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The Beast from the East?

When we moved to the UK in November 2015 after living in the Middle East for 10 years, my husband was a bit scared that we might suffer from the British Winter.  However, that year was maybe the mildest UK winter ever; the temperature was above 10°C throughout November and December with a bit of frost here and there during January and February 2016.

The Cherry blossom  in January

Sign of spring in January 2016

The Winter 2015-2016 was maybe a bit colder and dry yet still no real winter – as no snow. However, the news from other European Countries as well as other 4 season countries they were getting plenty of snow.  I was a bit disappointed with the UK: “Four season country?  but no snow????”

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Being an island as the British Isles is located off  Europe, I guess it doesn’t have the same climate behaviour like mainland Europe; in fact the UK has a more temperate climate. It may have winter, but not as harsh as Europe, it also has a nicer summer, not as hot as many southern Europe countries.

Winter 2017-2018, I experienced a little snow for a few days after Christmas, but it soon disappeared, it only lasted a day.  Well at least it had made up the term of a White Christmas.

Snow man to make it feel like Christmas

“The beginning of March is supposed to mark the start of spring – but instead the region experienced its coldest snap for decades”. – Manchester Evening News

But then on the 1st of March 2018 (supposedly the first day of Spring) came Storm Emma, at -4°C and together with “the Beast from the East” with strong  wind and rain ( because it was subzero, it came in the form of snow)…. Everybody got excited;  many main roads were blocked, lots of people did not go to work as major transportation was disrupted; they preferred to stay home…. or not:

The blizzard that made my husband a little bit cautious while driving

Another snowman next to Bristol Harbouside….

Bristol Cathedral in white….

Not knowing about snow blizzards, our dog was getting ready to play….

While some are too scared to go to work, others take advantage of not working to play instead….

Clifton Suspension Bridge and Clifton Village like never before….

Honestly, this was the climate I expected in the UK, but (un)fortunately  “the Beast from the East” only happens once in a blue moon, not every year. And I guess this is why everybody got excited when it happened unlike my experience when I lived in Sweden, the “winter period” that ends up with snow happens every winter, and the temperature can plummet easily to -20°C without getting too excited over it; it’s just another day in the office for the Swedes.

* * *

Compared to Vienna and during the same storm, what happened in UK/Bristol was pretty mild, compared to the above. – Photo courtesy of my Auntie who lives in Vienna


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Genius Loci of Brunel’s SS Great Britain

There are many landmarks and attractions in Bristol, one of which is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the other being Brunel’s SS Great Britain – they both claim to be the No. 1 tourist attractions in Bristol.  I am lucky enough to live “very” close to one of the  Bristol icons; as a matter of fact I live just a 100m ferry ride across the Bristol Floating Harbour from the SS Great Britain.

The location of SS Great Britain is a bit away from the city centre and is located on Spike Island.  The good directional signage for walkers and drivers ensure that anyone who wants to visit will not get lost.  If you are in the city, and enjoying a city centre walk, to get to SS Great Britain and the other attractions on Spike Island it is easy to locate.  Millennium Promenade is located at the bottom of Millennium Square, as we walk down the Millennium Promenade toward the harbour. A couple of minutes on the Cross Harbour Ferry from Hannover Quay at the end of Millennium Promenade will take you to the entrance of SS Great Britain.

3 minutes walk to the Hannover Quay ferry crossing to get to Brunel’s SS Great Britain

Two years ago, this walkway was like a Genius Loci of the area; the phenomenon, the pulse of the place, the process of a surprise of first seeing the SS Great Britain; you should be able to see that at the end of the Millennium Promenade corridor there is the majestic SS Great Britain to go and visit.   This could be a way of marketing SS Great Britain…. like seeing the Eiffel Tower from a distance, as a journey before you reach the aim of your trip. But obviously not so for the “number one Bristol Tourist Destination”.

