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Mother's Day Brunch

I am always in favour of quality time, spent with your mother over a cup of tea, or being silly over a bubbly lunch or even sitting together in bed looking at magazines and old photos. I don't quite understand the whole concept of buying gifts on Mother's Day. I do believe that you have to show appreciation to the person that will un-selfishly look after you all your life, but I don't think that exchange of stuff is necessarily the best choice.

This year we opted for a family, home-cooked brunch, it felt like less pressure for some reason!
So, Pink Martini - a Retrospective playing in the background, Mimosas in hand, we sat down to brunch:

The Menu
Eggs "Kayiana" (Rustic eggs in a spicy Tomato Sauce)
Croque Monsieur
Rosewater - Yogurt Breakfast Pot

This menu is perfect for vegetarians and the eggs Kayiana is the absolute Mediterranean comfort food, especially if you are fed up with scrabbled eggs.

You can use tin tomatoes, no-one is going to point a finger at you; but fresh grated tomatoes have a certain tanginess, which you offset with a touch of sugar and the whole dish remains lighter and intensely flavoursome. You'll see that I've missed out on onions for the tomato sauce, it's optional; it just makes it heavier, as far as I'm concerned and also it starts resembling the base for a bolognese or tarka for a curry;
I like to keep this one simple, it's brunch after all!

Eggs "Kayiana" (Rustic Eggs in a spicy Tomato Sauce): 
Three tablespoons of olive oil
Four fresh tomatoes, grated
Quarter teaspoon of sugar (only if you are using fresh tomatoes)
Half a teaspoon of salt
Two cloves of garlic, grated 
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
One red chili, finely chopped
Four eggs
Chives for sprinkling

Start with warming the olive oil and cinnamon powder in a frying pan, over medium heat. 

Once the cinnamon starts bubbling, add the red chili and the garlic and let them fry to a minute or so. 
Pop in the  grated tomatoes, sugar and salt and let it simmer at low heat for about 10 minutes.
Once the tomatoes have broken down, clear four spaces amongst the sauce and crack an egg in each space, cover  with a lid straight away and allow for the eggs to cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on how runny you like them. 
Chop and sprinkle some chives over the eggs and grab some crusty bread to scoop up the lovely sauce! 

Get the look:  

Bali Temples - Pura Geger, Nusa Dua

Geger beach lies on the southern tip of Nusa Dua, just north of the popular Nikko Beach on the eastern coast of Kuta, in Bali.

We had heard all about how Nusa Dua is a spit-spot, picture perfect area developed completely for tourists; so when our car left us on a beach-side street, with a few beach restaurants in sight, nothing prepared us for the vibrant colours that were about to hit us.

I have never seen such pale, white-almost sand and such blue, turquoise sea!
Even the air seemed crystal-clear in the sunshine...

And at the end of the beach lied the object of our affection: Pura Geger temple. You won't find it in many tourist guides.
There are no guards and no entry fees. It's hidden away on the tip of a small hill, surrounded by lush vegetation.

Walk up the dirt road next to the impressive pools and statues of Mulia Hotel (if you are on the lookout for a luxurious stay, do check out the Mulia Hotel) and you'll come to a quite shrine, guarded all around by massive Balinese statues fixed there to ward off evil spirits. How tranquil!

There was absolutely nobody there, apart from a middle aged man who was swiping and cleaning the area around one of the statutes and then quietly lit some incense and kneed to pray.

It made me think: isn't this a better offering, seva or donation (call it what you like) than giving money to temples, churches and other places of worship?
It makes so much sense that you focus your attention on a task, that is beneficial both for you to clear your mind before you start praying, but also for the upkeep of your chosen spiritual place.

Take shelter from the sunshine under the old trees and admire the view over Nikko beach on one side and Geger beach on the other - breath-taking!

Walk up to the traditional tall Balinese gates that allow entrance around the four sides of the temple. They are adorned with exquisite carvings and frame picturesque views of the deep blue ocean.

It's a great place if you want to get close to Balinese temple art and avoid the crowds!


Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

How did we get there?
Oh, well... we had to trek through grassland and jump over a fence!
Not to mention that beforehand, we had to navigate quietly around a herd of deer!
We could have, off course, walked through the tiny path, next to where we parked the car, but male stubbornness resulted to a fun alternative route... just this once!

