Capturing our love for art, adventure and learning
Faster, better and newer is the only way we've been told. Life is lived by treading the narrow lane of doing only what makes you profits, gives you savings and advances your overall career or wealth. We've rejected that very early on with our odd life. We chose a line of work that allowed us to homeschool our kids and worked from home long before the pandemic happened. We chose the road, our mental health and building a core memory with our children.
The "skeletons" of the UK keep reminding us of why we've made this huge move across the globe. We chose this life so we have the freedom to preserve memories and form our identities beyond the prescribed way of life.
I recall when dad first retired, he would spend his days cycling to places around Singapore. He would take long bus rides from one end of the island to another. He would also come home and lament how the Singapore he knew is no longer around. He would tell us of the places he formed great memories at and how they have disappeared. I felt that it was his way of reconnecting with the land and his surroundings after more than 40 years of work that occupied so much of his time. But his attempt at reconnection only brought out a sad sense of disconnect. I was then only in my early 30s but his experience resonated deeply with me. So many places that defined my childhood have been torn down in favour of the newer and better. It explains my own disconnect with the supposed "home" country.
Old places, things and buildings give us a sense of stability in our identity and acts as a reference point for us. The sense of place forms our identities, sometimes personally and sometimes as a collective. When I first stepped foot in Britain and the rest of Europe, I observed how they have kept vast amounts of old buildings and archived artefacts in museums. You can find a museum for anything from transportation, space, natural history, art, science, astrology to lawnmowers. (There's really a British Lawnmower Museum in Southport!) Debra and I often laugh about how the Brits are such hoarders because they keep and preserve everything.
We visited Oxford for an afternoon last weekend and the realisation hit me like a freight train. These worthless "Skeletons" that are preserved do tell a story. That story is continuously told to generations and beyond if we preserve, display and teach about them. Museums, old buildings, old things and skeletons are important because they are depositories of our collective cultural and historical identities. They make us, us.
Preservation of heritage is not just a frivolous nostalgic exercise.
It dawned upon me that these places we visit and form memories at will still exist when I'm long dead. Matthias could be walking into Oxford University Museum of Natural History in 2083 with his grandchildren, recounting his childhood running down the hall of a building opened in 1860 with his sister Gwyn. There in an instance, an invisible thread connects 4 generations, their memories and their ties with the land.
We had a magical afternoon hearing the stories these skeletons and buildings of several hundred years speak to us. We know that we are all gaining knowledge, creating memories and forming our identities.
We were also excited to find some ancient Egyptian artefacts and other artefacts that helped us make sense of history. How did writing come about? What is embalming? It is one thing reading about it, it is another seeing, hearing, being physically present and touching something as a process of learning. Both kids were never fond of museums before we came to Britain. They are now excited about going to one because they make their books and Horrible Histories show come alive.
What are your thoughts? How important is preserving heritage to you?
We say, keep the skeletons (old buildings, places and artefacts too!) and let them speak wondrous stories to generations.
Hello there! We are so glad you're back here with us in 2023! We really hope 2023 is being kind to you wherever you are! I can't be more grateful to be another year older surrounded by the people I love dearly.
Here in our little village (oh yes we found out our area is considered a village and that makes us villagers HAHA!), we've been finding our footing in a very different environment and climate. We talked about the shocking truths of living in the UK here in our last post but I think we are only starting to grasp the power of nature and its ability to shape our lives.
We've spent most of our lives along the equator of the planet on a geographically sheltered island (Singapore). Nothing really happens in terms of weather because it is either rain or shine. Shorts, T-shirt and slippers works 365 days a year. Occasionally, the temperature dips to about 21-22 celcius and you'll see people flooding social media with pictures of being all wrapped up and feeling "cold". The past month has redefined the word "cold" for all of us.
Winter is not a season, it is an occupation - Sinclair Lewis
I think Sinclair Lewis is quite right in saying that it is an occupation because winters are to be endured and there's a lot to do if you want to live well in winter.
