Category Archives: Sophie’s World

A day out

I had to bring my laptop back to the office today (Saturday) because it is due to be upgraded. Well, it’s a long boring story as to why I couldn’t leave it in the office so I won’t even go down there save for the fact that it had been a messy trouble.Anyway, as I don’t want to be taking the train to my office on a Saturday. I have lured my hubby into cycling to the office with me.:) It is approximately 8 miles from my home to the office. Putting it in context, I think it’s about 20 minutes drive with clear traffic. Well, I must say that my muscle was getting rusty and needed a good workout anyway.Instead of taking the usual scenic cycling path along the river, we have decided to try something different this time. We took the normal tar road which we thought would have been much faster and less bumpy given that I had a laptop to take care of. As it turned out, it was a pretty hairy experience with cars zooming past you by just a few feet away and having to inhale ‘fresh fumes’ from the exhaust pipes. It was of course not very fun as you would have guessed.Anyway, having dumped the ‘jurassic era’ laptop back in the office, we were rather excited of the journey home as we had decided to stick to the cycle path. We stopped by a wine distributor shop just down the road from my office. We were rather cynical that it would be opened on a Saturday but thought we would give a try anyway. To our pleasant surprise, it was open for business.We went in to browse around and eventually succumbed to the temptation. We have been into drinking port lately and decided to try a vintage port. It was a Graham’s 2003 vintage port that was sold at cost price because of the damage to the label. Well, we don’t really care about the label, and thought it was a good bargain anyway. The thing that excites us most is that we can try out the crystal decanter that we bought a few weeks back in our trip to Preston. I would have loved to take a picture to post it here but due to sheer laziness, have called off the idea.I am thinking of inviting one or two friends over to share our latest acquisition and have a fun time. But that will have to be in November at the earliest due to some other commitments and I just can’t wait to open that bottle of port!We had a fun day out overall. We stopped by a pub by the river along the cycling path on our way home and had a belated lunch. It was such a lovely day although we were rather tired by the end of it.

Inheritance tax

I have never heard of inheritance tax until I came to England. To my horror, this is apparently rather common in Europe countries. It was not till I work in the tax industry that I feel so outraged about the whole tax regime revolving inheritance tax. Honestly, why should someone be made to pay tax just because they have been left some hard-earned wealth by their parents? To make matters worse, the tax rate is at a whopping 40%! To put things in context, if you inherit a house from your parents after they passed away and don’t have the money to pay the tax, you are likely to end up selling the house to pay the inland revenue!There is no inheritance tax at my home country and I really hope that it remains so. It’s bad enough that you have to make arrangements for your death when you grow old. Imagine having to make tax planning at the age of 60 to make sure that your children don’t suffer a huge amount of tax. With the house prices surging and showing no signs of lethargy, it is likely that more than half the people who inherit a property will have to pay inheritance tax. The current nil band rate at a meagre £275,000 is unlikely to be sufficient to exempt inheritance tax for most households without adequate tax planning.Sometimes, I am not entirely sure if I am in favour of a welfare state. True that you get certain service for free, for example the healthcare. But it’s not really ‘free’ as you still need to pay sky-high fees to have your annual body check for example or even getting a test on cholesterol can be pricey. Anyway, that’s just a little whine based on my tax knowledge.

A weekend away

It was a long weekend for most workers in Britain because Monday was a bank holiday. The train stations were extraordinary busy as most people, myself included, have chosen to travel within or without the UK before the summer ends.My husband and I went to Preston, a town in the North West region of England to visit a couple. They just moved down south from Glasgow and have rented a country house to settle down for the time being. It is such a lovely home, I loved it the minute I got out of the car. The front garden was immaculate with carpet grass that makes you feel like lying on it under the sun. The house boasts 4 double bedrooms with 5 toilets/ bathrooms! It also has a good sized dining room and a lovely lounge with extremely comfortable sofa. It’s almost a house to dream for.The highlight of my weekend was our trip to Lake District. We went to Ambleside and the town was so idyllic. In order to capture the serenity of this famous place, we challenged ourselves with a 3 hour walk and hiking. In fact, there are various walking trails and we just chose one that led us to Loughrigg Fell as we were told that it’ll be worth it. On our way up, there were walls at parts of the trail that were built using stacked slates partly covered with moss. It felt as though we were on an adventurous journey in the LOTR’s ‘Middle Earth’. There were also lambs almost everywhere that add a tinge of life to form the picturesque country view.

