Monthly Archives: July 2012

Laura’s Dictionary

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Baby Laura, who isn’t a baby to the world for a good while now, is developing her Romanian vocabulary and now know almost as many words as her mum. And if you think this means “zero words”, you’re wrong. I can’t speak the language, but I know quite a few words.

Here is what I can remember listening from Laura (sorry if I misspelled something – I can say the words, but not necessarily write them):
Sus – up
Jos – down
Napoi – back
Uta-uta – i don’t know if it means something, but grandma sings uta, uta cu fetita when she is on the swing, so Laura calls swing Uta-uta (the t has a , under it)
Bogan – (tobogan), slide
Tata – for grandpa (but it means dad)
Tati – daddy
Mama – gandma (means mum)
Mami – mummy
Buni – grandpa or grandma
Cala – (from portocala), orange
Latuc – (from laptuc), little milk
Un, doi, trei… – she can count from 1 to 10, but for some reason she always skips the 7.
Bia – apparently it’s kid’s talk for hot
Fromos – (from fromoasa sic) beautiful
Apa – water

Mind you, her vocabulary in English is way better than her Romanian and Portuguese together. But she mixes things when forming sentences and I don’t always understand what she tries to say.

And here is the reason why I didn’t sleep very well last night…

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The Olympics, Euromillions & I

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As you all can imagine, London is bubbly these days. It’s amazing what the Olympics can bring to the spirit of the town. Yes, yes, the whole country is happy happy joy joy, but there’s something special about London.

Like it or not, London is a special place. Full stop. When the sun is shining and the Olympics are on, boy, it just take “special” to another level. There is no place I would like to be more than being here.

I haven’t been to the games yet, but have been watching some. I like watching random sports of random teams. Handball match between Spain and someone else I can’t remember, hockey between Belgium and Holland, basketball between Argentina and i can’t remember… For me it’s not about the teams, but the sports per se. So much that sometimes all my brain registers is “the team in blue vs the team in red”.

Then there are the Team Brazil games. I really suffer when these are on – beach volley and volley ball being my favourite. I feel pain on my chest with anxiety.

And there are the team of the heart: Romania and team GB. I’m glad they are both competing in the gymnastics. Team GB with great chances to win some gold medals and make the country happy.

And then there are the athelets that simply know their thing, like Federer for Switzerland, Bolt for Jamaica (how not support Jamaican athelets?), a bunch of Americans and Chinese – great in so many categories.

I’m loving the whole Olympics mood and I wish itnwould hang around for longer.

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On a sad note: I’m not one of the euromillion winners. ūüė¶

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I met a lady from Ghana on Friday that inspired me. She is learning to swim and next in her list is learn to drive. She is my age. I don’t know if she work and/or have kids, but that’s not the point. We have to make time to tick the items in our to do list. So watch this space!

Lovely weekend, can I have more?

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Great weekends start with smiles.

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Great weekends have walk in the park.

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Great weekends have giant peanut butter cupcakes.

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Great weekends have lots more laughter.
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Great weekends have swimming pools full of balls.

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Great weekends are sunny and warm and we meet our friends so the great weekends become perfect!

Tomorrow this pool will be filled of water and it will be a great summer day!

If you happy and you know it, clap your hands “clap-clap”, or it’s sunny!

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Finally the sunshine has arrived in the UK. The weekend was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S! And it seems that the weather will be like that for a few more days. Hurray!

I hardly every write “reviews” here on the blog… mainly because I tend to forget, secondly because I can’t be partial. But today I feel like mentioning a couple of places I’ve been to this week.

Pizza Express: pizza chain. Cheap and cheerful. Or is it? The good thing about Pizza Express is that normally the restaurants are quite big and accommodate big groups. The pizzas are quite good (you need to be an awful chef to mess up with pizza, right?) and you often get discount vouchers online. The prices are very decent, specially because you don’t feel hungry afterwards. It’s always a safe option if you don’t know where to go.

BUT if you want to take small children, here is a friendly advice: the children’s menu is actually pretty bad. Get a pizza for you and share with the child. Or go somewhere else.

The bill was £13 per head, with a big group ordering all sort of things and sharing the bill equally.

Skylon Grill: there are two and the Skylon Grill is the “cheapest”. There’s a set menu for ¬£25 (2 courses), which we all went for. My final bill, without wine, was ¬£35, or so. I had Steamed salmon with vegetables and shared a bowl of chips (the looked like MacDonald’s chips), and I can’t remember what I had for drink. The quantity is about right, as in civilized amount of food. I would think a big boy would be a bit hungry. Two of my colleagues had liver and said it was great, especially the sauce. I don’t eat liver, so didn’t even try it. For dessert, one of us had chocolate brownie wuth ice cream – good, but nothing special about it. I had blueberry cheesecake with blueberry sorbet (it was yummy and not too sweet), and another one had raspberry sponge cake with raspberry sorbet. Hers was way sweeter than mine – and I liked it, but the actual cake was plain and nothing too special about it (it was the cake of the day). The presentation and service are great. Careful with the wine if you are on a budget.

