Integration on a New Level. Moving into a new flat, uninhabited, unfurnished, on my own with my partner, is a bit like moving to Singapore all over again. Having a neighbouring friend over for breakfast from the bakery on Monday, arranging to have her cleaner start cleaning for us as well, popping down to the local homeware shops for furniture and home supplies, being solely responsible for coordinating with local agents, contractors, delivery guys and power/electricity/gas/internet suppliers as well as decorating and picking flowers from the market. For the past years, I’ve focussed on the advantages of having housemates – now I’ll focus on the advantages of living with just my favourite mate. Our mood board of interior design details in a constant stream of exchanged digital images, ideas and visions. Inspiration from Australia (where he is this week) and Scandinavia (well, of course) coming together in Southeast Asia. Everything from dining/workspace tables in sturdy, rustic reclaimed wood to natural cleaning products to mirrors and plants for our yoga studio balcony to the right rug texture. I brought home a bedspread, a pineapple cutting board and coconut breakfast bowls from Bali, and he brings home Aesop soap, koala pot-holders and bamboo coasters from Sydney. We do joke about the cliche – couples who used to share dreams and ambitions and now all they talk about is bedsheets. There’s an allure in creating this home. Surely it won’t get bland, boring or deprived of curiosity for us. I meet our downstairs neighbour on the stairs – a kind-looking elderly woman carrying a bunch of flowers in one hand and a cage with a parrot in the other. Smile, nod and exchange a few words. Discover the buzz and energy and light and contours of the neighbourhood all over again – the local family life in the Chinese coffeeshops on every corner, the vendors and traders at the market, the palette of white softly curved walls, red and gold ornaments and green palm trees and lush greenery lining each street. I love Tiong Bahru and feel happy, balanced and lucky here.
Friends in Singapore. The friends I left in Ubud last Sunday arrive back in Singapore on Wednesday night, with sparkling eyes and full of stories of scrumptious gourmet tasting menus, helpful locals scooting them around town, getting lost in the rice paddies and being saved by a man selling coconuts on a deserted path and guiding them towards a romantic spot by a river hidden in the rolling fields. Arranging the visit six months ago, and even chatting excitedly about it less than a month ago, we had no idea that they’d be warming our new guest room. What a treat to be able to offer visitors more than a sofa (although, ironically, I love crashing on the sofa belonging to these particular friends in London)! It’s their first time in Singapore, and they seem quite happy with everything we do from Wednesday night to Saturday night when they return to Europe: Singapore Slings at Raffles Hotel, a stroll along Haji Lane to have dinner at LongPlay, show and tell around TB, a trip to the Botanic Gardens and Dempsey Hill, brunch with my expat friends at expat haven Open Farm Community, drinks on the roof top bar, Southbridge, while a dramatic thunder storm erases the skyscrapers from view, meeting their local banker colleagues for a scrumpy Peranakan dinner on the East Coast followed by a midnight walk on the beach, enjoying the vibe at the Westernised food court Timbre+…. lots of local stories, world stories, travel stories, always travel stories…
National Orchid Garden. My favourite activity this week besides homemaking is a walk around the orchid garden, which is, if you can drive the frantic selfie-takers out of your conscious vision, a completely blissful experience. To think that nature makes an effort on this scale – such immense beauty! Cartoon-perfect exotic flora in all the colours of the rainbow. If horticultural therapy, resetting in nature, is among the most efficient forms of treatment of depression and stress, then taking a walk in this particular garden, with all of its incredible natural creativity, must propel all beings towards absolute bliss. My favourite part of the simulated jungle is the wooden boardwalk high up in the trees, leading to the elegant cool house, as it’s just so beautifully framed by the largest, lushest leaves imaginable.
Barre Bliss. No post without a bit of praise of the wonders of barre pilates. On Wednesday I wake up with a pressing migraine and wonder whether it’s wise to get up or not, but an hour and a half later, after a bootcamp in Hong Kong Street, I’m feeling fine. Those particular demanding but soothing exercises, the rhythm, the emphasis on mental as well as physical balance, are just the ticket to wellbeing for me. It reminds me I’m getting stronger. On Thursday I take a friend for her first class followed by a cheap drink at Vasco (they’ve still got that sign outside the door – wearing yoga pants will win you a $10 cocktail), and this time, the class manages to calm my body and mind after a particularly stressful day at work, giving me energy to celebrate that my friend is glowing after having landed an exciting new job.
Thanksgiving. On Friday morning, while Americans are tucking into their turkeys and cranberry sauce, I stroll around the flat from airy room to airy room for a few minutes before leaving the house – with homemade coffee in my Keep Cup. Beautiful morning light on white walls and brand new homeware items. It’s just a rental flat, and maybe we don’t want to stay in Singapore for more than a few years, BUT it’s our space for now. I am thankful for that.
Julehygge. The first Sunday of Advent is also the first day on which my boyfriend and I wake up together at our new home. Still waiting to find the perfect coffee table and for our kitchen table and dining room table to arrive, we have a breakfast picnic on the living room floor, eating quinoa cereal with blueberries and oat milk and drinking coffee and a homemade pineapple/orange/ginger smoothie. Candles burning and Desert Island Discs featuring Yotam Ottolenghi sounding from the Beoplay speaker in the window sill – right next to the gorgeous painting from Bondi Beach that my boyfriend brought back from Australia on Saturday night. Sitting there on the floor, unpacking advent gifts from home – classic gold and red Georg Jensen ornaments from 1987 and an epistolary book about making your dreams come true and family ties stretching across the globe from my gran and classic silver fairytale Georg Jensen ornaments from 2016, a small red toy robot and a gourmet sweets calendar from my parents. We hang the Danish design goods together with our tropical glass Christmas ornaments from Brisbane in the hallway. Once the candles have burned down, we go furniture shopping across town, and then head out for some Swedish/Danish julehygge at the swanky lounge area of a futuristic Newton condo – gløgg with almonds and raisins, smørrebrød with all of the best toppings, including pickled herring and boiled potatoes, pepperkaker and pakkeleg – a very simple present game that brings out the child in every competitive player. Back home to lie on the sofa with Dwell and a PS Petit superfood salat.