathered with fig and strawberry jam, along with pastries that include a tangy citrus meringue and pistachio profiterole. The list goes on!


buckingham palace

For millions of visitors, Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic sights in London, and indeed in entire England. The palace started as the Buckingham House in 1761 when George III bought it for his wife, Queen Charlotte. Later, the house was transformed into the palace we know today by George IV. However, the first sovereign to take up residence at this palace was Queen Victoria, who moved there in 1837. Today, this palace is the official residence of the British royal family.

The Holiday Inn London West is one of the best hotels in Acton, takes pride in this British icon, which is the queen’s official and main royal London home. They suggest that cheap & budget hotels in Acton can be a great way to save money that can then be spent on sight-seeing and souvenirs.

But what makes Buckingham Palace so special, apart from the fact that it is home to the royal family? When you make your way through Buckingham Palace, the first thing that catches your eye is the flag on the roof. Once inside, you can actually go clock-spotting, with more than 350 clocks and watches throughout the palace, the largest collections of working clocks in the world!

Apart from this, make sure you see:

The Staterooms

Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, including the 19 State Rooms and 78 bathrooms. The Staterooms are lavishly decorated public rooms where the monarch receives, rewards and entertains her subjects and visiting dignitaries. During the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or our very favourite, William and Kate, several of them were used for the reception. These rooms are awash with sparkling candelabra, marble columns, sumptuous carpets, damask wallpaper, sculpture, fine furniture, and multiple works of art.

The Grand Staircase

The magnificent bronze staircase was designed by architect John Nash, as part of his commission to remodel the palace for King George IV from 1825 to 1830. The impressive double balustrade features an intricate pattern of acanthus, oak and laurel leaves. It represents some of the world’s finest bronze casting work. But that’s not all, the stairs are lit by an etched glass dome in the ceiling. You can easily visit the palace to see this sight and more by opting to stay at hotels close to Wembley Stadium & Twickenham.

Explicit Fine Art

On your tour, you’ll come across paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude, as well as sculptures by Canova and Chantrey. You’ll see some wonderful portraits of past and present royals in the State Rooms, including those of Queen Victoria, George III and Queen Charlotte, and, of course, the current royal family.

The Throne Room

The majestic Throne Room contains the thrones that are used for investitures and ceremonial receptions, such as at The Queen’s Jubilee. The room also doubles as a ballroom on occasion. The room has famous royal wedding photos including those of Princess Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.

The Garden

Covering an impressive 39 acres, and containing more than 350 types of wildflowers, around 200 trees and a three-acre lake, the garden at the Buckingham Palace will leave you awestruck. The Queen’s annual Garden Parties are also organized here. Don’t miss the tennis courts where King George VI and Fred Perry played in the 1930s.

When planning a trip to London, check out hotels in Acton and hotels close to Wembley Stadium & Twickenham so that you have easy access to all the important sight-seeing locations.

So you have decided to go to America, but which city is for you? Some people have to travel on a budget, while others save up and travel a huge wedge of America in one trip. But for those on a budget it can be quite hard deciding on which city you are going to visit. This guide looks at some of the best cities in America and aims to help you make a decision by showing you what’s best about each place. There are some truly stunning places in the world to visit, and America has so many of them. Take your time when you pick and if you feel your budget it too low for what you want to do consider waiting and saving up some more money so you can fully appreciate your trip to whichever city you eventually choose. There are pro’s and con’s to each city, but remember, different people like different things. So everyone will want someone different, the trick is finding a city that not just you will enjoy, but your family or travel companions will too.

Las Vegas

This is a stunning city full of lights and noises. A great place for people who love to party or just appreciate the hustle and bustle of Vegas life. There are many things for you to do here. If you enjoy shows then there are a huge amount  ranging from top celebrity music acts, magic, acrobatics, the list goes on. Vegas is of course also well known for its casino culture. If you are a bit of a gambler then this city is certainly for you. It has a huge amount of casinos of all different themes for you to enjoy. The great thing is, you don’t have to be a high roller to enjoy them, instead you can opt for playing the slots or using the low buy in tables. There really is something for everyone here.

It isn’t just a place to visit for shows, clubs and casinos though. You can also visit wider Nevada like the valley of fire national park or the hoover dam. If you wanted to stay in Vegas itself, don’t worry. There are countless museums for you to check out and the city has a rich criminal history based around the mob. The city caters to all tastes, you can even bring your family along. Just be sure you plan what you are doing before you get there otherwise you may end up disappointed as it isn’t really the kind of place you can just choose to do something, everything has tickets and runs like clockwork.

