Weekend in Brighton

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A trip that I almost missed. And I am so glad I made it in the end. One thing that I realized was that time spent with people you love is worth than any money you can find. I learned this the hard way as I sacrificed a few things in the last year trying to save money. But life is too short not to spend quality time with important people.

My journey to Brighton that weekend was not all straightforward. Having left it to the last minute, I could not easily book train tickets online. And when I am stressed out, I lose all my brain cells and therefore do the most impractical things. I knew that I didn't have enough time to make it to Brighton earlier, so I opted for the coach. 

I only had about 30 minutes to get to the coach station from my flat, not to mention that it was rush hour on a Friday. Luckily, the tube came straight away.  When I got out of the the tube in Victoria, I had literally 8 minutes left to make it to my coach. And of course when you are in a rush, the universe tends to try your patience. Victoria station was packed as you would expect on a Friday  after 5pm. This is when you feel like the world is against you sometimes. Of course it was entirely my fault for leaving things at the last minute. So as soon as I got out of the tube station, I ran like I was running for my life. I got there a minute (literally) before my coach was due to leave. And guess what? The coach was delayed- only for about three minutes though. Call that lucky. Really.

There was nothing more special that night than to see my friend Katie. The night was spent catching up on little things and then crying over the movie "My Sister's Keeper". It was indeed a very good night.

The following morning, Katie took me around Brighton. This was not my first time in Brighton. But the first time I went there, I really didn't get to go around. So I was so glad that I got to see a bit more of the place this time.

Brighton is beautiful. I could go back there and just hang out by the beach all day.

Although it was a very short visit, it was enough for me to enjoy Brighton. We left Brighton just before sunset and although I was in the car, I managed to enjoy the sunset somehow. I am telling you, it is more beautiful in real life.

So if you are in England and looking for a quick weekend getaway, think Brighton.

tintin x

How I Got Over The Break-up and Became an Amazing Woman

Monday, 24 November 2014

Well at least to me, I am.

Ah, I cannot believe that it has now been a year since the accidental discovery of that inappropriate skype conversation that led to a forced admission of a three-month affair.

As I look back on that day (22 November 2013), I still don't know how I made it through without causing a scandal or destroying his or my life.  Perhaps because at that time I was surrounded by the right people and as I have always said, I was prepared for that battle.  I can compare a break-up with the death of someone you love. You mourn over it for sometime, eventually you learn how to let go, until you finally move on. Then again, when that "anniversary" comes, you somehow get reminded of that painful experience. This is happening to me right now. Don't get me wrong, I am completely over my previous relationship and I am very happy now. But because it was exactly this time last year that this happened, I can't help but feel a bit emotional. Emotional in a sense that I don't regret losing the person because I honestly don't, but emotional because I still cannot believe up to this time how I endured the betrayal, the pain, the lies, the hurtful words,  the false hopes- during the best and worst times in three months (Thanksgiving, Anniversary, Birthday, Christmas, New Year, my son's death anniversary and Valentine's Day) without losing it.

It may have been a very painful and emotional journey for me, but a lot of good things actually came out of the break up. I did things that made me realize that I am indeed an amazing woman. I believe I am. Take it or leave it. Or you can just fake it.

1. The telephone call
- At some point during the whole ordeal when you have been lied to over and over again, all you need is to find out the truth. And when you do, talk like the wife and let her be her- the other woman. That phone call confirmed it all.

2. The Final Showdown
- I don't know but at that time, I just felt like I had to put up one last good fight. All my friends were against it, but I did it anyway. I knew it was over at that point, but I wanted to show him and his friends how amazing I was. Hence, a surprise birthday party which everyone enjoyed and was grateful for. It was a success and that moment I knew I have won the battle.

3. The Face-Off
- "Kilalanin mo kung sino ang kalaban mo" (Know your enemy) - This phrase is actually from a film and so when it was my turn in real life, I put it into action. Some of my friends didn't see the point in it, but I knew I had to do it and I am glad I did. This was one of the proudest moments in my life. It was not easy being face to face with the other person who put me in that horrible situation, but somehow I managed to stay calm and be my "nice" self. She actually asked why I was so nice. All I could say was, "I know, right?". I have proven yet again that I can be the bigger person amidst adversity. 

4. The Venice Trip
- Sometimes you just need to make a random decision to do one thing that you thought you could not do. I have not traveled abroad on my own before because I have always been scared. But it turned out that my trip to Venice alone on Christmas day was one of the best travels I have ever done. There, I was alone with a pen and a notebook, and I just wrote down whatever came across my mind. I never felt so liberated. And in Venice, I made one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. Read where it started and where it ended here.