Grasmere lake

We climbed to the crest of Loughrigg Fell which is 335m high and the sights were breathtaking. I have to confess that the journey was a lot more interesting than being at the top. My hubby has taken a few photos which I have posted here as I think they deserve more admirers. Except the crowd that packed the town due to the long weekend, it was otherwise a perfect getaway.

Grasmere Lake 2

I won’t complain about the weather as I didn’t expect it to be all sunny. I was last in Lake District about 6 years ago and I almost forgot how pretty it is. It’s definitely worth going again and I suspect that will be soon too.That just about summarised my weekend and it is a little bit of a pain to be back home in the city centre after a 4 hour delayed train journey. Reality is a pain when you realise that you are stucked in it.:)

Growing herbs

Herbs growing may not appeal to many people but it’s definitely one of my favourite past-times. It is so exciting to see your plants germinate then growing inch by inch each day. The joy of being able to harvest herbs from your backyard whenever you need them for cooking is simply irresistible.With autumn approaching, rain began pouring since two weeks ago. I was rather worried about the plants at my backyard as there is no shelter from the rain. You will need a rather sophisticated green house in order to balance the sunlight and rainfall which is a luxury that I cannot afford at the moment. However, it appears that my worry may be needless after all. The plants are flourishing ever since the rainy season started and the herbs are growing faster than ever. My basil plant has doubled its size since 2 weeks ago. You can feel so much life in these plants just by looking at them each day and it gives you so much satisfaction.At the moment, I only have basil, coriander, parsley and thyme in my collection. Hopefully I will be able to add more to my collection when next summer comes. My immediate worry is to think of a way to keep my plants healthy throughout the winter. Otherwise, I might just have to sow the seeds again next spring. I still have so much to learn about growing herbs. I would love to be able to complement the herbs to my cooking in time. So much about herbs growing for now and I will keep my fingers crossed that they will continue to flourish before the winter comes.

Life and death

Ever since I am 10,000 miles away from home, there is a fear that has been bugging me. This morning, I got a call from my best mate from Singapore. It is not usual and I know something must have happened. It turned out that one of our very close friend’s mum just passed away. I felt very sorry for what had happened but at the same time I was relieved. I am not ready to face matters of life and death yet. I have serious problems handling babies and at the other extreme, I don’t think I can handle if any of my family members passed away.Sometimes I do wonder what truly happens when one dies. Are there really spirits? How do you know for sure if you have not experienced it yourself. I am not a religious person. If I am at all religious, it will only be scientifically religious. That’s probably related to my education background and the fact that I have more questions than all the faiths I ever have in anything. Even when faith exists, it’s based on my past experience and logics. To have so much trusts in something that cannot be proven in any way is, to me, an alien concept.I don’t even know whether I should give my friend a call. I am not particularly good in handling situations like these and I don’t even know what to say. I mean, all I can think of to say is, be strong, take good care. It just sounds so superficial and to be honest, there IS really no best words to use.I can’t help but to relate sickness to our lifestyle. Honestly, it doesn’t cost much to be healthy. Ever since I start taking care of my diet and staying active, I feel rejuvenated and refreshed everyday. All you need is a few fruits and some salad everyday. It doesn’t take much preparation. Well, I have to agree that it may sound bland to some, but with a bit of ideas, it does actually spice up your food and health too! With a bit more time, I will probably share my ideas. But for now, it’s time to take my bubble bath.p/s: You might find some meal ideas at eDiets 🙂