Yelly Writes

Easter thoughts

I have so much to be thankful for today. Not only is it Easter Sunday, today marks 49 years since my parents promised to love each other for richer or poorer, through sickness and in health. I’m sure whilst they were publicly declaring their love for each other 49 years ago, they didn’t know that circumstances in the future would ask for real-time declarations of those vows. But every second that they’re together, I see how they live those vows. I am glad that I am one of those people who actually know their parents love each other, wholly, completely and unconditionally.

God promised to love us in the same way, through the good and bad days, through happy and sad days, through days of feast or famine. He declares His love to to us daily, so that we know, so that we are secure in the knowledge that HE LOVES US ABOVE ALL OTHERS. He even went as far as to offer up His own much beloved Son to stand in our place, so that His Son would pay the price of our sins on our behalf. This ultimate sacrifice is why we have Easter Sunday, and all the celebrations that go with it.

This Easter Sunday, I rejoice in the knowledge that God loves ME THAT MUCH. I am grateful that His love for me is unconditional. I am thankful that God has allowed us, my siblings and I, most especially, to witness the love and devotion our parents have for each other, and to remind us daily of how much His love exceeds that many times over. 

We are so very loved, each and everyone of us. I hope that in the midst of family celebrations (virtual or otherwise), during self-isolation and social distancing, during this completely unprecedented period of global uncertainty, we focus on how unconditionally loved we are, how blessed we are to be loved this completely. 

Happy Easter!

Yelly Writes

Stay home!

We’re in this for the long haul. We’re literally held hostage by this microscopic collection of nuclei acid, proteins and lipids. It’s not even an organism. It’s not even alive!

I’ve never been unaware of the risk. I know the consequences and the reality of things. But when a family friend dies, he was a gifted cardiologist working the front lines in Manila, and a dear friend from my call centre days falls ill enough to be put on a ventilator in a hospital in New York, it hits home. It hits home in the hardest way.

Please everyone, I beg you, stay home. Keep away from people. If only to protect yourself from catching it and giving it to someone else. Wash your hands so you don’t get the virus and spread it. Please don’t think you’re invincible. We’re all at risk, others at a higher risk that the rest. I beg you to think of how your actions will affect everyone else. We’re all in this pond together. No matter what everyone says, we’re all inextricably linked.

Yelly Eats

Joining the coffee craze

So I finally joined the dalgona coffee craze.

I kept seeing posts from friends in the Philippines talking about it. Apart from knowing it was called “dalgona” coffee, I had absolutely no idea what it was about.

So what does a person do these days when they don’t know what something is? Of course! You google it! So after googling it (and after Alan later tells me that he knew about it), I find out that the coffee fluffiness was a craze that began in South Korea.

I wasn’t that surprised about this because K-Pop is everywhere (one of my friends flew to London, from the Philippines, to watch the K-Pop phenomenon that is BTS when they had their 2-day London concert at Wembley). I once caught the Korean telenovela bug and absolutely loved Full House and Kim San Soon. One of my best friends was completely obsessed with Korean drama series and K-pop. It was great because I could get to dip my toes into the craze, without going all pruney. I think I loved the quirky cuteness of the storylines, but I don’t think I drank the Korean telenovela kool-aid enough to be completely drawn in. I did love that the obsession included all things Korean…because the food (of course!) was what I loved the most. I fell in love with kimchee, kimbap, bulgogi, chapchae and bibimbap (Note to self: when this lockdown finishes, find a Korean restaurant and indulge!).

But I digress! The craze apparently started when Jung Il-Woo (who is apparently a Korean megastar, yes folks, I have been hiding under a rock for years!) made the coffee on live TV. I can’t recall the actual circumstances. But after googling dalgona coffee, I decided it would be a Saturday morning treat. As it was coffee, I was definitely up for trying it.

It was actually so very easy to make. Basically, it was 2 tablespoons each of your choice of instant coffee, sugar and hot water. You used either a whisk (if you have the patience and the stamina – this would probably a great workout for bingo wings) or an electric whisk to whip the sugar-coffee-water mixture into a heavy froth. The coffee turns thick, fluffy and light coloured. The delicious (and very strong) coffee fluff is then spooned over iced milk (yep, iced, literally ice cubes into a glass, milk over the ice cubes). I flavoured my milk with hazelnut syrup. I loved it…mostly because I love strong-enough-to-stand-your-spoon-in coffee. Although I think I would probably make a smaller batch of the coffee cloud. If you go by the premise that the ratio of sugar to coffee to hot water is 1:1:1, then you’ll be okay.

