Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 954: A Complete Script!

I wrote an entire short film script today and it felt super, duper Awesome!

I couldn't help smiling for the rest of the day - it felt so good to actually complete something rather than simply planning for it or things just being "work in progress"! I no longer feel unproductive but am super encouraged to carry on writing! In my current condition, shooting a film may look doubtful but I can definitely continue to write and having completed one script, even if it is only for a 15-minute film, makes me feel a lot more energized than before!

After working on the script, I went for a swim and had a nice dinner with the hubby to celebrate this little achievement!

Oh, the small joys!

46 more to go. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 953: The Next Decade!

Alright, so am a sucker for planning. There is no denying that. I plan my week ahead, the year ahead, what I need to get done before I turn 30, heck... I even plan on how to make the 1000 days running up to my 30th birthday "beautiful". That's the kinda planner I am.

But sometimes planners are at a loss too. Here's the latest situation.

Now that I have so successfully completed checking off everything on my "things to do before 30" list and am on track to turning 30 as a wiser, more satisfied, happy human being, the very obvious question arises - "What do you want to do by the time you are 40?"

"What do you want to do by the time you are 40?"

This one has several layers, you see. Do I continue to work at my current work place? Do I look for another job or maybe study further? Do I take up films and theatre full time? I have managed to juggle work, family, exercise, travel, films/theatre etc. up until now but will I be able to continue doing that especially with the baby coming? What about traveling? Where do I go next? What about financial planning? What about doing some good for the society? What about this, that and everything else?

I had no clue. Bummer.

I was already rather satisfied with whatever I had done until my 30th, so 40th was rather tricky as such and these additional questions do not really help. Everything I could think of initially, seemed like asking for a bit too much.

But all that confusion was only until today.

Today, I simply knew.

Out of the blue, it dawned on me. Exactly what I want to do the next decade! The clouds of uncertainty parted and I could see a clear direction!


Alright, I am not gonna write it all down here, because it is not one thing but several and they make sense to me right now but not necessarily to others.

But the whole point is that I know. And now that I know what I want, I can plan for it accordingly. The sense of purpose and direction makes me feel secure and in control.

And thus, the planning for the next decade begins!

47 more to go.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 952: As Stiff As An Iron Rod!

I got back to prenatal yoga today, after a gap of about 4-5 weeks or so, and that's how I felt - as stiff as an iron rod. Gosh! I couldn't believe that a month of inactivity would make me this inflexible. And it's not even like I am doing regular yoga - this was pregnancy yoga which is like one-tenth as strenuous or demanding as regular yoga! Oh well.

So then the question is what's so beautiful about being stiff as an iron rod.

Well, what's beautiful is that I persisted. The iron rod that I am, continued to do the yoga aasanas in whichever way I could and lasted the entire one hour.

And that felt awesome! It was like getting back what I had been missing out from life the last few days!

So there, as stiff as an iron rod but still feeling pretty darn pleased about the whole thing!

48 more to go. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 951: Kicks Galore!

Yup, the kid's getting rather active and kicking all around!

I have been feeling the movements for a while, and it's been exciting (and annoying as well at times, especially when I am trying to sleep) but I had been wanting to share the fun and excitement around it with the hubby as well. But that hadn't happened until today, when the kicks got real strong and the hubby could feel it too! He looked thoroughly amused and both of us once again had a freak-out moment realizing that there is complete human being inside me! Phew!

The wonderful workings of this wonderful world!

49 more to go.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 950: Dramatic Airport Farewell!

Pretty dramatic day! 

It was my in-law's last day in town. After 1.5 months of staying over, it was time for them to take their leave. So everyone including both of them, the hubby and I were a bit blue. I was certainly gonna miss all that pampering, especially since they were at unprecedented levels thanks to the pregnancy! 

Ideally I would have wanted to drop them at the airport, But I had a totally packed day at work with a lot of meetings and I had to tell my goodbyes in the morning, with no hope for making it to the airport. But as luck would have it, the meetings in the afternoon got cancelled one after the other, and I suddenly realized that if I rush, I can still catch them at the airport. 

So I rushed!

I took a cab but there was only so much the cab could rush and it took me a good 40 minutes to get to the airport. 

Upon barging into the terminal, I realized that there has been a last minute change and that the terminal has been changed to another one! Ugh! I had not told my in-laws that I am going over to the airport since I was planning to make it a small surprise. I was certain of the terminal number because we had checked it online yesterday, so there was no need to call them about that as well. But then again, as luck would have it Changi airport decides to change the terminal and I didn't get to know about it. 

So then I rushed to the other terminal. This time the sky train took its own sweet time to arrive and let passengers board and finally chug its way over. 

Once I got to the right terminal, I made my way in the general direction of where I expected them to be - somewhere between their check in counter, Starbucks and Ananda Bhavan restaurant, which are the usual hangout places. 

