this is lemonade

A mindful, grateful, creative life: Life constantly hurls lemons at us. I’m on a mission to make lemonade as best I can, by God’s grace.


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Strange goings on… an update

Apologies for the delay in getting to the bottom of something I meant to investigate a little while ago – I’m flummoxed. Well, it was actually less than a month ago but perhaps memories of mosquitoes and warm weather have tricked my brain into thinking I spotted the strange flying thing sometime in the summer.

Regrettably I have not discovered yet, what the creature is that I photographed, so as promised I am supplying a clearer image – anyone out there recognise this and can enlighten me?

What On Earth?

I’ve made too many clicks on thumbnails of insects only to bombard myself with large detailed photographs of too-much-larger-than-life creepy crawlies that do not match up. Sorry to do this to you (kind of) :P I was compelled to share the WOW moment with you – doesn’t this look like an insect in fancy dress?

Sunny Side Toasties


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Sunny Fried Toasties

I’m back in a frosty but beautifully sunny London! This is my perfect, favourite kind of weather – clear, crisp and bright. You know that you can put your big coat on, wrap a scarf around right up to your nose and pull on some cosy gloves. Wispy clouds adorn the sky but there is not a whiff of rain! A good friend of mine calls it feeling alive weather, and that’s exactly what it is! Everyone walks around with rosy cheeks from the invigorating breeze.

I’ve been staying much closer to the equator for the past couple of weeks, where Kraft Singles is most people’s idea of normal, affordable cheese, and tea most certainly is not drunk with milk unless it is a sweet evaporated or condensed milk. The weather this time of year there is supposed to be cool and balmy, and mosquitoes are most definitely supposed to be scarce. However, the weather around the world has been crazy this year and I suffered at the mouths of some very lively specimens of these pesky creatures. I came away averaging one bite a day. Two weeks is not that long a time to be away from home, but I started to feel seriously homesick after my third itchy bite.

Towards the end of my stay, I was craving melted cheese, fish and chips, any cheese, give me cheese, please! – as though I had been away for years. Then I almost did not make it onto the plane in time because I got stomach flu a couple of days prior to my flight. Thankfully I was OK to fly and on the way back, they served vegetarian lentil moussaka with melted CHEESE on top. I was not confident that it would taste nice so I opted for chicken rock in rosemary jus ketchup soup, but my kindly Fellow Traveller did out of pity for me and gave me some.  (I wouldn’t recommend it – it was like a dense lentil brick with a tasteless mass of white goo on top, very unsatisfying!)

So… now I’m back, I’m in the mood for celebrating! Phew! How about this for a fun, tasty treat?

Sunny Side Toasties

I’m not sure where I first saw this idea, but I immediately liked it – can you resist a fun way to eat a delicious fried egg? I love eggs, they are like a miracle food and I tried another similar idea using avocados but decided I prefer my avocado raw.

My toastie method is so easy and tasty, go on… have a go!

  1. Cut a circle out of a piece of bread using a glass, and then butter the bread pieces on both sides. I reckon next time, I’ll butter first so that it’s not so fiddly.
  2. Toast one side of the piece of holey bread in a hot pan until it has browned and then flip it over.
  3. Crack an egg into a ramekin/small bowl to make it easier to pour it neatly into the circle.
  4. Add a drop of vegetable oil in the hole before adding the egg to the pan. Turn the heat down to low and cook uncovered until the egg whites become opaque. I find that this takes about 10 minutes. (If you want to take less time, cover the pan, however this yields a less glossy egg yolk!)
  5. (Optional step of which I am very proud!) Cut some Red Leicester cheese into short strips. About 5 minutes in, toast one side of the cut out bread until browned. Flip over and then lay the cheese strips on top and watch them melt!
  6. Grind some black pepper over the top of the egg and cheese and ENJOY! :)

Sunny Side Toasties

Do you like winter? What is your favourite kind of weather? I hope that you have a go at this fun snack. There’s nothing like a bit of brilliant amber to brighten up the longer evenings!


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Aaaaatishoooooo!

I wish sneezing would banish mosquitoes from around me! I have sustained five bites overnight in the most aggravating way. I hate waking up to the evidence that something has taken a leisurely stroll down my leg, sucking my blood. Gross and totally uncalled for if you ask me. All I ever did was aggressively exact revenge on two of your species in the past week with my slipper *thwack*! That is no justice for the total of ten bites and counting… An average of one per day. Grrrrr!

The crazy thing is, mosquitoes are totally out of season here right now. But this year’s weather has been out of kilter all around the world it seems. I’ve seen news of more flooding in the UK. I hope everyone is ok back in good ol’Blighty?

