Smiles & Cheers!

I long for home….Indeed, I find it so true that home is not necessarily a place. It could actually be a situation where you want to be – it is to be with the people you care most about, with the people you are most comfortable, with people where you can be what you really are, without feeling that you are being judged…It is with whom you can pour your heart out, its pain and its longing, and be healed. It is with whom you can open up your withering soul, and gain inspiration or draw strength so you can be renewed.

In one’s life, there are moments when you feel a certain sense of sadness and one never knows immediately why. You examine your life, and you tend to think – where is this coming from, when you see that you seem to have almost everything anyone can ever…

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The Amazing View at the End of the Road…

It’s been almost half a year now since I last posted a write-up on my site….I’ve been terribly busy, as I have put  my time and effort on a new venture, which is something that I have always  wanted, and have dreamed about for so long as I can remember.

On one weekend drive to the countryside with my husband, we happened to pass by a big parcel of idle land. It lies hidden in a tiny town, away from the hustle and bustle of a big city, yet conveniently just about ten miles from the center of a nearby city. Adjacent to this property are acres and acres of rice field and some ranches where cows and water buffalo roam. It faces the east so I immediately reckon that it has the full benefits of the  morning sun; at the back of the property, there is a bubbling brook.  I told my husband, I could make that property into a lovely garden, and he said we could make it as a weekend retreat….and from those wishful thoughts, a lovely  garden, named Little Blue Cottage Garden, a garden shop, and a humble cottage  beautifully emerged.

Here are some photos of my garden shop and weekend retreat…..

The ornamental plants I have ordered just arrived. They are so lovely together, a caucus of greenery under the colorful sky.

I love the yellow-green leaves of this plant called Bottle Brush. They look like they are happy when there is a breeze passing by,  or they look like they are  standing in ovation especially when the sun is out. They can surely make any plant groupings come alive.

This is the plant called Eugenia, and is of one of my favorite plants.  Its leaves are multi-colored, having the awesome colors of autumn, that  seem to shimmer under the sun.

Meet the Red Tea Plant, one of my other  favorites. They are a cheerful bunch and will be happy under the sun.

There are  many varieties of San Francisco plants, but this is what I like the most. It’s got curly and brightly colored leaves. I also like it because of its name – my father’s name is Francisco!

This plant called Pokiante is in a topiary in the form of a jar. It would be nice to put it as an accent in a landscaped garden.

One of the benefits I have in my garden is free water for my plants. A natural bubbling brook runs through my garden.

The glorious sunset at Little Blue Cottage Garden.

We drove through some narrow, winding, and lonesome roads….there were endless acres of rice fields….there were herds of cattle and water buffaloes that at times jolted us as they crossed our paths….I am reminded of that passage from Edward Abbey’s book entitled the Desert Solitaire where he said :”May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous – leading to the most amazing view…” I never would have imagined that on this lazy weekend drive, we would be led to a remote town called Elang, and that this unassuming little town would be the amazing view at the end of the road – not to say the least, that it has one of the most spectacular views of the sunset….I don’t want to say this, lest I sound boastful, but my Little Blue Cottage garden has now become the  added bonus to that “amazing view at the end of the road”!

“When You Are Tired of London, You Are Tired of Life..”

I have never seen a city as vibrant as London. This is a city full of life and colors. It is a city of diversity. Its citizenry is composed of  commoners and nobility. People from all over the world come to visit its various attractions, some  come to work and stay. Its seasons are as diverse as its people. As Londoners often say it – “it is here where one may experience all the seasons in a day” – one moment it could be so warm and sunny, and in one instant, it could be raining; snow flurries are a common occurrence even in the springtime! Its winters are harsh, cold and gray; while its springs are bright, rainy, and flowery; autumns are subtly colorful and romantic. I have lived in London for many years, and I have left it many times. Surprisingly, it is a place you do not miss while you’re out of it in spite of its pervading beauty and vibrancy; however, it is when you go back there that you realize that you have missed everything that has made you feel alive – both its noise and its silence;  its intensity and its subtlety;  its people’s boastful attitude and civility; its people’s patriotism bordering between selfishness and selflessness; its acceptance for diversity and unity. For all its contrasts and complexities, one either hates or loves London, or England as a whole….but the weights of my scale tilt more to loving it….As any Britons would say: “when you are tired of London, you are tired of life”…Indeed, I find this snippet to be true.

