January 14, 2015

Year of 2014

What a horrible, horrible year! Wet macular degeneration found me in January and I spent a year finding ways to improve my vision by giving up almost everything else. I finally saw steady improvement through intensive treatment which started in April. Thank God!

But two weeks before Christmas, an ex and a current colleagues passed away, both under the age of 45.

What a horrible, horrible year. We need to cherish what and who we have, health and friends/family.


October 29, 2014

. . .

14歲那年, 因為沒有考上任何高中, 從此, 做事多了幾分認真和不認命, 因為那幾分的認真和不認命, 讓我在16歲那年進入科見任教.

29歲那年, 哥哥的突然辭世, 讓我有機會重新思考人生, 將漸漸步入軌道的工作放下, 出國攻讀博士.

40歲這年, 工作漸入佳境, 卻因突然的眼疾, 必須為未來可能的失明開始做準備.

老天爺啊, 我知道, 在每一次的困境裏, 您都讓我從中獲得了更多, 到底您希望我從這次的經驗裏學到什麼我還並不知道, 可是我討厭那種必須在認真工作與提前失明的可能中拔河, 我討厭那種無法全力以赴的感覺, 我更討厭那盤旋不去的恐懼!! 我 討 厭!!

我, 一點都不勇敢; 我, 一點都不樂觀; 我, 僅剩下些微的信心也在一點一點的流失. 如果, 我看起來勇敢, 我看起來樂觀, 我看起來有信心, 那只是另一個選擇會讓我更沮喪, 所以我必須不斷的催眠自己, 我是勇敢的、我是樂觀的、我是有信心的.

朋友們, 請別擔心, 我目前的狀況是穩定的, 我只是想問天、想發泄、想狂吼. 請什麼也都別說, 因為你們不慎而講錯的鼓勵的話, 只會讓我更憤怒與更沮喪. 請, 什麼都別說.


January 04, 2014

The power of Facebook

My 14-year old niece told me Facebook was out of fashion now and it was only used by old people as she and her friends had abandoned it for Snapchat. OK, I’ll have to admit that I didn’t know about Snapchat until about November 2013. The whole concept that traces of messages sent are erased in a short period of time troubled me greatly at first; because of my occupational hazard, I’ll need to have proof for everything. But then, the success of the concept is because, if you do something naughty, why would you want to leave something to be traceable?!

Anyway, so here it is, Facebook is reserved for the ‘seniors’!

Never have I checked for Facebook updates so frequently like today. I’ve never been very keen on Facebook. But why am I, all of a sudden, obsessed with Facebook?? I’ll have graduated from college for 20 years this June. Twenty years! We’ve never really had a proper reunion since our graduation. But 20 years seem to be a very important milestone to celebrate. So, I’m on a mission to see whether a reunion can be brought about. The trouble is I don’t really keep contact with most of my college friends, only three, who don’t keep contact with others either. For the past 20 years, people moved (even to overseas like me!) or changed their contact details. It seemed to me like a mission impossible.

But after a few phone calls and successfully reach some people who made an effort to keep contact with other people. Facebook strangely (and efficiently!) link us together. So far, we found 36 mates of 70. Originally I only expected to have a reunion of perhaps 15 people. But my hope is renewed and expanded since yesterday’s Facebook connection. :)

Nevertheless, after checking Facebook updates so much today, I’ll need a break from Facebook for at least a few days. I may be more senior than the ‘seniors’ my niece referred to. But hey ho, it’s no matter. :)


December 23, 2013

Windermere

Day 8:
Today I had to move to a different cottage (cabin?) so it’d be easier to meet up with Rita, a friend from Taiwan and she came to stay at Windermere for 3 days. I took my favourite route, A592, from Penrith to Windermere. I was so surprised to find that the short snow/sleet yesterday had changed the view so much! It was winter-y scenery and everything looked so beautiful!

Lake District 8

Lake District 8

Lake District 8

I was very lucky with this trip. I could see different seasonal sceneries (spring-like and winter-y) in such a short period. But I still prayed to God that I didn’t want to see any more snow before leaving the Lakes.

