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Friday, January 02, 2009

"The one when UK's freezing guts..."

I apologize for being late on my posts so far. For some reason blogger.com is experience a technical problem; leading to significant difficulty to upload pictures onto posts. This was my umpteenth attempt at a post.

UK is freezing! Yesterday saw one of the coldest of days, as I walked the streets at a staggering -4 degrees. Frost was everywhere, and the winds did justice to what's slowly becoming an icy winter indeed. Days get shorter in winter, so daily I'd expect to wake up at 8am to see that its still practically dark. There's not much you can do outside anyways, when it gets dark outside by 4pm and you start yawning at 7pm. Truly, life in winter brings out the bum in you. No wonder everyone gets depressed this time of the year.

A few days time shall mark two weeks since I arrived on UK soil. Much has transpired, and concurrent events that has foregone gave me the experience that only living abroad would benefit. Of course, under constant reminder that I was not here for leisure nor as a tourist, I deem myself lucky for being able to enjoy my time here so far. Oh, because some asked where I lived throughout my stay here - I live in Afzal's comfortable 3 and a half storey terrace house along Filey Street in Sheffield. It's a good neighborhood; with lots of Malaysians living nearby and a consistent supply of raw food and condiments courtesy of Ya Fai. Yes, Ya Fai. The prominent halal store which most Muslims swore by. A majority, if not all the muslims get at least some of their dry ingredients here, and luckily it's situated just a few footsteps away from our house. And I do mean, a few.

Mom and I, during boxing day took the time to visit Meadowhall Sheffield. It's quite a large mall, and it houses a range of stores well suited for a diverse group of people. The architecture reminds me of Carrefour Subang when it first opened; only many many times bigger. The mall was enormous. Easily bigger than Mid Valley but I doubt whether it'll give OU a run for its own accord. Boxing day in itself is a festive celebration for Britons, where they come in masses and legions in pursuit of one goal. Shopping. The question of bargains are out in the air, as all stores offer at least 50 percent off the tag. This sale, at least in the UK is really a bargain as it applies on current pricetags and not on revised prices as we have back in Malaysia. So, boxing day is the only day where you'll be able to find CK jeans at 30 pounds (about RM 165) and Clarks shoes at 15 pounds (RM 50). So, no wonder that day Meadowhall was packed with people.

Mom went on a shopping spree, getting stuff for people back home while I took the liberty of buying just one or two essential items for my stay. Also managed to get something for my dearest, which I think she has always been wanting for the past few months. It was enjoyable but as we were pressed for time, we were not able to explore Meadowhall any further but a fraction of its area.

A few days before New Years Afzal invited us to tag along with him to the small town of Thetford, which lies somewhere in the Breckland side of Norfolk, UK. It's about a few miles shy from Cambridge and London, but it's a town small enough to retain much of Old English heritage. I was recovering from a bad case of gastroenthritis (another slicker word for food poisoning) but by God's will my health picked up just in time to drive us there. Yeap, you heard me right. Drive.

I drove people. On the streets of UK, nonetheless. 350 miles of cold, hard British terrain. Asked Afzal to rent a BMW or Merc just for the fun of it, but it was not available. We were left with a Chevrolet Aveo, but it was still good enough to get us there comfortably. Definitely another experience, driving in foreign land. Good thing is, right hand drive applies here so there wasn't much of a problem handling the car.

We stayed at The Bell Hotel, and it was a nice cosy establishment that retains a traditional old style English inn. We were impressed at the architecture.

But I was more surprised at the town - Afzal was not kidding when he said it was going to be a small town. It was tiny. The whole town amassed in one stretch of road. At least that was what mom and I thought. But it was freezing cold outside anyways, so we were not in a rush to get to know the area.

Spent about three days there; at times I found it hard looking for things to do, but on one day Mom ventured upon an interesting site on our drive-around; the remains of what used to be a cathedral for Paladins; the Priory of Thetford. We took some time to visit the area (it was gazetted as a British historial landmark) and was quickly dumbfounded to how well preserved the architecture was. Considering the cathedral (or what's left of it) is about 900 years old, something as old as this would be rid to dust back in Malaysia.

The monastery was actually founded for Cluniac monks, by a Roger Bigod sometime in 1103-1104. Somewhere within the ruins, lies the tomb of Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk who died in 1524.

I was not kidding when I said it's getting colder in UK. It has been snowing in Manchester recently, wonder if there'll be a white day in Sheffield soon?

Of course, yesterday we sent Mom off to her bus en route for Heathrow Airport. As she hugged Afzal goodbye and left with tears flowing down her cheek, I'm reminded as to how much a mother means in one's life. God knows how I'll be able to live up to what she has done for us here. She made a home out of a different place, and brought a piece of warmth only Malaysia can give. Hopefully, we'll be able to cater to things by ourselves from now on. For me, at least till end of the month.

-JeP

2 comments:

PakTam said...

Salaam..

Glad to hear that you got off the food poisoning. Fun to read the recent posting. I can imagine the drive down to Thetford. Must be an exciting drive! The scenic drive, kampung-kampung orang putih, horsie, kambing, ponds... and reliable signboards!

Last night cadangnya nak pegi KLIA jemput Mama sama-sama dengan the Sri Petalingans (Back Yardigans), tapi penat pulak. Petang/Malam ni nanti kitorang pegi la Sri Petaling. Sure Mama ada macam-macam cerita. Probably Aki & Wan Chik will come today and join in kot.

How's Afzal? Lama jugak dia tak post. I believe he is OK and boleh buat revision dia dengan baik. How are you? Well, I know you guys can take care of each other.

OK. Salaam to Afzal, and doa to both of you guys. Be safe. Jaga diri di tempat orang. Hope it snows while you are there..!

Pengir@n Kudos said...

Jeps..

-everything gonna be OK insyallah
-nice captures... jelous aku
-esok aku aku jumpa fifah.,, and hantar ur documents kat pendaftar