Some of the most fascinating memories that I cherish are those of our stay in London. I keep thousands of photos that captured the beauty that I have found in so many places all over England – so for this post, allow me  to share a few of those photos which I find evocative of the feeling that I experienced while living in London, and which I think are the same images that come to  mind when one thinks about England, particularly the vibrant city that is London.

It is springtime once again....all the parks and gardens are bouncing back from the lifeless winter - in full, gorgeous colors....how can one even resist sitting on that bench, staying for a moment to enjoy the serenity in this park garden and admire the breathtaking view of the cherry trees blooming in totally pink splendor?

One can walk the long stretch of the River Thames and be oblivious of the time and distance, as one gets a good vantage viewpoint to all the historic and unique architectural designs of the buildings on both sides of the river.

This is one of the uniquely designed buildings along the River Thames in London. It also looks out to many historical buildings and structures situated across the river, among them the popular Tower Bridge.

On both sides of London's River Thames are skyscrapers, some of them are historical buildings, and most notable among them is the fancy-shaped building, looking like a Faberge egg, which houses the UK headquarter of the Swiss REinsurance group. All 40 floors have an unhampered view of the of the alluvial landscapes of the river banks and its flowing water streams, as well as all the boats and ships that pass through it daily.

Contrary to the lyrics of one nursery song, "London Bridge is falling down..." this bridge is not falling down, and this is not London Bridge either (oftentimes mistakenly called as London Bridge by many) - this is the Tower Bridge. It is suspended above the London River Thames, situated at the towns of Southwark and North Hamlets. It is structurally framed by tons of steel, and so far, it has not fallen down! Tower Bridge is one of the iconic symbols of London.

This is a closer shot of the iron railings of the Tower Bridge, painted in England's national color - crimson red, white, and royal blue.

This is a skylight of a building with well-preserved Georgian architectural feature.

This is a typical Victorian cottage, its wooden structures and stained-leaded glass windows, so lovingly restored and preserved. 

This wall of a church could be a blanket description for all of England's churches - majestic, ever glorious, and divine!

Believe it or not, Ripley's Museum - at the heart of Central London, at Piccadilly Circus. Inside are some unbelievably amazing things! I just love this building's 'lightscapes' - the lights on this building's façade change colors every once in a while. It is one of the many buildings in London that is so well-preserved, and so it is only fitting to highlight it with the most colorful of lightscapes.

This is the façade of the London Victoria Train Station, at the center of London. This train station connects you to Heathrow and Gatwick Airports for international destinations, and to most regions and nearby boroughs of London.

A close up view of the façade of London Victoria Train Station. In spite of the age of the building, it is so well-preserved, and one can't help but look up and admire the beauty of its design. Its cornices and corbels, and its stuccoed walls have intricate details of artistry.

This part of London is so alive at night. All the roads and city sights and activities lead from here - to Trafalgar Square, to the Broadway theaters and Opera districts, to the fine dining and high-end shopping districts, like Harrods' and Fortnum and Mason, and to the big Chinatown. 

Welcome to London's China Town! This is the place to be when you are really, really hungry or if you have a naturally big appetite. Here one can have an enormous choice of authentic Asian cuisines - primarily Chinese dishes, fresh and steaming hot dimsums, genuine Peking ducks, and delicious crispy roasted pork.

This is a monument built to give homage to the messenger of Love , Cupid. It is at the center of the busy district of Piccadilly Circus, and has become a meeting point for people visiting the city. It is a good place to enjoy the heat of the sun on cold winter months. This monument, I guess, is one of the most photographed monuments in London.

One of the places that makes London pulsates with life is Trocadero. There are many souvenir shops of all sorts, coffee shops, restaurants and bars, and movie houses in this area.. On one corner is a monument depicting wild horses. People converge here for photo opportunities, or to cross to the other side to go to Piccadilly Circus and to the other sights of London.

One can hop in to a pink Limo to go around town....or....