Picture taken in October 2016, one can still see half of the body of the great ship from Millennium Promenade

Now, one can only see the masts of the ship which stand out behind the newly constructed buildings

Now, unless one is aiming to go to the  bars and cafes at the Hannover Quay inlet at the  end of the Millennium Promenade where the commuter catches the Cross Harbour Ferry across the Floating Harbour to the city centre and back there is no more Genius Loci of Brunel’s SS Great Britain from this side of the city.   One may still enjoy the walking experience toward the pretty bit of Harbourside as I mentioned in my earlier post, but there’s no longer any real pride of viewing Brunel’s SS Great Britain from this side of the city.

Great view of Brunel’s SS Great Britain as seen in 2016. Its history now. – Picture taken by Les Heines from Flickr

The question is will it still be a landmark to look at from a distance?




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Harbourside View

I am lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the UK… or at least that is according to me.

View of the Harbourside area as seen from the Ferry Crossing across SS Great Britain, at the end of Millennium Promenade

Like most cities, Bristol has many suburbs, and I am lucky to live in that part of the city which has the prettiest view in Bristol.  The picture on the right is an example, the daily view that I can soak from my apartment window, or I can run out to catch the right moment to get a nice view.

Different angles, different timing, make a different to the outcome of the picture

Yes, photography is about the right time and the right place, a professional photographer could make simple photos like the above look so much more beautiful. Thus in order to master my photography technique, I just need to take different variations of the picture: different time of day, different seasons and  different angles.

The picture seen on my previous post, is an example of different timing of the same picture:

View of the Harbourside area as seen from the Ferry Crossing across SS Great Britain

The above picture was taken in the afternoon, when the sun was about to set, taken in January last year. The colour of the sun reflection  on the buildings along the water made a different to the colour and shade of the picture

On a normal day in summer and from time to time in the morning there is this balloon ride flying off from Bristol towards Bath.

Harbourside View on a normal day

You can see the colourful row of houses on top of Cliftonwood Hill that add more character to the elevation.

Balloon festival over Bristol Harbourside

Taken in August during the Bristol International Balloon Festival, where eventually hundreds of balloons fly over Harbourside on a nice day, where they fly twice a day over the weekend.

Another sample of how pretty this angle could be is this picture:

Full Moon over the Floating Harbour taken early in the morning before sunrise

Mid-morning at the harbour, when the water is very still and the reflection was almost perfect


Sunset at the floating Harbour… I love the wild life who live around the harbour

So when is the best day to take photographs of this particular angle of Bristol Floating Harbour?   I would say anytime, any day is a good time, just to keep my camera at the ready and anytime I can run to the little corner of my own vantage point to take a photograph.

A sense of spookiness when the whole area is covered by fog.



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A visit to Bristol

When an ex Indonesian work colleague of more than 10 years ago told me he planned to visit me in the UK, I got a bit excited; as having a visitor from far away is not usual. He said he was doing a 2 week UK tour and at the end of the tour he and his family planned to visit me in Bristol. Well, this discussion started 6 months ago with an occasional text message exchanged via our mobiles. The discussion got more intense as he got closer to the day he was leaving for the UK.

His visit to see me in Bristol was for less than a week, say 3 nights, and they intended to stay in a hotel, but my excitement started to build up  prior to his visit. The question of whereabouts in Bristol should I take them; day visits are easy as I can show them around where I live, which to me is pretty amazing. But what about the other days?

The excitement of planning how to show somebody (that I knew from my previous life that I left behind over 10 years ago), about my new life in the UK, where I now live. It reminds me that many years ago I wanted to become a tour guide, before starting my career in the construction industry.

As my old friend is also an architect, he should be interested in buildings, architecture as well as maybe the history of architecture.  So that was the basis of where I should take Mr. A . around Bristol.  But I also needed to consider his wife and children  and what were their interests. Luckily he told me that he had a a grown up daughter who studied architecture.     So it should not be too difficult. But what about the wife?…? as one of most tourists favourite activity is “shopping”.  So I hope they’ve done their UK shopping before reaching Bristol.

The Tour:

Bristol Harbour Map taken from Bristol City Council

Bristol is not like a typical UK city  which has a main High Street where people walk and enjoy shopping in the  high-street fashion shops as well as cute little independent gift shops or to have a break in a cosy little coffee or tea-shop.   I did not say that Bristol has not got such shops, its just dotted around the city that could make the walk un-enjoyable. Thus I will take them for a walk around the Floating Harbour (Harbourside) without going shopping. I guess this will take the whole morning, which is normally a one hour walk.