I didn't have to make it until there because half way down, I saw them right outside the door to immigration, just about to enter! I ran over and announced my arrival with great pomp and show! They were not expecting me at all and were thoroughly taken aback, so the surprise worked! Yay! A minute late and I would have completely missed them and all that rushing would have gone totally wasted!

So we had a round of final, elaborate goodbyes at the airport! It was nice and I was pretty happy with the whole deal!

Post seeing them off, the hubby and I decided to catch a movie. We booked ticket online for Men In Black 3, only to realize that we hardly have any time to get there! So that was another round of rushing, this time to the theatre! Seriously, one rushed day this turned out to be! 

But the movie was totally worth it, am always a Will Smith fan, so no complaints!

Post the movie, it was dinner at the amazing Absolute Thai and thankfully that was not rushed! 
So yes, it was a rushed day with a typical Bollywoodish last-minute airport farewell for full dramatic effect! But one that I loved!

And with that my friends, we have only 50 more to go! 

50 more to go. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 949: Almost There!

Pretty good day, one where I feel like I have almost reached pre-pregnancy productivity levels. And that's because after a super long day at work and even a night call, I managed to write a few pages of a new script! Now that hasn't happened for a long while. I have had ideas but haven't been able to get myself to write anything for months!

So that made me feel very excited and satisfied! I would have said that am perfectly back to pre-pregnancy levels, had I also been able to squeeze in some exercise like a walk or a swim or some yoga. But I have become notoriously lazy at exercising since Scotland, so that didn't happen. But 11 hours of work and then script writing makes me feel pretty close to being my very productive self.

So for today I will be happy with just that - getting almost there!

51 more to go.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Days 947 & 948: Weekend with the In-Laws!

23 & 24 June, 2012

It was the last weekend of the in-law's visit this time around, so it was fully focused on spending top quality time with them! They have been around for 1.5 months, taking very good care of a pregnant me and we spent the weekend having a last burst of awesome fun!

So what all did we do over the two days? Well, we shopped a lot, chatted a lot, went restaurant hopping, watched a movie, spent Saturday night at Clarke Quay and Sunday night at the wonderful Ion Sky Bar, which they thoroughly loved and it finished off the weekend on a high note!

This was awesome, till the next time!

52 more to go.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 946: Scans, Celebrations & Happiness!

Kinda packed & happy day!

After half a day of work, in which I felt like I had to douse a million fires, I was off for my medical appointment - this time for what the doctor called a "detailed scan". And detailed indeed the scan was! We could watch the little one roll around and see the tiny face, torso, feet, arms, fingers and toes for a long time as the doctor took all the required measurements. The results were all thankfully normal and nothing to worry about but the best part was just being about to watch the kid play around for at least 15 minutes or so. I know in a world of 7 billion people, pregnancy and childbirth are hardly matters of any wonder, but whenever such a scan takes place, I can't help be amazed that there is actually a whole human being inside me!

Anyway after the scan, we got back home, relaxed a bit over tea and snacks and then went out for a bit of hanging out and shopping. It was the in-law's last weekend in town and we wanted to make the most of it!

Post that it was time for the birthday dinner of a close friend. I got to meet the usual gang, also the birthday boy's mom and aunt who were both such dear ladies. We had a ton of fun over some yummy Thai food followed by the bean-bag seated TCC drinks & desserts!

At the end of the day, I felt rather happy. Happy to have been product at work, happy to have seen the baby, happy to have spent time with in-laws and friends, happy to have all that awesome food and drinks. All small things maybe, but all happy!

54 more to go. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 945: Surprise Festival!

I had almost completely forgotten about Mausams in the last few months and been moving on with my life, hardly ever thinking of it.

But today, totally out of the blue, my editor messaged me and brought to my notice that Mausams is an official selection at the Delhi International Film Festival! That was just too amazing and brought a avalanche of Mausams memories to my mind! I was so very pleasantly surprised!

It had happened because one of the members of the organizing committee of the Delhi festival was at the Dhaka film festival where Mausams was screened. He liked the film and had asked us to submit it for consideration for the Delhi festival. This was about 5 months ago! I passed him a screener and a few details and then completely forgot about it since then.

So when this wonderful news came by today, I was so thrilled! Needless to say, we went immediately to celebration mode because this is also the first festival in India that Mausams is getting to be a part of! I shared the joy with the cast and crew and family and felt on top of the world for the rest of the day!

Felt super grateful that something I had worked (very, very, very hard!) on such a long time ago, still continues to make me feel so good!

I won't be able to attend the festival because it is very close to my due date, nevertheless am very excited about this surprise festival entry!

55 more to go. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 944: Best Friend!

Best friends do remain best friends!

Today I happened to catch my best friend from school on line after several months and we had the nicest chat ever! It is amazing how we are not necessarily in touch all the time but whenever we do get together, we get along like a house on fire! She makes me feel so happy and good and we had the most amazing conversation! God bless her!

