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Tag Archives: england

In June, we went to Cardiff to see the Champions League final match between Real Madrid and Juventus. Real won.

We stayed an extra day and visited the famous Cardiff Castle which is in the middle of the city. It was also used as to host hospitality services to sponsors of the match and their guests.

The Castle was a Roman fort, has an impressive Norman castle and an extraordinary Victorian Gothic fantasy palace, created by art-architect William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute, one of the world’s richest men at his time.  The Bute family brought prosperity to Cardiff by exporting coal all over the world.

In 1947 the Castle was given to the people of Cardiff by the 5th Marquess of Bute.

Within the walls of the Castle are tunnels which came into their own as air-raid shelters during the Second World War.

The Norman castle has an outer walls which provides a shell for smaller buildings within it.


From the top of the Keep, one has panoramic views of the city of Cardiff.

The stadium is just visible behind the clock tower.

The house was renovated in 1865 and the process lasted 16 years. There are a number of opulent, highly decorated rooms in the main house.

The Arab Room is stunning.

Almost a theme park but this is real – somebody with serious money lived in it.

The house is being used to host various functions, both governmental and private.

We walked through the library where they had shelves full of old or antique books, all topics from science to literature. E.g., a set of books about English gardens in four seasons.

The Clock Tower was built on the site of a Roman bastion and completed in 1875.

It is a great tourist attraction.

Cymru !

Dear Readers, Happy New Year !

This is our first post of 2015. It is time to take a look back at some of the places we visited last year.

Some of you who knew me from New York probably think, judging from the posts here, that since we left for Switzerland, we travel a lot and do not spent much time on work. While it is true that I (Chris) get more vacation days per year now, workload is certainly heavier than before. So these vacations are really important counterbalances.

The photos are organized in reverse chronological order and there is a part 2 to come. Some of the trips are business trips and some are vacations.

There are usually a series of related posts per location, they are uploaded around the same time – you can discover them easily in the calendar at the bottom of the post.

December 2014 – Kuala Lumpur and Penang

We left on Christmas eve for Malaysia. The photos are being selected and touched up as we type.

Georgetown, Penang



Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur



December 2014 – Munich, Germany



October 2014 – Budapest, Hungary



September 2014 – Piedmont, Italy



September 2014 – Lac de Joue, Switzerland



August 2014 – Aosta, Italy


Near Aosta



July 2014 – London, England


Photos from first half of 2014 to come.





The Magazine is a newish restaurant that is housed in an extension of the classically-proportioned Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Kensington Gardens, central London. I(Chris) was staying in Lancaster Gate. JL came over to meet me and we wandered into the park and stopped there for an iced latte in a sunny afternoon.


The contrast between the gallery and the restaurant is beyond words.


It looked to me like a jelly fish made of space-age material and glass has landed and is hugging the 19th century brown-bricked building.


The restaurant is so named because it is “attached” to the gallery which used to be a weapons storage.


The female Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, is responsible for this creation which opened in 2013.


The interior suggested to me the inside of a white tent (I reckon the matt finish of the ceiling has something to do with it).


Five stiletto-shaped columns support the “roof” and channels natural light into the restaurant.



The only fixed structure is a kitchen island and a long bar.


The bar faces what used to the exterior wall of the gallery.



The columns are lit from its base, giving it shape and lightness, and act as a diffuser to lit the dining room in the evening. Just don’t sit too close to the spotlights.


The columns looked like chinese-style soup spoons to me.

Chinese spoon (1)



We did not have a chance to eat there.  Reviews of the food have been mixed.


I also liked the polygonal-shaped tables and the logo on their door.


This place may look very dramatic at dusk. Have to come back to see it and taste the food.


While I (Chris) was visiting JL in London, I wandered into Waterstone on Piccadilly.  As some of you might have noticed on this blog, I like visiting bookstores and have been photographing them. If you want to see the other bookstores, just click on the tag bookstore on your left.

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Some of the information I have included here came from their website, click here.

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Waterstones Piccadilly is situated in the heart of London’s West End. Now Europe’s largest bookshop, it was once home to the renowned department store Simpson’s; an admired landmark of London’s architecture, and the inspiration for the popular 1970’s British television programme ‘Are You Being Served’. When Simpson’s opened in April 1936 it was the largest menswear store in Britain. The design of the building is distinctly modern in comparison to the regular architectural style of the time.

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Waterstones Piccadilly opened its doors in September 1999 and has eight floors open to the public, six of which are dedicated to books.

waterstones piccadilly-4The glass wall that stretched the height of the building at 90 feet is just visible here. It lit each open-plan floor with natural light. Some of the original features are still in place such as the stairwell’s 90-foot chromium light fitting suspended from the ceiling, and the steel and glass handrails

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Harumi Murakami is going to be there to sign his new book – “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – 色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年”

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Waterstones claims to have 150,000 titles in stock and over eight and a half miles of shelving.

waterstones piccadilly-6.

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Kids section

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“Antiques, Mind, Body and Spirit, Science and Nature, Transport”

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Arts department

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On the top floor is a quiet cafe/bar/restaurant – the 5th View Bar, open till 10pm!

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In years past, I arranged to meet people at the fountain at Piccadilly Circus or the now defunct Swiss Center at Leicester Square. If I live in London now, this could be an ideal alternative for the heart of West End.

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Every city should have a bookshop like this one.

Traditional Shopping Arcade in Bournemouth downtown – the mall of yesteryears.

A couple of weekends ago, we hopped over to England to visit Westbourne, near Bournemouth on the south coast. When I was in boarding school, I spent many of my half-term breaks in this area with a family. The last time I was in this area was more than 5 years ago. The trip was a bit of a rush but it was nice to see familiar faces and places.

We flew into Gatwick but since there is no direct train to Bournemouth, the only option was to take the National Express coach.  If I choose to go via London, we would go into Victoria by train, then by tube to Waterloo and then another train to come down south.  Both trips would have taken about the same amount of time, i.e, 4 hours, but the coach delivered us directly from the North terminal to within one block of our Bed & Breakfast.

We were not in the mood to see sights but snapped a few pictures nevertheless.  Below is a mosaic in downtown Bournemouth.

Poole Harbor

Full English Breakfast at the Southernhay B&B.

I bought some fusion sushi from Marks & Spencer  – out of curiosity – because of the range of flavors suggested by the combinations of ingredients. Really quite creative. The label states clearly “No Raw Fish.”

In case the text on the label is not legibly displayed, the pieces are:  duck and cherry hoisin California roll, Thai style chicken California roll, edamame gunkan, prawn & mango gunkan, tamarind & tomato nigri, coconut & red pepper nigri.

They all had a distinctive flavor but the flavors were not sharp. But the dressing was really tasty and made them all good.