John Lewis Christmas Advert 2022 – The Beginner

It’s the John Lewis moment!

(I actually viewed a leaked video on YouTube in September, and my mouth just opened at how it picked up the harsh reality of the UK’s future. Was this video for real?

And thankfully no, the “leaked” video was not the Christmas ad!…)

Hmmm… Every year, John Lewis changes their style to fit whatever they’re campaigning for… In this one, I felt a little sympathy but a bit annoyed (?). I put a question mark there because I don’t know how I feel at the moment..

Well, it’s not a fun Christmas advert. It’s cut down to 1 minute and 30 seconds compared their very long ads in the past. The music is depressing as it has been in their previous Christmas ads… if they were trying to make this ultimately sad (as in make you cry), then it hasn’t ticked off many items on the sad list. Unfortunately the Foster Dad who was learning to skateboard did not break my heart at the end (shouldn’t that be the case when you watch a sad ad?) …

Follow up story needed with the Foster child. Did she get to skate with the Foster Dad at Christmas… that’s probably what I wanted to see at the end of this advert.

Better time next year John Lewis??

p.s. I’ve just realised the guy sang Blink 182’s song! Not a fan of the slow version!

Supermarket Christmas Adverts 2022 – Part 1

Ho ho ho, it’s time for more Christmas ads!!

Sainsbury’s – Once Upon a Pud

My arms were crossed when I starting watching this. Don’t know why… was probably expecting the worst. Is this really Sainsbury’s Christmas advert? Christmas pudding?

Set in the probably 16th-17th Century (that’s 1500’s to 1600’s), a countess dressed like Queen Elizabeth I who seems to dislike Christmas pudding and wants a new dessert. The pastry chef is then set a task to create a new dessert. Does he succeed?

Not the greatest from Sainsbury’s. I think they could’ve glide a camera over the food at the end before the Sainsbury’s label came up.

Morrisons Farmer Christmas Advert 2022

OMG! Did Morrisons just listen to my thoughts? Seriously, I didn’t watch this before the Sainsbury’s one! Hah, at the end the camera just glides through the food on the table whilst Mr Farmer is talking, and before the Morrisons logo comes up.

Gammon seems to be a popular dish so far. I still have this gut feeling that the supermarkets liaise with each other to promote certain foods during Christmas.

Morrisons always comes up with good adverts … it’s like a docu-advert in 1 minute!

M&S – Fairy is back and is joined by her new sidekick Duckie 2022

Ok, skip all the talking and just look at the food! I love M&S when they do the food close-ups, it’s my favourite part of their adverts.

So much babbling in this advert 🙄 but I guess the food and drink makes up for the Fairy and sidekick Duckie. Maybe I should pop down to the local M&S and get one of those bottles of gin to drown the noise!

LIDL – The Story of Lidl Bear

Lidl is always up-to-date with the times of our modern lives… TikTok, fame, parties, early autobiographies, advertising with food… the lot.

Forget fame and go back home to celebrate Christmas with the people who love you!

I did giggle at the end of this advert, as it reminded me to not forget the people who were around you from the beginning.

Tesco – The Christmas Party #StandForJoy

Every year Tesco become more political with their Christmas adverts!!

They’ve listened to the Government, they’ve listened to the Public and now it’s time for them to act to help the Public with our cost of living and bring some sort of joy to Christmas… Will Tesco deliver their Christmas spirit with discounted food prices in store? We’ll see…

Did they also had to mention about Bin Day at the end of the ad? What the heck was that all about?! 🤷‍♀️

More adverts coming soon! I can’t wait to see the ALDI ads… they’ve released a 50 second clip, but it looks like there’s more to come!

Barbour Christmas TV Advert 2022

Annnnd the Christmas TV ads have started!

Here we’re going to start off with Barbour, the men’s clothing store. I guess it’s hard to shop for men these days, so they might as well start off with the Christmas advertising. 😁

Gone are the days of The Snowman, and now we have Paddington Bear for the second year running re-introducing the world of Barbour jackets.