56 more to go. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 943: Chaat, Chaat & Even More Chaat!

It was a hectic day at work after the holidays, and I was rather tired by the time I got home. But I was instantly perked up when I saw that my in-laws had made this super amazing spread of Chaats for dinner! 

Wikipedia explains Chaat as “savoury snacks, typically served at road-side tracks from stalls or carts in India”. Given that I don’t have a better way to explain this other than “awesomely tasty food from the North of India (and probably East or West but definitely not South)”, we shall stick to Wiki.

So yes, they had made Aloo Tikkiya, Dahi Vada, Dhaniya Aloo, Mutter, Golgappa, Bhaigan Pakodas and about 3-4 different kinds of chutneys. And I gorged on all of it, shamelessly kept burping throughout but remained unfazed by it, and continued gorging anyway.


A great end to a tiring day!

57 more to go.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 942: Dreamy Recovery Day!

I was on leave today, trying to recover from a sudden burst of fatigue that hit me post the holiday.

Which pretty much means that I slept the whole day.

Now of course all of us know that there is nothing more beautiful than being able to sleep the whole day! But in this case, the day was made even more beautiful because I slept the whole day dreaming of Scotland. What an amazing time I had! Sigh!

Of course, other than sleeping, whenever I was up for a short span, I also indulged in activities such as sharing the travel stories with in laws, looking at pictures and other such self obsessed work, similar to yesterday.

In short, had a ball!

58 more to go. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 941: Stories, Gifts & Being Home!

We got home in the afternoon today. But unlike previous holidays where we returned to our empty home, this time we were warmly greeted by my in-laws who are still in town! So that was quite nice!

The whole evening was spent on updating them on the holiday stories, giving them their gifts we bought, calling up my parents and narrating the holiday stories to them as well, going through the pictures, hogging on all the wonderful home made food cooked by mom-in-law and basically being back at home happily!

59 more to go. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 940: Time to Get Home!

Yup, last morning in Scotland!

We had the last of our full Scottish breakfasts and packed up to leave for the airport. Given that Loch Lomond was not too far from Glasgow airport and we had a couple of hours to kill, we decided to invest that time wisely in shopping (again, it was raining so there was very little else to do). I think we have never shopped so much on a holiday, but we found everything very reasonably priced in Scotland and much cheaper than Singapore especially when it come to winter wear, which was our area of focus during the shopping expeditions.

After shopping, we got to the airport and dropped back the car at Enterprise. Once again, their service was exceptional and we were very, very pleased! That was a good last bit in Scotland and the rest of the day was eventless with just the long flights.

Needless to say, I was rather blue about the trip coming to an end, but am very happy to have made it in spite of pregnancy and such, because it was so, so, so worth it! What a gorgeous place!

And now, it's time for home.

60 more to go. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 939: Loch Lomond!

Today, the whole day was spent driving from Fort William to Loch Lomond. The distance was not much but given that the weather was terrible with incessant rains, we decided the best would be to simply sit in the car and drive around. And that's what we did. We took several detours, went to multiple cafes and finally got to Loch Lomond by evening.

We checked into our final B&B of the trip, the lovely Gowanlea B&B, and went out for a drive again, this time to the main Loch Lomond area. They had a strip of cafes and shops along the Loch and we spent some time there. We also shopped at a warehouse (which had a grand total of 3 outlets) which, from the outside, looked like some historic building.

We got back to the B&B, deposited our shopping spoils and went out again for a very cold evening walk. The rain had stopped and there were restaurants within walking distance, so we decided to make the most of it. Dinner was again at an Indian place and the best Indian food we've had so far! I must say that the quality of the dinner had been steadily improving over the last 4 days.

So we enjoyed that final dinner in Scotland, got back to B&B - again, in the freaking cold let me stress, and called it a night (being very blue of course as it was the last night in this gorgeous country and but very happy to have made this trip!)

61 more to go.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 938: Armadale, Ferry, Gondola, Nevis Range, Fort William, Shopping & More!

Early in the morning, we set off for Armadale from where we were to take a ferry to Mallaig on the main island and then onward to our next destination, Fort William. Isle of Skye can be accessed either via road (the huge bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh) or ferries from different locations. GIven that we took the bridge one way, we decided to take the ferry on our way out.

Our hostess at the B&B told us that even if the ferry timings are such that we have to wait for an hour or so, Armadale is a great place to chill out because it has plenty of cafes and shops and there's a lot to do. Upon reaching Armadale, we realized that...sure, there are cafes and shops - like a grand total of 2 each, that too flung across a few 100 metres between them. You really gotta realize that the Scottish standard of "plenty" is not necessarily something someone from Singapore can relate to. Anyway we made use of the plenty of shops and went on with a little shopping.