My friends have tried various iterations of the froth: one has tried matcha, another has tried hot chocolate, another has tried Milo. I think I’m going to look for strawberry and chocolate Nesquick to see if I can’t whip it up as well.

I think this will be a good distraction from the pressures of the current lockdown.

Yelly Writes

How are you?

Hi there! Thanks for dropping by. How are you? It’s been quite an intense few days in the UK. So, like a lot of people, I’m feeling a little ambivalent about…everything.

On Friday, 13 March, our offices closed for a dry run and to test whether our systems were robust enough to handle everyone working from home. Everything worked. Of course there were little hiccups, but nothing a call to our IT support company couldn’t deal with via telephone and by accessing our computers remotely. So the working from home experiment worked.

On Monday, we returned to the office but it was a quiet Monday. I have several colleagues who don’t work Mondays and a few were working off-site that day. We’re a small organisation anyway, but without a full house, the office felt empty-ish. The day was busy, as it usually is for me. But spirits were high and there was a lot of happy chatter in the office. We were, of course, worried about the coronavirus but we were taking precautions, trying to be clean, trying not to touch our faces, sneezing/coughing into tissue and binning it, washing our hands, looking after each other, and listening to the news updates.

That evening, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced the newest measures that the government were taking to prevent the spread of the virus. If people could work from home, they should. There shouldn’t be any unnecessary travel. People should follow social distancing. Avoid gathering in large groups. All sensible and necessary advice that should, if followed, prevent the spread of illness. So our senior leadership team at work decided it was time to close our doors and allow everyone to work from the relative safety of their homes.

So the following Tuesday, off I went to the office, did office managery things: checked the air-conditioning temperature in the server room, made sure the faucets weren’t leaking, emptied the fridge of perishables and made sure things, supplies were put away as appropriate. I wasn’t alone though. Our Finance director and HR manager also had the same idea as me. I ended up working a full day anyway and went home loaded like a pack mule

It’s now Day 8 of fully working from home. I’m exhausted, physically and mentally. Properly working from home is quite the intense experience. I think I feel overwrought because I’m constantly on”Go”, if that makes any sense and although I take regular breaks, I still don’t switch off. The phone will ring and I pick up. An email comes in, I address it as soon as possible.

They say you need to follow a routine, a schedule, that you need to take breaks. I have done that. But I’m going to go a few things further: I’m going to pack my bag up with my laptop and I will be switching off my office mobile and not switching it on until late Sunday evening. I need to properly switch off.

We’re all in this together, and in it for the long haul. We don’t know how long this epidemic will last. I just hope people will heed the request from the authorities and practice social distancing. It’s apparent that that’s quite necessary. I hope people understand that if they don’t follow these guidelines, people WILL die. It’s no longer a case of if, it’s the case of when.

Yelly Writes

The jaundiced eye of prejudice

If people are really hateful and disgusting in the way they treat other people, that probably came from a hurt place – but then, when does it stop? When does this spiral end?

— Lauren Mayberry

In the nearly 12 years I’ve lived in the UK, I’ve never experienced overt racism or harassment …until tonight.

I’d bought hot food and was carrying my backpack, my lunch bag and 2 carrier bags of hot food. I didn’t expect the Greater Anglia 17:02 train to be busy but after the cancellations, I should’ve expected it. I got on a fairly empty train, with about 8 minutes before the train left and there were so many empty seats. So I placed the bags of hot food next to me. Whilst the train was filling up, I was mentally rearranging my bags so that I could quickly move things around because I didn’t think anyone would look too kindly about my letting my food sit on a seat that someone else could occupy.

This man got on and to me really slowly, and really loudly, “Put your bags on the floor.” I said to him that it was food so I didn’t want to move it to the floor. I was still trying to figure out how to balance my bags of food and other bags. I think he got tired of waiting for me and said loudly, “FFS!” He flounced off and sat down next to this woman in a 6-seater section. He said quite audibly, because I could hear him across the aisle, “Stupid Chinese.” The woman he sat next to laughed and said sympathetically, “You wouldn’t want her virus anyway.”