View of Bristol Harbourside as seen from the Ferry Crossing across from SS Great Britain

SS Great Britain is located in the Harbourside area. There’s the Under Fall Yard, a little museum not very famous, but shows how the Floating Harbour works and a good educational museum that helps children and adults over 10 to understand the mechanics of removing the silt/mud from the floating harbour. Another attraction around Harbourside is M-Shed – Bristol Museum.   I could drag them off to cross Queen Square and off to St. Nicholas Market, before we walk back towards Ibis Central Hotel.  Ideally if the walk happens on Saturday, they can visit the interesting Weekend Market where they can see how local artists sell their products every Sunday and Saturday.

Under-Fall Yard as seen from Hotwells

I guess Bristol has many attractions. The attraction that one has to visit is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the spectacular view of the Avon Gorge as well as the design of the Bridge itself. You can go there by foot if you stay in Clifton, but for us, to walk across as well as feel the size of the bridge, we needed to go by car and walk across.

The majestic Clifton Suspension Bridge… one can only really appreciate it after  walking across the bridge

Not far from the bridge is Durdham Downs or as we call it ‘The Downs’ which is a beautiful interesting open recreational Green Space where people can walk and jog as well as  local amateur football clubs train and play their games.  For somebody who is more interested in culture and the local way of life, going to the Downs on a Saturday morning is a different kind of tour.

By the end of the day, visiting a new place is not about visiting touristy and shopping places only, but the feel of how the local people live their daily life, which  is more interesting, and I think that helps to shape the city.

However, in the neighbourhood of Bristol, there are plenty of other interesting places, which are off the radar of the usual international tourist, but equally interesting, such as the visiting the National Trust houses.

If you are lucky, visiting Bristol at the right period of time, experiencing a a carriage ride pulled by the shire horse, could be yours too.

Now, do you think I could be a professional tour guide?

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National Arboretum at Westonbirt

I was thinking to quit blogging and just leave it as it is. I was uninspired for a while, even though I have a lot to tell but somehow I thought it would not be interesting enough for others to read. Yet, my experience of living in the UK is a new chapter in my life and I should have something new to tell. However, having been an expat, I have learned that whenever I meet people that I used to know and who know I have been away for a long time, they are not really interested in my story as they are more interested in their own stories. So this is my way of recording my stories just in case somebody is interested or if I get dementia… then I still have this blog to look back to.


What can one do with free time, for holiday or entertainment?  When I lived in Jakarta, simple entertainment was going to a shopping mall and really the same when I lived in Singapore.  In Jakarta people drive to a shopping mall and do some window shopping for a bit before ending up in a restaurant or coffee shop for a break.   A more complex way of entertainment is to travel to a nearby town or city or even countryside, say Bogor or Puncak for a week-end holiday.

In Jakarta people drive to a shopping mall and do some window shopping for a bit before ending up in a restaurant or coffee shop for a break.

That was my life for many years and for the last 10 years after leaving Jakarta when I worked and lived for 10 years in Qatar and Bahrain. In these places, they are rather small countries, where cheap entertainment is a shopping mall for either watching a movie or pop in to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. More exotic than this means a holiday outside the country.  However, since moving to the UK its all different and I think I am lucky to live in the UK.   I am able to witness the beauty of the famous English villages and the landscape of the countryside, where people regularly visit  to enjoy its scenery for pleasure and recreation.

The National Arboretum at Westonbirt (as I explained in my previous post) is just 45 minutes away door to door from where I live and is a wonderful place to chill out from busy city life. Honestly, the term “arboretum” is new to me as it is different from a Botanical Garden and also different from a flower garden.  In an arboretum one will see many varieties of trees, from evergreen trees to deciduous trees (trees that shed leaves in Winter).  As expected, most trees are from the Northern Hemisphere, or rather from countries with 4 seasons. I should not expect tropical trees and this is how I learn about the local environment and it’s plantation.

People don’t always have an exotic holiday for an entertainment; a day trip for a stroll with the dogs in the woods or country side were already a good exercise very refreshing and enjoyable.