Paddington Bear wants to cheer up a grumpy neighbour, Mr Curry (he was missed out the Bear’s list in last year’s ad), with marmalade but is diverted to the Barbour shop of old unique jackets… Will this cheer up his grumpy neighbour? Watch and find out.

An old style advert transporting you back to the old days of the one door London buses, when people were probably nice to their neighbours and Paddington Bear who appears to be the nation’s favourite bear at the moment.

Very lighthearted. Simple and not over the top. I’ve watched it three times already. 😅

Work Lunch Ideas – Autumn 2022

It’s finally Autumn. Working from home is now 2 days a week and the other days I go into the office. So before the Christmas adverts start, I’m sharing this post now!

On the days I go in, I really try my best to make my own food for lunch. It saves me some money, and gives me an excuse not to be lazy. Mrs Travels encouraged me to post some of my lunches (and I think some other food I make but have not posted) onto this blog, as I haven’t posted in a while.

Here’s some ideas which I had circling in my mind to make and try out. I’ve been watching a lot of food videos on YouTube for the past couple of years to get some ideas as well.

Macaroni and Vegetable Soup

I made this one day on the weekend, and thought this isn’t too bad! And it’s really filling. Hong Kongers often have macaroni soup for breakfast and lunch. So I made a slightly similar version.

  1. Add a bowl of water to boil (for 1 serving)
  2. Add one vegetable stock cube (any brand)
  3. Add some pre-cut vegetables – then boil for 2-3 minutes (try and get discounted vegetables – it gives you an excuse to cook them on the day)
  4. Add 2 handfuls of macaroni (add more if needed) – boil for 10 minutes
  5. Cool down, then add to a container and refridgerate if making this the night before.

If you have no microwave to use at work, just reheat the soup in the morning, and add into a food flask. If you’re making this in the morning, add to your food flask straight away. Take some bread rolls or an extra sandwich!

Spaghetti with Japchae sauce

Have you watched the Korean show The Backpacker Chef 백패커? In episode 15, the chefs come up with Pasta Japchae, which I wanted to try making myself. I had a look online to see who else have made this in the past, and saw one post. I already had readymade japchae sauce, which you can buy in Asian or Korean supermarkets.

  1. Cook some spaghetti (add more if you plan to eat some before you pack them).
  2. Stir fry some halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and a couple of frankfurters in a frying pan (usually the Koreans would cook the ingredients separately, but I’m a lazy Geek, and this recipe is supposed to easy).
  3. Then drain the spaghetti, place in a bowl, add the stir fried ingredients into the spaghetti and finally added the ready made Japchae sauce and additional sesame oil (I find the japchae sauce doesn’t have enough sesame oil in it).
  4. Mixed it all together and finally pack it. There was space left in my container, so I made a Chinese style spring onion omelette. Nothing fancy.

When I had this the next day, I noticed that the spaghetti had soaked up the japchae sauce, and it tasted great! I bought some more spaghetti too.

Tinned Mackerel Stew & Rice

There was some tinned mackerel at home, which I was planning to make this in Hastings but that never happened, so the tinned mackerel came back to London. I actually found a recipe on YouTube, but only looked at the ingredients used, and used my own instinct to create my own version. .

One day I bought a pack of mushrooms in Tesco as it was on discount (33p). Thought they would come in handy for a work lunch.

So in this one pot stew, you can add any vegetables for this but here I just chose what I had:

  1. Added olive oil to the pan, and fried all the mushrooms in one go (they shrink, so it was fine).
  2. Added some chopped onions, and the last of my cherry tomatoes, and stirred it in.
  3. After a couple of minutes, I added 2 tins of brined mackerel into the pan with the brine included (you can drain it if you want to).
  4. Stir, then add some salt, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, a table of corn syrup (or add some sugar, but corn syrup is not too sweet), a cube of vegetable stock and half a cup of water (add a tiny bit more water if needed), white pepper (optional), a sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional) and some chilli powder (optional). Stir and turn down to a medium heat, and boil for 10 minutes.
  5. Cool down for a few minutes before serving with some rice.

