Tag Archives: culture

Now England has become my home

Today I changed the header of this blog. My new tagline is: Now England has become my home.

It is important that people who visit this site are clear about what they may find, therefore I tried to be descriptive.

The tagline I used before was “From the south of England”. This old tagline was a bit vague, as some people might be disappointed to find that I did not feature sun, sea, and beach huts from Plymouth or Brighton on this site.

Creating a relevant tagline

When I was considering a new tagline, I had an idea of “From a kampung to an England’s suburb”. However, most overseas readers may find it difficult to comprehend the concept of a kampung in Malaysia. A kampung is a typical Malaysian village or enclosure, characterised by lots of greenery, such as coconut trees, papaya trees, and sugar cane. Continue reading

My Site Table of Contents – I did it!

This page is updated regularly. Old posts have been deleted. Posts are re-organised. 

For the most up-to-date Table of Contents, visit this page.

I’ve taken up Lorelle’s huge challenge, Blog Exercises: Organise Your Content, to organise all my posts on this blog. I’ll explain in my next post the sweat, tear, and joy of completing this task. I’m keen to find out what you think of the outcome. Would you like to try organising your site too?

This task is never going to be perfect, but I’m willing to show you my attempts, my progress, or my failure.

Site Table of Contents

This Site Table of Contents is a microscopic view of my 195 blog posts published on Janet’s Notebook from 5 April 2012 till 27 July 2013.

It covers stories of my life before the UK and my life after living in the UK since 1996. It covers my hobbies, my identity, and my thoughts on history, language and cross cultures.

It depicts my life in the south of England, my family with a son with pets, my local community, and my moments of glory and sadness.

It also reflects my love affairs with WordPress, and how my life has been enriched and transformed with WordPress through this brilliantly supportive and engaging community. Continue reading

Sharing my favourite things

Today, Lorelle on WordPress encouraged us to share a few of our favourite things:

“Tell us why these things are special to you. Did they influence or change your life? Do you have a story or experience with these favorite things? Share the story.

By sharing your favorite things you reveal a little more about yourself to your readers.”

I’d like to share one unique passion of mine — origami. Making things out of paper gives me pure joy. It calms me down completely. The excitement is that I now can fold many things from memory, such as cranes, lotus, lily, boxes, spinner. I can entertain or bore people with them. Continue reading

Unique British post boxes: share your hobby

When I showed an advert of my local Post Office in my post, Does your post office open everyday?, last week, I didn’t expect the post to be ‘a hit’.

Somehow, one reader — just one, Ruby, asked me some difficult questions, such as: “Is it a Queen Victoria post box?” Good grief! How would I have known?

I made a special trip to Hursley post office and wrote a new post, Visit England’s village post office in Hursley. Ruby (sex unknown, I’ll refer Ruby as a ‘she’) now confirmed that the Hursley post box is a GR post box. She wrote:

“Ah, I see that it is a GR post box – that’s George V. George VI postboxes have “VI” between the “G” and “R”. The letters (when cast into the metal) are italicised, whereas George V are straighter.”……

Continue reading

Visit England’s village post office in Hursley

I wrote about this village post office in Hursley, England, a few days ago.

This unique post office near Winchester opens 7 days a week. It sells stamps, lottery tickets and eggs. It takes care of the villagers’ dry cleaning too. Don’t you like a sweet little shop like this in your neighbourhood?

Hursley post office, near Winchester

Hursley post office

One reader, Ruby, asked me if the postal service is available on Sunday. He also asked if there is a Queen Victoria post box.

I therefore made a special trip to Hursley post office yesterday and spoke to its new owner, a young man called Bhagwant. Bhagwant told me that the shop opens daily, but the postal service doesn’t run on Sunday. Since he took over the post office 8 months ago, he included National Lottery as part of his services to the villagers.

This post office is small, but it sells almost everything you need to get by everyday. It reminds me of a well-known Chinese idiom, 麻雀虽小,五脏俱全 (máquè suī xiǎo,wǔ zàng jù quán). It translates: even though a sparrow is small, it has got all the organs it needs. When you enters this post office, it will only take you 3 small steps from the door to the counter.

You can click the images below to view enlarged images.

Hursley Village is an alluring English village. Whenever I travel, I like visiting traditional little shops. A little shop like this post office possesses the charm that a megastore does not have. And I feel that a village that could support a local post office is definitely a pleasant one.

I’m very lucky that I only live next door to this enchanting village.


My related posts:

Unique British post boxes: share your hobby
Does your post office open everyday?

Does your post office open everyday?

I saw this advert last weekend and somehow it attracted my attention.

Hursley Village is just a few minutes from where I live. I’ve been there a few times, but I’m still astonished by the range of services it offer.

Hursley post office, near Winchester

Hursley post office

1) This village post office opens 7 days a week.

2) It covers almost everything:

  • National lottery (i.e. buy lottery tickets and you could have a chance of becoming a multi-millionnaire overnight.)
  • Dry cleaning
  • Ice cream
  • Deliver newspapers & magazines
  • Locally produced eggs
  • Bread, milk & cakes
  • Pre-ordered foreign currency
  • Euros on demand
  • Greeting cards and stationery

I’m wondering what the post offices are like in your country, or in the place where you live.

Two post boxes in Chandler's Ford

Two post boxes in Chandler’s Ford

Stockport Air Raid Shelters

We only visited 4 museums during our 5 days in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

However, these visits had proved too much for our host, who was quickly turning into a jelly.