Last Autumn I visited Westonbirt Arboretum in the middle of the shedding of the leaves, where it produces  glorious colours of different variations of Acer trees.

In winter, as most of the trees are bare, one cannot hide behind trees, as there are only tree trunks and twigs… And then there are different colours in Spring:

I think I will comeback in Summer to see the difference, and I should expect different colours again, and maybe learn more about Acer trees, as it’s one of the most colourful trees (at least in my opinion).

What I love most about Westonbirt Arboretum is the 600 acres of land which is divided into 2 areas, one on the left from the coffee shop which is the bigger section and where they have their Maple Loop, with hundreds of Acer tree varieties, where in Autumn, it creates wonderful colours. To me this area is the best bit, as they allow visitors to bring their dogs so that  your four legged friends can run and sniff around as well as socializing with other dogs. To me this is where I stalk other people dogs and imagining myself as a dog owner (as where I live I cant own a dog).

However, if you prefer to walk without dogs running around, on the other side of the coffee shop, (Old Aoboretum as per map below) is the section of the arboretum where you can walk without somebody else’s dog running around which might drive you crazy.

An old map of the Westonbirt Arboretum but still valid till now.

Westonbirt Arboretum opens 7 days a week, from 9am-5am; the Cafe Shop and the shop opens from 9.30-5pm

For further information, visit












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Late Autumn

In some areas of the Northern Hemisphere it is already snowing, but other places it is still very much Autumn. This is why I think I haven’t really missed the Autumn posting yet.

I am not originally from a 4 season country and that is why I am so fascinated with Autumn. Last year, I arrived in England early November 2015, practically in the middle of Autumn, but somehow Autumn was not as strong as this year, where I have witnessed it right from the very beginning, where gradually the leaves turn from green to yellow and then brown before they finally drop.


45 minutes outside the city of Bristol where we live, is the National Arboretum, a place/facility where trees and shrubs are cultivated for exhibition – similar to a Botanical Garden, but bigger and not necessarily well manicured as Botanical Garden.  It’s the Westonbirt Arboretum, This is the place that I have learned about deciduous trees, the trees where leaves fall in Autumn and then grow again in Spring.

This Arboretum has a great collection of Acer trees, from many different countries and are the type of tree with interesting shape of leaves and especially in Autumn they turn colour into a very vibrant Autumn colour.

As you can guess, Acer is my favourite tree and it comes with variety of acers, including the famous Maple tree and the not so famous red leaf Acer Palmatum which has amost 4000 variations in the world.

Yes, the Westonbirt Arboretum becomes more interesting as a place to visit in Autumn, just to enjoy the nature and the colourful scenery as on a popular day (not even weekends) there could be 10,000 visitors on single day.  I can not imagine what happens at weekends…. and all those visitors are just because they want to see Autumn.

However, back in the city, it doesn’t means that Autumn is any less interesting, as this is what happens:

Leigh Wood

Leigh Woods, mostly still green in early October, but some Autumn colour is already there

I love to look at bed of leaves

I love to look at a bed of fallen leaves

People call this time of year as Autumn, but winter chill is also here or even in some parts of the world there is already snow.







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City Living

In my last post I wrote about my confusion on whether my husband and I should live in the city or in the countryside.   It is now almost a year that we have been back in the UK and living in the city.  As much as I would like to live in the country, I have come to terms now that I am more of a city girl compared to a country girl.  I believe that I could live in the countryside, as I love nature and the animals that I might have when living in the country.

However living in the city should not be or actually is not bad at all.

I may not be close to country life,  farms or farm animals the same way as when we were house sitting in Ross, but where I live is equally wonderful, as I live on the waterfront of Bristol Floating Harbour, where I can just walk out of my apartment, and there I am looking at boats as well as its wild life, and within 5 minutes walk I am in the middle of all city activities, where in Summer weekends there is always something happening; from a weekly local market to special events like Bristol Harbour Festival or Bristol Pride or Bristol Food Festival and other festivals that I could never imagine before.

