2015 – the year that was…

…all about travel! After coming to Edinburgh I think 2015 was the most we traveled in UK. It’s partly due to having a car that gives you more freedom and roam around the countryside. Also, having parents over during the Summer holidays is another excuse to travel. 🙂 So here am trying to make a list of all the places we visited last year – day trips, holidays, weekend getaways all included.


Early January last year, we went on a long long drive around five lakes. Most of the mountains were snow-capped, it was chilly and there was a stillness in the air. But nothing could stop our enthusiasm to go out and about.


An impromptu week’s holiday was planned to Dubai during the school break. A family get together – my sister-in-law lives there – sun, sand and beach and an excuse to get away from the cold in UK.


M&Ds theme park in Motherwell – an hour’s drive from Edinburgh. It was a nice sunny day in April – quite warm for Spring. Perhaps the first time we took off our jackets that year.

IMG_0185This is perhaps the hardest to summarize. Swiss trip! The highlight of the year. I think the reason I never wrote about this trip is that I am still trying to assimilate all the experiences and internalize the sensation that was Switzerland. Here’s a blurb: Family trip, train journey, heat wave, exploring the central belt of Switzerland, locating Yashraj filming locations, Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, Bern, Montreux, Geneva, Mt. Titlis, Jungfrau. Cheese factory, chocolate factory, chocolate train (yes, that’s the name of the train!), Gstaad, Saanen, Lauterbrunnen!

IMG_1651There is something Zen about going to Cragies and picking berries. Nothing else matches the amazing experience of picking freshly grown strawberries and cherries in this lovely farm. Note to self: this year pick a small quantity that can fit into the tiny freezer at home.


Holy Island, Lindisfarne and Alnwick Castle.

Journey Map

Another day trip to Loch Lomond and Loch Luss – castles and lakes that’s what Scotland is all about and I have no complains.


Mid August saw us trying to climb up to the Arthur seat – a feat we did not achieve. This is at the top of another hill next to Arthur seat.


A weekend trip to Bedford in September – we visited my husband’s cousin and his family. A visit to Cambridge ensued.


Culross trip


Loch Leven in October – another day trip to another Loch.


When the Dinosaurs came to Edinburgh Zoo!


And the Panda who wouldn’t show us his face… Pandas and monkeys – the funniest animals they make you laugh without moving a muscle.


A thing off my bucket list – staying in a self catering cottage. October end saw us travelling to Aviemore Cairngorms National Park.


Autumn colours and foliage






Culross – The Royal Burgh

The Royal Burgh of Culross village is around 12 miles west of the Forth Road Bridge. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Royal Burghs were generally sea ports with a thriving community and flourishing trade. I wasn’t expecting much out of this coastal town with an industrial landscape but it was a pleasant surprise.


It is the best preserved example of a 17th and 18th century Scottish town. The old buildings and cobbled streets of this Royal Burgh transported us into the domestic lives of the 17th century Scottish town.

There is even a 17th century model garden recreated behind the Culross Palace displaying a range of plants including vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, fruits and shrubs. There is an unmistakable aroma of herbs in the air around the palace gardens.

The village looks across the River Forth to oil refineries. The village is the closest thing to a 16th century village all due to the efforts of the National Trust of Scotland that has been working with Culross to conserve its historical past.

The Culross Palace restored to its original mustard yellow render and wooden shuttered condition
The Mercat (Market) Cross has a unicorn on top. (Did you know Scotland’s national animal is Unicorn?)
What sets Culross apart is its stunning buildings and narrow wynds (A typical Scottish word ‘wynd’ referring to a ‘winding’ street)
The Palace Garden
The Palace Garden



Another example of the stunning buildings
Another example of the stunning buildings
View of river Forth
View of river Forth

Paris Photos 2: Books and foods market

Finding this book market near Pantheon was a surprise. After a lot of internet search, I found out that it’s the Rue Mouffetard market located just outside Maubert Mutualite metro station. This is a traditional open air food market to buy cheeses, meats, fish, breads, and any other food and then of course books! It’s a must see if you are visiting Paris for the first time as it’s an authentic example of how Parisians buy their meat and produce. Obviously there are cafes lined up across the streets where you can just sit and watch people 🙂

Maubert Mutualite Market
Maubert Mutualite Market
Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert
Really old philosophy books
Really old philosophy books
more books
more books
Agatha Christie in French
Agatha Christie in French
Kiddo promptly found a book on Mickey Mouse
Kiddo promptly found a book on Mickey Mouse
A book on Goa!
A book on Goa!
Kiddo and I searching looking through
Kiddo and I looking through books
Panic when kiddo started jumping over book boxes
Panic when kiddo started jumping over book boxes


books by the Kg!
books by the Kg!


market just outside the cafe we were sitting in
market just outside the cafe we were sitting in
As a quintessentially foodie family, no trip of ours can be complete without visiting a fish market or a butcher's shop :)
As a quintessentially foodie family, no trip of ours can be complete without visiting a fish market or a butcher’s shop 🙂

DSC02318 DSC02316

Paris Photos 1

Paris is galliyan..on our way to Basilica
Paris is galliyan..on our way to Basilica

On our very first evening in Paris, we made our way to the Basilica which was just a ten minute walk from our hotel. The small rounding road was lined up with cafes.