I arrived at Windermere and checked in to the Riverbank Lodge at Limefitt, which was a very, very, very different wood cabin from the one I stayed before.

Lake District 8

Lake District 8

Lake District 8

It’s called Riverbank Lodge because it’s by a river. It looks cute, doesn’t it? But I didn’t really like it. it’s so small. I miss my previous cottage!!! I’m convinced again that I need space, sufficient space; otherwise, I feel so claustrophobic!

Day 9:
I met up with Rita and her friend and took them to Coniston. When I went there last time, the weather was horrible and it was dark. As the weather might change, I decided to try my luck to visit there again. On the way to Coniston, it rained and the sky was grey, but magically, when we arrived Coniston, the weather turned. Well, it was not magical, it was because the weather at the Lakes was so changeable.

Lake District 9

Lake District 9

Lake District 9

In the afternoon, we went to Heaverthwaite to take a little old, steam Christmas train. I can’t believe Rita talked me into taking this 1.5 hours train journey. Everyone else was with at least one about 3-year old child! Yes, indeed, it’s a train journey that is designed for kids.

Lake District 9

Day 10:
Riham and her mum came to join me from yesterday afternoon. Thought they’d stay for two days and we’d go back to Durham together. But when her mum saw sleeting in the morning, she couldn’t wait to go back home. Oh, well, who can disobey a mother’s wish?!

As for me, I decided to try out the 4* spa place that I had free access to. I hope I’d be able to book an appointment for facial or massage or something to end my journey. But what a disappointment?! All appointments were taken (not a surprise though), but the place was nowhere near a 4*!!! The photos on their website look very luxury, but in fact, oh, it’s worse than the Marriot leisure club at Durham. I went for a very quick swim and came back to my cabin to relax. It was going to be my last night :(

Day 11:
Weather warning were all over the places. It would be more serious in the South West, but the storm was coming northward. So, I left quite early in the morning (around 9am). Which route did I take? Of course A592 from Windermere to Penrith, as it was one of my favourite drives.

Lake District 9

In 12 days, I drove 689 miles in total. That is a lot for me, considering I only drive less than 10 miles a day on average. I didn’t touch any work stuff, which I thought I would, so well done me! It was a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday, and I can’t believe it was over! I’m glad that I took this trip, and I’ll do it again. I’m already planning my next holiday: going to highland in summer!

A collection of the photos from this trip can be found from here.


Last day at Penrith

Today is my last day staying in Penrith. Time flew by so fast, and I don’t want to leave!!!! Started to feel familiar with this place and started to feel really at home, so I had a little struggle this morning: do I want to go out or do I want to stay in this lovely cottage? Emotionally I’d want to stay in, but my brain kept telling me, hey, it’s the last day here, do you really want to just stay in without exploring the place a little further?

My brain won. As I’ll move to a different cottage in Windermere tomorrow, I decided to explore places close-by and not in Windermere direction. So, Hadrian Wall, it is! I read about it when I prepared for my Life in the U.K. test, and surprised to know that Hadrian Wall is actually quite close to Durham. I haven’t been to the Hadrian Wall close to Durham/Newcastle/Haxem, but I decided to visit the other end of Hadrian Wall that is close to Penrith.

As I researched the route, I found that there were quite a few other places that I could also visit. And the first place I arrived before hitting Hadrian Wall was Lanercost Priory.

Lake District 7

This place is not big, but the house is closed that day. Good thing visiting the Lakes is that you’d save a lot of money (not just accommodation-wise) because many places are closed during winter time for maintenance. But bad thing about it is that many places are closed during winter time!

Lake District 7

Lake District 7

It was one of the few places where the house was closed but the café place was open. It’s the cutest café with a gift shop and everything. I was cold and in desperate need of a tea to warm me up, but I was attracted to the lovely smell of food. Even though I was not very hungry (since it was only just 12), I still sat down for a nice lunch. Oh, I loved it! Now I knew why it was still open for business because people from around would come here for a relax tea/coffee or meal.

Lake District 7

Lake District 7

After lunch, I went to the gift shop next door. I didn’t expect I’d buy anything, to be honest. I don’t usually buy stuff on my travel. But I found the cutest things that can make lovely Christmas gifts. What did I buy?

