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Penumbra: Rashid Khalifa at Saatchi Gallery - PHOTO TOUR

Silhouette of a man cast on an art piece at Rashid Khalifa’s exhibition at Saatchi Gallery, London. / Photo: Eileen Hsieh



Contemporary artist Rashid Khalifa brings his vibrant, three-dimension installations to the British audience, staging his first solo exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

Spread out across two spaces on the second floor, the viewer will find a collection of colourful, strategically illuminated pieces. The artist — who has been painting for four decades and is a member of the Bahraini royal family, according to Wikipedia - hopes to bring to life the beauty of textured shadows and light cast through polychromatic metal structures.

Aluminium mesh wall works, steel grid mobiles, and a monumental maze form the basis of this immersive exhibition inspired by architectural grids and geometric lattices.

I had the chance to attend the private view, and here’s a photo tour of Mr. Khalifa’s debut exhibition. Enjoy!

Artist Rashid Khalifa posing with guests in front of his colourful maze. / Photo: Eileen Hsieh

Dublin's Urban Retreat: The Croke Park Hotel | 都柏林的城市隱居:克羅克公園酒店

For mom and dad's first trip to Dublin, we stayed at The Croke Park Hotel for three nights and used it as our sightseeing base. 

Ranked number 5 out of 171 hotels in Dublin on TripAdvisor, the Croke Park consistently scores highly on cleanliness, food, service and price.

This 4-star modern property is part of The Doyle Collection, an Irish-owned boutique chain with hotels in Ireland, UK and the U.S. I first heard about it from a friend who held her wedding reception at The River Lee in Cork and couldn't praise it highly enough. So that's one vote of confidence in the bag.

The hotel is located north of the river and a 15-minute stroll to the city's main artery - O'Connell Street. There's also a hop-on hop-off bus stop outside the hotel entrance. 

爸媽第一次拜訪都柏林,主要的目的是要參觀有名的景點,因此我們找旅館的前提便是要方便,舒適,作為四天三夜遊的觀光基地。最終選擇:「克羅克公園酒店」。

四星級的 The Croke Park Hotel 是我一位愛爾蘭朋友所推薦的,屬於 The Doyle Collection 公司旗下的現代精品酒店之一,在 TripAdvisor 上都柏林 171 家旅館中排名第五,旅客給予很好的評價。

酒店位於河道以北,約 15 分鐘腳程可抵達市中心的 O'Connell 大街,酒店門外也有 hop-on hop-off 觀光公車車站。

The Croke Park Hotel is a modern, inviting property located in north Dublin.

LOCATION

For under 20 euros, a taxi will get you from Dublin airport to The Croke Park Hotel in under 20 minutes, passing through some lush countryside and rows of beautiful homes along the way.

The hotel is situated right opposite Croke Park Stadium - home of the Gaelic games such as Gaelic football and hurling. It is also one of the largest and most popular venues in Europe for sporting and concert events. The next big name on the calendar is Beyonce, who will be performing here in July 2016 as part of her Formation world tour.

Although a railway track runs along one side of the hotel, we did not see or hear any train go by during our entire stay. The area is generally very quiet and only seems to come alive whenever there is an event at the stadium.

地點

從都柏林機場搭計程車到克羅克公園酒店約20分鐘車程,沿途穿過許多美麗的鄉間小道,費用大約18~20歐元,所以只要有兩位乘客以上,搭計程車都會比坐公車便宜。

酒店的正對面就是大名鼎鼎的「克羅克公園體育場」,是蓋爾式(愛爾蘭式)足球與曲棍球比賽的主場,也是歐洲有名的大型音樂會場地,碧昂斯今年七月就會來這兒表演,是她世界巡迴演出其中一站。

酒店位於住宅區,很安靜,旁邊雖然有條軌道,但我們從未聽到過火車聲。

Front entrance of The Croke Park Hotel.

FIRST IMPRESSION

Built in 2005, the Croke Park Hotel is well-kept and feels spacious and airy. Contemporary design is featured throughout this four-story establishment, and homely touches such as a library nook and fireplaces lend it a boutiquey, comfortable vibe.

The staff at reception were extremely upbeat and helpful, and we were given our room keys immediately despite arriving hours before the official check-in time. However, we were assigned the wrong type of room and eventually ended up waiting in the executive lounge until the right accommodation was readied. 

第一印象

克羅克公園酒店建於2005年,共有四樓,設計現代,光線充足,整體感覺通風寬敞。而小巧的讀書角落與壁爐,製造了溫暖悠閒的氣氛。

一進酒店就看到前台笑咪咪的工作人員,親切地替我們登記入房,不過可能是因為做得太匆忙,竟然分配給我們錯誤的房間。幸好只是個很容易糾正的小失誤,但真是有點兒大意。


ROOMS

The hotel seems to cater mainly to business travellers and families. The rooms come in two categories: Superior and Deluxe, and the configurations include Double, Triple and Family Suite (with 2 bedrooms and a living room). 