At Armadale, near the ferry terminal 

Soon it was time for the ferry. It took all the cars and vans in, and all the passengers get out of the vehicles and move to the decks during the journey. So we made our way to decks and that was lovely as we could enjoy the breeze and the views. But of course, it got too cold for me very soon, so we got some hot chocolate from the cafe inside the ferry and sat out on the deck once again to enjoy the lovely ride.
On the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig 

The journey from Malliag to Fort William was eventless and we made our way straight to the Nevis Range in Fort Williams. Nevis range of mountains houses the tallest peak in Scotland called the Ben Nevis and the area is a popular ski resort in winter. We took a ride up to the range on a gondola and spent some time on the very, very, very gorgeous mountains. Both of us simply sat on a bench and took in the views around as much as possible. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

 Gondola ride up the Nevis range 

 The bench at the Nevis range 

Nevis range 

We had our lunch from the restaurant on top of the range and then made our way to our B&B. Upon reaching the B&B, we realized that there was some confusion on the bookings and that they had booked us for July 14th instead of June! We thought we would be totally stranded but the hostess immediately called up her brother's B&B just next door and arranged a front-facing (i.e. facing the lake) huge room there for us. She apologized profusely and offered us fruit scones. But the most fun part was how she kept pronouncing the name of her brother's B&B - "Fassferrrrrn"! The hubby was thoroughly amused and kept asking her the name and she would go...."Fassferrrrrn"!

So we went off to "Fassferrrrrn", got a royal welcome there, were taken for a tour of their two rooms facing the lake and were given option of chosing the one we want. We picked a very big room, the biggest one we had been in so far, which was tastefully decorated in a rich deep red.
View from our room at "Fassferrrrn"

After checking in and freshening up, we set off to explore Fort William. The city centre was just a short walking distance. It was terribly cold but we walked there anyway, only to realize that "city centre" doesn't really have many vehicles or people. By 5:30pm there were only two shops open and we actually managed to shop from both of them!
On the streets of Fort William

Successfully looking like an eskimo in Fort William

Then we got ourselves some Indian food at this Indian-Thai place called Cafe Mango, rushed back in the cold once again to the B&B and tucked into our beds, full of memories of the lovely Nevis range!

62 more to go. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 937: Isle of Skye, Quiraing, Kilt Rocks & More!

Today we went around the magnificent Isle of Skye!

Everywhere you turn it was just one gorgeous view after the other but some highlights were the Quiraing with its very interesting rock formations, high up on the mountains with a super gusty wind that chilled me to my bones and the beautiful Kilt Rocks!

But these are just two of the things I could really pick because they have names given to them, but in reality, every single nook and corner of this island was just mind blowing! I think the pictures will tell a better story here.

We drove around the island the whole day, had meals at some of the most wonderfully located cafes on the isle with breathtaking views, spent some time walking around the town of Portree which was the biggest town on the isle and had dinner at an Indian restaurant (different one from yesterday's) where the Bangladeshi waiter was ecstatic to meet Indians and kept addressing us as Dada and Didi.

I must also mention that I thoroughly enjoyed the three-way skype chat we did from our B&B with the parents (Kerala) and in-laws (Singapore)! We could give the most recent updates of the trip, get to hear from them, show them the view from our room, and even make plans for a trip somewhere together in the future! Super fun!

That's a summary and here are the pictures!

Sights on the way, somewhere on the Isle of Skye

Sights from the drive around the Isle of Skye


 Kilt Rocks

 Roads of the Isle of Skye

Roads of the Isle of Skye

63 more to go. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 936: Highland Cow, Eilean Donan Castle, Bagpiper, Loch Carron, Kyle of Lochalsh & Broadford!

OK I think I am gonna do a list because there is just too much to cover!

So here's all that I loved today in Scotland!

a) Getting to take a picture of the super lovely and cute highland cows!! This is something I had been wanting to do for a few days now. These adorable little darlings appear on the roadsides but very rarely only and usually we don't get to take a snap as there wouldn't be a parking space nearby. But today, finally I spotted them inside a farm next to a cafe and got the husband to take a quick turn in there. And I got my pictures of the super duper adorable. pull-the-cheeks highland cattle! Sigh! So cute!
Highland cows

b) The stopover at the prettiest castle of all, the Eilean Donan Castle, perched right at the edge of a beautiful lake. I loved the beauty of the castle and its surroundings, as well as the nice little non-guided tour we took inside the castle on our own.
Eilean Donan Castle

c) Listening to live bagpipe music right in front of the Eilean Donan Castle played by a Scott in a kilt.
The Bagpiper 

d) Stopover at the fishing village of Plockton for lunch.
The husband in Plockton

e) Spending time sitting on the grass and taking in the views of the gorgeous Loch Carron.
At the Loch Carron

f) Our journey from Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh including sighting the beautiful bridge that connects the beautiful Isle of Skye to the rest of the island.

g) Our lovely room at the Dunedin B&B in Broadford, Isle of Skye, which had a beautiful view of the ocean right across and the highlands beyond.
View from our room at sunset (10pm!)

h) Our first Indian meal after we got to Scotland, for dinner. It was good to get some spices in after so many days!

i) The lovely Red Skye restaurant with the very motherly owner, where we had the yummiest toffee pudding and chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream! 

