Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Good things come in small packages. Sometimes, Amazon UK believes the other way around: the bigger the better.

I recently purchased an exercise mat from Amazon. The delivery van arrived just as I came out the door. The driver and I went through the parcels and packages so I could get mine first before the rest of my neighbours as I had an appointment to catch. He handed me a smaller box which I thought was the gym ball (I've posted via Instagram that I traded in my office chair for one as it's better for my back and shoulders), then a massive one which made me think I ordered Magic Mike XXL himself by mistake.

Before opening the box, I wondered if the mat was folded flat, which would make me cross.  After swimming through a neatly crumpled (the photo doesn't do it justice) manila paper that served as foam instead of polystyrene packing peanuts,  the rolled-up 62cm x 18cm mat was laid in the middle, on its own.

While I appreciate the effort to ensure that the purchased item arrives as seen on the selling page, I thought the box was oversized and this package wasted too much paper. This box could fit in at least 4 more rolled-up mats. I don't know how Amazon manages their packaging specifications, but surely a more economical and environmentally friendly option is possible? My fitness mat could have been simply wrapped in manila paper, or perhaps a rolled-up recycled box.

Unlike boxes of other online retailers which can be repurposed, say, as trinket or accessory box or a desk organiser, a box this big is only fit for moving homes. A storage for children's toys? First, I don't have kids, and even if I do, I won't have their toys crammed in a box that can actually be a safety hazard. 

Where space is prime, I don't have the luxury of a storage room for boxes that can be retrieved for future use. Luckily, my local council has an industrial bin reserved for recyclable materials. Others don't automatically have that service despite the council tax. 

I'm very conscious of wastage, so I  would like to urge Amazon UK and other online retailers to come up with a minimalist approach to managing packaging resources by stripping things down to the basics. To Amazon UK, remember how you pack books and CDs (very rarely ordered nowadays I suppose)? I've even kept some purchased books in that sleeve. 

Let's save, not waste.

Have you had similar packaging experience from online retailers?

Friday, 17 July 2015

Herman Ze German: Best of Ze Wurst

'Let's Rock!'

One of the servers told me that's what the neon sign says in English, when he saw me taking photos on the lower ground floor of Herman Ze German in Fitzrovia. 

From the V&A, we decided to jump on the tube to have some wurst and beer rather than the usual chinese or lebanese on a Saturday night. I thought it could also be a chance for me to take more photos using my new 40mm pancake/prime lens for my Canon EOS 100D. I managed to take some before tucking into my Bockwust (smoky pork) and Paulaner.

Lights not on yet, but the meat mincers on the wall say 'Our Wurst is ze Best.'

Me like ze sink

Ready to dig in!

The usual German fare: wursts.

I'm not going to do a food review as my page is not meant for that. Although I came here for the food, it was also my goal to take some photos. I normally wouldn't be bothered as taking too much photos gets in the way of enjoying the moment, but I genuinely liked the interior. I love the look of salvaged and recycled items against bare walls. I wouldn't have it in my home (or hotel), but I like to see deliberately uncoordinated interior design in places where I dine or drink.

Your wurst is on its way to your table!

Give me your best wurst line :-)

Herman ze German
43 Charlotte Street
W1T 1RS 
020 7323 9207

Monday, 13 July 2015

My 40mm Lens Challenge at the V&A and Charlotte St.

Perhaps not the best way to learn more about photography, but I'm quite enjoying being self-taught. As part of my personal training, I recently purchased a 40mm pancake lens for my Canon EOS 100D camera for the sole purpose of making my already compact baby even more compact. Had to put it to test straight away, of course.

A professional photographer friend commented on one of my Instagram posts that it's a challenge to have only one focal length. I couldn't agree more. I quickly learnt that compositions have to be more deliberate. I'm compensating in some shots by applying some filters and effects inspired by the photos I see in Cereal magazine. Will tell you more about that later.

I was hoping to see the 'What Is Luxury?' exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum, but it was so packed, I totally lost interest. Besides, I didn't have my 18-55mm lens kit with me, so it was cumbersome to get ideal shots for the purpose of documenting the exhibit and letting you, my readers, view it as if you were in the museum yourselves. 

Nevertheless, I took some shots from angles I haven't done inside the museum before. Some are seen from my trusty HTC One camera phone.

Entrance hall of the Victoria and Albert Museum

Outdoor area of the museum

My partner in food appreciation and demolition

Some weeks back, this German casual dining place caught our eye on our way to Josephine's Filipino restaurant in Charlotte St. We share a fascination for Berlin, and both enjoy a good serving of wurst and beer. So on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we jumped on the tube from Knightsbridge to Great Portland St.

While walking, I took some shots of the iconic British Telecom (BT) Tower which was the tallest building in the UK in the 60s until the 80s. 

We also passed by the Fitzrovia Community Garden surrounded by an impressive rows of houses.

There's always something amusing to see in the streets of London, such as this parked bicycle whose basket was turned into a rubbish bin by passersby. 

One man's rubbish is another man's treasure

See you at the restaurant!

Monday, 6 July 2015


There's a Filipino children's folk song which is a tribute to the traditional humble home pictured above, which is also called Bahay Kubo, as the structure is called in the vernacular. 

The children sing about the house being small yet its garden is full of a variety of vegetables and plants. 

Categorised as a stilt house, similar dwellings can be found in Malaysia and Indonesia. A bahay kubo is typically composed of light materials such as wood, bamboo, and nipa palm for the thatched roof. A symbol of Filipino rural life, this pre-Spanish archicture (the Spanish colonisers reached Philippine shores in 1565) can be typically found in the lowlands. My grandparents, whose old Spanish colonial style house I featured on another post (you can read it HERE), had a nipa hut situated near the rice fields outside Poblacion or town. Hers was raised on solid wood stilts though, and was much bigger than the above. I lived in one until about 4 years of age. I was free to roam and play in the garden, climb trees, eat fruits straight from trees, we had dogs, and my cousins would come and stay when we wanted to go to the beach which was just a 10-minute walk.

Nowadays, you'll find nipa nuts with modern amenities used as cottages in beach resorts. This one is in the grounds of Museo de Baler (Baler Museum) in Baler, Aurora.

As with any town museum, Museo de Baler houses the history, heritage, and artefacts of a community's past. As I've been to a couple of museums back in Manila, I was more drawn to the architecture and interior of this one.

Owing to the rich and colourful colonial past of Baler (and the rest of the Philippines), both Philippine and Spanish flags are proudly displayed in the entrance hall. This was the same photo I posted on Instagram during the 117th Philippine Independence Day from Spain on 12 June 2015. 

My favourite part: the staircase. I've always thought that one can determine how solidly built a house is based on how well made the staircase is. 

On our drive back to Manila, we stopped by roadside souvenir vendors. My friend's going back in the next couple of months to get more as all her purchases wouldn't fit in the SUV. 

Some of these locally made native products can be seen in major department stores in Manila, but for a commercial price of course. I didn't bother looking as I knew I wouldn't be able to transport them to the UK anyway.

In the Philippines, it's common practice for children to help out in their parents' small business, especially when off school (classes start in the Philippines in the beginning of June). It's not considered child labour. This little girl just sold some native desserts to my friend, and she brought them back to her mother to be packed.

What do you think, will Customs allow me to hand-carry that wicker hammock on the right? Just pushing my luck.

I was left with the below image on our way back. I think I should just agree with my self: I am  a country girl --in high heels.

'til next time.

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