The Basilica
The Basilica

The Basilica is located at the highest point in Montmartre and this spot offers brilliant views of the city.

Paris city view from Basilica
Paris city view from Basilica
Crowd outside the Basilica
Crowd outside the Basilica
View of Eiffel from the Basilica
First sight of the monstrosity: View of Eiffel from the Basilica

Yes, the photos are shaky and some are even blurred. Next purchase: good camera. Suggestions, anyone??

Am back from Paris!

And Disneyland! It was amazing, fun, tiring yet enriching, exhilarating and much much more! I feel as if I have been away for a long long time from this blog.

Parie as the locals say is a wonderful enchanting place. I knew that it was the most beautiful city in the world but I had to see it to believe it. Given my pessimistic attitude I believed it was a gross exaggeration. But I was so wrong. Parie just hooks you in at first glance and then charms you.

We stayed in Montmartre which is the best place to be if you want to see the local culture and experience the Parisian flavour. The cafes are amazing where you can just sip a cuppa or have a Crème brûlée and watch people passing by. Apart from the touristy places and locations what I loved most about Paris were it’s long never-ending streets; the lovely balconies with their detailed art work and the unique street lamps! I wish I had more days to roam Parie ki galiyaan…

The weather was fantastic during the entire week with a burning hot 27 degrees! I had packed my bag with my short skirts and dresses which otherwise lie in the deep recesses of the cupboard in UK.

As for the Eiffel, I didn’t find it attractive at all during day time. It looked like a huge ugly iron monstrosity. I wasn’t keen to going up the Eiffel as am afraid of heights. Curiously my son took an intense liking to the tower and then we went up.

During my research about Paris, I had read that it’s very difficult for people to get around in Paris if you don’t know French. People give you the cold shoulder and are usually rude. But we had no such problems. As long as you start with Bonjour and say Merci a couple of times, you can get through the main conversation in English. A little flattery also helps.

The flea markets in Paris are famous and we got to visit one near the Pantheon. And guess what! It was a book market spread out on almost the entire street. All the books were in French obviously but I enjoyed scanning through them to find some beloved authors.

Four days in Paris are not enough. It’s only scratching the surface. To really enjoy Paris you need to live there for some time – that’s a new wish I have.

More about Disneyland and photos later!

I am back

I am back from our trip to India. And surprisingly I am sulking. For someone who has boasted all her life that she likes her solitude, here I am craving for people, chaos  and mess. It wasn’t like this the last time. Tsk tsk.

As for our trip, things never go as planned. We had made grand plans – people to meet, places to visit, things to eat and do, in fact narrowed them down to weeks and days as we thought this was a short trip (yea we consider 4 weeks as short). I didn’t met half the people I wanted to, couldn’t even call some of them. Hubby was better off in that I suppose.

Kiddo thoroughly enjoyed Ganpati. He woke up early morning, had a bath and went with hubby and other relatives to bring home the idol. He was all excited to recite the aartis, perform puja (in his own way) and put flowers. He was also thrilled to see that Ganpati always had his one hand up to say “Hi!” He used to come rushing to me and say that Ganpati is saying Hi to him!

The other thing he enjoyed immensely was riding in cars and auto rikshaws. Every morning after he woke up, he would go to the balcony and look out whether our cars are still there in the parking lot. Going for a ride in Honda City was almost a daily event which was often followed by a ride in the auto.

And then there were the gifts he received!!

My brother gifted this jumbo ferrari car to kiddo. Their bond is surely getting stronger. Men and cars I tell you.

The food…!!!

My mum made these delicious modaks on the occasion of Ganpati. No wonder they vanished within minutes.
FIL got this jumbo Pomfret a day before we were leaving!! Yummy doesn’t suffice!
My sis-in-law made this scrumptious cake. From scratch. Yes. Even the flowers. How beautiful is that???