5. The Three- Months Rule and Self-help Books
- For a while self-help books became my companion- "It's Called Break-up Because It's Broken" by Greg Behrendt, "Not Just Friends" by Shirley P Glass, "Coming Apart" by Daphne Rose Kingma, "How to Mend a Broken Heart" by Christine Webber. They gave really good advice, but at the end of the day it was my life and I wanted to deal with the whole thing the way I thought would work for me. Coping with a heartbreak is trial and error. I did whatever I thought was right at that moment. And even if it didn't work, I learned from it and then I tried again. I defied a lot of break-up rules. My friends told me to "He-Tox" him for at least three months but I didn't. I met up with him quite regularly in fact. But surprisingly, the more I saw him the more I realized that I didn't want to be with him anymore. The more my feelings changed towards him. The more I lost my love for him. The easier I let go of him. So in reality, seeing him worked for me. And then apparently I had to cut ties with his family and friends. That I couldn't and will never do because he was the only one who hurt me. His family and friends didn't do anything wrong to me. They didn't and still don't deserve to be cut off from my life. So until now I am still friends with his friends and I am still in communication with some of his family members. 

6. The Songs of Empowerment
- Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys.... I had a playlist full of "Darna" songs and listened to them over and over again until one morning I found myself singing and dancing into their music in the mirror. That moment I knew I was on my way to recovery.

7. The Counsellor
- By the time I decided to see a counsellor, I have already moved on. My counsellor even asked me if I needed her because she didn't think I did. This was only three months after my breakup. But I said I wanted to make sure that the only direction I was taking was forward and not backwards. So I saw her regularly for 6 weeks and it really helped me in my recovery. Seeing a counsellor doesn't mean you are in a deep shit. Sometimes when you are going through a hard time, you need that one person who doesn't have any idea of who you are to listen to your story. 

8. Finding my own Happiness
- One of his friends gave him an advice to help me find my own happiness. I thought that was one of the most stupid advice I have heard. You do not help anyone find their happiness. They are in charge of their own happiness. I am in charge of my own happiness. I may have become dependent on him for a while, but that didn't mean I didn't know what could make me happy. And now a year on, I have found my happiness and who helped me? No one. Just myself.

And now you may ask why I am writing this. Simply because I am now at a point in my life where I am happy. My life may have changed but all for the better. I found my inner strength and my inner peace. I have the most amazing people around me who add meaning into my life and who continue to make me happy. And you are one of them. Besides there is nothing to hide. I am not perfect and I am not afraid to tell the world that I am not perfect. I may have failed in my relationship but that doesn't make me less of a person. I am still whole despite of what I went through and I am proud of myself.

It may be hard to believe on your part but I have no hard feelings towards him. I didn't hate him and never will. If anything, I am thankful to him for everything that he has taught me. And I am grateful that this happened because now I know how to love myself better. The whole thing has taught me a great deal about life, love, men, forgiveness, letting go, moving on and most especially finding my own happiness.

Happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy. Acceptance and forgiveness is the key. Never hate, just love,love,love.

From The Amazing Woman.

tintin x

California Dreamin'

Monday, 17 November 2014

This time last year, I was in California for the first time. It was a trip that took forever to plan. And when it finally happened, of course it turned out to be one of the best travels that I have ever had.

I actually wanted to go to California mainly to spend time with my family and friends whom I haven't seen for what it seemed like forever, to eat delicious food and to visit Jollibee. Honestly. I really didn't care about "seeing" California at all. All I wanted was to relax and stay indoors. My jet lag allowed me to do this but my friends didn't. For almost a week, I felt really tired and was so lazy to do anything. I just wanted to sleep and eat.

And speaking of eating.... As soon as I got to one of my friends' beautiful home at almost midnight, I had my all time favourite "ulam":
And since that night, I did not stop eating until I came back to London. Everyone literally fed me and everything they fed me was just so delicious that even if I was full to my face, I could not say no. The amount of food that was served to me was overwhelming, believe me. And although I enjoyed every bite of everything, I had my favourites of course. And in no paticular order, here they are:

1. Breakfast Buffet at the Garcia-Aquipel's Residence in Chula Vista: It was like a feast for a single person. I really felt special.

2. Arroz caldo and Purefoods tender juicy hotdog at Francis and Aida's crib in San Diego: Need not say more. 

3. Buko-pandan and lechon kawali from Goldilocks:

4. That crab at Crab Hut in Downtown San Diego: And if you need lessons on how to eat a crab properly, just let me know. :)

5. Jolly Breakfast at Jollibee and The Chicken Joy and Spaghetti Meal: Yes I was being selfish  the first time I went there and had both for breakfast. Who could blame me, haven't had a treat for almost two years then. And so the following day, I was back for more.

6. Hmmmmm... those really, really bad cheese rolls from Porto's: My Ading Aida instructed me not to miss Porto's when I went to LA so I made sure I went there and had their famous cheese rolls. It became my obsession since and until now I am still craving for it.