New York City

New York city

You’ve probably heard heaps about the NYC already. A stunning place to visit for people wanted a true slice of American culture. It is full of a multitude of nationalities and really shows the immigrant routes of America. Manhattan is a natural attraction point which has countless places to explore and building to climb. A trip up the Empire State building is always worth doing, the photos you can capture here are second to none. If you wanted a more encapsulating view of NYC then try a helicopter tour.

The statue of liberty is another point of attraction, which you can climb and check out the internal mechanisms yourself. Of course, the shopping in New York is second to none, with thousands of shops and boutiques all vying for your cash. You can watch some awesome baseball and basketball games whilst also watching some shows on the all hallowed broadway. You can also get your food fill here too. The countless of people types here mean you can get all kinds of great food, from five star dining experiences to simple hot dog street food. It’s all good.

The metropolitan museum of art, or met, caters for those with a love of art and is one of the best museums of its kind in the world. For those with a history buff then this city is for you as it’s rich history is portrayed in many museums throughout the city. New York city offers all kinds of awesome things to do. If you are stuck in which city to visit then this is a must as you can please people of all tastes. History, sport, architecture, the list goes on. It is especially nice as a place for a romantic getaway. Christmas is a lovely time to visit as the city does well in capturing the true essence of Christmas. Wrap up warm though, the win really does whip up through the high rise buildings and snow falls in droves during winter.

Washington DC

washinton dc

DC is the home of the political heart of the united states and is the country’s capital city. It is a wonderful place to visit, especially those with a leaning towards all things political. You can go and see the white house or maybe go to the capital building, the iconic domed building where the senate house resides. Again, one of the best museums in the world resides here in that of the smithsonian, a great museum of culture which was established in 1846. There are also more interesting museums such as the national spy museum, or the museum of natural history. The lincoln memorial is another stunning American monument for the history buffs out there.

Washington is a lovely city full of angular architecture and monuments that really reflect what the USA is today. But, it isn’t really a place to take thrill seekers and people who don’t appreciate the finer things in life. This is a place for refinement and lovers of history and politics. It’s fine if you are stopping off here as part of a bigger journey, but if you are only coming here, be sure you have done your research before hand.


Los Angeles is another city of a different kind. It ranges from slums and the poorest of people to those who live in the iconic beverly hills. This is a stunning city to visit dominated by the ever present hollywood sign hanging above the move centric neighbourhood of the same name. LA is vital for those who love all things films. There are all kinds of movie tours you can do with a plethora of move related museums and shops to discover. The benefit of LA is the heat. If you enjoy the sun you can catch the rays in the day and relax in the night at one of the many restaurants.

Kids will love it too due to the Universal Studios being nearby where you can send all day going on movie based rides and tours. The wizarding world of Harry Potter, attached to the park, is also a magical place that can take you to another world, somewhere your kids will never forget and full of amazing photo opportunities for all. There are museums, and countless attractions like madame tussauds hollywood. The city is good for all ages, just try not to venture to less reputable areas because they have quite a bad crime rate in the city.

New Orleans

New Orleans, or the big easy, is an awesome place to go if you are interested in America’s southern history. It is a stunning place to travel for food, as the mixture or cultures all make for a stunning mixture and culinary differences which you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Jazz aficionados will love this city, as the many jazz bars and shows all do well in opening your eyes to the musical routes of the city. The French quarter is great for this, and houses some stunning feats of architecture as well as its share of supposedly haunted buildings. Other places like the aquarium of the americas houses some interesting marine life to give you a break from the excessive consumption of bourbon. For those who love to party, the big easy is the place to be. Huge street carnivals and mardis gras are a major attraction for those looking to let loose in the city. The late winter carnival is famed for the amazing costumes and street parties which you can either watch from a hotel window or get down and involved with yourself.


One of the ultimate places to go if you love american history. An old city, founded in 1630 which was involved in the bloody war of independance from the British rule. If you are interested in this kind of history then the freedom trail is for you, a trail of markers that take you through some of Boston’s most important and most interesting sites. The floating history museum can be a good pull for kids as they always have something going on like reenactments or special exhibits. Sports fans can rejoice too, the boston red sox rarely disappoint and a night out at Fenway park is always one to remember. Boston is teeming with colonial history and is a centre point for the USA’s first steps towards independence. A beautiful city to visit at any time of the year.

