Monday, 31 August 2015

She is gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she would want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

~David Harkins~

I took a few days to recover from my jet lag. I suffered from horrendous jet lag and the combination of summer, fasting and grieving was making it tougher. Thankfully, there were plenty of things to keep me busy and occupied. Despite the roller-coaster weather with temperatures lurching from one extreme to another, the garden managed to survive among the very tall grasses and weeds. Very messy and overgrown. Babe did his best to keep the plants watered but he wasn’t able to do any mowing. Unfortunately, the sunflowers and courgettes didn’t survived and the broccoli was literally covered with caterpillars. Pottering about in the garden, deadheading, weeding and mowing helped me to cope with my grief. It was my sanctuary. But not for long.Shots from Home - June

On my first day at work, my heart was shattered into a thousand pieces again. My best friend, CYH, had finally succumbed to her illness. Inna lilla wa inna lilla hirrajiun. I was grief-stricken when I called Babe and later informed my manager that I needed to go home to gather my thoughts. Thankfully. he was very understanding and told me to take the week off. I was no use in the current state of mind. I’m so thankful to him and my HR department for letting me have the space to recover. Babe was very supportive and very in tune to my delicate mood which I really appreciated. During times like this, hugs meant a lot.

We went for long walks at our favourite playgrounds to get some fresh air and clear our heads. As soon as we drove through the gates of Brandon Marsh, a stoat ran across the road. Oh what a greeting. When we got out of the car, a Kestrel was hovering over the reed beds. I think it must have spotted something, because it plunged to the ground but unfortunately came up empty-handed. The name Kestrel was derived from the French ‘crecelle’ meaning ‘to rattle’ a reference to the bird’s call. Similarly, tinnunculus in its Latin name meant ‘little bell ringer’, another reference to its call.

Brandon Marsh - June

Around us different species of bees were buzzing on the yellow heather that were abundantly spreading in its glorious golden hues. There was a wonderful variety ranging from tiny bees, to honey bees and the great fat bumble bees. Heather blooms provided a very late source of nectar which helped the bees survived the winter and boosting egg production. It was lovely listening to the droves of bees buzzing about with a satisfied kind of hum sipping nectar from one bloom to another.

Brandon Marsh - June

‘How doth the little busy bee

Improve each shining hour

And gather honey all the day

From every opening flower’

~Isaac Watts~

Brandon Marsh - June

Then it was time to head into the reserve. But I was distracted by the Common Spotted Orchids littered the swampy meadow beside the car-park. At this rate, I’ll never get into the reserve :-). There were so many of them that they carpeted the meadow with their delicate, pale pink spikes. The orchid got its name from its leaves which were green with abundant purplish oval spots. I found it hilarious that their twin tuberous roots had earned them the name Orchis which was literally ‘testicle’ in ancient Greek and their powdered roots were used as an early aphrodisiac.

Brandon Marsh - June As we walked along the corridor of the visitor centre, we looked up in the eaves and saw these 4 pairs of eyes looking down at us from their nest.  These contented chicks seemed in no hurry to fledge but then with food on demand and a tranquil atmospheric nest, it was no surprise. We didn’t stay long because one of their parents had flown in and was waiting to feed them. The parents took turn to feed them by catching insects on the wing and collect them in their throats into compressed pellet of insects before returning to the nest. Watching the chicks waiting for their parents to return with a mouthful of flies was fascinating. The moment they detect food was on its way they leaped up with great big golden mouths ajar hoping they will be the lucky one who gets the meal.Brandon Marsh - June

    Swallows travel to and fro,
    And the great winds come and go,
    And the steady breezes blow,
    Bearing perfume, bearing love.
    Breezes hasten, swallows fly,
    Towered clouds forever ply,
    And at noonday, you and I
    See the same sunshine above.
    ~Robert Louis Stevenson~
    Brandon Marsh - June 

We walked through the woods, as sunlight dappled down upon our heads through the leaves beneath a cloudless June sky. We sat in the hide at opposite corners gazing into the lake, listening to the cries of the Lapwings, Black headed gulls and Common Tern. Everytime, one of its parents flew in with a fish, the Terns chicks rushed out of their nest, screaming to be fed. They looked like a big ball of fluff. A bright flash of blue whizzed past the hide with its cries trailing behind it. On the island beside the hide, the long staying Fulvous whistling duck had finally woken up and was having a drink. A Great Crested Grebe suddenly appeared right in front of the hide and distracted us from the duck.

