Tuesday, 25 December 2012



May this season fill you with warmth, peace and happiness xxx

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Chocolate Week in the UK - an interesting observation!

Apparently here it is Chocolate Week this week in the UK (8th-14th October) - HOW in the WORLD do I not know this???????

Anyway, a friend of mine shared this interesting tongue-in-cheek report from Columbia University - that chocolate consumption could improve intellect, not only in individuals, but in whole populations as well.  Therefore, could there be a link between eating chocolate and the number of Nobel Laureates per capita?

Here's what they found:

Well, according to the graph the Swiss are doing quite well - not surprising, since they produce the best chocolate in the world...

What is Belgium doing in the middle?? Belgium chocolate (those little seashell ones) is good!

And, I'm sorry, I have tried chocolate from the U.S. - apart from Reese's the rest is awful...

U.K. aren't doing too badly - although without Kraft's takeover of Cadbury it Gouda been better - Kraft - cheese - Gouda? Get it??

But wait! Is that China we see? Way down the bottom???

If an important-enough person has seen this, massive amounts of Swiss chocolate will be making its way East.

Meaning that there might be a price rise...

And maybe even rationing!


Time to raid the stores!


Chocolate Week U.K.
The New England Journal of Medicine

Saturday, 29 September 2012

中秋節快樂!!! Happy Autumn Festival!!!

It's that time of year again - the days are getting shorter, the leaves are turning red, and if you are in the UK you must give up all wishful thinking of a summer.

Good thing then, that we have the Autumn festival (中秋節)  - which by the Lunar calendar is always August 15th, but in the Gregorian calendar varies year to year - either late September or early October.  In China and Taiwan it is a big public holiday.  We obviously don't get a day off here but we celebrate anyway and make mooncakes! (月餅)

Lots of mooncakes!

My genius mum is the head chef and with her help I was able to sell some at work to raise enough funds for my Great North run!

Mooncakes are only made for this one occassion and compared to western cakes are much more dense and rich.  Usually each one contains a sweet filling and a salted duck egg yolk (that symbolises the moon) encased in a thin pastry.  Traditional fillings include lotus paste, red bean, soy bean or taro but you can have others like coffee and ice cream! You can also have mooncakes that are non baked and are served chilled.  These are aptly named ice moon cakes (月餅) where the pastry is made of glutinous rice flour. 
 Beautiful colours

 Of the coffee kind!
 More lovely colours - the green is from pandan leaf extract.

With ice cream!

 To make the traditional ones at home with the flower pattern on top you need cake moulds like this:

Or you can be really inventive!



Sunday, 16 September 2012



Some pics from the day:

 Newcastle Millenium bridge
 The Tyne bridge - that we got to run over
 At the start of the race with crowds gathering
 Mo Farah!!!!!!!!! (He cheated!!! He got two strong lads to cart him to the finish!!!)
 My number 11s - with the time chip attached
As pinned to the back of my Tee! :)
 Red Arrows doing their thing!!!
At the finish - look closely, you will see a rainbow...

All in all it was a fantastic journey for me - from the initial training I was doing at the gym and the street running to the actual big race, it was hard but it was worth it.  I recommend anyone able-bodied to give this a go! In the good ol' Chinese way of selling it - "it's good for you!" :D :D :D 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A sporty Summer!

It has been a long time, my fault!

Have been busy at work and with my all important training for the Great North Run in 6 weeks time. Time goes by fast!  So far I can manage up to 10 miles non-stop at "shuffle" pace and have competed in the Race for Life. It was not long ago that I couldn't run down my street without huffing and puffing! One more big run and that's it for me, wish me luck! If you wish to support me in my cause, please visit my Just Giving website.

And the Olympics are on too! With China topping the medals chart.  I feel patriotic - both for the UK and for China.  The UK, in my opinion, is not doing too badly at hosting the games - we clearly have the resources and grounds to do so, and we clearly have the athletes worthy to compete in the games - Jessica Ennis you are my hero!!!  I loved the opening ceremony too - everyone was looking to see how it would compare to the Beijing but it didn't - it was something completely new and innovative.  I liked very much how the torch was not given to some celebrity/sportsman but to children representing the future generation of Olympic athletes.  I also like how the Olympic flame is not one but of multiple flames, each representing a country taking part.  It was very cool.