I am outspoken and am liable to say whatever comes to mind. But tonight I didn’t know how to say the things that were going through in my mind. I was incensed and I had things to say, but I couldn’t say them. I was screaming in my head. I wanted to cry but I didn’t want to give that man and that woman the satisfaction that they’d got to me. I hate how I felt. I felt so injured and angry but so inept and helpless. 

At the same time, I knew that if I’d said exactly what was going on in my head, I would never be able to live with myself, for saying the cruelly sharp words that I wanted to throw back at them. Because I know that once you say them, you can’t ever take them back. Even now, I cringe at the abusive words that were reverberating in my head at the time. I’m glad I didn’t give them utterance.

I try to tell myself that racism is a result of narrow-mindedness, of fear of the unfamiliar, of ignorance and arrogance, and education will help cure all that. And sometimes it’s not. Sometimes people are just hurtful and cruel. Sometimes it’s just mean-spiritedness and cruelty, and there’s no cure for that.

Yelly Writes

Monday musings

Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you’re grown up. Growing up means being patient, holding your temper, cutting out the self-pity, and quitting with the righteous indignation.”

― Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York

I hate to admit it but I think I’m guilty of allowing the arrogance of youth to give me licence to wallow in righteous indignation without self checking. This is not to say I consider myself to be young. Anything but. Which is why I am constantly telling myself off because I don’t necessarily act my age.

As adults we’re meant to be more contemplative and less prone to impulsive behaviour. We preface it with the excuse that we’re “following our heart.” But as adults our actions should be more measured, more considered, because we’re meant to be guided by experience and the knowledge that we have responsibilities and people who count on us.

The operative word is SHOULD. But we don’t always act our age. Some worse than others.

Yelly Writes

Another new year…

“The New Year is a painting not yet painted; a path not yet stepped on; a wing not yet taken off! Things haven’t happened as yet! Before the clock strikes twelve, remember that you are blessed with the ability to reshape your life!”

Mehmet Murat Ildan

I said I wasn’t going to do New Year’s resolutions.

But I knew that if I didn’t write things down, if I didn’t list things down, I would start the year without a rough plan. And the people who know me well know that I love a list!

So I went and listed my 5 goals for 2020.

To write more.

To read more.

To take more photos.

To be healthier.

To be kinder.

Yelly Eats

Lucky me, I found Lucky Tea!

Another day, another milk tea place in London. We’re enjoying milk/bubblet tea at the moment and we’ve sort of started a milk/bubble tea crawl of sorts. Alan saw posts on Instagram about Lucky Tea and the people reviewing the new tea place were more than positive, so we thought we’d try it. We managed to find Lucky Tea after a longish walk along Shaftesbury Avenue. Who knew Shaftesbury Avenue was that extensive? But then again, it’s like walking through Drury Lane, which is actually longer than I thought as well (we were off to find a cheesecake place…but that’s another story!

It wasn’t busy but, there was, effectively, just one seating are for a comfortable 2 and about 5 barstool seats. There were already a few people waiting for their orders but I don’t think people are expected to linger like we did. The staff were so smiley and friendly. It’s a good sign when they’re happy to talk about their products and the various promotions they had.

We decided on the smoothies because we really wanted the bottles that the smoothies came in (we’re coming back for the other one…hopefully they have them back in stock then!). Our friend, and resident milk tea addict, Yuki, chose a dragonfruit smoothie, Alan​ chose the strawberry and I chose mango (of course!). All our smoothies were topped with a cream cheese foam. Now you’ll probably think that sounds bizarre but strangely (or not so strangely) it absolutely worked! It tasted like you were drinking a slice of cheesecake! Those who know me well know that I LOVE cheesecake in all its different iterations. So this was an absolute treat. My favourite creamy dessert and my favourite fruit in the whole wide world (hey, I am Filipino!), what more could I want? I absolutely loved my mango smoothie! And because it was two of my favourite things, I really, REALLY wanted to have another one!

I’m so looking forward going back and trying their other offerings. They have a Yakult range and that’s got me all excited!

One of the rationalisations for going to Lucky Tea was that they had lovely packaging. Whilst I know you can probably buy these cutesy bottles online, it’s part of the fun of having milk tea! Here’s said Lucky Tea bottle rinsed again at home (thank you to the lovely girls at Lucky Tea who graciously rinsed out empty bottles after we hogged the seating area for longer than they’re probably used to!). I’m going back for the other bottle!