First impressions

Let me begin with saying that I am amazed at the kiddo’s nature to adapt. He was an angel during the flight. I think he actually enjoys the travel – the experience. He is always super excited when we travel by train or even by bus. Although, I think he was a little overwhelmed with all the emotional welcome and affection thrown his way by his grandparents and other relatives. He recovered soon and on our entire trip from airport to home, he was a chatterbox – counting the buses, autos, trucks and tempos.

I, in turn had a little adventure. I made my husband pick up someone else’s bag – (not on purpose!) when we got them off the conveyor belt. Thankfully our own bag had our number on it and the bag’s owner called us before we left the airport. Luckily for me, the saint had to deal with the security officers 🙂 After this minor mishap, I truly felt that I have landed in Mumbai! 

Kiddo’s cousin, my SIL’s son, is eager to play with him and surprise surprise! the kiddo plays with him too. In our last visit kiddo had turned into a human magnet and stuck to me all the time whereas now, both are behaving as if they are kumbh ke mele mein bichade hue bhai. I am hoping things will be so for the rest of our trip. I doubt whether he will be the same when the rest of the family joins in for Ganpati. I am trying to prepare him, as much as possible, for the number of relatives who would soon join us for Ganpati festival.

Two things have amused him a lot:

  • The ceiling fan – he can look at it for hours and he wants to switch them on every time he walks into a room
  • His cousin’s antics – enough said! 

It is a truth nationally acknowledged that a grandchild who lives abroad must be in want of continuous overwhelming attention from his/her grandparents on his visit to India. He must be showered with constant affection, love and gifts on a daily basis. I have come to believe that the line between affection and obsession is very thin indeed.

In such cases as this, the grandchild soon falls under the impression that he is a superior being who should be worshipped and be the centre of attention. Given the current situation the kiddo will soon be the above example.

As for me, I am hit with nostalgia and I go awwww at even small things…a familiar lane, atmosphere, even the vegetable and fish vendors lining up a street. Having said that, I also end up cursing the heat, pollution, dust and such sundry stuff that is part and parcel of Mumbai. At one time I am craving to travel local trains and at the very next, end up frustrated at the crowds that I would encounter.

Family and friends are eager and excited to meet us and hopefully we will find time to meet everyone. All this attention makes me feel as if I am a celebrity or at least someone very important… hee hee.. soon I would be waving and blowing kisses at random people I see on the road. 🙂

Festivals and vacations

Where should I start? It has been such a happening month with lots of activities to keep me busy that I couldn’t find time to update my blog and more horror…no time to read! Now I have more books added to my climbing TBR mountain list!

So let’s start from the beginning. The book festival was fantastic. I attended a couple of events  – one was Ruth Rendell and the other was ‘Co-operative learning for 21st Century’ – the latter more specific to my job needs. I thoroughly enjoyed the Rendell event. She talked about her latest book – The St. Zita Society, read out a chapter and answered questions. I admit I have read only one book of hers – The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy but what I read I liked and when I told her that I immensely enjoyed this book, she told me, much to my shock that it was based on a true story. Go grab it, it’s one of the best. I got her latest book autographed and so excited was I to tell everyone about me attending this event that my cell phone was completely discharged in all the chatting and when the time came to take a photo of her, my phone lost all power! How dumb of me! 😦 PS: I still haven’t read the book.

There is also this Turing Festival for 3 days every year which is essentially about events organised around the digital technology. The saint and I attended one event each and took turns at babysitting our kiddo. I attended this event and it lasted for a long 3 hours. A lot of food for thought!

The other major event is that I have finally started working again! Yay!! And the best part is that I get to work from home – yup am freelancing and it is sooo gooooddd!!! This has put me on a whole new level of organizing and managing and the lazy summer days have turned into frantic chaotic mess. Even though the saint won’t agree to it, there is order in my chaos if you can manage to find it. The other day I told him that I read somewhere “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life.” when he remarked on the mess around. And pat came his reply, “A messy house is a sign of a rested wife!”

We shall be travelling this weekend to India and staying there for a whole of 4 weeks!! This trip is specially for attending the Ganpati festival. We have this system at my in laws of a rotating Ganpati (if that’s a term??!!). Every year it is held at a different uncle’s place and the saint has 7 uncles. So it is at our place after every eight years. Coincidentally this would also be the first time that I get to be a part of it. In 4 years of marriage I have somehow missed it.

Here I am submerged in a lot of work and a lot of mess. The saint is going places these days – travelling a lot for his work – travelling Europe!! He left today for Sweden and would be coming home just a day before we travel to India. We have managed to pack a lot of stuff over the weekend but there is still a lot to do – all last minute packing and checking off items off our list. And here I am seeking solace in blogging with all the mess around me.

Readers, so please send me some inspiration, enthusiasm and will to get of my butt and start cleaning and packing! And what have you all been upto these days??