There's not much difference between Superior and Deluxe rooms in terms of size, amenities and interior design, but the Deluxe rate does include breakfast as well as access to the Executive Lounge, which I highly recommend. 

房間

這家酒店很適合商務旅客和家庭,有雙人,三人和家庭套房(兩間臥室加起居室)。客房分兩種等級:高級 (Superior) 或豪華 (Deluxe)。

高級客房與豪華客房大小差不多,但豪華房含早餐,還可以使用貴賓室,很值得多花一些錢升級。

All rooms are equipped with the following:

- 32-inch flatscreen TV (50-inch in family suite)

- Tea-making facilities with teabags and instant coffee 

- Hairdryer, iron and safe

- Working area with desk and plenty of sockets (Ireland uses the same 3-prong/220V plug as Britain)

Wireless internet is free throughout the property and the signal is strong. Phew. 

所有房間都配備有:

- 32寸電視(家庭套房的是50寸大電視)

- 熱水壺,茶包和速溶咖啡

- 吹風機,熨斗和保險箱

- 書桌,還有很多插座(愛爾蘭和英國使用同樣的三孔/220V 插頭)

酒店也有免費提供無線網,網速還算挺快的。

The spacious white bathroom has a separate shower and bathtub with toiletries from The White Company, a British home accessories brand known for its simple, beautifully designed bedlinen and home fragrances.

白色的浴室配有獨立淋浴間和浴缸,供應的洗浴用品則是我個人很喜歡的英國家居品牌「The White Company」。


EXECUTIVE LOUNGE

All guests staying in a deluxe room automatically get access to the Executive Lounge on the top floor, where complimentary hot and cold drinks and snacks are served all day. 

貴賓室

豪華客房的客人可使用四樓的貴賓室 (Executive Lounge),享用全天免費供應的冷熱飲品和小點心。

In the morning, guests can choose to have breakfast at the hotel's main restaurant or in the comfort of the Executive Lounge, where a continental buffet is available.

早餐有兩種選擇:一樓餐廳提供的是熱食自助餐,貴賓室裡則是 continental breakfast (歐式早餐)。

For me, the Executive Lounge is the most relaxing space in the hotel. First of all, it has large, comfortable sofas and was almost always deserted during our stay, making it the perfect place to unwind after hours of sightseeing. In the evening, you get a lovely view from the balcony of the sun setting over the stadium and Dublin's urban skyline. 

Feeling peckish? The refreshment section offers cookies, fruits as well as freshly ground coffee and a selection of teabags for a mini afternoon tea. Bottled water and juices are also available.

Another perk for Deluxe room guests is that you get a voucher for a free drink, per person per day, at the hotel bar. There's your nightcap, sorted.

貴賓室平常很少人用,裡面有寬敞舒適的沙發,所以是對我們這些馬不停蹄的觀光客來說,是放鬆小歇的理想場所。黃昏時刻,可以在陽台看夕陽,欣賞都柏林的天際線。

餓了嗎?這裡全天提供餅乾,新鮮水果,多樣式的茶包以及現磨豆的咖啡,另外還有瓶裝的礦泉水和果汁,很貼心。

豪華客房的另一好處就是每人每天都有一張免費飲料的優惠券,香檳啤酒隨你選。


BREAKFAST

Since the Croke Park Hotel is in a residential area, there are not many choices of restaurants in its immediate vicinity. The hotel does have a couple on-site eateries offering comfort food (burgers, sandwiches and steaks) as well as healthy meals (salads and smoothies) throughout the day.

早餐

由於克羅克公園酒店位於都柏林的住宅區,附近的餐館選擇並不多,因此酒店的餐廳全天提供熱食,如漢堡,三明治,牛排,還有較健康的沙拉與現榨果汁,成為許多房客的第一選擇。

Breakfast is served buffet style in the main restaurant. I'm not usually a fan of buffets as I don't fancy the idea of eating food that's been sitting on a hot plate for hours on end. But my preconceived notions were pleasantly overturned here, as everything I had tasted fresh and delicious.

One reason could be because the kitchen opens out to the buffet table so not only do the diners get to see the preparation process, they can also see when freshly cooked items are added to the buffet lineup, which is pretty frequently. 

我平常並不喜歡自助式的早餐,因為放在電熱板上好幾個鐘頭的食物總是不太好吃。不過在 Croke Park Hotel 我倒是吃得很愉快,因為菜色豐盛,新鮮可口,咖啡也很不錯。

餐廳的廚房是開放式,所以大家能清楚看到食物準備的過程,還有上菜的頻率。

Besides the hot food, there's a good selection of fresh fruits (all cut into in large pieces) along with Irish bread, croissants, honey straight from the honeycomb, yogurt and cheese, etc. If you're craving for something that's not available from the buffet, just tell the wait staff and they'll effort to make you what you want.