I thought I’d post a cheerful photo to help make the lemons easier to swallow. I flew Virgin Atlantic last week and was given a mini tube of Love Hearts as we were preparing for landing. I do dislike long haul flights and would not choose to take them if I had the choice. But I do find marketing and consumer psychology interesting!

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I’m not adverse to allowing myself to appreciate the quintessentially British style that Virgin employs. No milky coloured pile of mints for them on the approach to your destination. Just some playful and nostalgic (if you’re a Brit) compensation for having suffered the discomfort of embedding your knees into the passenger in front for the last eternity.

And my last Love Heart is a message for you this week. Framed by my favourite pen to travel with. My fun Muji 5-colour plus pencil contraption (also somewhat nostalgic – did I ever mention that I love stationery?) Have a very blessed week, whatever you are facing.

I desperately miss home with its cold early evenings, frosty mornings, proper dark and neon light deficiency, easy accessibility to good cheese, strong black tea that goes well with milk, slightly less unpredictable weather and hibernating bitey things.

When you are away from where you call home, what do miss the most?


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What on earth?!

I’ve been away for about a week. (Apologies again for being a bit sketchy with reading your posts. I miss them!) When I woke one morning in this other-worldly place, I met a creature I’d never seen before. It sat motionless on the window pane and did not fly away for ages. In fact, I didn’t go out until just before lunch and it was still there as I left.

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When I’m back, I’ll fix up the photo and see if I can identify it on Google. But for now, here’s a silhouette… I’d not normally enjoy staring at such things, but this is one fascinating insect. Is anybody out there familiar with this fancy dress creature?


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Olympics Special : Welcome to London!

“Hallo, this is to the Olympic Village here yes?”
Olympic Village, what? Here? Uh how did you end up here for the Olympic Village?
“At Stratford?”
Duh, poor tourists encountered a sleepy commuter brain, plenty of those of a morning in London, “Yes, that’s right”, I smile, no longer baffled that there was the prospect the confines of the Olympic Village had been extended overnight. They were on the right platform to get the train to Stratford.

My first direct encounter with a visitor to London who’s here because of the Olympics. I guess it really is going to be happening after all!

It’s a lovely sunny day here at least. The major transport disruptions have already started and you get a free sauna on our poorly ventilated trains. All this for free with your Olympic Games ticket! Welcome to London :)


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Olympics Special : Dear visitor…

Welcome to London! The first athletes taking part in the London 2012 Olympics arrived at the beginning of this week, and huge lorries ferrying the press packs and their paraphernalia are blocking up all the roads, all amid the security row taking place in Westminster. Who’s to blame? How did it all come to this, just a couple of weeks before the games, when there were seven years during which preparations could have been made?

But, dear friends, fret not. London is well prepared. What with regular helicopter flights under cover of darkness, missile sites dotted around the main stadia and plenty of signage designed to empower you when your coach driver doesn’t know where s/he’s driving you on the controversial Olympic superhighway, you’ll be fine. And believe me, nothing has been left to chance. We are prepared to the point of having rehearsed the one skill Londoners are all born with: the art of queuing.

OlympicsSpecial - thisislemonade.wordpress.com

As Londoners, we live well in chaos, so I decided I would do my bit to help you see beyond it and reassure you about attending the Olympic Games if you are visiting our beautiful capital for the first time. Perhaps you have been reading recent press reports about four-hour queues at Heathrow and are considering whether or not to request a refund of your Games ticket or to exchange your flight for one to warmer climes. Allow me to give you a preview of our wonderful Olympic city. As you can see from the photograph above, we are a generous nation. Someone with insider knowledge of the whereabouts of a secret queue-free passage to the opening ceremony decided to give us a wink and a nod. As I am a typical, sharing Londoner, I am posting the tip in case you missed it.

Now without further ado, it is with great pride that I present to you the safest doors on the London Underground system – otherwise know as the “Tube”. In some cities, the presence of graffiti may insinuate an element of danger – the threat of unrestrained self-expression, perhaps even over-enthusiastic boredom. But never fear.

Just above the aforementioned door, is a plethora of information. At your first meeting with this noticeboard, you may find yourself in a minor state of breathlessness. But you need not panic if you made a mad dash for it and only just managed to squeeze into the Tube carriage as the doors were closing. You are in the prime position to access everything you need to know about travelling on the Tube. And you will quickly learn never to jump hastily onto a train again. Please pay attention to the following scenario, with careful reference to the above photo.

