Living the expat life

I went to a leaving drinks recently for a client that’s moving back to the US. Sat around the table were five female clients and my female colleague and I. As is usual when a group of women get together, as the wine flowed, so did the conversation which quickly turned to personal matters of relationships, matchmaking and general gossiping.

It was only afterwards that, reflecting on the night, I realised that all seven of us were of different nationalities. Sat around the table that night there was a mix of Indian, American, Singaporean, French, Filipino, Japanese and British women. All with different cultures and backgrounds, yet that enhanced rather than hindered the conversation.

At the end of the day we were just seven women drinking wine in a bar after work. And that’s what I love most about this expat life – that it allows you to meet people from all over the world in your day-to-day. And though we come from different places and backgrounds, it’s our individual differences that make the relationships so special.

Turning 30

30Last month I turned 30 and decided I would take a mammoth trip to lessen the blow of what felt, to me, like the end of an era.  I’ll post some pictures of my trip in my next post.

Somehow 30 feels so much more grown-up than 29.  I felt like my 20s were all about having fun – travelling the world and experiencing new things with little responsibility or thought for the future.  Whereas I feel like your 30s are the time when you become a ‘proper’ grown-up: it’s the era where it all starts to become a bit serious with marriage, a mortgage and starting a family.  But at the same time, so many people I’ve spoken to/read about describe their 30s as being much better than their 20s – they describe feeling more contented in their career, relationship and overall sense of self.  So I’m looking forward to the next adventure: 30s – bring it on!

Are you over 30?  How did you find entering the next decade?  Or are you approaching 30 – if so, how are you feeling?

A trip to NYC

nycI’ve just got back from a trip to New York to celebrate my 30th.  It was my first visit to the city, having always saved it as a destination for a special occasion, and I was intrigued as to whether I would love it.  As somewhere that’s so established in pop culture – from Sex and the City to Friends to Mad Men – I felt like I sort of already knew the place before I’d even arrived.

We’d booked to stay in an Air BnB flat in Greenwich Village because I wanted to experience the city as a New Yorker rather than a tourist and I was curious as to whether I’d leave wanting to move to New York.  I loved Greenwich Village with it’s beautiful townhouses, tree-lined streets, trendy bars and restaurants, authentic pubs, hipster cafes and laid-back vibe.  But I was surprised at how aggressive I found the rest of the city – it felt like a huge sprawling urban metropolis that made me feel insignificant.  And I found New Yorkers to be hardened to the city’s roughness.

It made me think about the concept of cities each having their own personality and character traits.  Whilst I’d describe New York as aggressive, I’d describe London as impatient but courteous, Singapore as a reliable old friend, Hong Kong as frenetic, Dubai as a flashy car salesman, Melbourne as a corporate hipster, and Sydney as a good-looking surfer dude.  After visiting these seven cities, and living in three of them, I’d say Melbourne is the place I came away from feeling most like I’d like to live there.

Have you been to New York?  How did you find it?  Of the places you’ve visited, which have you found most liveable?

Pesto courgetti with feta, asparagus and cherry tomatoes

I recently bought a spiraliser and it’s changed my life! Mine’s from Lakeland and is a lot smaller and more compact than many of the other spiralisers on the market, which suits me as I’m running out of space for new gadgets in my kitchen!

Spiraliser

It’s so quick and easy to use and produces perfect courgetti which I just pop in boiling water for a couple of minutes to warm up (any longer and the courgetti loses it’s texture).

Here’s a dish I made the other night:

photo

Healthy AND delicious!

Have you tried courgetti (or coodles, as I’ve also heard them named!)? Any good recipes to share?

Dubai’s expats

I had to share these tongue-in-cheek images, published in the Daily Mail, that made me laugh last week! Dubai-based expat designer Clare Napper has created a series of posters poking fun at Western expats living in Dubai.

I’d love to be all high and mighty and say that these are merely contributing to the unfair stereotype of Dubai, but I have to say that a lot of these pictures rang true to some of my experience of living there!