Take: the river and rustic tables and mismatched chairs and cakes and flowers and nice people...shake them all together with a hint of sunshine and you have a happy Sunday in Petersham Nurseries!
Lodged between the edge of Richmond Park and river Thames, the glasshouses and little wooden structures all look so effortlessly rustic; but if you look closer you realise the effort that has put together this tasteful and trendy garden centre and café, for lack of a better definition! 
Queue at the Teahouse for the most intense flavoured cakes...orange, carrot, almond and my personal favourite: cappuccino! No need to reserve, just turn up and grab table.
If it's food you are after, you won't be disappointed; Italian sausages with fennel. Quiche with mushrooms and ham. Poussin with roast potatoes...everything you need for a happy tummy!
And wash it all down with sparkling elderflower or a splash of white wine, that comes in the cutest little carafe.
Navigate through the charming glasshouses filled with plants, antiques, oriental birdcages and garden tools, all on a reddish bare carpet of earth - "dirt" wouldn't sound as warm and welcoming - to find your perfect spot. 
This simply cannot be in London; but then again...here it is, next to the ever-flooded Thames! 

Anantara Resort, Seminyak, Bali

What a warm welcome!

It's not often than hotel staff memorise your name and treat you like a house guest throughout your stay! 

Especially at breakfast, the always smiling and softly spoken Balinese ladies of the Anantara, hovered around us like fussy mothers, making sure we got properly stuffed with lovely eggs Benedict, light and fluffy Nasi Goreng, dim sum, feta salad, deliciously fried Perkedel Ketang (potato patties in an egg batter), superb chocolate croissants and a vast selection of cheese that made my bikini-clad life very difficult.
Not to forget the fresh smoothies, prepared to energise and detox your sun-tanned self! More and more hotels have started including fresh smoothies in their breakfast and I couldn't be happier!

Choosing between room types is a tough one: would you rather wake up and roll directly into the pool, or would you rather sip on bubbles in your Jacuzzi, with a view of the ocean? 

Ocean View suites are spacious and excerpt an 80's California vibe with their comfortable built-in sofas, beds and mirrored walls. There is an iPod dock and a massive TV to make even the fussier boys stay quite for a while.
The bathroom is an extension of the room, separated by glass to allow for uninterrupted ocean views from the bathtub! More little details like these pop up everywhere to make your life not just easier, but positively pleasant, while you are here. There are photo books and magazines next to the toilet and on the bar over the bathtub so that you can enjoy images of Bali even at your most private moments! Aromatic Oils burn in the bathroom as you arrive, spreading jasmine fragrances and are replenished daily for you to use, as you like. 
There is a coffee machine for a strong morning booster and exotic fruit are brought to your room every day according to your preferences. Take your coffee and head to the balcony, this is what you are here for: the view over Bali Sea is pure gold. Lie on the daybed or dip in the Jacuzzi and forget about everything else.
On a couple of occasions, we were made to stay in because of the rain, but as you might imagine this was not a problem; filled the Jacuzzi up with bubbles - the soapy type, not the boozy type - and enjoyed the roaring ocean view.  

Pool Access Suites have a similar layout but also have the comfort of direct pool access from your balcony. Either way no excuse to walk around in your gown, in public, just because you fancy a mid-night dip!
Semiyak beach is popular for its' romantic sunset, a major event every day. 
Staying at the Anantara has its' perks; you don't need to sweat at all trying to claim your spot amongst the ever popular PotatoHead loungers up the road, because you are right where you need to be: on the beach, lying on a daybed, drinking chocolate milkshakes! 
As the tide goes out in the late afternoon, the ripply sand mirrors the sunshine and creates a sparkling surface for you to dance on! My favourite time of the day!
You can even have a massage right on the beach, the Spa staff drop the net curtains around your daybed and you close your eyes and let the ocean put you to sleep. 