A very packed day, too many details, but I will leave it at that! The pointers above and the tons of photos I have should help me remember the details for a long while to come! 

64 more to go. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 935: Whiskey, Bottlenose Dolphins, Coastal Routes & More!

The day started with yet another awesome Scottish breakfast, prepared by our hostess Kim, who is a darling little lady with a great sense of humour!

Post breakfast, we decided to embark on one of the "must-do"s in Scotland, the distillery tour! The closest distillery to Loch Ness was Glen Ord. Apparently their whiskies are not available worldwide but only in certain parts of Asia like Singapore, Korea and Thailand. So the only place where you can get the Glen Ord whiskey, is either in these countries in Asia or within the distillery in Scotland itself! How cool!

Anyway, so we made our way to the Glen Ord distillery and the drive there was very picturesque. I came across a field of my favourite yellow wildflowers and we made a quick stop for clicking some pictures!
The beautiful yellow wildflowers

At the distillery, we first went through their exhibition first and later was taken around by a guide who explained to us how their whiskey was made, what gave the whiskey its possible flavours like ginger, orange, vanilla etc., why the whiskey is brown and not clear like the pure alcohol it is supposed to be (apparently the brown comes from the barrels they are stored in!), how some of the most critical work such as the barrel assembly, alcohol control etc. are still done by human force and not machines, etc. etc. It was quite fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour!
At the Glen Ord distillery

After the tour, we decided to go this place called Chanonry point, which is at one of the coastal tips of Inverness, to try our luck at catching a glimpse of the bottlenose dolphins. A bit of research the day before and a chat with our hostess Kim this morning had revealed that we might be able to sight dolphins during low tide, when they are close to the shore to feed. But we were warned that this is a natural occurrence, so we may not see them after all!

But one gotta try! So we drove to Chanonry point and realized that dolphins or no dolphins, this place was too gorgeous in itself to make the trip completely worthwhile! It was beautiful! The road there with a golf course on either side and the waters beyond, the humungous beach, the views of the shores beyond - with a village on one end and a fort on the other, etc. were just spectacular!

Just as I was trying to get used to the increased cold near the waters, the freakishly strong winds and the gorgeous sights around me, the hubby shouted that there are dolphins in the water! And true enough, five cute little dolphins were swimming just a few metres ahead of us! I was so super thrilled! It's the first time I have seen dolphins in the wild and it was so awesome! First we spotted only the fins above the water but soon enough they were jumping and playing around! It was too good to be true and I kept clicking pictures non stop!

Bottlenose dolphin

They played around for about half an hour or so and then started moving away from the shore. So we made our way out of Chanonry point and walked into a takeaway place just outside the point. They were serving mediterranean food so both us treated ourselves to Doner Kebab. Instead of "taking away", we sat right inside that tiny little place on whatever seating we could find and munched away the notoriously huge portions of kebabs and accompanying chips! 

Post lunch, we decided to go on a drive along the scenic coastal route along the North Sea. This route goes all the way until the very north of Scotland and we drove up until half way there, took in as many of the sights as we possibly could and then turned back.
One of the bridges along the coastal route

Driving along the coastal route

We went back to the Loch Ness visitor centre for a cup of hot chocolate and then back to our B&B for some rest. Here we caught my in-laws, who are still in Singapore, online on Skype and updated them all that's happening at our end. That was pretty cool... to be able to give fresh updates of the trip, right from Scotland! 

For dinner, we drove down to Inverness and decided that we will go for Chinese food and found that at a place called Charlie Chan. The food was OK... nothing like the Chinese food in Singapore nor India, but still decent. 

We got back to the B&B well fed, all happy from such a wonderful day, and went to bed dreaming of the beautiful dolphins! 

65 more to go. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 934: Inverness, Loch Ness, Glen Affric, Red Deer, Wild Hare, Sweet Red Peppers & More!

The beauty of Scotland continues!

After breakfast at Atholl Villa in Pitlochry, we made our way to Inverness, the "Capital of the Highlands", as it is called. The route was again very scenic. I love the yellow wild flowers that seemed to grow anywhere and everywhere in Scotland! There are the really tiny ones that cover the grassland and looks like a wispy spray painting of yellow and there are the much bigger ones that are clumped up in huge bushes. Both of them make the landscape look so pretty & chirpy!

With my favourite yellow wildflowers! 

