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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…







Imperfect landscape photo
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My Landscape Photography

I haven’t written anything about  escaping from Qatar and suddenly ending up in the UK, and I feel guilty about it.   Honestly, I didn’t know how to begin, as time flies so quickly and here we are well in to 2016 where the travel story has already passed by, and its hard to fully recall as well as linking up with all my recent stories, as it is totally different from my new world now. However, this Weekly Photo Challenge theme ‘Landscape’ might give me an excuse to recall of some things of what I did last year.

Imperfect landscape photo

An imperfect landscape photography: “I wish I was here on different time of the day…. “

I purposely packed my bag in such a way that all my better camera gear was always handy, to capture better pictures during my trip focusing on landscape photography genre. But being an avid Landscape Photographer turns out difficult to get a good landscape pictures on the road. Here are some examples:

The colour of the sky and the trees could have been different if I could visit this place on different time of the day

The colour of the sky and the trees would have been different if I could visit on a different time of the day

Rather interesting picture with all the composition elements... but there's unwanted shade of the sky-train window on the sky... :(

Rather interesting picture with all the composition elements… but there’s unwanted shade of the cable car window on the sky… 😦

Sort off following the landscape photography rule, but I have to be there during sunrise.... an unfriendly hour really

Sort off following the landscape photography rules, but I have to be there during sunrise…. an unfriendly hour really

All pictures are taken on the east coast of Australia, mainly in Queensland. I sort of stopped trying to get a good shot after this….






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English Country Living

The country side

The Country Side

That sounds like a UK magazine.

The magazine theme is just that, country living in England and UK, which has branched out as Country Living in Australia and USA.  The magazine tells you about anything and everything of country living, ideas, food and drinks – secret recipes etc., gardening, crafts and….. basically about what one can do in rural areas without the “culture” of living in the city.

The explained lifestyle of living in the country…. hobbies, one needs a hobby, especially for somebody like me, retired early with no children to look after.  I need a hobby, to keep my mind going and active. I think living in the country gives just that, a space to do my hobbies.


House sitting gave me the opportunity to experience all of the above.   And to test myself if I really liked it, to be “domesticated” in the country, and like hobbies doing crafty things as well as looking after the animals. And here we are house sitting for a family friend’s country cottage who went away for 3 weeks holiday and plus we are looking after the family cat: Matilda.

Matilda the Cat

Matilda the Cat

Unlike the above fancy magazine titles which show beautiful manicured cottages with country interior design, this house/cottage was itself just a normal ‘lived in’ cottage, which means with all its imperfection and dirt. However, the attraction is the life and activity around the cottage, which are:

  1. Walking through the country side…

 2. Exploring the area as shown off by Matilda

3. Getting to know the neighbours:

4. Getting very close to nature with the wildlife as the scenery

I have to admit that the animal attractions and the scenery are priceless, no wonder my husband said that “posh people” in the UK tend to live in the country even though they work in the city.

However, house sitting holidays do not last forever, only 3 weeks but it opened my eyes to how much I love the nature, living in the country side and watching all the wild life in action.

I guess we have to thank our hosts.

Last but not least, Bernie the Bat

Bernie the Bat, who is on hibernating mode

Bernie the Bat, who is in hibernating mode in the cellar.


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Living in the City and in the Country

When we decided to end up living in the UK, I had no idea where abouts we should live as well as how we should live, whether in an apartment as we did in Qatar or in a town house within the city area or a country cottage in a village.

I think of my self as a city girl and I am a not home-body person, I don’t like doing chores as well as cooking and I am too scared of insects around the garden.  Read More

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Is Winter Over?


We arrived in the UK in the middle of winter, but yet, the Winter season felt like prolonged autumn, or just skipping winter and heading to Spring. It was so mild that even the plants and vegetation were confused.


Chery Blossoms which was supposed to be blossoming at the beginning of Spring, are blooming in January



Frost is the only effect that shows on the garden vegetation so far.

I guess I was lucky, with only summer clothes on me when I arrived last November, I think I can survive this winter, and I ready for spring.