If you fancy yourself a skier, there’s a certain pressure to prove it by listing the places that you’ve been. But where are those places? Here are some of the most important ski destinations anywhere in the world for you to fawn over and put on your bucket list.

Livigno, Italy

Livigno is one of the higher resorts in Europe at around 3000 meters, and it plays host to plenty of powder late in the season to boot.

The great thing about Livigno, and the reason why it attracts skiers year after year if the fact that the sun always seems to shine on this small patch of the Italian Alps. Despite all this, the skiing usually lasts until the early May, meaning that it’s possible to combine a spot of skiing with your spring break.

Thanks to incentives from the Italian government, the resort is also tax-free, meaning that the food and the drink here is super cheap. The only complaint about the resort is that the ski slopes themselves aren’t particularly expensive. They are contained in an area only 4 kilometers long and a kilometer wide, meaning that it’s unlikely to keep you entertained for more than a week.

Gassan, Japan

Back in 1972, Japan hosted the winter Olympics. Ever since then the country has been associated with winter sports.


Photo credit:Wikimedia Commons

Gassan is located on Japan’s main island of Honshu. Every year Gassan gets a deluge of about eight meters of snow, making it the perfect place for skiing. There’s just one problem: so severe is the deluge that the resorts here don’t open until early April since it usually takes that long to clear the roads.

The good news is that the ski season lasts until late July, meaning that it’s one of the few places in Asia that offer summertime skiing options. The community around Mount Gassan prides itself on its exquisite mineral water, said to be the purest on Earth. If you visit, make sure you give it a try.

Whistler-BlackComb, Canada

Blackcomb mountain is famous for the enormous glacier that sits on its surface. Thanks to its size and height, skiers can be found on the Whistler mountainside as late as June before the bikers take over the whole resort. The area also offers complete ski instructor courses for newbies who want to learn the ropes and teach their skills to others.

Whistler skiPhoto credit: Flickr

The views around here are spectacular: think Lord of the Rings-style landscapes. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful landscape on one of the many gondola rides that crisscross the area.

Mammoth, California

Mammoth Lake, California

Photo credit: Flickr

A couple of thousand miles south of Whistler sits Mammoth in California, an area that boasts more than 300 days of continuous sunshine every year. The ski season here lasts until about June before the powder starts to melt and become unstable. As a result, it makes a great alternative place to take the kids. There is loads to do here, including snow tubing, hiking around the Mammoth Lakes and chilling out in many of the area’s premier mountain resorts.

Have you made New Year’s resolutions? Are you trying to get fit, eat more greens or give up smoking? We tend to focus on our physical health when we try and get healthy, but mental health matters too. If you don’t feel happy when you wake up every morning, it’s time to focus on your mind, as well as your body. Here are some tips to help you start every day with a smile.

Set an alarm

Do you rush around every morning trying to get to work on time or attempting to get the kids ready and out of the door? If every morning is a frantic rush, try adjusting your sleep routine. Set an alarm for the same time every morning, and make sure you have enough time available to get everything done. There’s nothing worse than starting your day in a panic. Give yourself that extra 15 or 30 minutes, and it will make such a difference.

set alarm


Not all of us are morning people, and sometimes, we need that extra boost to start the day feeling energetic and motivated. A 5-minute stretching session will get your body and mind ready for the day. Get those muscles working, bring your heart rate up slightly, and focus your mind.

Prepare in advance

If you have time at night, plan ahead for the next day. Get your clothes out, iron a blouse or make your lunch. The simplest things will make all the difference. You’ll be able to sleep better knowing that you haven’t got loads to do, and you can enjoy a more leisurely morning.

De-stress and get enough sleep

Even the most superhuman people struggle to get through the day when they’ve not had enough sleep. It’s vital that you give yourself the best chance of getting enough quality sleep each and every night. Take time to relax and de-stress before you go to bed. Read a magazine, chat to your friends or watch a movie. If you go to bed feeling anxious or tense, you’ll find it difficult to get to sleep. If you can’t sleep on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to get some advice. Missing out on sleep will increase your risk of both mental and physical health problems. If you feel tired every morning, try going to bed half an hour or an hour earlier.

be positive

Many of us have a love for fashion. When we’re not buying new clothes and accessories, we’re choosing our outfits for the day (and maybe the next day, too). What you might not have thought about is that your love for fashion can be seen as a skill. If you have valuable knowledge about fashion, you can turn your love for it into something more. You don’t just have to enjoy choosing clothes and dressing up. You can use your passion to expand it into a further hobby or even influence your career. Here’s what you could do with your love for fashion.

