Chelsea Flower Show 2015

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Catching the designer hard at work on the morning of the Chelsea flower show. Blessed to buy tickets to the show through a member of the Royal Horticulture Society. The tickets cost £60 each. I’m so inspired by the quality of skills and passion of the professionals. Its like attending a horticulture class. Many of the shops near the Chelsea Flower Show are so sporting to put up displays alongside the theme.

Canyou guess what the theme this year was? Flamingoes?

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Tea party anyone?

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If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?

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Tea and biscuits?
Tea is the answer, I don’t care what’s the question.
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Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

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Off with her head!
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Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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Even Pooh and Piglet are here.

Where’s Alice?
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Quotes from Lewis Carroll

Food, glorious food – Chinese food in London

“‘There is no such passion in human nature as the passion for gravy among business men. It’s nothing to say a joint won’t yield — a whole animal wouldn’t yield — the amount of gravy they expect each day at dinner. And what I have undergone in consequence,’ cried Mrs. Todgers, raising her eyes and shaking her head, ‘no one would believe!'” –Mrs. Todgers, who ran a dingy boardinghouse in a commercial part of London in The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

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Golden Phoenix at Gerrard Street

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Excellent noodles at Bayswater

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Wong Kai - lost standard

Chinese food in London is primarily Cantonese or Hong Kong style. During my recent trip, I tried 3 Chinese restaurants.

1. Wong Kei is the oldest. Every one who studied in London in the 1980s talk about Wong Kei. How crowded, how rude the staff and how good the food is. You’ve no choice where to sit, and the waiters will make you share tables with strangers. During my recent trip, the waiters were from PRC, and you can speak to them in putonghua. Not necessarily Chinese and they’re not rude. But the food is also nothing to rave about. I didn’t finish my plate of roast duck noodles. £4.80 per plate. Friends who ate the roast pork said it was pretty good.
Address: Exit Leicester Square station.
41-43 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PY, United Kingdom
Verdict : Not worth the calories. When £1=S$7, perhaps price makes a difference. But at the current exchange rate of £1 = S$2, pay more for Gold Mine or Four Seasons

2. Gold Mine
When I mentioned this restaurant, everyone remarks where the SIA crew go to. Literally, tables of Singaporeans. Especially young people, possibly students studying there. If you produce student card, you get a discount. Roast duck skin is crispy, fat is thin and meat is fragrant and juicy.
Locals pack rice and go. Queue is long but shorter than Four Seasons a few doors away. Four Seasons is better but I don’t want to queue. Staff are friendly. It is for the Chinese food at Bayswater that Hong Kong Chinese choose only to stay at Bayswater hotels.
Address: Take the Circle line to Bayswater station.102 Queensway, London W2 3RR, United Kingdom

3. Golden Phoenix
Mr Lai, a 75 year old friend of a friend booked the restaurant. He came to London from Hong Kong some 30 years ago as a Chinese chef. He eats at this restaurant once a month. So you can imagine how good it is. This is more fine dining than Gold Mine or Wong Kei but not Michelin star standard. Your regular Chinese dinner with family. Authentic Chinese food. Very good roast duck and roast pork. We had fried belachan kang Kong Vegetables, corn and egg soup, stir fried fish slices.
Address: Exit Leicester Square station. 35 Gerrard Street.
http://www.chinatownlondon.org/restaurant/golden-phoenix/7/116/452

4. Royal China restaurants
You can’t go wrong with Royal China especially the Bays water branch. But expect to see many Singaporean and Thais. One of my friends who has a child staying in London considers it hee canteen. She doesn’t eat anywhere else.
http://www.chinatownlondon.org/restaurant/golden-phoenix/7/116/452

Home away from home a familiar taste is always comforting. I now understand why my American senior colleagues insist in a good steak when they’re here. Or Himself’s American friend Bob who only has spaghetti or Italian food here in Singapore. Now at least he claims he’s tried chilli crab. But the older I get, the more I prefer to eat Asian. In Paris, I must go to the Vietnamese beef noodles place, even if I’m only on a day trip to Paris from Fontainebleau. But it’s not necessary that I have Southeast Asian. So in London, even though there was a Thai and Indian restaurant near my hotel, I didn’t bother to check it out. In seven days I had Chinese for 3 meals. Not bad. Most days I’m so full from lunch that I don’t have dinner. If I stayed in Bayswater, I’ll have roast duck for at least 4 meals. Next time I may stay around Queensway and Bayswater.

Day 7: Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew – 5 areas to visit in a day

It was a beautiful sunny morning when we went to Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is sprawling – founded in 1759 by Princess Augusta, who was married to the Prince of Wales. Kew is special because it’s part royal park as well as part scientific research facility. There are more than 300 scientists at Kew. Plant scientists ask challenging questions and seek to answer them. Questions on climate change, food security and disease. (Source : Plants from Roots to Riches by Kathy Willis and Carolyn Fry).

Kew abounds with them, rubber plants from Brazil. This year being SG50 when we await our UNESCO bid for the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Kew sent 22 rubber seeds to Singapore Botanical gardens. Henry Murton planted 8 of them in these grounds and the rest in Malay peninsula. What remained of the planting was inherited by Henry Ridley who directed his efforts to study rubber trees. Rubber became one of the British Empire’s greatest commercial successes.
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Getting to Kew:
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Take the District line and walk 15 mins. Go in the morning and pack a light sandwich for a picnic.

I regret that the group I was with, had to rush back to the hotel to check out at 12pm. I didn’t visit the water lily house.

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Tiny flowers inside the bromeliad

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Must visit (if you’ve only one day)
1. Davies Alpine House
2. Marianne North Gallery of Botanical Prints
3. Pagoda (after restoration)
4. Princess of Wales Conservatory
5. Palm House

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Princess of Wales Conservatory

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Others
6. Tree top walk
7. Kew urban farming
8. Wisteria

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Palm House

Atthe Palm House, look for the famous cyad resident at the Kew since 1775. One of the oldest pot plants in the world, brought back from its native South Africa. But it’s not the oldest plant. Regrettably, I didn’t have time to visit the palm house.

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Wisteria

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Kew Gardens – Kew on a Plate

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A team including Kew gardener Joe Archer has created a stunning kitchen garden that is a showcase of heritage varieties of fruit and vegetables. These have been selected for maximum flavour and to provide interest and ripe produce across the seasons. Catch the BBC program.

We caught the affable Joe here tending to the garden but then again he may be always showing up by his plot.

Kew puts much emphasis in getting the young interested in gardening. Is it because the UK is an agricultural society or that people grow up with gardens in their homes. Will we see more young people in Singapore interested in gardening?

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Young diploma students

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Learning to draw plant cells

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Examining cell through microscope

Update
Our very own edible garden farmers: Edible Farming Bjorn Low.
http://www.goingplacessingapore.sg/project/2015/Urbanfarming.aspx?utm_campaign=GPS-UrbFarm&utm_source=&utm_medium=FBTW

Kew Gardens Marianne North Gallery

Marianne North

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Marianne North

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This is a must visit at Kew. Marianne North was born in 1830 and traveled around the world painting. She donated 833 paintings to Kew which asked that she donate a building to contain them as well. Amazing, a woman of her times travelling with that huge flouncy skirt through tropical weather, getting seasick on ships over long journeys to paint exotic plant collection.

The painting were recently restored by Kew. During the restoration, a hidden painting was discovered, behind a backing board. I only discovered this on Kew website after my return. So I’m not sure what was the hidden painting or why Ms North hid it? Maybe you can let me know next time you visit.