At Inverness, we passed by the gorgeous Loch Ness (or Lake Ness in other words) and after a couple of photo stops, proceeded to have lunch at the Loch Ness visitor centre cafe. As you arrive at the visitor centre, you are welcomed by bagpipe music which I absolutely love and it added an additional flavour to our lunch!
At the Loch Ness

After lunch, we decided to drive around the surrounding area. Upon some research, we discovered that "Glen Affric" is supposed to be very scenic. But without much idea of what Glen Affric is or where it is located, we set off on our way there. Scotland is not really great with the signposts, and our GPS couldn't figure out Glen Affric, so we ended up going up in random directions for a while. But random directions in Scotland only mean more scenic glories to behold, so nobody was complaining!

After quite some circling around, we chanced upon the road to Glen Affric and we took it. The journey was via a super narrow, single lane track through a thick coniferous forest was fascinating! First a wild hare ran straight across our path and then out of the blue, a huge...and I mean HUGE red deer appeared on the side of the road! I was super duper thrilled to have spotted the deer! For the last couple of days, we had been seeing signs of possible deer sightings along the roads and I had been commenting on how awesome it would be to see one, but I really had not expected to actually spot any. So when this majestic, tall, strong, beautiful animal appeared in front of us, I went nuts! Sheer awesomeness! I wish I could have clicked a few pics with it, but very evidently it was not as excited to see us as we were to see it, so the darling thing darted away as soon as I could collect my sense. Oh well! But that's one thing I was have in my memory for a very long time to come!
Driving through Glen affric

Glen Affric, as it turned out, was the name of the region covered by the forest. The stopping point for the cars was in the middle of thick vegetation, next to a beautiful lake and this was to be the starting point for walking trails. There was nothing else there other than a couple of benches. So we made our way back and decided to check in to our bed & breakfast and get some rest.
Somewhere in the middle of Glen Affric 

Our B&B, the lovely Kim Craigan's B&B, had one of the best locations ever! It was in a quiet cluster of homes, right by the Loch Ness and was just beautiful! We couldn't believe the view from our room and how nice a place this was to stay in!
View of the Loch Ness from our room at Kim Craigan's B&B 

After comfortably settling in and getting a bit of rest, we set out again for dinner. We chose the Cobbs restaurant by the Loch Ness and had some rather fancy food - Sweet Red Peppers in cheese for me and Lamb Shank in some herb sauce for the hubby and both of them were delicious.
The lovely Cobb's restaurant, with a view of the Loch Ness

My dinner of sweet red peppers with cheese! 

And then it was time for some good rest, in our lovely room by the lovely lake! I felt so much at peace...and blessed, really!

66 more to go.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 933: Edinburgh, Stirling & Pitlochry!

A beautiful day in beautiful Scotland!

After a super heavy Scottish breakfast of sausage, bacon, egg, fries, cornflakes, breads and a lovely cup of tea prepared by our hostess at Acelyn B&B, we took a bus to the Edinburgh city centre to see a bit more of the city than what we could yesterday. The rains that were bothering us yesterday had completely stopped, so it was a perfect morning! Our hostess told us that parking would be an issue at the city centre, so we took the local bus instead and I thoroughly enjoyed that short but lovely ride! 

Once we got to the city centre, we started to walk randomly towards the castle which we had caught a glimpse of, during our bus ride. Soon we found ourselves in the happening Princess street which had all kinda shops selling Scottish souveniers, whiskey, kilts etc. and we spent a considerable amount of time window shopping there. After walking a bit more, we caught sight of a open bus tour and decided that it would probably be the best way to see the whole city in the shortest possible time. 

So we hopped onto the open bus and the next one hour was gorgeous! We saw all that is there to see in Edinburgh and I loved every bit of it! The castle, monuments, parks in the middle of the city, old stone houses, Old Town, New Town, West End etc. etc. etc. - all of them were just lovely. They may not be as expansive or magnificent as Paris but were definitely as charming! Loved it! 

Beautiful Edinburgh

Post the tour, we decided to grab some lunch and came across this super cute garden cafe at a restaurant called Dome. Over some hot chocolate and sandwiches, we enjoyed the sun in the Scottish summer. Our timing was just nice because just as we finished our lunch, it started to drizzle and there was mayhem inside the cafe as the waiters ran around getting the huge overhead shelters and umbrellas up. 

We walked for a bit in the rain under our new umbrella (our only purchase from Princess Street from all that it had to offer - we are horrible shoppers, really), until we were at an elevated point from where we could see all the way until the sea very, very far away! I had caught a glimpse of it during the bus tour and wanted to go back there to take a better look. And a better look I did get! 

View of the sea at a distance!

Then we took a bus back to our B&B, picked up our car and was soon on our way to Stirling. 

Stirling is a quaint, old, little town with a beautiful castle and surrounding gardens, right on top of a hill, and overlooking the landscape all around. We walked around the grounds and spotted several fascinating things like a monument in appreciation of the fall of Delhi & Agra by the Brits all those years ago, a wedding procession where the bride, groom and their families arrived in stretch limousines with the guys wearing kilts (loved that!), a beautiful cemetery, magnificent views of the surrounding villages, so on and so forth!  

