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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Bride and Groom as bears or rabbits or with a pet dog? Seen on my travels

Bridal couple dolls on table. Photo by Angela Lansbury.

 I was at the Parkroyal on Kitchener  Road, hotel, where a couple were celebrating their wedding on the same floor as my Singapore Toastmasters International annual convention. I spotted this pair of toys on a table.

What a good idea. If you can't find a pair of dolls to exactly match your height, skin colour, eye colour, and so on, instead have a pair of Teddy bears or other miniature dolls for your welcome tables. 

May be not rabbits. They look cute, but invite comments on breeding like rabbits. But a pair of bears are cute. You could also do something similar for any other festive occasion celebrating a person or a couple who can be shown with an identifying features, such as a ribbon with their name.

I looked on Amazon and for under ten dollars you can get assorted cake toppers and other items such as a pair of ducks.

For something more romantic and conventional you can have a dancing couple.

Or the readymade family.

I also liked the pop up wedding car card.

But the simplest is the covers for upright champagne flutes.

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Heathrow Airport Photo Opportunity


Goodbye from the guard, at Heathrow Airport, London. Photo by Angela Lansbury

You can photography the guard with the goodbye message, godbye to the UK. Or stop to be photographed next to the picture. 

Keep the photo private until after your return so nobody thinks your house is empty. Insurance might fail tp pay for a burglary if you told the world yu were jetting off. 

Sylvia's Phone holder

 After Sylvia lost her phone, left behind in a taxi, she thought, she invested in this phone holder. It  has a flap which slides under your existing phone  protection case.. the time and trouble and stress. 

Photo by Angela Lansbury. 

Sylvia lost her phone. She thought she left it in a taxi. If you have the number of the taxi you can ask the taxi company.

I always ask for a receipt. Then if I left anything behind I can call the taxi company. 

If sthey say, we don't have it, you can then work down your list of places you could have lost it.

 The driver might say he does not have it. Why not? It could have been picked up by a later customer. 

You might have dropped it in the road when getting out of the vehicle (I lost a cross body bag earlier this year. Luckily the finder gave it in to the club adjacent to the kerbside.)

Sylvia bought hers fro a phone shop, It cost about 25 Singapore dollars. She said that was a lot less that the cost of replacing a phone, 

I found cross body phone cases with chain on Shein for under ten  dollars. Plus a discount offered if you are signing in for the first tie and sign up.

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Ladies' toilets secrets revealed. Hidden Hand-drying paper in Parkroyal hotel toilets


First of all you need to know that in some countries toilets are called toilets, in other countries, W.C, and in other countries. restrooms or rest rooms.
Toilets worldwide are full of surprises.
Sometimes the surprise is when you wash and dry your hands.

I had a surprise in the Parkroyal hotel on Kitchener, (other hotels on Singapore have different locations added to the company's brand name, Parkroyal). 

Washing Hands
I put my hand under the tap and by moving my hand up and down, managed to set off the cold water. So far, so good. I washed my hands. 

Drying Hands
So when I saw the sign for hand towel I waved my hand but nothing happened. I assumed it was out of order.

The following day I saw a woman with a paper towel and asked her, "Where did you get the paper towel from?'
She showed me. You put both hands under the mirror, feel for the paper towel, and pull it down."

Hidden hand drying paper under mirror. Photo by Angela Lansbury.

You just pull it down.

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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Dracula in Romania, Pictured on Wine Bottles


Romania’s capital and big city has an old quarter where restaurants offer a glass of wine included in a special offer set meal.

Hard Rock café has an extensive drinks menu which includes a glass or bottle of local wine.

The country name, Romania, comes from the word Roman, and Italian and French sounding words are easy to read. Some useful wine bottle label translations.


Wine Brands & Labels

Dracula wine has pictures of members of the Dracula dynasty. I went to Dracula’s castle, Bram Castle, which is a tourist magnet surrounded by bustling cafes. The castle exhibits claim that Dracula was no worse than other rulers of his era worldwide.


 Fetească Albă (The White Maiden) white grape for white wines


Fetească Regală (The Royal Maiden) white hybrid grape from  The White Maiden grape, slightly stronger in alcohol colour and flavour

Fetească Neagră (The Black Maiden) a red grape

Tamaioasa Romaneasca (Aromatic Romanian Maiden)


When the waiter pours your wine in Romania you can say mersi, which is thank you, the same as the French word merci.

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Parkroyal Hotel's Secrets Revealed - menus, towels, lifts, socialising

Parkroyal Hotel. Singapore. Photo by Angela Lansbury

 The first thing you need to know about the Parkroyal Hotel is how to get there. If you have a car the hotel has an underground car park, and the lift is separate from the lift to the ground floor. So co-ordinate with your family and friends. If you are travelling by train the most convenient exit is H which brings you out under the shopping mall opposite. H for hotel. The MRT is Farrer Park, one stop away from Little India. I followed the MRT directions and came out at exit A and had to ask the way from a passer by.

The Emerald Ballroom

We had a seven course Gala dinner. 

Fine Food

We started with a tray of hors d'oevres, including what I reckoned was jellyfish. 

Menu Revealed

I was perplexed as to whether the fish dish was the main course. No, there were two more courses after that. But why no menu.

Eventually I found the restaurant manager and asked him. The menu was downloadable from a QR code. You could see it on a small stand on a shelf near our table. Nobody had told us. No sign on the table. No communication from the staff.

Stage & Screens

Our table at the back corner was hidden from the stage by a huge oblong pillar. To answer a question and win a prize I had to run up to the stage. By the time I got back my half eaten chicken soup had been cleared away by the quick acting server.