Millennium Square, where almost all big events in Bristol were held here

Millennium Square, where most big events in Bristol are held

Culture is also on our door step where I can go to the theater, either to watch a musical or a proper play where celebrities as big as Oscar winning actor Jeremy Irons performed at the Bristol Old Vic Theater.

And these are what I love most…. just on my door step… the local wildlife.

I may not having my own dog to play with or farm animals to look after... but these mute swan and their sort are cute enough to watch....

I may not having my own dog to play with or farm animals to look after… but these mute swans and their sort are cute enough to watch….

The beauty of all those things are it all happening in our ‘front door’; we don’t have to drive and park to be part of those activities; we just have to walk out of our flat door to see all of them….

The truth is I am overwhelmed with all the ‘city culture’  which is there one after another; besides if I write them all one by one my blog will become a news report instead of personal blog… or should I write this blog as a news report from Bristol?

Early morning Autumn sun...

Early morning Autumn sun on the Floating Harbour…

This post is my respond to WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Local







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Blogging dilemma

Lebih dari enam bulan saya pindah ke UK atau Inggris Raya dan saya cuma beberapa kali saya mengunduh cerita saya di blog ini, padahal saya sudah 10 tahun melakukan hobi ini di sela-sela kesibukan bekerja di kantor sehari-hari. Anehnya segera setelah saya berhenti bekerja, saya seolah-olah kehilangan kemampuan untuk membuat blog-post. Saya kehilangan kemampuan untuk menulis cerita, dan juga kehilangan gairah untuk membuat foto-foto yang layak untuk di unduh di blog ini. Saya juga kehilangan kepercayaan diri untuk membuat blog-post dalam bahasa Inggris.

Suddenly I lost my interest in blogging as well as I don’t know if I have to carry on blogging, not to mention in English.

Lalu apa saja yang saya lakukan selama hampir satu tahun belakangan ini? Apakah itu semua tidak layak untuk di jadikan cerita di blog ini? Kadang-kadang saya berpikir ada banyak cerita yang bisa saya turunkan disini, tapi kadang-kadang saya juga berpikir, mungkin juga tidak perlu di ceritakan, karena mungkin saja pengalaman saya tidak begitu menarik. Setiap orang yang saya jumpai disini seolah-olah memiliki cerita yang lebih menarik dari pada pengalaman saya….


time flies

Mungkin ada baiknya saya merubah cara saya bercerita; tapi bagaimana?

Saya bukan orang yang pandai bercerita dan saya tidak bisa bercerita pada saat saya letih dalam arti fisik atau mental. Saya lebih banyak memiliki idea dan terinspirasi pada pagi hari. Padahal pagi hari itulah biasanya kita semua paling sibuk dengan ritual harian, seperti membersihkan rumah, menyiapkan sarapan dan kemudian kita mulai aktivitas hari itu. Memang kami memutuskan retired – pensiun. Seharusnya saya punya banyak waktu untuk melamun dan menulis, tapi waktu itu seolah-olah berjalan lebih cepat dari biasanya…. saya kehilangan waktu untuk menulis dan membaca seperti layaknya biasa saya lakukan. Ada banyak “chores” – pekerjaan rumah yang harus saya lakukan, ada banyak tempat yang bisa saya kunjungi, tetapi ada lebih banyak lagi hal-hal yang tidak sempat saya liat, kunjungi atau lakukan….

I might change my blogging style…

I need idea

I need idea

Memang saya akui, blog ini tidak jadi lebih terkenal, atau tidak menjadi lebih banyak di baca orang, memang blog ini sudah menjadi seperti “diary” – catatan harian saya ketimbang cuma sekedar travelog – catatan kunjungan wisata saya, padahal saya ingin menjadikan blog ini lebih dari sekedar rekomendasi tujuan wisata. Seperti saya pernah keluhkan beberapa tahun yang lalu disini, blogging memerlukan kerja lebih keras dari pada sekedar melamun dan menuliskannya. Karena itu pula saya pikir saya akan terus blogging dengan format yang ‘sedikit’ berbeda dan isi yang tidak melulu tentang expatriasi dan travel saya tapi juga tentang yang lain-lain, dan tentunya seperti biasa saya akan menambahkan foto-foto yang mungkin tidak sebagus biasanya…