Adult and children wait patiently for their turn to press their noses on Fenwick’s Christmas window display. The length of the orderly queue always amazes me. Christmas is almost upon us.
November is usually my least favourite month of the year – summer is gone, colourful autumn is gone, and Christmas is still a few weeks away. I often cycle in the cold, wet, and windy weather to work and home, in the dark as well. Completely miserable. There is one thing that makes November easier to bear: my dad sometimes comes to visit. This year we met up in London. We stayed in an apartment hotel and I was able to show off my cooking skills. I got my cooking genes from my dad’s side of the family and my mum hasn’t got any cooking genes at all.
When visiting other cities and countries, we were never particular about food. The result was we were usually pretty frustrated by having to find somewhere to eat (combining the fact that I get extra grumpy when become hungry). After doing some homework on TripAdvisor, London turned out to be not a bad place for tasty and affordable restaurants. A Turkish restaurant (Best Mangal) which was very close to Kings Cross was a lovely delight – tasty, inexpensive and friendly. Honest Burgers in South Kensington was a buzzing and impressively children-friendly restaurant. I happened to hear an interesting interview with its co-founders about their fair-trade food-sourcing trip to Sierra Leone and two white men serving burgers to unimpressed mothers and wives in a jungle (or something like that). Cote Brasserie in Oxford served authentic French food, and was not as expensive as it looked. But I would feel less confident (about my budget) if I had to go in without daddy.
We decided to go to Oxford completely because a good friend sounded like she needed a visit. So we went. On the train, we got chatting with an American couple who were running away from the election drama in the US. I thought we were going to enter a land of awkward embarrassment for the rest of the journey thanks to my insensitive husband, but fortunately they had a good sense of humour.
In addition to seeing families, another highlight in London was watching Les Miserables. I was so blessed to be able to go to a show every month since June this year! This was another bucket list item ticked, but it has not shaken the place of number one in my heart. Phantom of the Opera is still my favourite.
I did the first ever face to face interview for an article for JOURNEY #02 this month. I need to work on that. It’s definitely a form of art.
As articles assigned are coming back to me, I’m acutely aware of my lack of text-editing skills. I don’t understand why many of my native British contributors are happy for me to edit their work. The deadline of the magazine is January. I can see a very busy Christmas and New Year holiday.
MagCulture might be an unremarkable place in the dazzling city of London, but it’s one place I have to visit EVERY TIME I go. During this visit, I took a risk and only bought Disegno. The next day, going to Oxford required us to go to Paddington station. Monocle’s Kioskafe was just around the corner (a massive corner). I took another risk and bought Collective Quarterly. You might wonder why buying magazine was such a risky thing to do. Firstly, due to the flourishing independent magazine scene at the moment, being a magazine enthusiast can lead to poverty. Secondly, the ever mysterious STACK delivery for November was arriving to my door in Newcastle while I was in London. I could have bought a copy of the same thing! I was safe – I ripped open the brown envelope right at my door with luggage still on my back – it was Berlin Quarterly.
I was extra lucky this month, digging out three Chinese magazines at work – Sanlian x 3.
This has to be the biggest regret of the month: I missed the chance to watch a best-selling Japanese animation film at the moment by Shinkai Makoto, Your Name, in a UK cinema! I watched 5 Centimetres Per Second by the same director this month, though I had heard about it a long time ago. It was impossible to avoid news stories about him for a few weeks – that was how I got more acquainted with him and heard that his new film was out and very popular. I even saw film posters in tubes in London but didn’t make the connection. Awwww!
However, I did watch Fantastic Beasts and I do like Eddie Redmayne’s acting! His body movement speaks so much that my doctor friend said she could almost diagnose this character with some medical conditions. Look forward to the ones following.
Fantastic Beasts has spilled from the film category to book category because I bought its original screenplay by JK Rowling. It’s a really fun exercise to read the script and replay the film in my mind. It also raises a lot of questions about the interpreting process from script on paper to real acting. It’s all very new and exciting for me.
My current Christian reading is Tim Keller’s Centre Church. Centre Church starts by asking why Redeemer Presbyterian Church is so fruitful. Can other churches around the world copy this model? What actually is the model? Is there a model at all? Tim Keller explains little by little why churches should not copy the “visible” programmes and styles of Redeemer but can learn from the foundation on which programmes and styles are built on, then develop their own fruitful models for their church. If you see my Christmas wish list, it’ll be obvious that I’m a Keller book fan. The reading list is long and I aim to read them all. I just hope he doesn’t write faster than I can read!
A Japanese novel I read this month is Golden Slumbers. The author, Kotaro Isaka, is the second new person I became acquainted with this month. If you’re interested, read my review here.
The battle of Christmas shopping is on!