Friday, March 3, 2017


On Friday, we made soup for breakfast using the carcass from the Empire Chicken we had the night before. It reminded me of the times when I’d fallen ill as a kid and my mother’s remedy would be her chicken soup and some sleep. While drinking soup that morning, I realized that I’d spent 6 days in a cold country without falling sick – I usually catch a cold whenever the temperature drops below 25C – I felt both surprised and proud of my immune system. And thankful that Scott was making sure we ate hot, warming food whenever possible.

Di drove everyone up to Cardiff after breakfast, which took about 2 hours. Alternatively, you can catch a quick train there from Bristol, which we almost had to because they close the bridge when the winds get too strong but we were lucky that morning. We were visiting Cardiff, the capital of Wales, because this was the city young boy Scott turned into a man he says. He lived there for a few years while he went to the university and wanted to show me his favourite haunts where he used to get rekt.

We went to Cosy Club for lunch where I finally ordered my first plate of fish and chips. I’d seen it on the menu whenever we ate out over the past week, but wasn’t ready for an entire plate of fried food then. I knew that my usual steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables would be hard to come by during our trip so I spent the first few days psyching my belly up with bags of popcorn and crisps. Now I was ready. It was so good and even came with a ramekin of mushy peas.

They say it's always raining in Wales but we had a bit of sun that afternoon so took a walk around the city and wandered down a couple of shopping arcades. We browsed through antique shops and thrift stores but didn’t buy anything because just the thought of peeling off 4 layers of HEATTECH to try something on seemed like too much effort.

At the market we went by the butcher Scott used to patronize and then watched a lady cook traditional Welsh cakes on the griddle. To be honest, I wasn’t very interested in the Welsh cakes – or anything else – at this point because Scott told me there was a tarot card reader “in here somewhere” just moments before we entered the market. My eyes darted wildly, scanning the hall for the psychic as I bit into the cakes. They were warm, sugary but not overly sweet, dry like scones but not as hard or dense, and had raisins in them.

I’ve always been intrigued by the unconscious. Call it spirituality, if you want, but I like to think of it as curiosity. Scott found it slightly absurd that I wanted to see a psychic but humoured me anyway. He was even going to sit in on my session but the psychic wouldn’t let him because our energies would’ve confused the cards, or something. So he ended up sat outside waiting nervously. I didn’t say much during the session, other than ‘yes’ when he got something right. I was aware that I’d be giving off all kinds of subconscious signals and I wanted to ensure he wasn’t getting the information he was relaying from me. “You have a man. He’s not like you. He’s white. He’s very good for you. You will have baby girl soon.” 30 quid well spent I think.
After the market, we went into one of the libraries Scott used to study in while he was at university. It was exactly like Hogwarts, except there were no talking portraits on the walls and not one person wore a cloak. I’ve always told Scott I wish we’d met sooner, and being in his university made me feel it more acutely.

If I'd met him sooner I wouldn't have missed him as Gold Man! (20 year old Scott knew how to party.)

Then we went to the museum. For a long time, I really wanted to be one of those people who loved hanging out at museums and art galleries. So during my short stint in Antwerp, I made it a point to go to as many museums and galleries as I could, only to realize that I didn’t really “get” art. And that I’d rather binge watch the first season of The Mindy Project repeatedly than read about the Romans or ponder the symbolism of pencil shavings and Cheetos artfully arranged on a wooden chair. Believe me, this was a huge blow to my self-esteem and identity back then because I had come to Europe for the art and culture. Or so I thought. Thankfully, Scott is not a “come, let’s go to the Tate/V&A/Saatchi Gallery” kinda person. He’s more “Can we go to the museum? Cuz I really needa poo poo” kinda person, so that was our trip to the museum. Then it started to rain. Then it started to hail. And we got drenched. But luckily we could tumble dry our clothes and borrow some dry ones from Andy and Aly.

Andy, one of Scott’s best buds, was the real reason we were in Cardiff. They’d gone to university together and Andy ended up settling down in the city – or 20-minutes from the city if we’re going to split hairs. We had dinner at Jaime’s Italian that evening and then spent the night at Andy’s place. It was nice to see Scott so relaxed and comfortable. A tiny part of me was anxious to see if the English air would reveal a different side of him, but to my relief the Singapore Scott and UK Scott were the same person.

Our time with Andy was truly eye-opening. Not just because it gave me privy to stories of Scott coming of age, but also a good idea of what’s to come. Andy has a lovely wife, big garden and baby on the way. So adult! So much responsibilities! (So scary!) All my siblings are quite a few years older than I am, so this luxury of a sneak preview into what the next few years of life would/should be like is nothing new to me. But I’d always had a buffer of at least 8 years between what I saw and where I currently was. Now here was Andy, the same age as Scott. Tick tock tick tock, we’d better savour these days where our biggest conundrum is what to have for dinner, soon we’ll have to worry about moles in the garden and remodelling our fireplace.
Big tree in Andy's garden

The next day, we took the train from Cardiff to Burnham-on-Sea. As mentioned, it’s usually a quick journey but ours was delayed because a kid threw a stone at our train as it chugged through his backyard, which smashed one of the windows of the passenger carriages. With an hour to kill at the Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station, we decided to go into Bonapartes Pub for fish and chips. It wasn’t as good as the one from the day before, but there is nothing that vinegar, tartar sauce and ketchup can’t save.
Welsh is like texting while you're drunk without Autocorrect

Beth, her boyfriend Ali and Tai came to get us from the station and then took us for food at the Dunstan House Inn, where they let DOGS IN DA PUB! As a person who has struggled with the concept of moderation all her life, I predictably ordered another plate of fish and chips. Which I’m glad I did because it was the best.

For breakfast on Sunday, Scott’s mum made us these delicious bagels with bacon, sausage and egg inside. They were such a treat! My mum brainwashed me into thinking pork and processed meats were poisonous, so I refused to eat them while growing up. I’ve since reconciled with them, but always feel a slight adrenalin rush whenever I see them on my plate. After breakfast we dropped by Scott’s godpa Wooly’s house for a quick chat and then went to Admirals Landing for a sumptuous Sunday roast. I’m not usually a big meat eater, but I probably ate what I’d eat over two months in that one meal.

After lunch Di and John dropped us off at Bristol airport for the next leg of our adventure

Part 0 – Packing; Part 1 – London; Part 2 – The West Country

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