Start Making Your Own Clothes

You already know a lot about how to wear clothes, but what do you know about making them? A lot of people who love fashion eventually start trying to make clothes and accessories themselves. There are some great benefits to doing this. You can create unique items that no one else owns, and it’s a relaxing hobby too. You can also modify your existing clothes to refresh them. When you first get started, consider a mini sewing machine. It’s a good idea to start off with something small before you invest in something bigger and more expensive.

make your own clothes

Make Fashion Part of Your Career

Have you always dreamed of working in the fashion industry? But perhaps you don’t have the right skillset to be a model, make-up artist, or photographer. If you love fashion, there could be many other roles in or alongside the industry that could be suitable for you. For example, perhaps your expertise is in marketing. With your experience in marketing and your knowledge of fashion, you could be ideal to provide marketing services to fashion companies. Or maybe your fashion knowledge would come in handy in a retail job.

turn fashion into something else

Share Your Passion with Others

Sharing your passion and knowledge can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. A lot of people who love fashion will offer advice to friends and family. But you can find a bigger audience to share with if you want to. Starting a blog or even a YouTube channel is a great way to have somewhere to talk about what you love. It also means your friends and family don’t have to listen to you as much! Think about how you might approach creating a blog or making videos to attract other people who are interested in fashion.

fashion business

Start a Fashion Business

Another way to make money from what you love is to start a business related to fashion. You might design and make your own products if you enjoy doing that. Or you could use your knowledge to source and sell products that people want. If you’re good at spotting rising fashion trends, an online store could work for you. However, starting a business is always tough, and it’s especially so in the fashion industry. Think carefully before doing anything. You can turn your passion for fashion into something more if you want to. You only have to put your mind to it.

Being a Piscean, I do have the natural tendency to impulsively start a lots of new projects but loose interest very quickly without finishing any of them. My upbringing kind of helped this bad habit to be instilled into me for a long time. I grew up in a household with unfinished projects at home like many 1/8 knitted sweaters by my mum, unfinished wall panelling, hundreds of cookbooks bought by my mum with most of them untouched. I’m sure mum had the good intention to be better at cooking but buying books without keeping practising to be better didn’t really help. To this day, she’s still a pretty bad cook.

It took me too long to realise the importance of having the discipline to always finish what you started. Luckily I haven’t given up on myself completely, yet:). From 2015 I made the decision to use this blog to help me become disciplined. What I want to achieve is to keep exercising and reading everyday. As I’m pretty lazy and live a sedentary lifestyle, it wasn’t easy for me to develop an exercise routine but I started slowly by doing plank, pushups and jumping rope at home whenever I can. Gradually, the habit of exercising lightly everyday (even for just 5 minutes) has finally been formed. Yesterday I published a post of 20 at home exercises to to tone your abs, butt, legs and arms. Who could have thought these 20 exercises were not easy for me at all when I first tried them this morning! Most of them I couldn’t only do 1 or 2 repetitions. A few of them I simply could not do. Can’t believe it? Try rolling squat.

Rolling squatI could roll my back on the floor alright, but it stopped there. Is that even possible to roll back on your feet to a squat position again? I guess many people can, but not me. Argh. By the time I finished trying all these 20 exercises, my face was covered with sweat and my heart was nearly jumping out of my chest. Ok, I count this as a good start. Note to self: Let’s just keep doing that every morning and see when you can do one proper rolling squat, shall we?

As to reading, I was looking for a new book to read a couple of weeks ago and eventually settled on The Great Philosophers – The Lives and Ideas of History’s Greatest Thinkers. Without finishing it, another book that I didn’t finish reading came into my mind – For Whom The Bell Tolls. It’s regarded as one of Hemingways’ best works but for some reason, it was very trying for me to finish reading it. Maybe it’s because I’m not patient enough to read a few hundred pages that only cover a few day’s story; maybe I couldn’t fully grasp the spirit of those Spanish language elements in the book… Whatever it is, I’ve got to remember to finish what I started. By the way I’m also listening to the audio biography book: Edison, His Life and Inventions. I’ll read/listen to these books alternately and won’t start another book before finishing with these three first. Surely I’ll appreciate Hemingway’s book more once it’s viewed in completion.