Momo’s: it’s a Moroccan restaurant in central London. The ground floor is the restaurant and the basement is a lounge – but it is a member club, so you can only go in by invitation. The menu is very restrictive: either tagine or couscous. I had chicken tagine and we ordered a bowl of plain couscous. If you have never had tagine, it is a type of stew cooked in a special pottery. The chicken one is basically the chicken, some potatoes, and olives – all very juicy. So the couscous made it easier to eat the sauce. I have to confess: I thought I wouldn’t like it (*), but it was very tasty. They put lime and ginger, so had a nice fresh taste. The olives tasted really nice as well – if you love olives, you know that there are different flavours. It is a lot of food too.

For dessert I had panacotta with berries and berry jam and walnuts with honey. It was delicious. I thought it was the first time I had panacotta in my life but it looked pretty much like the “flan” in Brazil. I would say it’s the same. The irony of the thing is that I don’t like flan – one of the many cases of not trying it, not liking the colour of it and convincing myself I don’t like it.

The bill was £55 per person (I had 2 diet cokes, but most of the girls had a cocktail or a glass or two of wine).

(*) I spent 10 days in Morocco eating basically tagine. By day 3 I was fed up of it and thought it was actually pretty tasteless.

Here are the photos of our desserts in Skylon, the only place I remembered to take photos of.

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Note to self: iPhone camera is great, so use it!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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The good

All restaurants in the US offer you (tap) water non-stop. Your glass is never empty. I think I had more water in this trip than I have in a month in London. Very healthy habit and you drink less of other stuff during meals.

The sidewalks are large, perfect for walking. And the streets are beautifully organised in parallels and perpendiculars. Impossible to get lost.

People are very very nice there. It is always better to have overly nice people than rude people, right?

The Bad

Although it is very easy to walk around San Diego very few people do. I was one of the few people that walked from the hotel to the city centre (less than 2 miles) and people called me “very brave” for doing so. Very few bicycles as well. Shame.

Panda Inn, an American Chinese (Mandarin, sorry) chain in California (with one or two restaurants in Canada). It looks nice, it smells nice, but the food… don’t bother. Honestly, just go to an American fast food restaurant and the food will be much better. I had a dish with prawns and walnut. The prawns were covered in…¬†mayonnaise. No, really, have you ever eaten mayonnaise in Chinese restaurant? I haven’t been to China, yet, but none of the Chinese places I’ve been to in London had something like that. It was like having warm prawns cocktails (which I dislike, by the way). And stay away from the “fresh lemonade with raspberry juice” – it’s the sweetest and most artificial drink I have ever had. Yuk!

The Ugly

A lot of homeless people compared to London.

Streets smell bad – no wonder why people don’t want to walk on the streets.

And the things that are worth mentioning

We had a nice dinner at the Harbor House. I had pasta and it wasn’t ubber tasty, but a couple of people had the paella and said it was really nice. The portions are huge and can be easily shared. The view is really nice.

We stayed at the Inn at the Park. Despite the bad reviews on Trip Advisor, I don’t think it was as bad as people said it was. Ok, I’m easy going. And I didn’t pay for it. Having said that, half of the hotel is being refurbished – the other half has just gone through renovation. The rooms are new and clean and whether you like the decor or not, they look good. They are big, have nice big beds, a nice big sofa, a closet, the bathroom is new and good sized (no, no bathtub, just shower, which is perfect) and there is even a nice little kitchen (little, but the same size of our kitchen in our previous flat in London) with all the appliances. The main problem is that because it was so new, they didn’t have the new electricity system connected – so air con didn’t work, dish washer didn’t work (why do you need one anyway?), the hob didn’t work,… fridge and microwave were working though and it was great to have both there for late night meals. The hotel is a spit away from Balboa Park.

Comic Con. Great for geeks and comic fans. Fun for the rest of us. One day is more than enough if you are not really into the whole dressing up thing, not keen in very long queues to get free bags and pin badges, and ever longer queues for the talks and screenings. Plus it is expensive if you are not into it. We paid $175 for our professional badges, per person, for the 4 days. As I said, one day would have been more than enough for me.

Next time: beach, Sea World, Safari.

Snippets

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During my wander around the hotel area (very good location, by the way, a spit away from Balboa park), I found two old style houses in the middle of brand new buildings.

I wanted to knock on the door and invite myself for a coffee and a look around the house. They are huge and so full of character. I remember seeing some of these in our trip to California in 2010.

First day of Comic Con almost killed me. The place is packed, it’s huge (smaller than I thought though), and there’s a lot of walking and queuing if you want to see talent and events and get freebies. Today I’m going on my own, which should be fun.

Comic Con attracts people of all ages but I was a bit shocked to see so many young babies (as young as a couple of months old). I don’t think it is the type of environment for babies, but kids have a lot to do there. The Lego stand was very popular for both adults and kids.

I thought that there would be more people dressed up, but maybe the weekend is when all the crazy souls come out to play! I won’t be there to see it.

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