7. That Clam Chowder from Boudin in Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco:

8. The Mariquitas and the Te Helado (top) and the Bistec Encebollado (bottom)from Sol Food Restaurant in San Rafael:

Not to mention the many other foods that were prepared for me by my other families all over California.

And just like any other tourists, I could not possibly go to California and not see the famous tourists spots (so my family and friends say):

1. Napa Valley

2. Universal Studios


4. Hollywood Walk of Fame

5. Rodeo Drive

6. Golden Gate Bridge

7. The Exploratorium

I could definitely have seen more if I was not lazy. But at least I saw most of the poeple that I wanted to see. That was the most important part of my trip.

1. My university friends

2. My best friends since grade school

3. My relatives from the father side

4. My relatives from the mother side

5. Family friends

And more trips to Jollibee after that:

Ah, time flies so fast. Before I went to California, there was this cliche way back when I was in Bristol that people seek refuge in America when caught in a relationship problem. Well, at that time, it proved to be true. When it was my turn to go, I really didn't think of it. I left London with my relationship intact (so I thought). Of course, there were those odd misunderstandings few weeks before. But to go to America to seek refuge? Nah, it was far from the situation that I was in. Until of course when my holiday was over and I came back to London. That's when the situation changed and so did my life. 

I have not traveled since this trip, making it so special. I just cannot wait until I start traveling again and make new memories with myself or someone else. 

tintin x

40 before 40: Fencing

Sunday, 26 October 2014

This is one dream that I didn't tell anyone until a few months ago when  I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I am 40. Since then, people have been curious as to why I wanted to learn how to fence. I only have two reasons: first, because I think the sport is graceful and second because of the kit. Yes, I am shallow that way. Honestly, I really didn't know anything about the sport until I saw Richard Gomez fencing on national television in the '90s. Since then, I held onto the dream that one day I'll be able to fence.

Photo from www.whatisfencing.com

And so when I came across a fencing lesson on Groupon, I didn't think twice. £25 for 4 weeks was a bargain I thought. And although I waited for at least two months to start the course, it was well worth the wait. 

The course took place at Fighting Fit Fencing in Caledonian Road. The venue is not that hard to find as it is only about 2 minutes walk from the Caledonian Road tube station. On my first day, I was quite nervous. First of all, I didn't know anyone. And secondly, I have never played with a sword before, not even as a child. Luckily, a guy called Jed was very accommodating he made me feel comfortable as soon as I entered the door.

Fighting Fit Fencing
2 Cottage Road
Caledonian Road
London, N7
0208 368 7834

I only had one expectation on my first day of fencing class and that was to be able to wear the fencing kit that I have always dreamt of wearing. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I saw this:

I was like, "Where is the white kit? I thought we were going to wear something like that?". I was told that I should earn it first. I didn't know if I should  be embarrassed about the whole thing or not. But at least I asked right? After all, it was one of the reasons why I took the fencing class. :)

Anyway, I was really glad that I was actually able to fence on the first night. In fact, I got really excited that I immediately asked someone to take a photo of me pretending to fight with one of my fencing classmates, Luigi. Yes this was after just one go at fencing. Call me keen. 

Four weeks went by pretty quick though. On our last night, we had the chance to be in competition with the rest of the group. By this time, we have learned enough of the basic techniques in fencing. And although there were only a few of us in the room and that we were competing amongst ourselves, I was really nervous. And of course the day before, I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon and therefore my legs were so sore. I actually had second thoughts of going but I was feeling competitive and wanted to win so I went anyway. 

And then the competition began:

We were actually put in pairs. So all in all there were 4 pairs. I must admit that my classmates were far better than I was. And although I went there aiming for the win, my fencing partner Luigi and I only came second. Not bad I suppose, considering that I was sort of disabled that night.

with Luigi

So after four weeks of basic fencing, I can apparently call myself a fencer. Well, according to our coach Jed anyway. Yes that friendly guy at the reception was indeed our coach and the owner of the club. 

And by the way, I am a foiler as I use the foil. There are two other weapons namely sabre and epee.

The mask and the foil

I am glad that I did my first ever fencing class at Fighting Fit Fencing. The atmosphere was really friendly and no one really made me feel intimidated. Jed and the rest of the group made my experience really fun and unforgettable. I went there with very little knowledge of the sport and came out confident that I can now somehow talk about it with my family and friends.

Our group with Jed (behind us). Sorry some photos are blurry.

Aside from the graceful moves and my dream to wear the proper white kit in the not so distant future, I now have more reasons to love fencing:

1. It's a fun sport
2. It's a good way to burn the calories
3. It's a good way to meet new people 
4. It's a good excuse to poke strangers
5. It gives you the experience of sword fighting (in a not so violent way)

So, if you want to learn a new sport, why not try fencing?


I might get myself the proper kit for Christmas instead, unless someone out there is kind and thoughtful enough to buy me one. :)

tintin x

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