It is possible that your spontaneous and successful dive onto an overcrowded train triggered a dangerous passenger emergency during the brief instance of which, you most certainly should not be found smoking. The likelihood is that you trapped your rucksack in the doorway thereby causing the train driver to reopen the doors and make an announcement to all passengers, warning them against doing what you just did. This inevitably results in a delay, thus unleashing the combined fury of the native London commuter monster onto yourself. But fear not.

The emergency alarm is right next to the door, just above the average eye level, in case you should miss it as you become mesmerised by the beautifully worded signs around it. If you are unlucky, you may look where I just advised you to look, and find a sign taunting you and telling you that the alarm is located next to the door opposite. You may look in vain, as it will possibly be obscured behind the head of an unfortunately tall and uncomfortably contorted fellow passenger. But shall we trouble ourselves unnecessarily? Best not. In such an unlikely situation, should you become overwhelmed and thus less able to stand, you would not be able to reach up to pull an alarm anyway and there are dedicated seats available for those who find themselves in such a condition.

Do bear in mind, not to settle too comfortably in your seat however. Should it transpire that another traveller was hapless enough as to have activated the emergency alarm, s/he may need your seat more than you. Regulate your breathing as the train driver announces that “the train is being held on the platform due to a passenger alarm being activated”. A silent Londoner does not indicate a happy Londoner. Prepare yourself to witness the glares, the rolling eyes, even an involuntary hiss or a fuming grunt.

Do your utmost to avoid causing a delay during the Olympics. The likelihood is, before you considered making your small contribution, the commuters around you were already running late due to signal failures, leaves on the track, adverse weather conditions or somebody deciding that strolling along the track instead of getting onto a train might be more likely to get them to work on time. That is before throwing into the mix, the extra zillion people expected to turn up for a few weeks to watch athletes competing for speed.

Remember, nobody actually hates you.

On a side note, using the emergency alarm as a support for standing upright invokes a penalty in much the same way as travelling without a valid ticket. It is polite to avoid committing both of these offences, even if you feel safely smothered under someone’s armpit.

Of course. Should you invoke a penalty fare, you may become once again overwhelmed, and need to lower a window for ventilation. Please however, be aware that this does not constitute an emergency of the kind that requires the opening of the door, ever.

I hope that this post will reassure you that London is an extremely safe and welcoming city. If in any doubt, remember the great British maxim:

Disclaimer: The above post is not to be taken in all seriousness. Please be advised that under no circumstances should you attempt to access the secret passageway to the Olympic Games.

In all earnestness, if you are indeed a visitor, please be as warmly welcomed in my city as on my blog. London is full of people from all over the world, and I suspect that is part of the reason why nothing runs immaculately. But then I wouldn’t change anything if it meant forfeiting the city’s mixing pot of ideas and dreams that is always brimming over… If you hear someone speaking a language other than English, they are just as likely to be a Londoner as they are to be a tourist. I love living in London, for all its foibles. And hey, we paid (and will be paying indefinitely) for the Olympics so we might as well try to enjoy them (I’m saying this ahead of the ranting I will no doubt be doing in a week or so). I’ll probably catch some of it on the telly if I don’t spend most of it trying to get to and from work.

Do you have any Olympic plans? Will you watch the opening ceremony? Will you be following any of the sports or rooting for any of the athletes?


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Untitled #5 (and long-awaited answers)

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I haven’t done a photo for my Untitled series for a while. Then the other day I came home and pulled the above out of my bag…it looked so silly I had to take a picture and see if you could tell what it was…

And for those of you who haven’t lost interest and still wanted to know what the other ones were…(click on the images to take you to the original post).

Untitled #1

Untitled #1

Curved old radiator – well done VagueMemories!

Untitled #2

Untitled #2

An out of focus photo of a pile of booklets on my desk.
Although I liked Matt‘s suggestion that it was taffy!

Untitled #3

Untitled #3

The bottom of my tea cup, having lazily left it in my office overnight. I’d run out of milk that day, and had mixed up a nice paste with powdered milk. I came back to find the residue congealed and dried into something reminiscent of a beautiful oil painting at the bottom of my cup in the morning!
So there you go delightfullypeculiar, you were right!

Untitled #4

Untitled #4

The light pull switch thingy above my bed. Way back then, I think someone designed the room’s electrics with a lazy person in mind…
PhotoAddia you were very close! :)

Door Keys


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All psyched up to go home

Last week, on my way home, I actually took a seat on the train. I was ill equipped to occupy myself in a useful way as usual, so I just sat and stared at random patterns and adverts.

