Tuesday, 20 December 2016


Life begins at 40 as an old adage goes quoted by the late Walter Boughton Pitkin. There is so much truth in the saying as this is when we don't care much what other people think about us; we appreciate the meaning of life profoundly and even value the most simple things we once discarded in life. 

On the 04th of December this year, a pre-organised birthday social gathering was arranged for her 40th year of existence on Earth. It was zingy shared amongst her incessant sisters, recent friends and additional faces in the group. Apart from the glamorous company of her ladies, the presence of Mercy's amicable husband gave her confidence to jovially blow out the candle on the cake. 

(David and Mercy)
Mercy's life elatedly came into being when she met the inamorato of her heart who cheered her up and supported her endeavours in life. Ever since then, David's love for Mercy gave the way to turn most of her and their dreams into reality. Their life love story is like the euphoric version of Cinderella and her Prince Charming in a fairytale book!

All of her friends were invited but only 12 glamorous ladies confirmed the pre-organised dinner that was arranged by Krystal Ordillano. She used the online social media, Facebook, to create an ad hoc page intended for Mercy's Fabulous 40! Such power of combined new technology and the ubiquitous internet which brings more convenience into our daily activities. Additionally, it was an efficient and cost effective method of communicating to the invited friends and guests. 
(The organiser, Krystal Ordillano)
Bustled Piccadilly Circus teemed with frisky people and calmed Savini at Criterion lined-up with dining table sets... 

As I walked into the venue I saw the tapering structure of the enormous hanging chandeliers; they were overpowering the brass effect high ceiling. Besides, they were also enlightening the ambiance of Savini at Criterion. I walked further into the venue and went up a short plight of steps then I saw long paned Victorian windows that created a humble abode effect and a handsome nouveau stone fireplace shone out its polished beauty. Amusingly, it reminded me of Lady Catherine de Bourgh's fireplace at Rosings. It was of prodigious dimensions! On the other hand, I suddenly found myself thinking of the warm feeling I have being at home. 

Our formally laid table was set and arrayed with cutlery & plates; drinking & wine glasses; types of bottled water & sauces and clear vases with coffee seeds & candles. The prearranged chairs were half full but with the presence of the birthday celebrant herself and her husband. I was new in the group which is why Mercy introduced me to her friends who arrived early. We exchanged names with a bit of chit chat while waiting for the rest to arrive. Gradually, they appeared one by one until all of the empty chairs were occupied by the glamorous ladies who came from different parts of England. Most of them have known each other for years and their cordial personalities were warm when I was socialising with them. Particularly with Kristine, Daisy and David (Mercy's husband). 

Upon waiting for the rest to arrive, we were also munching the complimentary white/brown ciabatta rolls that we glazed in butter, dipped in olive oil and soaked in balsamic vinegar. It filled us all up while waiting for our starter to punch the clock of the birthday meal. They served us with one of Milan's most iconic and authentic dishes called Risotto alla Milanese. I have to say that the creamy compound ingredients penetrated well the cooked Italian rice grains and sustained their flavours, too. Apart from that, the Carnaroli/ Vialone nano grains were cooked in such a way that the crunchiness was retained. Especially the truffle's unique aroma and taste made the plates' presentation more appetising in our all our eyes. It was superb! 
(Courtesy of Google Images)
We had a short break and enjoyed our desired drinks but complimentary bottles of wine were just on the table. Chit chats continued and catching up progressed amongst us. I have to say, we were all buoyant and high-spirited because of selfies and group pictures. Why we would not be? Bright people always capture memorable moments for them to keep and share to their family and friends. Am I right glamorous ladies? 

The waiter showed up and we were asked who was having this and that for the main course. It was primarily a meat viand called Sirloin of Veal sliced which was medium grilled or done. It was dressed, seasoned and served on our plates sprucely. It pleased my taste buds with the way it was done. In particular, the sides of the meat were rich brown colour; top and bottom charred darkly and the middle was still firm to touch. 

Our plates were collected and we were now left with our drinks to clear out the passage of our throats. The organiser handed over to each and everyone of us a token of appreciation and for attending Mercy's birthday party. It was a goody bag containing personalised red wine bottle for Mercy's 40th birthday, luscious chocolates and a Yuletide card. Very thoughtful and sweet of Kristine to even surprise us despite being under pressured because of the untraceable ordered cake. I took my hat off to her for holding her composure during the unexpected circumstances. I was once an organiser of events in the past and unexpected issues will test your equanimity. It was a grace under pressure for Kristine which went very smoothly after the birthday cake was traced and found out. 

Most of us sat back and relaxed while some headed into the powder room. They were freshening up for more selfies and group pictures. Just a joke! Hmmmp, we were a bit loosen up and also very much ready to be filled up with the dessert and be fascinated by its appearance. It was an apple-pie order which invited most of us to take different image angles of Tiramisu. What a satisfyingly addictive and I wish the fork was made out of chocolate, too! 

The untraceable cake was handed over to the Savini employee and it came back on our table with a delightful lit candle. A melting moment colourful cake generously stuffed with small, pulpy and edible berries and moated with edible white/dark brown chocolate sticks. Apart from that, the desirable birthday greeting was made out of chocolate and edible, too. It was a chocolate syrup and sweet delight! 