除了熱食外,buffet 還有許多水果,優格以及新鮮蜂蜜,澱粉類則有愛爾蘭麵包,牛角麵包,麥片等。如果你想吃白煮蛋或自助餐裡沒有的項目,廚房若有食材便會為你製作特別餐呢。

For guests whose room rate does not include breakfast, or anyone who wants a casual meal or a drink, the Sideline Bistro & Bar has a simple menu offering traditional pub food, like sandwiches, fish and chips, salads and even organic smoothies. The space also features a giant TV screen, making it the perfect place to hang out on game day.

不想吃 buffet 的客人可以到酒店的另一家餐廳,Sideline Bistro & Bar,單點早餐,或是三明治,炸魚和薯條,沙拉傳統酒吧食物。

餐廳設有巨大的電視屏幕,是聚會,看球賽的理想場所。

MY RATING: 8.5 / 10

Over all we were very happy with our stay at the Croke Park Hotel and felt well looked after. Next time I'd like to give its sister hotel The Westbury a try. The Westbury is a more luxurious and traditional property located right off Grafton Street (the self-proclaimed 'world famous' shopping district) and a short walk from Temple Bar and Trinity College. 

我的評價:8.5 / 10

我們在克羅克公園酒店住了三晚,總體感覺很不錯:房間乾淨寬敞,食物美味可口,服務親切,加上價錢合理,很值得推薦。

下次再來都柏林,我將會試試它的姐妹店,The Westbury。The Westbury 是傳統式豪華酒店,位於熱鬧的購物區格拉夫頓街,離 Temple Bar 和三一學院僅幾步之遙。

 

Moving On, My Life Awaits - My InstaReflection

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When was the last time you let go of something that had once been as precious as your own life? 

This something, could be anything -- memory, habit, romance or friendship -- it might have occupied your mental and physical space, and consumed your mental and physical energy for a significant period of time, and it had the power to make you feel grounded, needed, and loved.

It fuelled your happiness. 

Therefore, even when this something starts to take on a different shape, go a different direction, creates more doubt than affirmation, we often have trouble pushing it away.

The soft-hearted ones, may find it cruel to leave this something behind.

The sentimental ones, may find it difficult to part with all the memories shared.

To solve this dilemma, a pragmatic approach is necessary. 

We need to ask the question -- Is this something good for you? 

Not in the past or future tense, but the PRESENT.

For me, I kissed this something goodbye, with heart full of gratefulness and love. 

And to my biggest surprise -- I felt relieved. Overwhelmingly.

No sadness. No regret. Just the feeling of lightness when I tip over, and let this invisible weight that I had unconsciously carried, fall off my shoulders. 

Five Super Instagrammable London Florists for Flower-Obsessed Visitors

Do flowers make you smile? 

Everywhere I go, I seek out new and unique floral displays - at cafes, shops, florists and homes - and the close proximity to so much prettiness guarantees to boost my mood and set off a creative train of thought.

London has a strong floral game, and I believe no visitors to this enchanting city should go home without some photographic proofs of local florists' stunning talents.

Hence I've compiled a simple Top 5 List for Flower-Loving Tourists with my favorite florists in central London (Westminster, to be exact), all within walking distances to several popular attractions, so you can stop and smell the roses while soaking up all the magic that London has to offer. 🌹


1. Jens Jakobsen Floral Construction

Close To: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, St. James's Park

The Blewcoat School, Junction of Caxton Street & Buckingham Gate, London SW1H 0PY

www.jensjakobsen.co.uk | Instagram @jensjakobsenfloralconstruction

 You can often spot Jens Jakobsen creating his playful floral displays outside the historic Blewcoat, which is now the flagship store wedding dress designer Ian Stuart.

Just down the road from Queen Elizabeth's palace and a few blocks away from the Prime Minister's residence, Jens Jakobsen has been catching the eyes of the rich and the powerful since making his move from Denmark to London. 

But it's not just the enviable location that's made him one of the most talked-about florists in the city - it's down to his never-ending stream of creativity inspired by nature and his own warm, bubbly personality, which has given us the onion garden, bird's nests, and wild bunches of bouquets that raise our spirits. 

You can often spot Jens creating his playful floral displays outside the historic Blewcoat, a former school for the poor during the Victorian times that had been lovingly restored to become the flagship store for wedding dress designer Ian Stuart.