About two stops into my journey, a man in his thirties or so got on. He had in-ear buds plugged in and tinny beats emanating from his head to the rest of the passengers. I suddenly realised that all the men in my section of the carriage, bar one, had their ears stopped up with various portable speakers. There were two other sets of nondescript ear buds. One young crisply suited male had a spotless almost glowing Beats by Dr. Dre halo clamping down on his ears. Another two had black-coloured headphones in a similar but less trendy style (the kind that could double up as ear-muffs). Another man slouched against one of the high seats at the end of the carriage, his head drooping as he dipped in and out of a fitful snooze.

My mind quickly referenced an article I had read recently about athletes training and psyching themselves up to motivational music. I wondered what these guys were getting ready for. The music did not seem generally to be of the kind that helps you to relax judging by the sounds from some of the headphones and the bouncing chins of the other wearers whose music I could not hear. (Notable exception could be the guy who was semi-conscious.)

(I must say I wouldn’t mind having one of these Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones for every Tube journey. I stepped foot in a Bose shop for the first time a couple of weeks ago out of curiosity, and recommend that anyone that has not tried these does so for the pure amazement value. Once you have experienced them, the attached price tag will no longer surprise you. I can imagine if I had a pair, every Tube journey in future would be like an out-of-body experience!)

That day’s observation did bring to mind the fact that there is a different story behind each person with whom I rub shoulders, literally or metaphorically, on my daily commute. We may all wear a similar uniform. We may even enjoy similar tastes in music. Each of us probably sports a familiar blank look as we meander home by various means. But we each go back to a different place and life can be very very different behind each door that we severally close behind us at the end of that journey.

Door KeysFor some, on the other side of the door is a refuge from the world. For others, to open that door is to leave a refuge behind for the night. For still others, the door opens a gaping hole of emptiness which envelops that person until he emerges again the next day. Then there are those we do not realise have no doors to journey to and live a expertly fabricated deception that we so readily believe. We can live so closely alongside one another, and yet, we can be such solitary souls.

I have no deep insights to offer on this trailing thought. I’ll try to remember to make lemonade and share it around while I know how. I am just glad that behind my closed door, I can open up this world here from time to time, and see your smiling and encouraging faces.


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The simple pleasures

Well… Friday. I do love Fridays. At the brink of the weekend, there is that anticipation that wonderful possibilities lie ahead …and even despite the promising sunshine this morning giving way once again to hazy blue-grey clouds, the weekend beckons, and life is a beautiful thing. Thank God for Fridays.

I promised to explain the random photograph I published earlier this week: I decided to challenge myself to a simple photographic project, the focus of which being everyday details that I enjoy. I was inspired by this post on VagueMemories where the author posted a photo of a familiar building. It made me think of my commute and how I love to gaze at random things in the train or out of the window. One thing I love is details. Beautiful details. Patterns. Forms. And sometimes the familiar is the most beautiful. The things I pass by every day, objects that are anchored in the landscape of regular routes that I take. I just love that opportunity for watching the world go by.

Sievekingsallee01

An old film photo from over 10 years ago. A familiar detail. A detail still firmly etched on my mind.

I remember reading an article some time ago about how we have lost the art of journeying. With all our modern technology, we tend to focus on the destination. Commuters read or stop up their ears with repetitive beats from various electronic devices. Our minds have to be continuously occupied. We fail to hear the sounds of the journey – doors opening and closing, the footsteps and shuffling of other passengers, the train rumbling over the tracks (although in London, I’m sure you can still hear that over anything else you might be listening to!) We have become unfamiliar with our travel scenes and most definitely avoid eye contact with other passengers.

I certainly am not one of those commuters. I am the one that looks like I am totally wasting time day-dreaming or staring into space. I treasure the time and space that commuting gives me, to mull over the day and migrate my focus away from work. I also love walking (although not in the recent heavy rain) and discovering beautiful things on a well-trodden path – which is how I came upon the detail in the photograph above.

Part of my this is lemonade goal is to remember and celebrate the good things. To extract out of the yucky, something that will remind me of my purpose and a reason to stay alive. In the photograph above, I didn’t just love the dandelions, I loved the harsh weathered texture of the structure behind them more. Over a decade ago, I did not know I would be writing a blog based on something yellow. In fact, I’ve never had a particular affinity with the colour, quite far from it. However, as I spend more and more time pondering on the lemonade side of things, I am finding that its vibrancy energises me.

As we know, dandelions eventually lose their intense sunshiney petals and become globes of little soft, feather-light parachutes which then carry the dandelion seeds wherever the wind may blow. What a beautifully challenging and inspiring picture to take into the weekend with me. I wonder what that image brings to your mind?

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