I scoffed my dinner down and happy that I made this with the thought of having this for lunch the next day!

Leftover stew and rice packed away… the stew can be heated the next morning, and added into a food flask, if you don’t want to stink up the work office kitchen!

Swedish Meatballs and Vegetable Soup

Have you gone into Icelands or Morrisons recently? In the frozen section, you’ll see bags of Swedish meatballs. It looks like they’re popular. Instead of eating them the Ikea or Swedish way, I tried using them to make a soup.

  1. Add olive oil to the saucepan, then add in as many frozen meatballs as you want… and fry for a little bit
  2. Add any chopped vegetables. Here I added an onion, carrots and spring onions. Fry with the meatballs for a minute
  3. Add 2 cups of water, vegetable stock cube and tomatoe paste, (optional: Add a teaspoon of sugar if you like a sweeter taste) then boil for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with pasta and rice … and make sure to leave some for work!

And if all stews and soups and pastas fail, there’s the ultimate traditional egg fried rice with a veggie and meat side dish!

Handmade Dalgona 수제 달고나

Recently went to Longdan Supermarket and bought a few groceries during the Platinum weekend. It was fairly quiet in the morning, I guess a lot of people are still trying to have a getaway weekend away from London, or possibly coming into London to see the Royals, politicians and the wotnots of the UK.

At the counter, I saw this cute South Korean package of delight. Something that I’ve wanted to try since watching a lot of Korean variety shows (and don’t forget Squid Game where they were making shapes with dalgona) where they showed how to make this confectionery from the past.

Dalgona 달고나 is basically known as honeycomb toffee in the Western world If you’ve had Nestle’s Toffee Crisp Honeycomb or Nestle’s Crunchie, you might find that the crispy part tastes similar to Dalgona.

Ingredients are: sugar, water, corn syrup and sodium bicarbonate. Just 4 ingredients!

Once I opened the packet, you could see some squared shape biscuit like objects. It would probably remind you of soft set caramel, or possibly some sort of pet treat. It is definitely a treat, but for human consumption rather than the likes of a pet.

Well, what does it taste like? It tastes very, very sweet! Have you tasted any sort of East Asian black sugar snacks, or black sugar bubble tea? If you have, you will taste that very same sort of black sugar taste after tasting the punch of the sweetness followed by a familar caramel-like taste, then sort of ending it with a darker note of the black sugar aftertaste.

Later on in the day, I wanted to see what it would taste like in some hot coffee… Hmmm… Doesn’t taste very sweet at all!

The price of this small bag is £1.75. Expensive but it was worth a try, and I would definitely buy this again as a once in a blue moon human treat.

Superstar Korean BBQ – London, St Gile’s High Street

It was my birthday just over 2 and a bit months ago. YAY! And it was the first time in two frigging years since I’ve been able to celebrate my birthday.

2 years older, 2 years of being drained working between the office and home (and only catching covid at the end of last year), 2 YEARS of not being able to blog as much as I had wanted to.

So it was decided with the Gang of Four that we would go and eat in a Korean BBQ restaurant. Reason one – Miss Money is on her keto diet. Reason two – I wanted to eat Korean food outside. And Reason three, (which I didn’t know until we almost finished eating), was that Mr Games and Mr Sensible never had Korean BBQ before).

I had already checked the menu online and was ready to order. As there were four of us, we decided to have two lots of Set Menu 1, which costs £66 and serves 2 people (that’s £33 per person). There’s a choice of 2 starters – Korean fried chicken or Mandoo (Korean dumplings). We chose the chicken. And then you have a choice of 4 different bbq dishes – meat or veg from the main menu.

The fried chicken came out first. Miss Money and I chose the kimchi mayo, and I think the other one was soy teriyaki. These were ok, but I prefer the bigger pieces of fried chicken from Cheemc.

Japchae was also one of the starters. This tasted ok. I didn’t want to eat too much as there was a lot coming our way!