Views of the surrounding villages from Stirling Castle

Then we took a shuttle bus to go to the city centre. The city centre in Stirling is nothing like that of Edinburgh and was about 1/100th the size of the latter. And I loved it! We walked around aimlessly for a while, came across a farmer's market, bought some olives with anchovies (absolutely YUM!) and turkish apple candies (again, super YUM!), had a cup of coffee each and enjoyed the ambience of the quiet place. Oh, I must also add that it was here that we first heard the thick Scottish accent which we found a bit hard to follow at first and which was significantly different from what we've been hearing in Edinburgh so far. So that was fun too! 

We took the shuttle bus back to the castle, picked up our car from the parking lot, and then made our way to Pitlochry, where we were to stop that night. 

And we were in for a big surprise. We didn't know that the route from Stirling to Pitlochry is one of those scenic drives or "tourist routes" as they call them in Scotland! So it was super duper gorgeous throughout the way! 

We stopped on the way at a small convenience shop to buy water and moisturiser, and was most fascinated to see that their most well stocked item was Indian curry powders! We also stopped once to grab a bite as we passed through one of the sleepy villages. A restaurant called Birk's who claimed that their speciality is their awesome Fish & Chips, seemed to be the only one that's open, so we walked in there expecting authentic Scottish cuisine. Instead it was run by all Indians and they were even playing the Hindi song "Chura Liya". Facepalm. But the food was decent enough, so that was good!

Upon reaching Pitlochry, we checked in at the Atholl Villa. This one was a much larger establishment and not just someone's home, but our room was much smaller than the one in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, it was nice and warm and cosy, so we settled in well enough. Before dinner, we walked a short bit down the main road of Pitlochry which probably had a grand total of 10 people and 3 cars on the road. Awesomeness! Dinner was at a Greek place and the food there was really good too - I had ordered just a couple of starters (but huge enough to be two main courses in Singapore) while the hubby ordered kebabs, all of which were delicious! 

Quiet Pitlochry

By the time we got done with our dinner, it started to drizzle. Once again our timing seemed to be perfect as the rains had stayed away just until it was time for us to tuck in! So thanking the weather gods for that, we called it a day! 

67 more to go. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 932: Edinburgh via Colombo, Dubai and Glasgow!

After a looooong journey, we got to Edinburg today, our first proper stop this holiday.

I usually love long flights because you can eat, relax and watch a ton of movies. But because of the pregnancy this time around, I was a bit apprehensive, but flight was comfortable enough and the two of us managed to get three seats throughout, so I could rest out pretty well too!

The long journey involved an hour's stop in Colombo, during which we could stay on in the flight and watch it getting cleaned and ready for the passengers from there.

Then we had a 2 hour transit at Dubai. Several people had raved about Dubai airport before and many had commented that it was as good as the Singapore one but I respectfully disagree. To me, Dubai was overwhelmingly crowded, there was really nothing much to rave about in terms of the architecture or the services and the washrooms especially left much to be desired. It doesn't match up to the Singapore airport by a long way! But we did see the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, from the flight and that was fascinating!
After another flight from Dubai, we finally got to Glasgow. Glasgow was just meant to be a short stop for us and we had planned to stay at Edinburgh for the night. At the airport, there was some confusion because the Europcar lady refused to let us take the reserved car on the hubby's Indian driver's license! Apparently it wasn't ample proof enough that the man could drive! It was really the silliest thing because he has driven all over Europe, US and ANZ on that license.

As he was figuring that mess out, I stood outside the terminal and enjoyed the beautiful weather in Glasgow. It was about 12 degrees, cloudy and with a gentle breeze. Perfect, really!

Once the hubby managed to rent a car from Enterprise (he gave up on Europcar), we first refreshed ourselves with a Starbucks chai latte (yay) and then set off for Edinburgh. Most of what we saw of Glasgow was only enroute to Edinburgh, but whatever I saw, I liked!

In little more than an hour later, we arrived at Edinburgh, accompanied by the mother of all rains. In that pouring rain, we drove up and down a super busy street in search of our bed & breakfast for the night. It was rather hard to find, and we ended up taking quite a few detours, but was rewarded with sights of the cutest residential colonies and even a hospital that seemed right to be out of a fictitious, super lovable high school set from a Bollywood film!

After a while, we did manage to find the B&B we were in search of, only to realize there was some confusion in the bookings and our actual reservation is in some other part of the town! Cold, wet, sleep deprived and the possibility of a warm, cosy bed looking further out of reach.

The trip wasn't beginning on a high note for sure.

Anyway, we set out in search of the correct B&B and thankfully, this one was much easier to find! Called Acelyn's B&B, it was a beautiful house on the much quieter Queensferry Road and our room was so cosy and comfortable! As soon as I got in there I declared that I have no energy to get out of the room anymore and that dinner will have to come to me. So the hubby went out again and bought us some McDonalds, while I took a hot shower and felt sufficiently refreshed and cheered up.