Brandon Marsh - June We continued on towards the very empty East Marsh Hide both in and out. The reeds and grasses were very overgrown too. We then popped to Teal pool where a flock of Redshanks with their long, bright red legs. They moved in erratic way while pecking and swept through the water with their bills. They later flew off with a white triangular wedge up the back and a wide white triangle on the rear with their agitated, far-carrying cries ‘tlu-leu-leu. They were known as ‘yelpers of the marsh’ because they were off with the slightest hint of provocation.

Brandon Marsh - June

We also checked out the Santa Pod summer nationals. This was the 2nd time we’d been here and was surprised to see the place quite empty. But even then, all the best places had been taken. But, we didn’t mind because with our powerful DSLR cameras, we can take photographs anywhere. We trekked to our favourite place at the furthest end where the finishing line was. On the track, the qualifiers were blazing through the tracks with the smell of burning rubber, the deafening noise and the quarter mile of tyre smoke.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

A drag race was an acceleration contest between two vehicles over a flat, straight distance of a quarter mile. Both vehicles competed from a standing start and the contest was run after qualifying in tournament style eliminations, the loser being eliminated and the winner progressing till there was one driver/rider left. The race was started by means of the 'Christmas Tree', a traffic light system in the centre of the track just off the start-line. The racing machines front wheels were moved into light beams across the start-line that detected the vehicle, these coupled with the finish line sensors activate individual time and speed clocks for each lane. The lights on the Pro Christmas Tree count down, amber then four tenths of a second later, green. The race was then on, first to the finish line was the winner unless a red light shows in that lane, meaning the vehicle left before the green and automatically disqualified.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

There was a pre-race routine that consisted of running the machines across the starting line, giving them better traction. Before that, the drivers slowly pull up under the bridge and then revved up their engines for a burnout. It looked as if each driver was trying to outdo each other. After four or five burnouts, they pulled slowly into the staging beams while they revved their engines in a way that they seemed to taunt each other. When the lights turned green , they zoomed down the track with the front wheels in the air and flames coming from out of the header pipes. It was a total sensory overload and I could see why Babe was hooked.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June There were many classes of race machine and eligibility was based on various requirements and specifications. These included vehicle type, engine size, fuel, vehicle weight and allowed modifications. Among them were the MSA Pro Modified, Nostalgia Fuel Car Challenge, Comp Eliminator, Super Pro ET, Pro ET, Sportsman ET, Super Street, Junior Dragster, Topspeed Automotive Street Eliminator, Outlaw Anglia, Funny Bike, Super Street Bike: Winner Garry Bowe, Runner-up Chris and Supertwin Top Gas. We tried to see as many as we could but after sometime, I felt that they seemed to merge into one:-).

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

We also checked out the grandstand which was free. But we didn’t stay long because we couldn’t get good  photographs without being photo-bombed. People were walking, moving around, trying to find their seat and standing when the race was on. Spectators could also walk into the pits and among the race machinery. The crews, riders and drivers were quite happy to talk, but I think they needed some space when they were busy thrashing to make the next round! It was also a good chance for photographs and autographs but we didn’t take the opportunity.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

Super-gas and Alcohol,
Not to mention Nitro-methane.
Engines revving high as hell,
To speed's beyond insane.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

White smoke at the starting line,
Then pull up to the tree.
Get prepared to nail the gas,
And set your spirit free.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June 
You feel the rush of adrenaline,
Racing through your veins.
So hold on tight and beware,
And do not cross the lanes.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

First the g's will throw you back,
And pin you where your seated.
Reaction time must be great,
Or you will be defeated.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

You hear that big bore screaming,
The fuel a magic potion.
You take off like a rocket ship,
Your sled is set in motion.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June 
Acceleration blows your mind,
Your vision becomes blurry.
The opponent's car is right beside you,
So you better hurry.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

Blower whine is piercing loud,
As nitro fills the air.
Halfway down the tires shake,
And give you quite a scare.
But you've been down this road before,
So wipe out any fear.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

Get that bad boy straightened out,
You know how to steer.
You see the finish line ahead,
So keep that sucker floored.
And as you crossed that line,
The crowd around you roared.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

You pull a cord to launch the chute,
To get that dragster stopped.
Such a feeling to win a race,
It's one that can't be topped.
ETA was under five seconds,
At 300 miles per hour.

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June

Due in part to nitro-methane,
And 7,000 horsepower.
Yeah, Top Fuel is the life for me,
Couldn't live another way.
Now it's time to pack it up,
And come race another day.