As you can see, the side dishes of kimchi, spring onions, meat for the grill and rice coming out… Our table was practically full of amazing dishes.

😅😅😅 So. Much. Food!! And such a tiny grill…

We grilled and ate, grilled and ate. There were times when we thought the food we were cooking were undercooked. The meat was flavourful and marinated well. I think we just burnt the first grill though as obviously there wasn’t enough fat from the meat or no cooking oil at hand.

Our grill was only changed twice the whole time we sat there. What they should have done is provided some cooking oil so that we wouldn’t burn the grills the whole time we were there… Oh well. Nevermind!

We had a small amount of everything left, so we just poured everything in. I don’t think the staff were that impressed, but we needed to finish the remaining food items. 🙃

We were finally stuffed… Finished with all the amazing food… And then came out the fruits. Mr Sensible and I finished our plate, but for some reason Mr Games and Miss Money wouldn’t touch their plate of fruit… They are so weird! I’m sure on a keto diet that you’re allowed to eat some fruits right? Mr Games has a funny palate so I understand that sometimes he doesn’t want to eat certain things.

At the end of the food show, it was time for the cinnamon shot. It’s non-alcoholic, but it’s so sweet! Koreans like sweet stuff. I like cinnamon, but wasn’t sure of this drink… methinks it could have been diuted a bit more for the likes of four people.

Total cost came to around £148 including drinks, so that’s £37 per person. I think it was a very well-deserved meal and having not spent anything for my last two birthdays.

Korean food is becoming so popular these days that it might topple over Japanese and Chinese food in the UK… I doubt that! 😅

My geeky rating: 4.5/5

Address: Central Piazza St Giles, 4 St Giles High St, London WC2H 8AB

Website: https://www.superstarbbq.co.uk/

Nissin Cup Noodles – some different flavours…

Been bit on the quiet front recently. It’s been non-stop at work as the offices and staff are almost back to normal. Almost normal. Still working from home people? Most of us have become hybrid workers. I for one am now a hybrid worker. ^_^

Cup noodles! Ummmm. The last time I had a cup noodle was last year at some point and the last time I blogged about a cup noodle was when I was in HK. LOL.

When I went into New Long Fung Supermarket a few months ago, I explored the noodle section as I ran out of instant noodles at the time… and then in the corner of my eye, I spotted these cup noodle treasures! Woohoo! Katsu Curry, Pork Tonkotsu and Beef Sukiyaki. (I also have chicken teriyaki, which I forgot about).

Here I’m eating from non-preference to preference, I tried out the Beef Sukiyaki first. Tastes artificial and sweet to the very end.

Tasted sweet at first, then it felt watered down sweetness with a touch of beef as the aftertaste

The Tonkotsu flavour became a my dinner before bed. Tastes very watered down of the packaged version. Can taste the pork flavour, but it really tastes bland. 😦

Last of all was the Curry flavour. I bought two pots in case I liked it… Artificial taste again. It doesn’t taste like the one I had in HK. It tasted like watery curried flavoured noodles.

Costs £1.35 or more (depending on where you get them) – Unfortunately, I wouldn’t buy these again but instead buy those original Nissin cup noodles or Korean cup noodle. (Dreading to eat the second curry cup noodle and the chicken teriyaki flavour). 😭

The nice part is the design of the cups – likely taken from the famous 18th-19th Centuru artist, Hokusai-san…

My New E-readers: Kindle vs Kobo

I have a smile on my face. Why? Because I have not blogged about books in a very long time. In this post, I will explain why I have two fairly new e-readers and the purpose of each. To be honest I explored a whole lot before picking these two. I’ve been sluggish with reading, and have been listening to audiobooks for a year or so during this boring pandemic… but made the switch to reading more via e-readers since using a phone made my eyes swirl.