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Jens Jakobsen florist london flowers 1 eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug
Jens Jakobsen florist london blewcoat eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug

2. Wild At Heart @ Liberty London

Close To: Carnaby Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street, The Photographer's Gallery, BBC Broadcasting House

Great Marlborough Street entrance of Liberty, London W1B 5AH

www.wildatheart.com | Instagram @wildathearthq

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Whether you're paying a visit to Liberty, checking out its Tudor-revival architecture, or simply passing by on the way to Regent Street, this florist will make you want to slow down for a little while.

Occupying the main entrance of the luxury retailer (on Great Marlborough Street), Nikki Tibbles Wild At Heart has carved out a calming oasis for anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of Soho. The intoxicating fragrance of flowers greets you as you enter the building, setting the mood for the visual and sensual discoveries that lie ahead.

Wild At Heart was selected as the in-house florist for Liberty in 2008, and the store front has since become a favorite accessory for visitors and locals who want to add a romantic touch to this stunning landmark. 

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3. Petersham Nurseries @ Covent Garden

Close To: Covent Garden, Royal Opera House,  West End, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, Chinatown, The Savoy

31 King Street, London WC2E 9FB

www,petershamnurseries.com/covent-garden | Instagram @petershamnurseries

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The first time I visited Petersham Nurseries' new shop in Covent Garden, I thought I had stumbled upon an undiscovered treasure chest of whimsies.

I wanted to touch everything on display, linger over each darling item's back label, and admire the composition of the lush plants that adored every corner of the stunning space. I clicked and clicked away until my phone ran out of battery, and then I stayed and wandered around some more.

Little did I know that the shop already had a famous big sister in Richmond, and the brand is hailed as a lifestyle destination for its "unique spirit and rare beauty". 

The Covent Garden branch of Petersham Nurseries is much smaller in size but just as beautiful. It consists of a shop with an in-house florist, a delicatessen, two restaurants and a cellar. Trust me, it's easy to spend an entire day here and still not wanting to leave.

Petersham nursury covent garden interior 3 eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london
Petersham nursury covent garden interior 3 eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london
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Petersham nursury covent garden flowers eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london

4. Wild Things Mayfair

Close To: Selfridge's, Hyde Park, Royal Academy of Arts, Bond Street, Oxford Street

47 Davies St, Mayfair, London W1K 4LZ

www.wildthingsflowers.co.uk | Instagram: @wildthingsflowers

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When you're a florist in London's most expensive neighbourhood, where ultra-prime properties beat out Manhattan in terms of price per square foot (£3,853 for Mayfair v.s. £3,575 for Manhattan), you know nothing but the best will do.

Based in Mayfair with Claridge's and Vera Wang as neighbors, Wild Things - by designer Louise Bermingham - opened its doors in 1996 and offers some of the most beautiful blooms on the market. 

Outside the shop you'll often find two large buckets - or 'ponds' - filled to the rim with floating flowers that are changed regularly to reflect the seasons, creating a dreamy photo opportunity against the white of the wedding dresses and the red facade of the mansions nearby.

Wild Thing Flowers 2 London followthatbug follow that bug eileen hsieh

 5. Fortnum & Mason

Close To: Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly Circus, St. James's Palace, Leicester Square, Chinatown, Bond Street

Lower Ground Floor Food Hall, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER

www.fortnumandmason.com | Instagram @fortnums

Fortnum Mason butterfly floral stairs eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london

Here's a store on every London tourist's must-visit list, so having a good florist in-house is simply the cherry on top.

Fortnum, inventor of the Scott Egg, is as British as a shop can get. With an giant selection of teas and biscuits and a curated collection of luxury homeware, beauty products and fashion accessories, F&M is a feast for the eyes and the senses. With its signature ‘Eau de Nil’ color adorning the shopping bags and various packaging, it's nearly impossible to resist the urge to get some treats once you set foot inside.

You can find its friendly florist in the Food Hall on the lower ground floor, next to the fresh produce and wine sections.

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Fortnum Mason florist eileen hsieh followthatbug follow that bug london stairs

View From The Top: A Visit To London's Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden is regularly listed as one of the most beautiful performance venues in the world. So I knew I'd have to act fast in order to secure tickets for its popular holiday show - The Nutcracker.

As it turned out, many people had the same idea but were much more organised than me. When I visited the booking page two months before Christmas, the only four seats in a row available were in the top tier amphitheatre gallery.

For £10 each, our tickets were a bargain. The seats were described as "Upper Slips, view obstructed by tier ledge, patrons in front may also obstruct view, padded bench with back." We didn't even have to stand!

We took several flights of stairs and escalators to reach our seats, which were padded benches on the highest possible landing in the building. A quick glance downward might leave you weak in the knees.