**P.S. The metal straw isn’t part of the purchase. I got this from my fabulous eco-warrior friend Kira, the beauty and brains behind Rinse + Repeat PH, purveyors of handmade shampoo and conditioner bars (when I say purveyors, I mean Kira herself makes the bars! How’s that for a super eco-warrior?).

Yelly Eats

Eating Taiwan in London!

We’ve walked past this little place on Rupert Street in Chinatown that specialises in Taiwanese dishes so many times for ages, either on our way to another restaurant in Chinatown or on our way to Yolkin (the cutesy shop that sells macaroon ice cream sandwiches, also found on Rupert Street). We’ve always been curious about the food and how good the food was because there was always a queue of people. But we never really had the opportunity to try the food, because we were always going for a meal somewhere else. But thankfully, last Saturday provided an excellent opportunity to stand in the queue and chance it!

We waited in the queue for about 20 minutes and looked at the menu that was very helpfully next to us, by the shop window, next to where we were queuing. We ordered a few dishes to have individually and thoroughly enjoyed our choices! For our individual meals Alan had deep fried salt & pepper pork chop with rice (which was served with preserved greens and braised pork), I had a very generous bowl of Sichuan dan-dan noodles that had an extremely tasty peanut sauce and the right amount of heat and spice and Yuki had the Old Tree thin noodles soup with oysters which as deceptively small but was incredibly filling! We also ordered a side of Taiwanese style salt and pepper crispy squid which sooooooooo good! It had the right amount of plum favouring sprinkled on it too!

The space has maybe 20-30 seats but always seems packed to the rafters. So if you’re aiming to go and try the food, be prepared to wait a little. It’s a fairly good sign that a lot of their diners look Taiwanese, and that they all seem willing to wait in the cold for their chance to be seated. To me that means the food is good enough to queue and wait for, and it was a taste of home away from home.

I so wish I could’ve been to Taiwan, to try the restaurant food, and the street food and the fabulous snacks. However, I’m more than happy to trust the opinions of all the customers queuing up by OTDB. There is something infinitely comforting about the small space with the assortment of tables all crammed to maximise possible revenue. It reminded me of the little eateries (which we called carinderia in Filipino) which my friends and I used to go to to eat cheap but delicious food.

The food at OTDB is more than just cheap and cheerful though. It is yummy and ultimately comforting. I suppose to me it is such a comfort because the food traditions in Asia, especially around Southeast Asia are very similar to what their neighbours are eating. Also, everything is relatively…incestuous for a lack of a better word. Everyone has a version of a dish that is similar to something from another country.

Apart from the culturally similar flavours, I absolutely enjoyed the numbing heat of the Sichuan dan-dan noodles. I’ve had a couple of other versions of it, and I think this is, by far, my favourite version of the spicy stringed yumminess. I think the addition of the peanut flavour provides a different yumminess to the numbing heat of the noodles. My tolerance for spicy food has definitely waned a lot, because Alan and I stopped actually eating hot food. I’ve got a spicy new favourite now though…and I think I’m going to start eating a lot of spicy noodles again!

Yelly Eats

Food tripping in Colchester

Food tripping in Colchester today.

We went to try a relatively new Taiwanese food street place named Honey Bear (cutesy, I know! But you’ve gotta love a bit of kitsch, eh?). I had I had a taro milk tea with black pearls (black sago) and egg pudding. Alan had the fresh milk oolong tea, which was okay, but it was certainly very milky.

For lunch I had a I had a traditional Taiwanese breaded and deep fried fillet of chicken beaten until it’s thin and about twice its size. It comes as a “bento” – and I use the quotation marks because, strictly speaking, a bento meal is Japanese. My deep fried chicken was served with fragrant rice, curry sauce, spring rolls, pickled veg and a fried egg. Alan chose a dish from the chef’s recommendations board which was beef brisket served with steamed rice and a lot of carrots!

There was a lot of food and I must admit it was better value than I expected. I couldn’t finish the rice! I did love the pickled vegetables and wished there was more than what was served in the bento.

The taro milk bubble tea was okay, if a little too milky, but the egg custard pudding in my taro milk tea tasted the way I remembered it from bubble tea drinks in the Philippines. I could probably eat a whole glass of just the pudding completely on its own quite happily!

Whilst it’s good to know that there is a “specialist” bubble tea place accessible in Colchester, to be quite honest, I might be happier waiting for my next trip to Chinatown in London to get my bubble tea fix! 🤭🤔