We visited Stockport Air Raid Shelters. Stepping back in time to 1940s wartime Britain was quite surreal. Inside the shelters, I was amazed at such an orderly community, and a world of volunteering. The instructions given, in modern terms, were equivalent to “every little helps” (food rationing; making tea), health and safety and team building.

Inside Air Raid Shelters with Tilly

Inside Air Raid Shelters with Tilly

Continue reading

How much is your anxiety worth?

I received a letter from the HM Revenue & Customs today.

It unveiled to me that my anxiety was worth £25. (You see, because I’m worth it!)

It read, “Having carefully considered the circumstances surrounding your complaint I feel that the amount of £25 sent to you was consistent with payments we have made in similar circumstances. Our payments for any anxiety caused by our errors (and or) complaints mishandling are a good will (sic) gesture, a way of acknowledging that our mistakes have affected someone badly.

Tax Letter

Last December, I was bombarded with unpleasant letters from the HM Revenue and Customs and the Debt Management Department. I was chased for the money that I didn’t have. I was harassed due to the mistakes that they’d made.

When dealing with the HM Revenue & Customs, I found that they’re extremely apologetic. They use plain language to the effect of “We feel your pain.”

They started their sentence with “I understand you are unhappy because ……”

“Firstly, I would like to say how sorry I am to hear of the difficulties you have experienced in your dealings with us. It is clear, form my review, that we have not handled your tax affairs as well as we should have done and have failed to provide the level of service that you are entitled to expect from us.” Oh, my heart melted.

I asked for compensation for the cost incurred and time wasted due to their incompetence. However, though they’re apologetic and admitted that they had mishandled my case, they gathered my anxiety was only worth £25. Because I sent 3 letters of complaint, detailing hours wasted by them, my anxiety value is now increased by £20. So, the total value of my anxiety, in the eyes of the HM Revenue & Customs, is £45, equivalent to 5 and a half live chickens.

I’m deeply disappointed not because of my tax being miscalculated, and being pursued for a large sum over Christmas, I’m more alarmed that some people could simply say ‘sorry’ eloquently and still keep their job. What about a sense of responsibility?

I’ve now put a stop to my fight with the tax man, as I’m not prepared to waste more time. With my fight in the past 3 months with them, I’ve received the value of 5 and a half live chickens. It’s a small achievement for me.

In the past few months, my memory has taken me back to this determined peasant (played by GONG Li) in an old film by Zhang Yimou: The Story of Qiu Ju.

I admire her spirit and sheer determination. If you have a chance, it’s a film definitely worth your time.

The Story of Qiu Ju 秋菊打官司

The film tells the story of a peasant woman, Qiu Ju, who lives in a rural area of China. When her husband is kicked in the groin by the village head, Qiu Ju, despite her pregnancy, travels to a nearby town, and later a big city to deal with its bureaucrats and find justice.”

Susan Cain, the Power of Introverts

Blogging: the quiet voice for an introvert

An Introvert's Bag of Books

An Introvert’s Bag of Books (Photo credit: jurvetson)

I’m overwhelmed by your responses to my previous post, Am I British enough?, my very first post in 2013 on Jan 1. Thank you all for enlightening me and entertaining me at the same time, and your comments have helped me in dismantling my thoughts and looking at a simple question from fresh perspectives.

This leads me to another thought today. WordPress, especially the English platform, has enabled me to connect to this magical world unknown to me previously. Before blogging in English, it was impossible for me to connect to people in this manner. I’m a strong believer that at the moment and many years to come, English is still the most powerful language for global communication, though it may not be the most spoken language in the world. A strong urge for communication was the main reason I tried writing in English since last spring. I wanted to have a better understanding and to be understood more in an English speaking community.

At lunch with some friends today, I explained that blogging has enabled me to make new ‘friends’, to seek companionship and advice, to inspire and to be inspired, to educate and to be educated. It’s also been fantastic to unearth a wealth of great stories from some brilliant storytellers, to get completely blown away. Of course, in real life, I can still count on a few close friends whose company I cherish tremendously. I haven’t given up real friendship for my new acquaintances and friends I’ve encountered on the cyberspace. I’m not that daft.

Quiet, book by Susan Cain

Quiet, book by Susan Cain

Blogging is the most fitting for an introvert, like me. Janet being an introvert? That’s a revelation, isn’t it? I’m friendly and bubbly, however, fundamentally I’m an introvert. I enjoy solitude. The world is a busy place designed for extroverts. When I need to communicate, I communicate in the most comfortable form that suits my characters well, through the power of words.

This evening I listened to Susan Cain’s brilliant speech again. It’s about The Power of Introverts. It’s one of the best TED Talks last year. The subtitles cover 38 languages. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.


The Power of Introverts, Susan Cain

When I was nine years old I went off to summer camp for the first time. And my mother packed me a suitcase full of books, which to me seemed like a perfectly natural thing to do. Because in my family, reading was the primary group activity. And this might sound antisocial to you, but for us it was really just a different way of being social. You have the animal warmth of your family sitting right next to you, but you are also free to go roaming around the adventure land inside your own mind. And I had this idea that camp was going to be just like this, but better. (Laughter) I had a vision of 10 girls sitting in a cabin cozily reading books in their matching nightgowns. Continue reading