Winters are to be endured
A short nice ski/winter holiday may actually sound exciting but living through the entirety of winter is a completely different ball game. I know I run the risk of sounding like a wimp because there are many who live further north in Scotland, Canada, Russia and the Nordic countries who experience far more brutal winters than we are getting here in the UK. To survive winters, you've got to endure the biting cold, the constant darkness, being stuck indoors, spending way more money on energy bills.
When we do get a break in the weather (e.g. the sun comes out and it isn't raining, sleeting, hailing and snowing), we try our best head outside. It can be frustrating being stuck inside all the time. It can also be miserable shaking in the cold. I do my best to head to places that have the great outdoors and a heated indoor space to take refuge when it gets too cold.
The kids are showing a lot less stamina in the cold and would complaint about wanting to go home. The ironic thing is, the only way to overcome the cold is to go into the cold. Our bodies need time to adjust the way it responds to the cold and if we simply stay home all day, we'll never adjust. If you'd really want to survive the winter, you must endure the cold and head outside.
Days are very short in winter and it can be very disorientating when you've got only 6-7 hours of daylight. Perpetual darkness can make you very lethargic because the absence of light tells your body it is time to sleep/rest. Lack of vitamin D also puts you at a way higher risk of serious health problems and depression. Cabin fever can also set in when you are stuck indoors too much. We try to take in as much fresh air and sunlight as we possibly can to keep ourselves sane.
There's a lot to do if you want to live well in winter
Here's how we get an outing done in the winter.
-Check Meteorological office for adverse warnings
-Watch BBC weather report
-Check road closures
-Check winter operating hours
-Slap a lot of cream on your skin
-Pack the snack pack and prepare water/warm flask
-Dress up (Tee, sweater, coat, gloves, beanie, jeans/stockings, warm socks, boots, scarf)
-Repeat dress up 2 more times for the kids
-Scrape the ice off the windscreen, windows and mirrors
-Some people have to first shovel snow away to get moving
-Turn on the car window defoggers and wait for the condensation to go away before you can see well enough to get going.
In Singapore, we'd get out of bed and walk out of the house in pyjamas (tee shirt and running shorts). Call Grab or just pick food up at a 24hr eatery. It will always be fast and convenient. You would expect nothing less than that.
Winters don't give you that luxury. It is messy, uncomfortable and hard work. Winters bring ice that make roads extremely dangerous and difficult to drive on. There will be no deliveries, people can't get to work, businesses shut, all forms of transport halts and life comes to a standstill. You'd really need to be very aware of weather developments and prepare for disruptions. If you don't stock your food/fuel ahead of an adverse weather warning, you are going to be cold, hungry and miserable.
Such disruptions don't happen on a daily basis but there's always a possibility and it takes effort to be prepared. We are looking at temperatures hovering around -5 to 5 over the next two weeks. It is going to be colder than the milder 8-12 degrees we've been getting. There's a possibility we will get frost, snow and ice. We have put fuel into the car and stocked our fridge twice this week in anticipation for that freeze that's on its way!
Just 6 more weeks before spring
As much as we are looking forward to the next season, we do our best to enjoy the winter. I think that is one of the most effective way to survive winter - enjoy it!
As we steadied ourselves the strong wind around Foxton Locks along the Grand Union Canal in Leicestershire last weekend, I reminded everyone that we are not soaking our clothes wet with sweat while enjoying the great outdoors. We are not bloated nor feeling sticky. We are still enjoying the beautiful sights!
We are really grateful that after any good long walk, we will be absolutely ravenous. That means our food tastes better and gives us more satisfaction!
Yes it is disruptive, uncomfortable, a lot of work and dangerous at times but like any occupation, we are grateful for what it gives us. Winters can and do bring great satisfaction as well as enjoyment.
You can't get rainbows without the rain. You can't have the amazing four seasons without winter.
Sharing our love of art, travel and learning with you.