~BrianOde to Drag Racing~

Santa Pod Summer Nationals - June 

Babe and I completed the week by hanging out beside the Airport retail park compound. A bit strange to spend the weekend but we were  waiting to catch a glimpse of the XH558, named ‘The Spirit of Great Britain’. The last airworthy Vulcan bomber, was touring the UK with a series of flypast to mark its final year of flight  and Coventry Airport was one of the places it flew over. We were among the first to arrive and staked our place, which was right under her flight path. For about an hour, we stood there in the cold watching the traffic along the infamous Tollbar roundabout. We could see cars parked on the double-yellow line along side the perimeter of the airport fence. People started gathering at the park and there was anticipation and a bit of a party atmosphere.

Last tour of XH558 - Vulcan BomberWhen the Vulcan finally appeared in the horizon, smoking away in the distance with the unmistakable four thick trails of exhaust trailing behind it. She appeared to be just hanging in the air as if suspended from the sky like a mobile. As she thundered above our heads to the airport, we could hear the rumble of her Olympus engines, the whistling and the trademark howl. It circled a few times around the airport before flying back again and disappearing for good. I was videoing her every movement during this time and all you could hear were the sounds of cameras whirring away. Everyone waved and clapped. No one could keep their eyes out of the sky. It was a truly awesome sight and sound.

Last tour of XH558 - Vulcan Bomber

2015 will be regarded as the last flying season for this mighty plane, By then, she will have far exceeded the 250 flying hours promised before her restoration. This was because the three expert ‘technical authorities’, BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Rolls-Royce have collectively decided to cease their support. Without that support, under Civil Aviation Authority regulations, the plane was prohibited from flying. When XH588 was retired from RAF service in March 1984, no-one expected a Vulcan to fly again without the supporters perseverance and determination. 2015 was going to be a spectacular summer because she will be making her presence at nearly all the air-shows but also a very emotional one. Air-shows without the XH588 will never be the same again but to paraphrase Dr Seuss:

“Don’t cry because it stopped, smile because it happened.”

Last tour of XH558 - Vulcan Bomber 

This blog posting is in memory of my best friend,

Che Yoon Hussein (24th January 1953-23rd June 2015)



I’ll never forget this. We’d a good laugh cos she’d fish and chips and I‘d fried Mamak noodles. 

“Remember the best, friendly words, kindly deeds.

Remember the roses and not the weeds.

Remember the pleasure, forget the pain…

Then only sweet memories will remain.”

~Patience Strong~

Trip to Malaysia 2013

Our last time together with my sister buying a t-shirt for Babe

Sunday, 16 August 2015

If Roses Grow in Heaven

Shots from Home - June

If Roses grow in Heaven
Lord, please pick a bunch for me.

Shots from Home - June


Place them in my Mother’s arms
and tell her they’re from me.

Shots from Home - June 

Tell her that I love her and miss her,
and when she turns to smile,

Shots from Home - June

place a kiss upon her cheek
and hold her for a while.

Shots from Home - June 

Because remembering her is easy,
I do it every day,


Shots from Home - June

but there’s an ache within my heart
that will never go away.

Shots from Home - June


Shots from Home - June

For 3 days and 3 nights, we held prayers for my beloved Mum. The house was full of relatives who’d come from all over the country to pay their respect, together with neighbours and friends. They joined us in reading the surah Yassin and the Koran. My father, my sister and I were very grateful to all of them for their condolences and for their assistance during this very difficult and sad time. We pray that Allah will keep us strong and ‘redha’ that my beloved Mum is now in a better place and she will always be in our prayers.Malaysia - June

The 3 of us, Abah, Dee and I spent the time reminiscing of the happy and not-so-happy times. We laughed, we cried and we laughed some more. The telephone never stopped ringing from concerned friends and relatives to make sure we were okay. My relatives who lived nearby popped over every few days which we were very grateful for. Babe called me every night to make sure that I’m holding well. But there were wobbly times when the tears never stopped flowing. It was hard. We were in a daze most of the time. It was surreal, and felt like a dream.

Malaysia - June I called my best friend, CYH, to tell her that I was in Malaysia. Her brother, Jack, answered and when he found out who I was gave me an upsetting news. CYH was in a critical condition with Stage 4 cancer of the womb. Dee rushed over when I dropped the phone and started sobbing. Since Eriq was at home, we asked Abah if it was ok for him to be on his own for a few hours. Eriq then gave us a lift to the KL general hospital where she was admitted. 