Finish what you started, always.

finish what you started


I’ve just  come across 20 exercises that can be done at home to tone up these common problem areas: abs, butt, arms and legs as shown below. Can’t wait to try them out and see if they actually work.

For abs/waist:



Cobra lat pulldown: Arms are always in the air.

Cobra lat pulldown

Frog bridge: Feet together.

Frog bridge

Knee hugs:

Knee hugs

Side crunch:
Side crunch Star toe touch sit ups:Star toe touch sit ups

For Butt:

before after

Lunge back kick:

Lunge back kickRolling squat
Rolling squat

Squat jumps:squat jump

Squat kickback:Squat kickback


For arms:

arm before and after

Arm swings:

Arm swings

Asymmetrical push up:Asymmetrical push up

Hindu push ups:Hindu push ups

Pike push up:Pike push up

For legs:

Diamond kicks:

Diamond kicks

Fingertip to toe jacks:Fingertip to toe jacks

Flutter kicks:Flutter kicks

Frog crunches:Frog crunches

Lying hamstring curls:Lying hamstring curls

If your children are starting to grow up and get older then you’re probably painfully aware that spending quality time together is getting harder and harder as time goes by. As your kids get more independent they get more and more into their own lives – and although obviously as a parent you welcome that, it can also come with a few slightly bittersweet feelings if you miss the time you used to spend with your kids when they were little and thought that you were the center of their universe. Luckily, there are times where you can really reconnect with your kids – and here are some ways that you can do so while you’re on vacation…

During winter you’re probably wishing desperately to spend a little time on the beach. Here are some tips to help if you want to take your family on a winter sun vacation!

winter sun break

Winter Sun Break

Plan activities to do as a family. When you’re on a sunny vacation then it’s very easy to drift apart and not spend much time together as a family. During the day you can sunbathe silently, read, go swimming alone – so it’s important that you hang out together to make some great memories. Check out where the local arcade is and take your kids along and buy a bat and ball so you can play on the beach together. Check out what’s going on in the local area – there might be a festival or a regular market that you can all go to, and pretty much no one will object to being taken out for lunch or dinner!


Bring games. If we’re honest, and if you think back to when you were younger, going on vacation with your family isn’t always the best time. Sure, you appreciate them spending the money and you loved the sun, sea and sand (and probably also the sight of cute surfers every day), but spending time with your parents and siblings isn’t always what you want to be doing – and although there’s plenty to do during the day like sunbathing and swimming, the evenings are a whole other matter. It’s down to you as a parent to make sure that you have things to do as a family once you’re home from dinner. Bring board games that you can all play together along with decks of cards and you’ll soon find that your surly teens lose their inhibitions and have a great time.

Winter Sports Vacation

If you’re a sporty family then there’s nothing better than zooming off on a winter sports vacation this time of year. Whether you love snowboarding or skiing, it’s the perfect vacation to help keep you fit and give you a break from your everyday life.


Do something that’s new to all of you. If you’re going to do some winter sports then chances are, different members of your family are at different levels of competency. Maybe you’re a championship skier, while your partner prefers the hot chocolate and apres ski life – or maybe your daughter’s love snowboarding while your son’s more the sort of kid who likes to stay warm and cozy by the fire with a good book. If you force everyone to go out together to do the same activity then someone’s going to feel left out, but if you ensure that you do something that’s completely new to all of you, then you’ll have far more fun.  Whether it’s trying out new local delicacies at the ski resort restaurant or going ice skating for the first time since your kids were little, it’s important that you’re all learning something new together.

aki winter vacation

Go back to the same resort.

One of the most important things about family vacations is the memories that you can all make together. Going back to the same holiday destination will help you do that. Whether it’s up in Vermont or in Colorado, giving your kids a place to talk about in the future with their families, misty-eyed with nostalgia and happy memories, is an absolutely invaluable thing to do. A vacation that feels like a home away from home will be something that they’ll love forever.