We didn't have a full view of the performance, but we did get an unrivalled, bird’s eye view of the orchestra and all four tiers of boxes and balconies. The auditorium could seat 2,256 people, so we spent the interval admiring both the ROH's architecture and guests. 🧐

We also had the best view of the auditorium’s ornate ceiling, which housed the spot lights and opened up during the show to illuminate the stage.

Warning: I would not recommend this section for people with an extreme fear of heights. You are after all within an arm’s reach to the roof, with the entire theatre below your feet. .

Other than that it’s a great way to check out the Grade I listed opera house and the wonderful royal ballet for the price of a take-away meal.

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Royal Opera House

Bow Street
Covent Garden
London
WC2E 9DD
United Kingdom

Stay Tender, Dear 2018

What do you wish for in this new year?

In the beginning of 2017, I picked “Everything Is Connected” as my motto for the year. It was neither a statement nor a commitment, just a fact of life which I wanted to comprehend better.

Oh, did I! 

So for 2018, I’m choosing another phrase to guide me through the next four seasons.

It is: “Stay tender.” 

Tenderness is the feeling I get when something good and beautiful is reflected back at me; when my efforts are returned in equal measure or more; when I get something for nothing simply by being around inspiring people and positive energy.

It’s the feeling I get right now catching up on your Instagram updates, with my adorable family by my side.

#Tenderness. May it also be a part of your new year. 💛 .

True & Naive: My Puzzles of Happiness

This one is for you, my dear friends. 💙

(Jigsaw lovers pls skip to the bottom.)

A simple wooden puzzle of our beautiful Big Ben means something different for everyone. In my case, it encapsulates my current state of mind.

A buoyant sense of completeness has caught me by surprise since I started saying and doing only what I believe is true and right. It’s awesome being nice, optimistic and BS-free, and all it takes is to surround myself with likeminded people — such as you guys! 

I want to share the recipe of my elation with anyone who might want it. And this Big Ben puzzle is just the first ingredient in the pot — to build Patience.

You can find this puzzle and two other designs in my new shop @trueandnaive which is now in beta. Please use “FOLLOWTHATBUG” for 20% off your entire purchase.

If you’re based in London (zones 1-3) and would like some puzzles for Christmas, I’ll be making personal deliveries on Saturday DEC 23 for free. 😄🤶🏻❄️🎄☃️💖

#ThankYouForEverything

Beautiful Destination: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

There are a number of grand buildings dotted along the south side of Hyde Park, and this one - the Mandarin Oriental - along with the Natural History Museum, are what I find the most beautiful. 

Besides the stunning use of red brick on its facade, this place also holds an interesting history.

Take a moment to admire this picturesque setting at the hotel's loggia, then scroll down for eight facts about the hotel that you may find fascinating.

The park-facing loggia at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the perfect location for special events. © Mandarin Oriental Hotels

The front facade of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, facing Knightsbridge. © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug // Cover photo  © Mandarin Oriental Hotels


🍁 The original building was built in 1889 as an exclusive "gentleman's club", with the main entrance facing Hyde Park.

🍁 At the time it was also the tallest building in London at 100 feet high (about 9 story by today's standard).

🍁 The Franco-Flemish style architecture uses plenty of red brick and Portland stone and has loggias (exterior corridors) to provide lounging space that overlooks the park.

🍁 A fire struck the property in 1899, and in 1902 it reopened as "Hyde Park Hotel", the newest and the most luxurious hotel in London.

🍁 But the hotel opened with a new entrance facing Knightsbridge instead of Hyde Park -- due to royal request that the side facing the park would only be reserved for royal use or very special occasions.

🍁 The new main entrance of the building now faces Knighsbridge, opposite Harvey Nichols and a short walk from Harrods.

🍁 In 2000, the property reopened as "Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park" after extensive restoration.

🍁 In September 2016 it began another 18-month restoration to keep up its 5-star standard. The first phase on the front-facing rooms completed last month, and now the work has moved to the back of the building, which is expected to finish in Spring 2018.


My Simple Secret to Happiness

Tilt up your head, and hold it there -- what do you see?

Close your eyes, and absorb a heavy breath all the way down to your tummy -- how do you feel?

Stand firm, wiggle those heels deeper into the ground, and just listen to your own voice coming from within.

🌿🌿🌿

This is what I like to tell people who ask me: "Eileen, how do you stay so happy and hopeful all the time?"

Some ask, because they find my outlook frustrating, unrealistic and even privileged.

"You don't have the baggage of ______ (children, family, bad job, discrimination, pressure from everywhere, etc.). That's why you can talk as if nothing weighs you down."

These people, in their minds, they've drawn the short straw in life, which is the one excuse they use for everything they believe they deserve but can't seem to achieve.

The truth is, we all have been one of these people at some point in our lives. Some of us may still be in this mindset, and some of us may return to it.

So what, if you feel bitter and unloved? It's nothing to be scared or ashamed of. It's a genuine feeling from within, so own it.