There we met another good friend. JJ who was waiting for us. We walked into her room and everyone left the 2 of us. Although very heavily sedated, she recognised me and we were able to have some very personal chats. The last time I saw CYH was 2 years ago. In fact, everytime I’m back we always meet up. More visitors turned up including my former colleagues which I’d not seen for nearly 20 years. It was a very sad time to meet everybody. I gave CYH a kiss and said a prayer and said goodbye. I’d a chat with Jack who promised to update us with any news.

JJ took us to lunch at the popular Basil Thai in Bangsar Village where her beautiful daughter joined us. We ordered sticky fragrant rice with steamed siakap with lime and chilli, stir fried kangkong wth belacan, stir fried black pepper beef and mango salad with dried shrimp. That was a feast and all washed down with icy cold fresh juice. We’d a wonderful time catching up and then it was time to leave. They gave us a lift to Pasar Seni where I wanted to get tee-shirts for Babe and fridge magnets. While we were in the shops, the heavens opened and I’d my first encounter of a typical Malaysian thunderstorm. Thankfully, we were indoors. As soon as it began to subside, we rushed to the bus station which was just opposite the complex.

Malaysia - June

We were hoping to get a direct bus to Port Dickson but it was only running at 7 pm. So we took the bus to Seremban and from there another bus to Port Dickson. We managed to fall asleep on the first leg of the journey. In Seremban, we warmed up at Dunkin Donuts with coffee and bought a selection of yummy doughnuts for Abah. Then we boarded the bus back to Port Dickson. I was busy checking out the route because it was nearly 20 years ago I was last on it. From PD we took a cab back to my parents house. It was nice to be home.

One of my cousins were having a majlis cukur jambul for her first grandson. It was a baby’s rite of passage where the baby had it’s first haircut, done accordance with Malay tradition. It was also a celebration for the arrival of the lastest member in the tribe. Prayers were recited or sung known as marhaban or berzanji. The new parents took turn to carry the baby to their closest family members including moi, village elders and religious leaders who then snipped a lock of hair. It was also customary for those who did the honours to present the baby who was now bawling his heart out with a little gift in cash or kind. The locks were put into a young coconut shaped into a bowl. The guests were then presented with a quintessentially bunga telur in a bag packed with towel as a party favour. Thank you so much.Once the ceremony ended, the hair was then buried.

Malaysia - June

A ray of hope flickers in the sky
A tiny star lights up way up high
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

Malaysia - June
A silent wish sails the seven seas
The winds of change whisper in the trees
And the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn
This comes to pass when a child is born

Malaysia - June
A rosy hue settles all around
You've got the feel you're on solid ground
For a spell or two, no-one seems forlorn
This comes to pass when a child is born
And all of this happens because the world is waiting,

Malaysia - June
Waiting for one child
Black, white, yellow, no-one knows
But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter,
Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone's neighbour
And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten, forever

Malaysia - June
It's all a dream, an illusion now
It must come true, sometime soon somehow
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

~Johnny Mathis~ 

We then joined the rest of the guests for a traditional Malay spread. We helped ourselves to fluffy steamed rice, chicken and pineapple in spicy coconut milk, fiddlehead fern salad, lobster sambal and dry lamb curry. It was very, very spicy but very, very yummy. It was also a very hot day that I indulged in tall glasses of icy cold syrup.  It was lovely seeing all my relatives again in a different setting. We didn’t go home straight away because it was my second cousin’s daughter first birthday and they were having a party. While preparations was being made, Dee and I took refuge in one of the air-conditioned rooms and had a short siesta. About an hour later, we joined the celebration wishing the one year old Amanda, a very happy birthday. Then it was time to head back to Port Dickson.

Malaysia - June

I settled into a routine by accompanying my father to the market every morning. It was a time for father-daughter bonding where he told me of events that had happened. He was so proud of my sister for putting everything down, no questions asked to look after my late mother. There were tears but he was very happy looking after my late mother for nearly 20 years. When I mentioned this to my sister, she was again in tears. The tears were never far away to be honest while we stored away our mother’s things. We kept all her things and we planned to give some as gifts to close friends and relatives and donated to the mosque and charities. May Allah keep our mother under his care. Amin.

Malaysia - June My sister and I also popped over to her house in Pucong to collect her car. We spent the night there before driving back the next day. We don’t want to leave my father alone too long. But first, my sister wanted to have a hair-cut and I had mine trimmed too. We bought Hainan Chicken rice for the children and brought a few packs to Port Dickson. On the way back, we stopped at MacDonald for double cheese burger with chips and polished it along the way. We passed a few places where we’d picnics as a family and the tears flowed freely again. We missed our mother so much.