Kindle Paperwhite 11th Generation is the newest Kindle e-reader at a semi-affordable price of £139. It has a screen size of 6.8 inches, no buttons on the sides, 8GB storage and is slightly heavy. I bought this back in October 2021, and so far I have enjoyed reading from it. The first book I read on it was Swing Time by Zadie Smith. I actually have the paperback, which I bought it in July when I was waiting for Mrs Hen at London Bridge Station, but somehow I felt I couldn’t finish the book… Once I had the Kindle, I felt I could read a lot more faster, and finished the book in a few weeks.

After my first book after a long time of not actually reading fiction, I quit my Audible subscription, and went for Kindle Unlimited which was on a promo last year… Well I’m glad I did, because there’s a lot of books I can borrow! And even manga too!!

Manga quality is not too bad, some words are hard to ready because of the lightness of the font. However, you can zoom into the panel to get a better look of the writing.

You can change the way the page looks… have just recently added the time on top of the pages… I always lose track of time when reading.

If you don’t like people knowing which book you’re reading, you can switch to the Kindle screen covers when it goes on sleep mode… I chose this option, as I didn’t want people to know what I was reading.

However, there is only so much that I can borrow via Kindle Unlimited (and also find free e-books elsewhere)… certain books I wanted to read on the Kindle aren’t available on Kindle Unlimited but are available on Overdrive, which is an app that’s usable on the Kobo e-readers!

So, after a few months of contemplation, I bought my second e-reader (my third or was it my fourth really – I have a really old e-reader somewhere). This is the Kobo Libra 2, which costs £159.99.

Why did I buy it? It has 32GB of storage, there’s button on the sides, it has a 7 inch screen, I can borrow library books (that’s why I joined Lewisham Libraries, as Southwark Libraries don’t use Overdrive), and I can read a lot of manga! A lot of reviewers out there have said to get the Kobo Forma for reading manga, but to be honest, Kobo Libra 2 is also good. I don’t need an oversized 8 inch e-reader, I needed one that was weight-friendly for my small hands.

The quality of the manga is pretty good, and the pages look very paper-like compared to the screen on the Kindle Paperwhite.

With the Kobo, I like the fact that I can choose what goes on the header and footer. I chose how much time to read (supposed to be per chapter… but depending on the book, it will give me the half-way time for the entire book). And the footer, I chose how many pages I read / left in the book to read. Handy!!

Like the Kindle Paperwhite, you can choose to remove the book cover, but Kobo doesn’t show any default images.

Well, if you’re in two minds like me – get both (only if you can afford it … I’m still paying for the Kobo using Amazon Prime’s 5 x 1 monthly installments). If you can’t buy both, then the best thing to do is ask yourself, which one is more appropriate…

Overall: I would say go for the Kobo Libra 2 – you can borrow library books, and if you can find free epub books on the Internet, then you don’t need to change the file extension for Kindle.

Books I’ve read on the Kindle so far:

  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith (puzzled with this book, but enjoyed reading a complex book after many years)
  • The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan (fairly sweet book)
  • The Expatriates by Janice YK Lee (I was really disappointed with the ending for this book… I wish there was an alternative ending for one of the mothers)
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – currently in my reading section… the Agatha Raisin series took over!
  • Sweetness and Lightening Manga – Volume 1 (watched the animé, thought I might as well read the manga! And the first 8 volumes are free on Kindle Unlimited)

Books I’ve read on the Kobo so far:

  • Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by MC Beaton (read in 5 days!)
  • Agatha Raisin and the Viscious Vet
  • Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardner
  • Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley (currently on chapter 2 … the Agatha Raisin series is quite addictive!)
  • Absolute Boyfriend Manga – Volume 1 … Reading this because it’s a short series of 6 volumes

If you’ve been stuck in a rut with reading or haven’t read in a long time, give an e-reader a go… I have a long list of books I want to read at the moment, and have downloaded a lot of manga for this manga-deprived geek! It’s paper-free friendly, and takes up less space in your home and in your bag!

I’m a geek who needs to be a geek.