One of the most touching moments of the Olympics is the sight of Liu Xiang crashing out of the men's 110m hurdles.  It wasn't shown on BBC's TV coverage, but as he got up and seemed to be making his way to the exit, he suddenly turned and hopped the entire 110m to the finish.  He stopped to kiss his final hurdle and was helped by fellow athletes to a waiting wheelchair amid rapturous applause. 

'The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.'  De Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic games.   

Liu Xiang
Olympics London 2012
Just giving

Sunday, 19 February 2012

BUPA Great North Run 2012

I have decided that since it is the year of the Dragon that I should  pluck up the courage and take on a challenge that I have always wanted to do - the Great North Run!

The BUPA Great North Run was set up thirty years ago and is the world's biggest and most iconic half marathon.  Every September 54,000 people take part in the 13.1 mile race that takes them from Newcastle Upon Tyne to South Shields on the coast.

I will be running this marathon for Diabetes UK since a number of my relatives and family friends have this condition.  According to statistics there are close to 3 million diabetics in the UK, not including the undiagnosed.  The number of British Chinese with diabetes is unknown at this stage, but it has be reported that the number of cases in China has risen exponentially  -so much so that China is now considered as the 'diabetes capital of the world' (Reuters; BBC).

The impact of diabetes (尿病) on life is huge.  You must always take into strict consideration what you eat - alcohol and smoking is a no-no.  You must keep check on your blood glucose levels several times a day, everyday. You must also to inject yourself with insulin every time before or after you eat or drink.  This makes going out or going on holiday difficult as you will need to have access to your insulin and other medicines with you at all times and if you are caught short you are in serious trouble, especially if you abroad.  Being diabetic also means that your immune system is not as strong as that of a healthy person (if a healthy person catches a cold they have it for a week at most; someone with diabetes catches cold they could have it two or three times as long).  You are also less able to handle physical and mental stress -  both impact on your blood glucose, insulin and adrenaline levels that can go wildly out of control.  All in all, diabetes affects your everyday living.       

At present the only treatment is to keep taking insulin and the associated medicines - a huge responsibility for the people concerned.  However, work is being done to find a permanent cure.  There are also preventative measures you can take to help reduce the chance of developing diabetes.  I hope that by taking part in this challenge I can help raise awareness.  I will be providing some more insight into diabetes, the preventative measures you can take, as well as my training progress - this is my first marathon and the biggest physical challenge of my life!!!

So please wish me luck. If you would like to sponsor me I have a Justgiving page where you can make secure donations online.


 Symptoms of diabetes include:
  • Extreme thirst
  • Needing to go to the toilet a lot, especailly during the night
  • Fatigue and sudden drowsiness, fainting spells
  • Unexplained weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • Cuts and sores take longer to heal
  • Taking longer to recover from illnesses
  • blurred vision

These symptoms can be an indication of something else, but it pays to be on the safe side.  Please go to your doctor if you are at all in doubt.  A small blood test is all that is needed to check your diabetes status.

Thanks for reading! :)


Diabetes UK
Diabetes UK (Chinese)
BBC News
BUPA Great North Run
Just Giving

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

I wish I saw this when I was a teen!

This is not me btw! ;)

I am watching the second of the series of Gok's Teens.  I have to say I am really, really impressed! For those who don't already know, Gok Wan is a British-Chinese fashion designer who has made a name for himself helping ordinary women and men feel better about how they look and build their self confidence.  Now he is extending his support to teenagers.  

For anyone out there who is going through this sensitive time of their lives I recommend this series, that takes a good look at the major issues facing teenagers today.  Check out the link below for more details.

Friday, 27 January 2012


恭喜發財!!! 祝大家龍馬精神, 身體健康!!!
Best wishes to everyone!!! What did you do? How did you celebrate this year?
I was at home for New Years day and also Year's opening (开年).  It is traditional for my family on New Years Day to abstain from eating meat with respect to it being a new year and a new start. Every meal prepared is completely vegan.  Mum always prepares a variety of dishes, including Chinese mushrooms (菇), satay bamboo shoots, and stir-fried vegetables.
  The most important dish however is the fish!  
Made from potato with black soya beans for eyes it is to be baked in the oven.  This is then always served with a spicy sauce made from tomato and peppers.   Mum used to make it by hand but then she got jealous of all the "professional" ones from HK, so she went out and bought a cast!
On the next day we have 盆菜 (pun choi)!  This is a traditional Hakka stew  that is especially cooked for celebratory events.  Everything is added here: pork, chicken, Chinese mushrooms, duck, prawns, squid, fish balls, Chinese radish and cleaned pork rind.  Everything is individually cooked and then added into a big pot in layers: the radish and the pork rind is added first to the bottom, then the meat, the fish, the duck and chicken and everything else.