Lake District 7

Hehehe, I know most of them are the stupidest things ever, but I think they would make great Christmas gifts for certain friends of mine. :)

After strolling around the place, having lunch, and spending more than £100 (oops!), two hours have gone. I decided not to go to the other 2 or 3 places on route to Hadrian Wall. So, straight to Hadrian Wall!

The weather was OK when I was at Lanercost Priory, but once I got into my car, it started to rain. Rain became heavier and heavier, and then with sleet, and then with snow!!!!!! Oh, no, please don’t snow. :(

Did I find Hadrian Wall at the end? Well, I found the signs, but that’s it. Because of the horrible weather, I didn’t have the mind to keep looking, and just wanted to go back to my cosy cottage and sit by my lovely fire. I told myself, you’ll go to see the other end of the Wall after you return to Durham.

The very changeable weather in the Lakes showed it again: when I came back to my cottage, rain stopped and sun came out! Well, well, well, welcome to the Lakes! :)


December 19, 2013

Road trip to Coniston on Day 6

Good weather stopped, and bad weather made me not wanting to get out of bed. I didn’t decide where to go until 11am. Coniston seemed to be a nice place to visit, and I’d like to have lunch at Windermere before setting for Coniston. I didn’t wish to repeat my hunger lesson from yesterday, so lunch first!

I didn’t expect to see any nice view from Penrith to Windermere since the roads ‘seemed’ very boring to me; how interesting can it be from a big town to a bigger town, eh?! But TomTom took me through the most bizarre road, which, after I came back home checking on Google map, I couldn’t quite figure out why TomTom took me through there. Well, it’s God’s way to compensate the bad weather for me, I guess?! :)

Lake District 6

Just after a minute I took the previous photo, fog started to get in my way. Oh, my, ‘fog, fog, go away, come at another time.’ This fog reminded me of many years ago when I was driving through Leamington spa back to Coventry with my friend, Michelle. It was so foggy and I couldn’t see. As I couldn’t see, I was a little panicky and tense. But Michelle, sitting next to me, appreciated ‘the view’ so much. She said, it looks beautiful and romantic, don’t you think?! No, I did not, and I still do not, not while I am in the driver’s seat.
Lake District 6

Found Windermere, and found a nice fire place! I’m obsessed with fir places right now! This would be the ideal fire I would like to have in my house. :)
Lake District 6

Driving along B5285 from Windermere, I saw three waters today: Windermere, Esthwaite Water, and Coniston Water. Couldn’t stop to take photos of Windermere. I always thought Windermere was a bit boring, but then today I changed my mind a little. It really depends on from which direction you look at Windermere. (But my favourite is still Ullswater, no doubt!) Weather was horrible and made the photo of Esthwaite Water not great, but I’m sure when weather was nice, the view would be quite different.

Coniston Water was not too far away from Windermere, only took me about 30 minutes to arrive at Coniston Water. Oh, it was cooooooooooold!

Lake District 6
Lake District 6
These two photos were taken not more than 5 minutes apart. See how much the weather can change in such a short period of time.

As much as I’d like to stay longer, I had to set out to go back home as soon as I finished this super expensive £1.80 cup of tea. It was 3.30pm already. The weather was not great, so it looked darker and darker.
Lake District 6

It took me more than 1.5 hours to come back home, and I was driving in complete darkness for almost an hour. I kept having mental images of me driving into something or driving off a cliff. I really should have left much earlier to avoid this. At some point, I drove less than 20mph, but thank God, there was no car behind me. However, I was not so lucky when driving on the main road. Even though I could drive as fast as 40mph, it was a 60-70mph road!! So, I had to stop over to let by cars driving behind me in order to ease my nerve. At the end, I arrived home safely. :) But I told myself again, never ever to put myself in such a dangerous position. It’s not fun!

Weather became worse after I got back. It sounds like a gale again, but I feel cosy looking at and sitting by my fire. Can’t believe tomorrow is the last day staying at Penrith! I don’t want to go!!