Then, use it as the ignition to drive you forward -- be honest with your fears, tackle them gently, and praise yourself along the way for having the courage to face the struggles head on, whatever the outcome.

As the title of this post says, this is my very simple secret to happiness! 

It is how I stay happy. And I am, truly.

Eileen xx

 Autumn sky in London's St James's Park. © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug // Cover photo by  Teddy Kelley  on Unsplash

Autumn sky in London's St James's Park. © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug // Cover photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash

What Is Courage? - My InstaReflection

#COURAGE (noun) -- which one of these definitions do you agree with the most?

(1) The ability to do something that frightens one.

(2) Strength in the face of pain or grief.

(3) The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.

I pick 2, because if you can overcome the pain of fears or the grief of regrets, you will have gained the key to a whole new world. 

Eileen Hsieh Buckingham Palace sunset pastel sky followthatbug London England UK

Courage is:

📍 to let go of your ego, and act on this thought. 

📍 to own up to your shortcomings, recognise strengths in others, and learn to grow in a different and better direction.

📍 to ignore outside voices, and say and do things that you truly believe are right.

📍 to let go of your past, and start every new day learning to be the "you" that you would like to become.

Today I saw a flash of courage in someone, so I just want to throw this message out to the universe -- you can do it.

You may feel lonely, you may stumble, but there will always be people cheering you on, because we all wish we had a little bit more courage within ourselves.

Beautiful Destination: Churchill Arms Pub in Kensington, London

This is probably the most photographed pub in all of London, if not the most beautiful -- and it's easy to see why. 

Located near the midpoint on Kensington Church Street connecting Kensington and Notting Hill, the Churchill Arms pub is a beloved historic landmark built in 1750. It's most famous for its flower-covered facade, and it also serves very nice Thai curry dishes.

Before your next visit, take a look at these wonderful facts about Churchill Arms and deepen your appreciation for this true London gem!

🍺It was the first London pub to serve Thai food. Yum!

🍺The pub has a flower bill of around £25,000. Every. Year.

🍺 The pub has some 100 flower tubs, 42 baskets and 48 window boxes.

🍺 The pub also goes all out for Christmas. Last year it was adorned with 21,000 lights and 90 Christmas trees. 🎄

🍺Winston Churchill's grandparents were regulars at the pub in the 1800's. The pub was given its current name after World War Two.

🍺 The pub's true legend is its landlord, Gerry O'Brien, who came to London from Ireland as at age 17. He joined the pub in 1985 and retired in July 2017 after 32 years of service, during which he had pulled about 2 million pints of London Pride!

Genteel England: Middlethorpe Hall & Spa in York | 溫雅英格蘭:約克的「米多托爾普」歷史酒店

For my very first visit to York, England, I was adamant to stay at a historic hotel to fully absorb the quaintness of this ancient city. I went through the National Trust property list and was immediately drawn to one place - Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, just outside the city center.

首次拜訪英格蘭的約克之前,我只有一個篤定的要求: 住的旅館必須要古色古香,而且最好是古蹟。英國保護名勝古蹟的國家信託提供了許多建議,其中一家最吸引著我,就是位於老城郊區的米多托爾普酒店

Middlethorpe Hall's magnificient back garden with the delightfully named "ha-ha". © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug

Front facade of Middlethorpe Hall as seen from the street. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Can you ever go wrong with w National Trust property? © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Constructed in 1699, Middlethorpe Hall is a classic William and Mary country house built for a prosperous master cutler named Thomas Barlow, who bought the Middlethorpe estate as a bid to establish himself as a country gentleman.

The style of the building was indirectly influenced by Christopher Wren's Hampton Court Palace, as reflected in its pattern of red brick, white sash windows and stone corners. In the 1980s Middlethorpe Hall was restored to its former glory and reopened as a luxury hotel. Now it's under the protection of the National Trust.

Middlethorpe Hall建於1699年,屋主是位富有的刀匠,想藉由這棟威廉與瑪莉型式的豪宅來打入上流社會,晉身為鄉紳。

這棟鄉村豪宅的風格靈感來自漢普頓皇宮與名建築師溫恩,處處可見紅磚,白邊大窗戶和開闊的花園。Middlethorpe Hall 在1980年代轉型改成為豪華酒店,今日由國家信託管理。

The airy grand reception room with happy, yellow walls. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Pretty trimmings around the chandelier. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Plenty of Instagram-worthy features around the house, including this sweet kitty. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

The main house is decorated in the manner of the 18th century and furnished with antiques and fine paintings. It also features a grand staircase with intricate carvings. There are 10 bedrooms in the main house, including a royal suite. 