Cha Dong 茶檔 HK Style Milk Tea

Back to blogging! Phew, it’s really been hectic in the past few months. Staff down, means you have to pick up everyone else’s work. Really, really hoping this wave will die down sooner than later! But I’m back into blogging a bit more this month (hopefully!).

Happy Belated Birthday to my blog of 10 years! Wow… time has gone fast. Thinking back, I really used to do a lot. The past few years I’ve slowed down, but I really hope I can do more.

Well onto this post. I know, I know, it’s another HK milk tea… I’ve become obsessed with them since coming back from HK trip last year. This one I found in Chinatown Bakery (in the fridge). They come in rectangular bottles, which resembles a whisky tumbler. Hm. I wonder who decided on this design.

I left it in my home fridge for one week… Was trying to find the right time to drink it before it expires.

The cap took forever to open. MummyGeek even tried… it was so hard, I think I sprained my hand! You will need to somehow release some of the air from the cap before you can unscrew it.

Anyway… this is definitely an authentic HK Style Milk Tea! Cha Dong (茶檔) meaning “tea shop/stall” seems to have some professionals in place to make this stuff… It’s not too sweet, not too milky, it has that strong tea taste that tastes better cold than hot. I can feel the people making this have made this a thousand times using the right ingredients. MummyGeek tried a bit too, she like it!

Thumbs up from this Geek!

Cost: £3.50 a 250ml bottle (expensive, but this one is worth the try)

Website: https://www.chadong.co.uk/

Christmas TV Adverts 2021 – Part 2

Final post of 2021 (but posting on New Year’s Day – coz I fell asleep last night and couldn’t be bothered to finish off this post).

Didn’t have the energy to blog much this month… Other news: my John Lewis purchase episode ended ok. I got a refund, and then bought my stuff from Curry’s – added a few more hundred pounds to the purchase (not sure if it was worth it), but so much better with next day delivery.

Then started isolating because I was in contact with a colleague who had covid… then afterwards I was out for 3 days last week, then somehow managed to contract the virus. So back into isolation I go! Well, luckily I’ve had practice in HK. 😅 Currently on Day 6 of isolation.

Now back to the adverts!

Disney – The Stepdad

Hmm, maybe Disney should make this into a movie. Music is nice. A rather cliched story. A stepfather enters into the lives of a woman with two children. And Disney saves the day with their books and animated stories… The stepfather also tries to be the hero of the gingerbread house… Typical Disney style!

Marks and Spencer – Percy Pig comes to life for the first time EVER!

I’m a bit biased with M&S ads. They really need to do more of food close ups!

In this ad, we see the Fairy accidentally bringing Percy Pig to life with her magical wand. They both explore one of the supermarkets and talk about food… I think they should have added more food stuff in or have Percy eat a few things to see what he liked… like some brussel sprouts. Oh well.

TK Maxx – Christmas to the maxx

Oh dear. We have an advert that’s a cross between High School Musical and the film Love Actually. Not sure if I would have stepped onto an organ just to jazz up the advert or the music. Not sure about those boots for Christmas either… unless I was a real hipster. But hey, I would still shop at TK Maxx for Christmas and non-Christmas stuff.

Morrisons – Christmas Makes Good Things Happen

An unexpected grin and laugh came out of my mouth. John Lewis should learn from this advert. An advert that is 1 minute long. It takes alien style quite seriously, and there was also “Farmer Christmas” who saved the day by making sure food was in stock, and that the trucks as his “reindeer” served him well.

Argos Christmas – Baubles to last year! Christmas is ON!

A toned down Argos advert? Maybe not! As always they have piped up the music, the gifts and the parties. At the start you would have thought, oh no, has Argos turned to the movies for help?! Not really. Lots of gifting here and there, and one girl was just determined to get her whole building to be covered with Christmas lights! Cute advert.

There’s a few more adverts out there… but I’m too lazy to review.

Well… here’s just one more from Norway… Tell me what you think of it!

This year, I will promise to write up on Christmas adverts early (pending on Covid situations and work load).

Hope everyone has a very happy new year (and fingers crossed Boris and co will get it right this year)!!