Day 5: Continuation of the Lake tour

It’s still a lovely, lovely day, isn’t it?! These were taken on the main road, A66 from Penrith to Keswick.
Lake District 5

Lake District 5

Lake District 5

And today, I decided to explore Buttermere along B5289, so I’ll see at least two lakes (that is Derwent Water and Buttermere) if I’m able to find the right directions.

It is a challenge to find the right directions for two reasons. First, I completely have no sense of direction, so the only thing I could do is to rely on my TomTom. Second, however, TomTom likes to take me through either the shortest or the fastest route. When you’re on an adventure, you don’t want main roads. So, it took me more than 30 minutes to set my TomTom right! And after a de-tour to the unexpected places, I found B5289!!!

Even though I didn’t find the expected entrance of B5289, but I found it. But I have to say, B roads are no joking because it’s damn small! Cars have to juggle around to be able to pass each other safely.
Lake District 5

But a good thing about B roads is that they’re small and most people, unless so desired or necessary, won’t drive by, so today, I’m a very dangerous driver, who stop all very frequently just so that I can take photos. After seeing so much beautiful scenery, these became a little boring to me.
Lake District 5

Lake District 5

Lake District 5

I found the lake, Buttermere! And the village, Buttermere, is so small that I could only found one café open. I went into the café for some soup, since it’s the only savoury thing they had available for my breakfast. The grounds are managed by National Trust, so it’s a very easy walking path. Many people taking their dogs for a stroll.
Lake District 5

But after almost two hours wondering around the lake, I was starving and I was in need of REAL food. Here I went through the other side of B5289, which I intended to take up to Buttermere. Oh, my God, the view was just so spectacularly breathtaking. It’s a shame that my cameras can’t really capture the view I see in front of me.

Lake District 5

Lake District 5

Lake District 5

Lake District 5

Lake District 5

When I came all the way through B5289, I found a lovely village called Borrowdale. I stopped by a bar, looking for some food. But because it was too late (3.30pm), their kitchen had closed since 2.30pm. This is the only thing I could get for my poor stomach.
Lake District 5

I started my day quite early today, leaving the cottage around 10am. Although I so wanted to take another stroll around Borrowdale, I didn’t dare because it was getting darker and darker. I quickly finished my ‘lunch,’ and I had to hit the road again to avoid from driving in the dark. I’m 75% blind in dark, so I didn’t wish to endanger anyone (especially not to myself!!). When I got home, I was so tired and hungry that I couldn’t do anything but eat and sleep. I had a great day today! :)


December 17, 2013

Penrith

I didn’t know much about the Lakes. I never heard of Penrith or Ullswater. But I picked up a cottage in Penrith, very close to Ullswater. It turned out I love Ullswater!

Before I went, Anne told me weather would influence how beautiful the Lakes could be. Of course everybody would prefer to go during good weather, but, as some of my British students said, ‘oh, you love the Lakes when you tour around the Lakes, but you’d kill yourself if you live there because it rains almost everyday.’ As I’m usually very lucky, weather-wise, when I travel. I’ll see whether it rains everyday. (p.s. actually, I don’t mind it rains everyday, as long as it doesn’t rain between 11am and 3pm, I’ll be very happy!)

Day 1: I went to Carlise. It was quite boring, so boring that I didn’t even take any photos. But hey ho, it’s only the first day. The weather was not great, drizzling all the time.

Day 2: Heather joined me. She’s a dear friend and came to the Lakes to keep me company and showed me around. It’s great that I don’t need to drive or worry about where to go. With her introduction to the Lakes, I started to see the beauty.

Weather started OK. We went out quite early, before 9 or 10am, I think (?).
Lake District

But weather in the afternoon started to turn really awful. The wind almost blew our car away on our way back.
Lake District
Lake District
Lake District

Even though the weather was not great, even though I didn’t take many good photos, Heather showed me many good places where I would go again! So, I’m not as ignorant of the Lakes as before. :)

Day 3: I wanted to go around Ullswater via A592, as Heather took me. Weather was great in the morning, but the road was closed because a lorry had an accident and blocked the road. By accident, I went to Pool Bridge, where I found the steamer. My landlady told me steamer was great and I should go, so I’ll know where to go for steamer if I want to go. Later on today, I went to Grasmere, also another place Heather took me. I loved this little village! I think I came here about 10 years ago when I came with Michelle on a English Host ‘programme.’ Found the Sarah Ginger Bread place. But the weather started to turn in the afternoon.
Lake District

Day 4: A lovely, lovely, lovely day!