走進房子的主樓好像回到18世紀,室內裝飾使用了許多古董和精美畫作做點綴,還有一座木雕的大樓梯。主樓裡有10間臥室,包括了佔地最大,景觀最好的皇家套房。

Royal bedroom Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

THE DUKE OF YORK SUITE

Named after the stay of HRH Prince Andrew, this is Middlethorpe Hall's flagship suite.

Historically grand mansions across Britain would always have a room designated for potential visits from the royal family, befitted with the best of the best that the households could afford, even though most of them probably never got used for the intended purpose.

Another pretty bedroom in the main house, with an uninterrupted view of the back garden.  © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

One proud feature of Middlethorpe Hall is its 20 acres of gardens, and the park land that surrounds the house. 

We visited the property in the winter when the grounds were at their dullest, but we were impressed by the numerous quaint little gardens that produce vegetables, fruits as well as a variety of fragrant flowers.

We also saw a ha-ha for the very first time. It's literally just a ditch in the house's back garden, with benches facing out to the countryside for an uninterrupted view of the surrounding greenery. What a perfect setting for watching the sun rise and set!

Middlethorpe Hall特別驕傲的一點就是它佔地20英畝的花園與周邊綠地。我們拜訪的季節是冬天,所以花園的顏色黯淡,不過這裡有許多可愛的小花園,果園和菜園,種滿了蔬菜,水果以及各種芬芳的花朵,讓我們印象深刻。

我們也是第一次看到“哈哈”­。什麼東西有如此好玩的名稱呢? 其實它是指後花園的一個溝,防止農場動物誤入莊園,溝內還設有面向鄉村草原的長凳,是欣賞日出日落的最佳地點。

Garden Ha-ha Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

What is a 

Ha-Ha?

It's a ditch, in the garden.

The name reflects the reaction of unsuspecting visitors when they see the wide trench for the first time. (Haha!)

The ha-ha is designed to keep grazing animals out of the more formal parts of a garden, replacing the need for a fence. 

It also allows an unrestricted view from the house and the garden to the vast countryside beyond. 

A stroll around the back garden awarded us with this view. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A walk through the kitchen garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the kitchen garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A sunset view of the surrounding countryside from the back garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Morning mist Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

The Cottage

Our home away from home.

Travelling as a party of three, the 2-bedroom cottage suite was the ideal choice. Just a short walk away from the main house, our apartment occupied the top floor of the cottage with a master bedroom, a single bedroom, and so much charm!

我們一行三人,爸媽與我,所以兩房的cottage suite是理想的選擇。小屋離主樓只有幾分鐘的步行路程,整個二樓都屬於我們的套房,有一間主臥室與一間單人房,寬敞又安靜。

Our little cottage just meters away from the main house. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A sun-drenched, cozy living room. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Living room of our cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the living room. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful gas fireplace, a much welcomed feature on cold winter nights. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

I loved our cottage suite. It was an easy climb up the stairs to the first floor (second floor for the rest of the world), and the interior is what I would call English-prettiness -- lots of floral patterns, antique furniture, sketches and paintings depicting bygone times, all in an inviting and comfortable manner. 

The weather was bitingly cold when we visited, and I spent a lot of time by the gas fireplace. Not only because it was cozy and beautiful, but that despite cranking the heat to the maximum, the cottage still felt a bit chilly and never warmed up like a modern-day flat. I guess that was part of the cottage-living experience. :) 

小屋套房的裝潢是我所稱的英式優雅,使用許多花卉圖案,古董家具,描繪過去的時代藝術作品,來打造一個溫馨舒適的環境。

我們來訪時剛好碰上非常寒冷的冬天,客廳裡美麗的燃氣壁爐成為了我離不開的好朋友。老屋子不像現代公寓有中央空調,所以無論暖氣開的多強,總是感覺有點寒冷。這也是鄉間生活的必經體驗吧!

Main bedroom in the cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Haven't seen this type of radio in a long time. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful colors in the main bedroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Single bedroom in the cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Monogrammed towels, of course. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the single bedroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Kitchenette with a Nespresso machine. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

The cottage has a small, enclosed kitchenette where you'll find a tin of biscuits, English teas and Nespresso coffee. And if you reserve with the front desk the night before, in the morning the butler will bring you fresh coffee on a silver plate, at the break of dawn, so you can properly wake up before going to breakfast. 

我們的套房設有一個小巧廚房,提供餅乾,英式茶和Nespresso咖啡膠囊。你也可以前一晚與櫃台預定,隔天早晨管家就會浩蕩的在黎明時刻送來熱咖啡,幫助客人在早餐前慢慢甦醒。

Morning Coffee Middlethorpe Hall Spa Eileen Hsieh follow that bug York England UK

Morning Coffee/Tea

Delivered to your cottage at the break of dawn by the butler.