Just take a two-tiered public bus....or...

Drive a compact car, so you can whiz through the narrow streets of the city easily.

We used to live in this part of town - Chatsworth Road - where one can find some of the most gorgeous "Sweet Painted Ladies", or old Victorian cottages in one of the leafy boroughs of Surrey.

Some residences in a leafy borough have grand entrances such as this one. Usually, atop this front gate is a sky light made of colorful stained-leaded glass with Victorian designs. I love the kind of red that was used to paint the door, and the bricks-layered steps leading up to the front entrance of the house.

This is a very old English cottage, with Victorian design features, located right beside the flat where we used to live at Woodstock Road. The climbing pink roses on the distressed wooden columns make this old house all the more welcoming. I find it so specially charming despite of its age.

One is said to be "posh" if he lives in a leafy borough, or if the headquarter of a multinational organization like Nestle UK is in his neighborhood......

...or, if he lives a few minutes away from the Queen's residence in London, the Buckingham Palace.

London has some of the most awesome landscaped gardens and parks. When spring comes, all the gardens, paves, and parks blossom back to life after a very cold and dreary winter. In which ever borough one finds himself living, there is  a beautifully landscaped garden, park, and an art gallery.

This is a beautifully landscaped garden park right at the center of London's financial district. Its only decorative feature is a huge, all-weather, hard rubber ball, which seem to suggest that less is more....that we just belong to one world, so we should keep our surrounding clean, mean, and green...short of saying, that we must protect our environment, because we are all connected.

Here’s one particular work of art, a modern art sculpture, made of hard steel, brass, and copper. I especially like the message that the artist of this sculpture has written  all over this art work, which says:


As I reminisce all the beauty I have seen in this part of the world, the awe-inspiring observation of this great philosopher and artist, Leonardo da Vinci about nature and our environment also comes to mind. I can only surmise that in the creation and evolution of a city like London, or a country as beautiful as  Great Britain, this nation simply had to make use of nature or take a cue from nature in all its grand designs. London is exactly what it must be….nothing is lacking…and nothing is superfluous….

This is dedicated to Maricar and Butch Soreno on their wedding day  in April 2012.

Smiles & Cheers!

As I was going through my journal this morning, I happened to come across the draft of a letter I wrote to a close family friend who got married a few years back – let me share it with you – and here it goes: “Joey, take good care of her, and love her as much and as long as forever permits. Remember, a woman like her, is like a flower. You may smell her for her scent and admire her for her beauty, but once you pluck her, you will have to make sure that you will nourish her so that she may last long, and stay as fragrant and as beautiful as when you first smelled and plucked her….THERE WILL BE NO OTHER FLOWER LIKE HER….”

….”People get married with the best of intentions and with anticipation of many happy moments together, but should disappointment come, as it…

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Watching Sunsets

I love watching sunsets….for me, my favorite part of the day is when the sun seems to try the best it could to hide beneath the layers of clouds….when it spread its glorious colors upon everything it hits, like a peacock spreading its tail. When I was a child, I often wondered where the sun goes when it leaves, or why everything beneath it turned yellow or why the clouds  looked like pink sugar candy as the sun starts to disappear…..I thought then, that was so magical…until I went to school, and science “spilled the beans”, in the same way that someone spoils the fun of looking forward to Santa’s gifts on Christmas by saying that there is no Santa Claus!

Here are some photos I took of the sunset at a small fisherman’s village, called Canyon Cove.  The scenes just completely brought back to my present, those magical moments I experienced as a child….

..."You see, one loves the sunset when one is so sad...I have seen the sunset 44 times..." Antoine de Saint Exupery, Le Petit Prince

The cove basked in beautiful colors cast by the light reflection from the setting sun.

It certainly feels good walking barefoot on the fine, white sands of Canyon Cove. The play of the light and shadow from the sunset makes the sandy shores of the cove an appealing subject for one's artistic expression.

"The water was glassy and calm, still candy-colored in the afterglow of sunset."....Stephen King

One watches the sunset because it is able to revive that lost sense of magic into our lives…And as one author aptly said it:  “We love to watch the sunset, not only because it is beautiful…but because it is fleeting…”