Ullswater on A592. Sun was coming out!
Lake District

National trust: Aira Force and Ullswater. It took me a while to find it. TomTom was not very reliable. Just when I was giving up, I saw the signs leading to Aira Force. I was so glad that I found it. It was just lovely, no other words for it.
Lake District
Lake District

The view coming down from Aira Force.
Lake District

On A592, by Ullswater. These are my favourite photos so far.
Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

A very characteristic pub on A592. I wasn’t very hungry, but I so needed to use their facilities. So, went in and found a little lovely place by the fire. I think I’ll come back to this pub again!
Lake District

Lake District

The Lakes don’t just have lakes, also peaks. Yes, that’s right, that car is mine, hehehehe :) I quite like their road design because I can stop to appreciate the view without walking too hard :P (Yes, I know, I’m lazy.)
Lake District

Just a random view on A6 on my way back home.
Lake District

今日心得:
1. 自己一個人也能很享受 (只是走路不敢走太多, 因為怕走丟, 更怕跌倒沒人救你, 因為這裏很多地方都沒有mobile phone signal)
2. 我終於找到可以喜歡iPhone的理由了, 那個panorama的照像功能真不賴!!
3. 我回來後找了找road trip的tips, 所以明天要explore另一條路B5289, leading to Buttermere :)

I used this website together with the National Trust website to find where I wanted to explore.


Lake District

Due to change of visa, I’m grounded in the UK for Christmas. Christmas is not a big holiday where I come from, but staying here for Christmas alone can be dreadful as most of my friends will be leaving to be with their family. The ones that live/stay here for Christmas will again be with their family. Even though I have invitations to spend Christmas with some of them, I feel especially lonely when I’m not alone, but surrounding by family atmosphere, if you know what I’m saying. I don’t get homesick often, but I do get homesick when I’m around with other people’s family during a family holiday!

After an intensive teaching schedule for Term 1 (at some point, I had to teach almost everyday; thank God that I have no teaching in Term 2), I decided to give myself a little break to rewind myself and to use this as an opportunity to tour around the country. Lake District is what I chose, and staying at a self-catering cottage is another experiment I’ve wanted to try out. When I went to Paris and London with Marie, we tried self-catering flats, and when I visited Anita’s family in the Peak District, I observed their travel through this type of self-catering cottage. It suits my taste. More importantly, it suits very well with traveling with oneself.

So, I brought a lot of things with me so that I can feel at home, but away from home :)

Lake District

Lake District

I was going away only less than 2 weeks, but my car was fully loaded. I brought my Nespresso coffee machine; I brought my rice cooker; I even brought all the sauces I use for cooking!

Let the experiment begin. :)

p.s. I can’t tell you how much I was in love with the first cottage I was staying in! I love this open fire!! This cottage has the cutest name: Swallow’s Nest.
Lake District

The owner, Debbie, told me the origin of the name was from a tiny nest swallows made and come back to almost every year. She showed me the nest, which was just under the balcony. Debbie was a huge plus to the charm of the cottage. She prepared a small bottle of red and white for my arrival and breakfast for the next day morning. Most important of all, she didn’t feel awkward that I went on my own (well, at least I didn’t feel it), but still prepared enough stuff for a group of three. Unlike the other place at Windermere when I booked, the person on the other line said in a very surprising tone, “just by yourself??!!” Well, is that against the law??!! What a lack of sensitivity for single people; we need vacation, you know!!


July 16, 2013

最近...

民國83年, 西元1994年, 那年, 我自淡專企管畢業, 明年就即將屆滿20年整了!! 時間過的很快, 最近老是想起以前的老同學, 很好奇不知道大家過的如何了, 所以, 我有點想辦看看同學會.

畢業20年, 沒有一次同學會辦的起來, 這次能辦的成嗎??


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