Every morning, hotel staff leave little baskets of fresh flowers on the sand, just on the edge of the hotel lawns, after their morning prayers; what a balanced place!  
 Jl. Camplung Tanduk, Seminyak, Kuta, Badung
Bali 80361, Indonesia
Phone: +62 361 737773


Overwater-living: Avani Sepang Gold Coast Resort

I didn't know what to expect from Malaysia.
All I knew when we booked the Gold Coast Resort, on the coast of Sepang, was that the whole place is built on stilts! That includes the villas, the infinity pool, the restaurants, the spa...need I say more? From the plane all we could see approaching the runway, was vast forests of dark green, dense palm trees. I was surprised because we are used to the much taller and thinner kind, so I was impressed by the richness in colour. The same theme continued all the way to the resort, along with shorter dragon fruit palms, dotted with their bright pink produce. As a tourist leaflet mentioned, "don't leave your doors open and your dishes piled up in the sink; you'll find monkeys in your living room - don't forget, every inch of this area used to be a jungle!"

An advantage of this place is location: only 30 minutes form Kuala Lumpur airport, 90 minutes from Kuala Lumpur city centre . Shall we start calling it KL now, just like the locals do?
We took the Air Asia flight from Singapore, great for short trips around south east Asia; it's what Easyjet and Ryanair used to be, cheap and convenient!
But until the new airport is open in KL, prepare for a long, hot walk outside and a hot, long wait for immigration inside. The positive thing is that you get a visa at arrival if you have a British or European passport and there are no fees involved either.
This resort is a good choice if you are popping over from Singapore or Hong Kong for the weekend or if you are attending the Sepang F1 Grand Prix. It is only six years old, well-planned, with a very cool layout of a palm tree. Try locating yourself on Google maps: you'll find yourself residing on a branch of the palm tree in the middle of Malacca Straights! Service unfortunately let us down a couple of times, in the sense that staff did do their jobs but did not go the extra mile. In hospitality industry adding that personal touch goes a long way, hence it is a shame that compared to the quality of the surroundings, this extra attention to detail was lacking. We had a great time but we felt that the resort could benefit from improved customer service going forwards. Apparently new management is taking over and things are looking up - they promised to take notice at the little things that make a difference. 

Once in Rome do as the Romans do, so...off we went for breakfast at 6:30 every morning, back to the villa for a midday siesta to beat the heat; bonus point: watch the magnificent sunrise over the golden coast...the hotel name kind of gives it away after all!
Speaking of breakfast, prepare for a Pan-Asian feast. Japanese bento boxes assembled at your preference, Udon noodles, Malaysian curries, and fresh dumplings and off course fresh omelettes and waffles.

Oh, and then there were the bikes!
After seventeen years I can proudly say I can still ride the bike and it was fun. Moving around the resort in the heat can be daunting, hence the hotel provides buggies to drive you around or you can grab a bike and be on your way.
Absolutely loved riding down to the beach in the mornings for a yoga class, before the heat settled in. There is also Zumba, local bike tours and beach cart-sailing provided for the guests for free, throughout the day. It's quite thoughtful, as there isn't much else to do in the immediate vicinity of the hotel.

One sunny afternoon I took my bike and rode to the spa: an overwater villa with a view of Malacca Straights. Not your average spa location!
The treatments were carried out in a spacious room, with exposed beams and visible thatched roof - utterly liberating. I hate small and gloomy spa rooms that are meant to be cosy and relaxing but feel so claustrophobic.
Then back to the infinity pool to watch the glorious sunset!

Out of all restaurants in the hotel, Hai Sang Lou was our favourite.
The service was top notch and Sook Chan in particular, an always smiling Malay-Chinese, took very good care of us; so I promised I would mention her name as a thank you.
The food was some of the best Chinese I've ever had, soft shell crab and black chicken soup were our favourites. You can order a whole crispy duck, they carve it at your table, using the crispy skin for pancakes as a starter and then you choose between black pepper or lemon sauce for the duck meat to have as a main with rice or noodles.
Along with a glass of white wine and fully air-coned space, it makes for a great evening over the sea!

Selat Bar was also a fun alternative, very different ambient though. Right on the beach, informal and equipped with a karaoke machine and a pool table.
My chatterbox husband managed to get himself behind the bar and taught the guys there how to make an espresso martini; so if you go, ask for one, it's not on the menu but they'll make it for you because they took notes!

Favourite moment: ride to Smiley Beach after breakfast, walk on the cold sand and lie on the hammock under the big palm trees, as the sun slowly invades the beach and the tide goes out... x

67, Jalan Pantai Bagan Lalang, Bagan Lalang,
43950 Sepang, Malaysia
+60 3-3182 3600
© Life Love London

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