It’s been a very hot last few days as the UK embraced a heatwave that’s come about from the hot air being blown northwards from France and Spain. The highest point was earlier today when it hit a high of 31˚C in Guildford, probably higher in London. It’s almost as if I was transported back to Singapore again! Most people here aren’t used to such extreme heat and I was joking with some of my friends that I brought the Singapore heat with me, kept it in my luggage and decided to unleash it only after my exams, except I forgot to regulate it so it got a bit out of hand. Jokes aside, it was terribly warm since the weekend and we’re all hoping that the weather forecasts are right in saying that a bit of rain tomorrow morning will bring the heat down a little bit. Most buildings here are built to keep the heat in (somehow I think I’ve said this before) which is why when it’s hot outside, it gets really hot inside too. The UK just hasn’t welcomed air-conditioning as much as we have in Singapore so everyone was getting roasted by the heatwave (that was said to last for 5 days till today, Wednesday).
The heat didn’t stop me from heading out to London on Saturday though. I was due to meet a fellow Singaporean who I’ve been trying to meet since September last year but never got the chance to due to our conflicting work schedules. But we finally found a day where we’re both free and just in time too, because he was going to fly back home to Singapore on Sunday. We agreed on doing a very British thing and had Fish and Chips (from the Sloane Square market) for brunch. It’s only available at Sloane Square on Saturdays but it was one of the best I’ve had in years. The last one that was this good was from 3 years back when I was in Brighton.
Since it was post-exams, I was just up for a chill day to relax and walk around London so it was good to have a friend walk around with me. We headed to Monmouth for coffee where I decided to break my rule for afternoon coffee which was that it has to be hot coffee. It was just way too hot to have another hot cuppa so Iced (Filter) Coffee it was!
Funny thing was that it was so hot and I was too lazy to reach into my bag to pull out my big camera, not even when I went to Fortnum and Mason’s for the first time… Even when I got out, I just resorted to using my phone to get a shot of the F&M shop window with a nice reflection of the opposite building:
Phone cameras these days are really good especially because they come with a Pro/Manual mode that allows you adjust some settings. That said, there are some things like Aperture that can’t be controlled so, a proper camera is still the way to go if you want control over your photos.
Case in point:
It was almost 5pm by then (the brightness of the skies aren’t a good gauge in summer) and we decided to go for an early dinner since we were a little hungry from brunch earlier. Hadn’t had good ramen for a while and my friend hyped this up to be life-changing so I was looking forward to trying it! It’s called Kanada-Ya and has 2 shops in London, one at St Giles High Street (Covent Garden), the other at Panton Street (Picaddily). I went for the Tonkotsu with hard noodles. Don’t let the photo fool you. It’s a huge bowl and I was struggling to finish it all at the end. But they had some spicy vegetables that went very well with the soup and I was almost tempted to have more.
After that, it was time to head back to Guildford because I really needed a nice cold shower after sweating profusely throughout the day. Feeling really stuffed, we just decided to walk all the way to London Waterloo since it wasn’t far anyway. Back to using my phone camera again:
That was how I got through the first day of the heatwave + about 3 litres of water! Staying hydrated during hot weather is absolutely crucial and that’s something I really appreciate from my training in the Army. I’ve always been a big fan of just drinking water but ever since Army, I love it even more and I can’t survive without bringing my 1 litre water bottle everywhere I go. From the silly days as an army recruit: Half-full water bottle Drink up! 🚰💧 We just stopped that silliness in cadet school 😂
As for day 2 (Sunday) of the heatwave… my friends decided to play minigolf and since I was just done with Church, I decided to pop by.
My Italian MasterChef coursemate, Filippo, prepared a delicious beef fillet afterwards (although he wasn’t too happy about it because it wasn’t up to his MasterChef standards). His siblings were here for a few days and were heading back home to Florence later so it was good to be able to send them off:
The heatwave made me extremely lethargic so I wasn’t prepared to do too much in the kitchen, resorting to simple pastas or steamed dishes. But by Monday (day 3), I was getting tired of boring food and decided to invite a friend over for dinner so that I would be motivated to prepare something more.