Ravi’s has become a bit of an institution in Dubai – it’s a Pakistani restaurant that serves cheap and delicious food to everyone from cabbies to Western expats. Visa runs, jaunts to Barracuda in Umm Al Quwain for cheap booze and trips to Musandam, RAK and Fujairah are also spot on, as is the fact that pretty much every restaurant in Dubai delivers. As a treat, if I knew I was going home to an empty flat, I’d strategically time a call to Wagamama on my way home from work so that my Yaki Udon and I would arrive at my front door at the same time!

I miss Dubai!

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It’s the small things!

A conversation with a colleague today made me realise how easy it is in Singapore to forget that you live in Asia. Since, superficially at least, most things here are very familiar, it’s easy to take for granted the fact that some things are very different.

Yesterday I went for lunch with a Singaporean colleague. We only went ten minutes down the road but as we were walking back to the office it started raining – luckily we had umbrellas, but our feet got soaked. I was wearing sandals but my friend was wearing ballet pumps so had to endure that cold, squelchy feeling for the rest of the afternoon.

Today she informed me that her pumps are still drying out – she’d put them next to the bottom of her fridge (where it emits heat) to speed up the drying. My first thought was that she should have put them on a radiator, but then I kicked myself as there’s obviously no need for radiators in Singapore! When I mentioned this to her, she looked confused so I asked if she’d heard of a radiator. She said, ‘You mean a car radiator?’. I tried to explain that, back home, we have radiators in our houses to which she said, ‘Oh, you mean like an electric heater?’.

We then spent five minutes looking at Google images of the bog-standard, humble radiator – something completely normal to me that was entirely alien to her.

For those of you who may also be unfamiliar with the radiator, below is the picture that I showed to my colleague!

Picture 050

What’s in your make-up bag?

make-up bag

I tend to wear a mixture of high-end and everyday brands.  I’m yet to find a foundation that matches my pale skin tone as well as Max Factor’s Creamy Ivory shade which I’ve been using for years.  The coverage is pretty good going on, however it does have a tendency to slide off my face by the end of a night dining al fresco out here!

I find the Max Factor Facefinity Compact Foundation works well as a top-up during the day as it works as a powder and helps to touch up my foundation at the same time.  Mac’s Bronzing Powder in Golden is an old favourite and I’m yet to find a better liquid eyeliner than Chanel’s which is so easy to apply and takes the effort out of the precision needed for the sweep and flick.  I’m big on applying plenty of mascara and find Chanel’s Le Volume version is great for volume without clumps.

I’m trying to get more into lipsticks, particularly for everyday wear, but I tend to get overwhelmed at the amount of colours available and struggle to know what suits me.  However, if I’m going somewhere extra special I love the classic red colour of Mac’s Matte Russian Red lippy.

Last, but by no means least, an Aussie friend introduced me to Lucas’ Papaw Ointment and I’ve never looked back!  It’s great for chapped lips, adds a lovely sheen and smells delicious too!  It’s available on Amazon for all non-Aussies like me.  A quick to dab on to complete my look and I’m good to go in the morning!

What are the firm favourites in your make-up bag?

Things I love

In no particular order:

  • Long lunches with friends and wine
  • Shopping on Regent Street
  • Fancy candles
  • Binge-watching a good box set. Favourites include Game of Thrones, Homeland and Last Tango in Halifax.
  • Artisanal coffee
  • Nights in with scented candles, red wine and a good box set (see above)
  • Country walks (especially with a dog) followed by a pub with a log fire
  • Bellinis
  • Long baths with bubbles (scented, in a flute or both!)
  • Cups of tea and the Sunday papers in bed
  • Playing tennis
  • Animals
  • Reading
  • Vintage cake stands
  • Gift shops
  • Travelling
  • Cocktails by the sea and lunches at my sunlounger
  • Grandparents (not just mine)
  • Christmas morning
  • A tidy house

Things I dislike:

  • Rudeness
  • Bad punctuation
  • Cockroaches
  • Swearing
  • When people don’t use a separate spoon for the jam (can be substituted for any condiment)
  • Bad table manners (see above)