Post dinner, we hit the bed early for that much needed sleep even as the daylight outside continued to be strong until about 10pm.

The holiday begins!

68 more to go.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 931: SO Excited!

For what you may ask. For my Scotland trip that starts tonight!

I have travelled a fair bit before but I think this is probably the most excited I have been about a holiday! It probably is because of the major inactivity in my life over the past few months thanks to pregnancy or maybe that I don't have aby major, long trip in sight for a long while to come. Whatever the reason may be, I was super duper excited the whole day!

I went to office and repeated upmteen times to whoever who would care to listen that am off for my holiday soon. Every discussion I had ended with "Anything is OK. After all, am going on a holiday!"

I think I grinned like an idiot through the day and even tipped the cabbie at the end of the day, which is not a regular practise in Singapore.

By 10pm, I was all set after a day of work, fully packed, rested, refreshed and 100% ready for Scotland!

69 more to go.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 930: Winding Down!

Tomorrow night, am off to my first ever holiday since being pregnant (and also probably the last ever one with just the hubby and I)! While the packing etc has been progressing rather well, I had not been exactly getting into the holiday mood because of the millions of things I had to get done at work before I leave.

There is always extra work to do before you go on holiday but this time it is exceptionally so because I will be on leave for a week and then my boss is gonna be on leave for three whole weeks, which basically means that it is a month's work that I have to get done right now! Ugh.

Anyway, this basically meant that I had to work my ass off over the last few weeks and I had been rather stressed and tired. But today am pretty pleased (and proud even) that I managed to finish off everything, that too a day in advance!

I had a meeting with the boss in the afternoon to discuss the progress on one major project and he said that the work so far is good and the rest can be done when am back after the holiday.

Exactly at that moment I felt myself winding down. It would be no exaggeration to say that I could almost feel the workings inside my brain loosen up and relax and the holiday mood which had been avoiding me so strongly this far, entered into my head in full fledge!

Now it's time to go!

70 more to go.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 928: "Thank You" Gift!

Today I got a lovely "Thank You" gift from my Assistant Brand Manager who got promoted and will be leaving for China very soon. She, a Chinese herself, got her parents to ship across a Chinese ceramic statuette of a laughing Buddha with a fish that's supposed to connote a prosperous and fruitful future for me. She told me that it was her and her parents way of saying "thank you" for the "good care I took of her"! Needless to say, I was immensely touched! What a sweet gesture! God bless her really!

72 more to go.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 927: Mallu movie, Mallu Friends, Mallu Celebrity!

It was a total Mallu day!

I went to watch a Malayalam movie “Diamond Necklace” at the cinema (a very rare occasion)….

I watched it with fellow Mallus and yapped away in Mallu throughout, which is always very nice…

And most interestingly, I was recognized by quite a few random Mallu strangers who had also come for the movie, as the Mallu actress from the Mallu short film “Inganeyum Oru Katha” …. Which made me feel nothing less than a Mallu celebrity!

So there…

Awesome Mallu day!

73 more to go.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 926: Doing It All!

It was an end to end, completely, thoroughly fulfilling day. It was a physically, culturally, gastronomically, aesthetically enriching day and more!

I started the day with yoga (my first morning yoga session since pregnancy) and it felt good! Best part was that my mom in law joined as well and it was great to do the hour's routine with some good company!

This was followed by some beautification processes like eyebrow threading, again together with the mom in law, which always makes me feel good (very girlie, I know but what the heck!)

Then some amount of splurging was done on a couple of camera accessories - that was an expensive by still exciting bit of work and am looking forward to using all of them! 

Then we watched a Bengali movie, together with a few hundred Bengalis in a theatre! That was fun too! The film itself, Nobel Chor, was quite a pleasant watch and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel experience as well! 

Then we went to the temple, which incidentally had a bunch of Bengalis having some kind of celebration and this was topped off with really good Bengali dinner at Mustard! 

Very eventful, very satisfying day in all respects!

74 more to go.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 925: Recognitions!

Today I got to announce the promotion of my ABM (I.e. Assistant Brand Manager who works under me)! This is the first time I got to promote someone from my team and it was an incredibly proud moment for me! She has been working on my team for the last 2 years and it was quite a great feeling to see her grow as a marketer and as a business owner in her role and finally getting her much deserved promotion, a great advancement for her career. One of the highlights ever in my role as a manager!

I got the opportunity to announce her promotion at a big organization meeting. It was a half day meeting that started off with these announcements and then went on to cover some other agenda. I left half way because the key parts relevant to my role were done early. Only to get a phone call from my manager asking me my whereabouts (I was happily back at home by then) because they were apparently giving me an award for my work towards the end of the day! That was a very pleasant surprise! 

Nett, a wonderful day - I get to recognize a team member and I get recognized by my team! 

75 more to go.