In additional to all this, there is also dessert!!! Check these out!
紅豆糕, 橙汁年糕, 蘇角, 豆沙角,年年有餘, 和如意吉祥 (no English names for these, sorry!)
So there you go, a very yummy start to the New Year!
May it be a good one :D


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Jeremy Clarkson

While rushing around the shop today, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the newspaper stand by the till.  There on the front page of The Sun was a big picture of Jeremy Clarkson, the outspoken English broadcaster and motor journalist, with a short sentence next to it stating that he has poked fun about 'dead Chinese'.  The dead Chinese in question are the 23 Chinese workers who drowned while collecting cockles on Morecambe bay in 2004.  Giving his opinion about synchronised swimming Clarkson stated that is this nothing more than "Chinese women in hats, upside down, in a bit of water".  He added: "You can see that sort of thing on Morecambe beach.  For free".

Talk about hitting a nerve! Those people came to the UK in the belief that they were going to get a better life for themselves and their families.  But this was not to be: having been tricked out their money and passports they were forced by gangs into slave labour.  With very little pay they were being bungled around the country in vans to do back-breaking work.  Their presence in the UK only became known on that terrible night in Morecambe.  What is so funny about a vulnerable person's terrible suffering for some broken dream at the hands of their captors? What is so funny about drowning to death?

The backlash against Clarkson's comments has already begun: A representative of Morecambe's town council has described it as "beneath contempt".    A spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the UK has slammed it as being " insulting and show a woeful disrespect of decency and moral standards".

As usual in the aftermath of all his gaffes, Clarkson will be made to apologise, but what is the point? He has made so many crude and incredibly objectionable statements at people's expense, one wonders if the man has any empathy for anyone apart from himself, or feels any real remorse.

One also wonders if the man is actually unwell.

See also: Morecambe bay tragedy (Wikipedia)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Britain's Chinese Tiger Mums!

No messing now, do your homework! Picture from

A very Happy New Year to you all!!!

There was a very interesting programme on BBC2 today 'Meet Britain's Chinese Tiger Mums'.  The programme documents the lives of several Chinese mothers in the UK and how they bring up their young children.  Its all about work and little play; its all about discipline too.  Each mother believes in the mantra that where there is no pain there is no gain - education leads to a better life and in order to have a good, stable future their children have to exceed in their studies.  I am not surprised to see one mother having a timetable of study each day for her young son and another pushing her child to excel on the piano.

Is this wrong?  One only has to read about Amy Chua, the Yale Law professor and self-described "Tiger mother" to be instantly in the opinion that this method of parenting is cruel and senseless.   When I was young I found it very tough - but it was understood.  In order to have security in life you have to work hard, and since having a good education is the key to all this, you have to study hard - what is illogical about that?  Having said that, it wasn't just me doing all the work; Mum was working hard too! She even went back to college so that she could teach what she learnt to me. 

As I look back I don't think that I missed out on anything when I was a child. TV? There are re-runs to this day. Social skills? I, and I am sure everyone, is still having to learn these through every new person that they meet in their lives.  And having a life? I'm living it right now!

While watching that programme I realised that the major lesson during that tough period of our lives is still with me: that although it is hard you must never stop working and you must never stop learning.  Also you must always look for opportunities and grab them with both hands.  The world is changing all the time and life is getting tougher.  To compete and survive you have to be willing to sacrifice some freedoms and be disciplined in order to gain what you want.  Reality is tough, so it pays to have that lesson of tough love early on.

Thanks Mum! x       

PS  - My Mum says that she likes to snack on small children.  Haha.

Source: Wonderland: Meet Britain's Chinese Tiger Mums 

See also:  Times magazine: Amy Chua