City Weekend Away

When you’re on an action packed trip with your family then chances are, tensions will start to run high at some point because of how much time you’re spending together. Here are some ways to help you have the best time ever.

paris- winter vacation

Make sure everyone gets to pick an activity. As your kids get older, they won’t necessarily want to do things that have been chosen for them by their parents. Even if the activity’s a fun one then the teenage resentment might make it a decidedly less fun day out! Make sure that your kids get to pick some of the things that you do and that they all get an equal chance to make decisions – and remember that their opinions count just as much as yours do. If your daughter opts to go shopping instead of to an art gallery then that’s okay – it’s her vacation too and she should be able to make some decisions about what she wants to do.

melbourne- winter vacation

Give your kids some time to themselves. If they’re old enough to spend a little time away from you then now is the time to let them. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should send them out on the local public transport by themselves – but if you’re at a museum then it’s okay to let your kids wander off by themselves with strict instructions to meet you at a certain point at a certain time. Trusting them to keep themselves safe and know what they’re doing is invaluable. As a parent it’s hard to accept that teaching our kids to be independent is a necessary life skill but it really is a crucial thing to do – and your family vacation is the ideal time to start doing that.

AND REMEMBER! More than anything else – make it clear that your vacation is a cell phone free destination! Have a great time.

the power of your brainAs someone who rarely watches TV, I’m ecstatic to have discovered the documentary Series “Redesign My Brain” presented by Todd Sampson.

It’s encouraging to see a living proof that we could train our brains and become more alert, observant and even smarter. What Todd has managed to achieve through his trainings is truly remarkable. The program was first aired in 2013. I’m almost 4 years late into the game, but still – it’s better late than never.

One episode later, it seems I’ve already benefitted from the mental stimulation. How? Let me tell you an embarrassing experience of mine first. A couple of years ago I was kind of forced to jump rope in from of a small group of people. I jumped 14 times altogether with 3 attempts – 4 or 3 times each attempt. Yeah, you can tell how fit and coordinated I am. Later on I picked up jumping rope as a form of exercise because its effectiveness. Have to admit, I don’t jump regularly enough and only occasionally made it above 100 reps in one go. What happened today after watching the program? I jumped 220 times continuously and had to stop jumping because of exhaustion. Why did I become more coordinated all of a sudden? I think the key is focus. When I jumped today, my mind was focused on the action of jumping itself, not wandering aimlessly like it always does.

I don’t have the ambition to possess a memory to remember the sequence of a whole deck of card, or the ability to open a complicated safe within a hour but I can’t wait to see what more training could do to my brain.

So here’s to hope and a better brain.


Sydney is for sure gearing up for the biggest lunar New Year celebration outside China. From what I’ve seen so far, the Sydney CNY celebrations are actually way over the top than those in many areas of China.

20 January 2017 was the traditional Chinese Little New Year which fell about one week before the lunar New Year. Just check out the grandeur and popularity of the Chinese Lantern festival held at Sydney Darling Harbour from 20 -22 January, you’ll see what I mean.

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Sydney CNY celebration

20 years ago when I first arrived in Sydney, the lunar new year was spent hardly noticeable. Nowadays the Chinese New Year celebrations in Sydney would last for at least 3 weeks. The whole Sydney is turning into a Chinese town, #obviously. Ok, I’m not complaining. One should never complain about more food and entertainment.


milk + honey

Most of us know how easy it is to put on weight but there are people struggling at gaining weight. Of course eat fattening food while leading a sedentary lifestyle is not the way to go. How to gain weight quickly in a healthy and easy way then? The answer is really simple: Do 20 deep squats a day and have a cup of milk with honey at night, preferably around 10pm.

For people who wants to loose weight, don’t have milk and honey after 8pm at night.


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I’m loving my amazon kindle and bringing it with me almost all the time. After 1500 pages of War and Peace, I’ve been taking my time to decide what’s to read the next, preferably not a novel or a self help book. I’m leaning towards genres like history, biography, philosophy this time. The questions is: which book?

Due to my ignorance, I didn’t know the existence of Government House Sydney until 2013. After a few failed attempts to get inside the house (every time I went, it was closed to public for various reasons) in the last 4 years, I finally had a “free flow” self guided tour inside the Government House Sydney.

government house

government house-3

It was under renovation so the rooms opened to public were the Main Hall, Dining Room, Ante Drawing Room, Drawing Room and Ballroom. On the day during my visit, I’ve learned a lot about this stunning historic building and seen many portraits of royalty and dignitaries.