We also made a trip to a very popular beach about 8 kilometres away. I wanted to get another t-shirt for Babe and also checked out the beautiful sunset. Teluk Kemang had developed so much that we missed the entrance. The place was buzzing and it wasn’t even the weekend. I think the locals were taking advantage before the crowds returned. I was so tempted to have a dip in the warm, blue  sea but we came unprepared. Next time, perhaps, together with the children. Food stalls, gift shops and picnic sites dotted the beach alongside hotels. resorts and motels. We went home as soon as the call for Maghrib prayers was heard.

Malaysia - June

Earlier, we drove a bit further to feed a family of monkeys. The road cuts through a forest and the monkeys would come down to the roadside to search for food. It seemed to be quite a popular tourist attraction because there were plenty of lay-byes where people stop to feed them. When we arrived, there were already a few cars parked. No one gets out the car because these were wild animals and were quite aggressive. We slowly rolled down the windscreen and chucked out fruits, nuts and biscuits and quickly rolled them up again. They slowly turned up and there was a bit of scramble and fights before they settled down to eat. It was also quite a challenge to take photographs. The only complaint was that the rubbish left behind which were harmful to wildlife. I must remember to write to the district office to put up signs to ask people to take the rubbish home with them. If there were signs for traffic to slowdown because of these animals, I’m sure the authorities can put up a few more. 

Malaysia - June

“Well, they say monkeys don’t talk and I say don’t you squawk;

monkeys may not be Mr. Spock, but they sure do talk.

I was out there in the jungle and I heard a monkey say

Sweet, baby, hey, hey, hey and that wasn’t just a mumble.

Malaysia - June

You see, monkeys got a lot to say, and all you’ve gotta do is listen,

Because their words sure do glisten, and that’s for each and everyday.

No, it;s not just jibber-jabber signifying a whole lot of blabber,

It’s words that you’ll get blushing, so careful, don’t you start gushing.

Malaysia - June

Sweet, baby, hey, hey, hey that’s what monkeys like to say,

So don’t say they don’t talk because that’s just a squawk.

~Sock Poet~

Malaysia - June

I was also blessed to be able to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan with my family. I’d not celebrated the fasting month in Malaysia in nearly 20 years. Bittersweet for me. One of my nephews, Evin who was working as a chef, came over to Port Dickson to join us for breaking the fast. It was also the opportunity for him to show off his skills by cooking up a storm. He prepared sweet sour carp, prawn curry and kailan in oyster sauce which were scrumptious. He was really a very good cook and I wished him all the very best. In fact, he was offered a post in Mauritius but turned it down because he doesn’t want to leave his girl friend. Aaah … young love. We also checked out the Farmer’s Market to see if there was anything that we fancied. It was quite dangerous going food shopping when you’re fasting. But we managed to restrain ourselves.

Malaysia - June

“There is an unseen sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness. We are lutes. When the soundbox is filled, no music can come forth. When the brain and belly burn from fasting, every moment a new song rises out of the fire. The mists clear, and a new vitality makes you spring up the steps before you …”


Then it was time for me to fly back to the UK. 2 weeks flew very fast. It was so hard to leave everyone but this is the reality of life. I went to my Mother’s grave to say goodbye and to have a little chat. I’m in tears writing this. I love you Emak and you’re forever in my heart. I left Malaysia at 11.30 am and arrived in a very hot and dusty Dubai at 2.30pm. I donated a prayer mat in memory of my mother at the praying room in the airport. I didn’t have to wait long and boarded the plane to Birmingham. Throughout the journey, to and fro, I watched Cinderella which was ok, Night at the Museum III kept me confused with The Mummy films, The Hobbit was rubbish and so was Jupiter rising. I hated watching films but at least it helped past the time.

When the plane touched down in Birmingham, there was a very long queue at Customs. It was worse at the non-European section where we were warned that it would take us more than an hour. I called Babe to tell him that I would be late. After about 45 minutes, it was my turn. The Custom Officer was polite and asked me how long and why I was away. She stamped my passport and off I went to collect my luggage. Because of the long queue, I didn’t have to wait long for my luggage. I called Babe to inform him that I’m out and will be waiting for him outside at the concourse. I nipped into M&S for a drink and waited for Babe. It was lovely to be back.

“Where we love is home

home that our feet may leave,

but our hearts”

~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.~