We were all very full up and the gathering continued with the handing over of memento from the celebrant herself to all of us. She wrapped with love a Mediterranean spa scented candle made from nature's own wax; an overpowering dried flower calming scent bag and a miniature thoughtful remembrance card. 

The taking of selfies, group pictures and the used of Kristine's polaroid camera brighten once again the beauty of the glamorous ladies. We were all dressed up and bound to have more pictures to depict how cheerful we have been. Succinctly, we calmed down and all went back in our chairs where we enjoyed sipping our chosen hot drinks with complimentary biscuits from Savini at Criterion. 

Birthdays are one of the most special or if not, the memorable events in one's life!

Thursday, 15 December 2016


Turn to the right of St. Leonard's Place or go straight ahead to the Museum Street? That was the choice we had after visiting the largest Gothic Cathedral in northern Europe, York Minister. We were looking for a local pub to rehydrate our thirsty throats. Yes, we were quite weary and tired after traversing from one street to another. I must say we were wowed with the town centre’s magical beauty in which most streets astonished our expectations. There were well- preserved historical buildings occupied by big commercial establishments; known hotels; affordable yet unique inns; friendly local eating places and also, well established pubs. Like the Thomas's of York Pub managed and operated by Kelly and the Toy Team. 

Travelling can be exhausting and rewarding at the same time too... 

There is a Red House Antique Centre occupying a detached building which is painted in the shades of red (almost salmon) and white. It is indeed brightly conspicuous for visitors and the like! The façade of the building featured a common 2-storey edifice but inside, it had 3 floors without the inclusion of its basement. It had wooden staircases and mezzanines to reach each floor and view the stored classic/ vintage collectible items. A place to explore and if you couldn't find what you are looking for, why not warm yourself up at their cafe & tea room while thinking about their collections that are on sale. Without a doubt, you will find this antique centre easily as it's next to the Saint Wilfrid's Catholic Church on Duncombe Place. 

I stood on a hoisted pedestrian refuge island surrounded with leafy concrete boxes. For a few minutes, I was transported back to the Victorian period because of the vintage and rustic street signs. Can you imagine the sound of galloping horses pulling heavy commercial carriages? If you can, I am sure that you will be ensorcelled, too! Yes, it was a mesmerising occurrence and eventually the street signs guided us through to stay away for awhile from the madding crowd. 

We crossed over Blake Street and walked on the verge of Museum Street. Adventitiously, we entered a brick-made building with a personalised train station pub's name, ornate Victorian entrance, rows of chimney pots and restored sash windows. Literally, the front windows had on them prints of the local and known recipes as well as posted cut out images of illustrious royalties and renowned actors. 

At long last, we found a local pub with a warmth and jocund ambiance. We walked through the door and on the right side was a stately cosy room with the hanging portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and a union jack flag throne chair, too. Apart from those, the interior of the room has an enlarged fixed picture of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with her subordinates onto the wall with the 16th-century's Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate name above it. Can you now guess the name of the room? It's labelled and known as The Queen's Room! 

There was also a staircase leading onto the first floor which was sheathed with unique menu wallpapers and unconventional hanging objects. You will never fail to find their toilets, too! We stayed on the ground floor and went down a short plight of steps to order our refreshments. Sadly, they didn’t serve my choice of non-alcoholic drink which is why, Kelly (the manager) suggested a drink I might like to sip. I thought I would end up having a glass of lime and soda but her suggestion was satisfying! 

We sat and relaxed snugly for an hour on their eye-catching contemporary patchwork sofa which was placed conspicuously on the dance floor area. After that, we moved to another elevated room which was only separated from where we were by a glass unit containing fragile items. The elevated room was interiorly designed with artworks brightly displayed and philosophical sayings on the walls. A very flamboyantly bare-faced section of the pub indeed! I didn’t walked around like I would normally be which would mean examining each floor and even entering 'No Trespassing' rooms. As far as I can vividly remember, it had quarter-turn stairs with newly painted wooden banisters, a huge double hung paned window with half-moon designed and a kelham hall up chandelier. 

In the daytime, Thomas's of York Pub is an affable drinking/eating place operated by Kelly and the Toy Team. It is a local pub with a contemporary twist and quaintness which has been valued as a cherished rendezvous for all types of gender. The pub itself has been managed smoothly for years and withstood the test of time because of the management's full and special support to the LGBTQI+ community. When night falls and specifically on Saturday night, this pub becomes a bustling bar boosted with the appearance of special artist(s) and whooping sound systems producing state-of-the-art music. Generally speaking, it is a welcoming place to meet new friends, greet amiable people and connect with the lovely ones; either with a drink in your hand or just simply enjoying the disco- dance rhythms. If ever you plan to visit York, visit and connect with Kelly and the Toy Team who will make you loose and care-free while at Thomas's of York Pub. 
 (With Queenie)
  (With Alex, Mike and Darren)

We were fully energised and zoomed our way back into the madding crowd. I just couldn't believe that York had lots of gems; places to relish and all reached on foot. The experience of this great city was especially warm because of the conviviality of the local people.