When I went to complain to the manager that we could not see the stage from our table (with lovely Indian dancers) he pointed out that there was a screen on the far wall alongside. Another screen half way down the side wall had been obscured by our banners. In any case you could not appreciate the dancers at that distance. We were able to just about read the text signs about awards to clubs.


One or two of the organizers had made a point of circling the room to say hello to everybody. I thought that was a good idea. I circled the room and was able to find a treasured friend from Australia who I had seen numerous times on Zoom but never met in person.

It was very interesting to meet people in person after the Covid zoom only years. I am short. Some of the people, especially the men, turned out to be too talk to speak to when they were standing, especially if they thought it was polite to stand up to speak to me. On the other hand, ladies who were expert seniors turned out to be exactly my height and very easy to talk to, and much more friendly and pally less distanced senior experts which they had seemed online.

Photo Taking Etiquette

I discovered there is a certain etiquette to taking photos. After asking somebody to take a photo, it is polite to ask to have a photo with them, either one of you standing outside the picture as photographer, or doing a close up selfie, or calling a members of staff or stranger or passer by to take the photo.

Hidden Paper Towels in Toilets

I saw the sign under the mirror for hand drying. I had worked out that you wave your hand under the taps to trigger a light sensitive or movement sensitive circle which resulted in a gush of water. So I reckoned that if I waved my hands I would get a jet of air to dry my hands, as in the Dyson dryers. No. No luck.

Then I on my fourth or fifth visit to the ladies room in a long day, I saw a lady drying her hands with a paper towel. I asked her  where she got it. You reach under the mirror, feel a brush oo paper and pull. Out comes a paper towel. As the saying does, you could have fooled me.

Mango Dessert

As Shakespeare;s play title says, All's well that ends well.

Mango dessert.

Mango dessert. Photo by Angela Lansbury

Next day the staff on the reception desk on the ground floor were very helpful. Welcoming smile. Patiently helped me install a company like grab on my phone.

It is called the Parkroyal on Kitchener because there are other Parkroyal hotels in Singapore.

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Friday, May 26, 2023

Do you know Europe's small countries, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monarco, San Marino and the Vatican?

 Which is which and which is where? Even though I have been to five out of six, I recently got in a muddle. I was happily telling a man selling wines on the Liechtenstein stand about driving for a day tip to Liechtenstein when I was a child and  my father who was driving saw somebody talking to a policeman and identified the tourist as an Italian. 

The man representing Liechtenstein wines nodded, agreed that you can identify Italian by the way they talk with the hands, and politely pointed out that in Lieichtenstein they border German and Switzerland and speak German. We had a very jolly, amicable and educational conversation. 

When I got home, I looked up Liechtenstein and realized, to my invisible embarrassment, that I had been recalling a trip to San Marino. When I checked the locations I could see why. San Marino is only a few miles from Rimini in Italy, which I had visited many times as a child with my parents and later as an adult. Rimini with its long sandy beach is a destination which has for years been promoted in package tours to the British traveller. Let's come back to Liechtenstein in a moment and sort out the facts and look at the little countries in Euorpe in alphabetical order.

Andorra - see the skiing and speak Spanish, or maybe French.

Andorra in winter is a ski destination and my son  went there specially to ski last Christmas time as a side trip from northern Spain and sent me pictures of streets and restaurants, landmarks and attractions. Andorra has mountains with skiing in winter and water providing seafood. Sandwiched between Spain and France, depending on the area you visit, you can get by with speaking and reading menus in French or Spanish. You are in the north of Spain, near the border with France, and if the Spanish sounds strange, or the spelling is slightly unusual and unexpected, that's because they are speaking the related language Catalan. The Catalan language is found both sides of the country, in place names, family names and everyday language in Andorra as well as adjacent Spain and France. 

Liechtenstein wine

Leichtenstein is a German speaking principality. I immediately recognized the word stein as German for stone, as in Einstein, a surname meaning one stone. The Leich part means light, like modern German as well as the Scottish. (I recall the Scottish poem from Burns, 'a broad licht moonlicht nicht, a broad, light, moonlit night). The spelling is i before e at the start.

In Liechtenstein, a big attraction is the wine cellars of the prince. The country produces ice wine, which means it has some cold moments.

Eiswein, which is German language for Ice Wine. They speak German.


Luxembourg has more than one place to visit. Again in mountains. Multi-lingual opportunity and challenge.

Small but affluent. They speak French and German and the local language. As for food,  Luxembourgish cuisines like Bouneschlupp (green bean soup), Ierzebulli (pea soup), and Glühwäin (mulled wine).

Monarch of Monarco - and its Casino

The casino.

The port.

Driving east along the southern coast of Spain you reach opulent Monarco. When I went there from Nice I could not get into the country. You needed a visa. I can't remember whether we lacked the money or time to get one, but either we or the border control thought that the opulent country, its luxury fancy hotels and restaurants,  was beyond our budget at that time. 

San Marino

A side trip from Rimini in Italy. A road uphill to the top with the view. Buy postcards and postage stamps and drive down again. Speak Italian.

The Vatican

The Vatican has assorted treasures, the physical ones, the architecture, history, paintings, treasures, documents, as well as the living  treasures to see, the pope, the priests, the nuns, the devotees. The blessings and the balcony. The outdoors and the shady indoors. 

It also has the world's shortest railway.

Railway station platform.

Pope Francis.

St Peter's Square.

Musei Vaticani.

A top attraction for Roman Catholics, especially at certain times of year. If you are not religious and want to avoid crowds, time your trip off-season or at a suitable time of day, according to advice from the Vatican and your local travel agent or online. 

Expect to speak Italian. They used to speak Latin in services.

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