1. Pork Lard Fried Rice. Not something out of the recipe book but something that’s quite “rojak” (Malay for mixture) or chapalang (Singlish). It’s just a mix of a lot of different things that I thought would taste good together and it turned out pretty decent. I used ginger oil to give a slightly more spiced up taste to it too. The pork lard pieces probably helped a lot!
2. Rojak Curry Vegetables. As if the Fried Rice wasn’t Rojak enough… 🙈
3. Char Siew (again). Having been moderately successful the last time, I decided to try this again with more time to carefully prepare it and marinate the meat. Roasted it in the oven just at the right crispiness while also preparing the gravy on the side. Makes a whole lot of difference when you’ve got time to prepare everything properly.
That was enough cooking for Day 3 because that amount of food means I probably didn’t need to cook on Tuesday and could hide away from the kitchen as much as I could! Our kitchen averaged 35˚C and above during the heatwave days because it was constantly in use!
Since Day 4 was a Tuesday, it was the perfect day for me to finally return to the gym and the pool to get back into my exercise rhythm after postponing it for quite a long while due to my work schedules. Plus, the gym has air-conditioning! Yay! As the school term had already ended, going during a peak time of 3pm meant a smaller crowd. Usually, 3pm has quite a big crowd (and I hear it’s worse at 7pm where they have a one-in-one-out policy). The pool was opened up for a 50m lane swim by the time I was done with my gym routine and I was already quite exhausted by then. But I decided to not to be lazy and jump in for about a dozen laps before calling it a day. Doing grocery shopping at Tesco after that was definitely not a good idea because I was lugging a heavy load back despite already being exhausted.
No cooking on Tuesday since I still had plenty of leftovers from Monday so I just prepared a simple bowl of soup to go with everything I had left. The rest of the evening was spent prepping for what would be the hottest day in the UK since 1976! Moving the fans around the house to bring as much cool air into the building as well as shutting the kitchen door to keep the heat from there entering our corridors. The portable mini fan my sister insisted on me bringing with me here turned out to be very practical now because my pedestal fan was being used to facilitate ventilation flow in the house:
Okay, it’s not as big as the photo suggests but it sure is powerful! It’s been kept on 24/7 ever since I pulled it out, as has the pedestal fan which eventually made its way back into my room. My pedestal fan is positioned close to my door so that it can bring the cooler air from our corridor into the room:
Of course, there’s a giant Singapore flag in my room too, which will come very handy in August when I celebrate National Day away from Singapore for the first time ever!
Speaking of Singapore, maybe I haven’t mentioned this before but I’m very humbled to be Singapore’s Ambassador at the University of Surrey since this academic year started and I’ve really enjoyed being able to share my experiences here through this medium. It was quite a surprise when I received The International Student Recruitment Contribution Award from Mrs Katie Sharpe a few weeks back at the Student Ambassador Awards 2017. Proud to represent Singapore in a different capacity here! 🇸🇬🇬🇧
So how was it like to get through Day 5 (Wednesday) that was set to be the hottest day… it was bad! 😱 The fans were just blowing hot air throughout the day and it was the first day that everyone of us in my house opened all our doors. It got to a point where we were going to our freezers to put ice into bowls and allow it to melt with the fans blowing right at it. Quite the primitive method but it works!
Unfortunately, I had to go into the kitchen to cook again because I’d already finished everything I had the day before so I decided to do something that was more “soup” rather than fried to keep the 火气 “heatiness” down. So I did Salmon Fish Soup again (adding a bit of white wine and milk into the soup) Because it was a little “lighter” on the tastebuds and was full of vegetables, it actually did help a lot.
So this is what Summer Solstice is like in the UK. Or maybe not, since this year has been out of the ordinary. The fact that it’s been so hot today meant I decided to write this blog post to convince myself to stay indoors for most of the day. It still is pretty warm right now even at around 11pm but it seems to be getting better and the forecast of light rain early tomorrow morning is welcome news. I’m quite surprised that writing about the heatwave has gone on this long! 😉
I’m probably coming back with another one over the weekend to tell you if the forecast is right or if we had to suffer a little longer in the heat. Plus, I’m having a friend over tomorrow for a proper Singapore lunch and will have a big feast with my neighbours this Saturday evening so there’s plenty to talk about in the next food blog.
For now, I can only pray for the rainclouds to gradually come in and cool down the place! Until the weekend… God bless you! 🌈