So in love with the green tiles in the bathroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Main House mist Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

Country House Dining

From sunrise to sundown.

For me, the major incentive of getting up in the morning is food, and nothing beats a freshly cooked Yorkshire breakfast! 

Breakfast and dinner are served in the 2 AA Rosettes restaurant in the main house, with two dining rooms overlooking the serene back garden. The dishes are nice and comforting, and the wait staff delightful. The all look like they've just come out of hospitality school, very professional and eager to ensure that the guests are well-looked after. 

享受現做的約克夏式早餐,是我準時起床主要動機。

早晚餐是由主樓內的2 AA Rosettes級餐廳提供,菜餚美味,環境舒適,俯瞰著寧靜的後花園。這裡的服務生超級可愛,每個都像剛從餐飲學校剛畢業似的,每個動作都非常專業,認真的照顧客人。

Breakfast menu. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Freshly cooked breakfast with a view. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful hors d'oeuvre that came with our drinks. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That bug

Dinner is ready! © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

What better way to walk off the hearty meal than to trek down the country lanes or explore the famous York Racecourse, located just right across from Middlethorpe Hall. 

I'd also recommend the spa on site to anyone in need of relaxation. It's small and perfectly formed, with a swimming pool, whirlpool and really nice treatments.

吃飽後可以去附近許多的鄉村步道散步消化,酒店的正對面就是著名的約克賽馬場,有很美的天際線。

需要放鬆的話,我推薦去一趟酒店小而美的水療中心,這兒有游泳池,whirlpool和很棒的spa treatments。

The street in front of Middlethorpe Hall, with far-reaching view of the racecourse and surrounded countryside. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That bug

York Racecourse

York Racecourse

York has a steep history in horse racing that can be traced back some 2,000 years to the Roman and Viking times. Today it's one of the most famous racecourses in Europe and the reigning "Northern Racecourse of the Year", attracting 360,000 visitors every year. 


MIDDLETHORPE HALL & SPA

York, England, U.K.

https://www.middlethorpe.com/

筱晴散文集:再訪華府 | Beautiful Destination: Revisiting Washington D.C.

Cherry Blossoms/Jefferson Memorial / Photo by Jake McGuire / www.washington.org

Mom has been toying with the idea of putting her prose online for a while now. Being the most diligent writer in our family, she's published numerous articles over the years about life as an expat and kept a private journal detailing the memorable moments in her life, which seem to occur every other day. 

I love reading mom's journals, especially the ones written when we're together. It's a luxury to relive our shared experience through her words for a motherly perspective and blatantly honest assessment. 

Therefore I think it's fitting to make room for mom's prose on Follow That Bug. Her unique yet familiar voice is welcomed here any time. 

Revisiting Washington D.C. - 再訪華府D.C.

作者:筱晴

每年春天到華府賞櫻花是例行盛事,今年該是第五回了。記得去年三月底我們專程趕去,只見花苞蕾蕾,尚未綻放。隔十天再去,已是花海燦爛,迎面撲相了,春雪初霽,寒風凜冽,卻擋不住如織的人潮。巧逢復活節花車遊行,配合櫻花季節,場面更是浩大。 

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Royal Gossip: The Albert Pub of Victoria

 Standing proudly at the crossroads of London's past and present. © Eileen Hsieh /  @FollowThatBug

Standing proudly at the crossroads of London's past and present. © Eileen Hsieh / @FollowThatBug

If you've ever done the tourist trail of London's landmarks, you've probably seen this pretty Victorian pub somewhere along the way to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben or Victoria Station. 

The Albert is a Grade II listed pub built in 1862, and the only remaining building from the original phase of the development of Victoria Street. 

It survived the Blitz in World War Two, and still has many original features intact -- ornate ceilings, wrought iron balconies and hand-etched frosted glass windows, etc.

As London Victoria undergoes another phase of regeneration, with endless building work erecting shiny new offices, shops and residential flats on every corner, The Albert continues to coexistence happily with its younger neighbors. 

Including this brand new crossing that begins and ends at its doorstep. ✖️💜

*    *    *    *

Social media can be a very helpful source for curious information.

After I posted the above image, someone pointed out that the windows at The Albert were adorned with engravings allegedly depicting Prince Albert piercings. ("Somewhat X-rated" was the warning I was given.)

Being none the wiser, I threw the question to London Historians - a Twitter account that I follow for random knowledge about the city - already dismissing the claim as an urban legend.

Then came this photo -- "You decide," said the accompanying caption!

What's your first reaction? I can certainly see where the gossip stems from, but I shall pay the pub a visit for a closer examination! 😜

 Window engravings at The Albert pub on Victoria Street. // Courtesy of London Historians

Window engravings at The Albert pub on Victoria Street. // Courtesy of London Historians