The Main Hall was The Place to be for the most prestigious society at the time and anyone who had convict blood wouldn’t be invited to be there.

main hall - Government House Sydney

The Main Hall. Photo source:

Extravagant dinners with 30+ courses used to be served in the dinning room. Formal dinners were held about 4 times a year there nowadays. Don’t forget to look up – the centre of the dinning room ceiling features wheat, grapes, fruit, fish, fowl and a hare. Fancy hey.

government house sydney dinning room

The Dinning Room. Photo source:

Why a drawing room was called a drawing room? Because in the old days after the dinner in the dinner room, the ladies would withdraw to that room and leave gentlemen in the dinning room. The ceiling again gives you a clue as to what this room is used for – pictures of four ladies in different seasonal dresses were painted on the ceiling.

government house sydney drawing room

The Drawing Room. Photo source:

The ballroom was originally known as the music room. The ceiling is decorated with different musical instruments of course.Vice Regal investiture ceremonies take place in this room as well as many other formal events. On these occasions the cedar doors slide back into cavities within the wall creating a reception room over 100ft (30.5m) in length. There used to be a large mirror against the wall on the southern end of the ballroom to create a infinite effect when all the doors were slid back. That wall was knocked down in 1899 to extend this end of the ballroom with a stage and musician’s gallery. On the stage, you’ll see the governor’s throne with New South Wales symbol on it.

Government House Sydney Ballroom

The Ballroom. Photo source:

The Grounds of Government House Sydney originally included the whole of Bennelong Point, the present Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain and the lower parts of Macquarie and Philip Street. The grounds were gradually reduced to the present area.

Government House is the official residence and office of New South Wales Governors. The first five Governors-General of Australia lived in this house while the Governors of New South Whales during that period lived at Cranbrook in Sydney Bellevue Hill.

From 1996 -2011, the property ceased to be used as a residence, and the Governor’s day office was relocated to the historic Colonial Secretary’s Office Building nearby, at 121 Macquarie Street. In December 2013, Government House resumed its role as the official Residence for the Governor of New South Wales. Only sections of the downstairs are open to the public while the upstairs remains the private residential area of the governors.

government house sydney

The last interesting fact I learned about the Government House Sydney surprised me a little. Well I’m sure it’s just me. I’ve always loved the look of Sydney Conservatorium of Music, located at the main gate of the Government House Sydney and regarded it as an amazingly beautiful building. Guess what, it used to be the governor’s stable.

Conservatorium of Music

The beautiful Sydney Conservatorium of Music – used to be the governor’s stable.

My tour of the Government House Sydney was amazing and I’d possibly go back to visit again one day. If you are planning a visit to Government House Sydney too, here’s some useful information:

It’s free to visit but prior registration with valid identification is required before entering the house. Tickets are available from the Gatehouse next to the main gate.

Address: Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000. Government House Sydney is located inside Royal Botanic Gardens. The nearest gates to Government House Sydney are located on Macquarie Street to the left of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The nearest train station is Circular Quay. From there, it is about 10 minutes walk to the gate of the Goverment House Sydney.

Guided tours of Government House Sydney are conducted most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and on all public holidays (except Good Friday and Christmas Day).

The Gardens of Government House Sydney are open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (subject to Vice Regal functions).

You need to leave your bags at the reception except for the very small handbags.

Photos are not allowed to be taken inside the house but there’s a good gallery of photos on the governor’s official website.

Pay special attentions to the ceilings. You’ll figure out the function of a particular room by observing the paintings on the ceiling.

The last point I’d like to mention is make sure you check the visitor information page for Government House Sydney closure dates before you plan to visit. Don’t be like me – I only got inside the house on my 5th trip because I never bothered to check before my first 4 trips.

Government House & Garden. Photo source:

Government House & Garden. Photo source:


banana-smoothieSydney’s temperature has reached above 35 celsius this summer, which makes it very enjoyable to drink thinner smoothie made from cold milk.

I’ve been drinking  banana smoothie for breakfast in the last two weeks and loving the taste of it. The only problem is that despite my effort of exercising, I’ve still managed to put on quite a few extra pounds. Maybe consuming 3 large glasses of full cream milk and lots of sugary fruits every day contributed to my overall weight gain. It just goes to say that we should have everything in moderation. On a positive note, I do feel less lethargic lately.

From now on I’ll cut down my portion size to just have 1 serving of smoothie a day instead of 3. Let’s see if that helps.


If you have your favourite smoothie recipe to share, I’m full of ears.