Category Archives: Personal

@Lactofree cheeselicious

I recently discovered that Lactofree, those nice people that remove the lactose from milk so intolerant people like me can enjoy cereal etc., make cheese – both soft cheese (like Philadelphia) and “hard cheese” – which is meant to resemble cheddar but really tastes more like Swiss cheese.

This is absolutely wonderful news. Amanda made Nigella’s London Cheesecake and it was possibly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Ever. And this is on top of the celebratory lasagna I made for her using Lactofree milk and semi-hard cheese (for the white sauce and lasagna topping) after she had her mid-maternity leave back-to-work day.

I’ve also tried the soft cheese on a bagel and its really indistinguishable from traditional soft cheeses. The semi-hard cheese is a bit thin on flavour, hopefully they’ll keep working on it.

So, kudos, you nice people at Lactofree. I’ll try your yoghurts if they ever get stocked by one of my local supermarkets, will look forward to you experimenting with lactose free creams, and getting a proper hard-cheese recipe right. I’ve love to know more about the process by which you get rid of the lactose – it sounds too simple from your website:


Lactofree semi hard cheese is made from cows’ milk. As part of cheesemaking, bacterial cultures are added to the milk to create acidity, aroma and flavour. These cultures need a source of food and this food is lactose. The bacteria uses up the lactose naturally found in the milk to give Lactofree cheese its distinct flavour. The bacteria will stop working only once all the lactose has been used up, leaving cheese that is lactose free.

Lactofree soft white cheese is also made from cows’ milk. The lactase enzyme is added during the cheese making process to break down the milk sugars into simpler forms that your body can absorb. So what you get is Lactofree soft white cheese, with the taste and nutritional goodness of regular soft white cheese, just without the lactose!

Clever stuff.


Best songs to sing to our baby

Every set of parents, no doubt, have a particularly useful set of tunes for singing to / playing to their children for calm, play, fun and frolics. Here are some of ours – in no particular order.

  1. Show me the way to go home – YouTube here – I sing this one to calm Emily down.
  2. Dingle dangle scarecrow – YouTube here – for all occasions
  3. Heads shoulders knees and toes – for instructing Emily in basic anatomy
  4. Twinkle twinkle little star – Nani’s favourite tune to sing to her – although you gotta love the Mozart variations
  5. A whole new world – YouTube here – sung whilst teaching Emily how to waltz
  6. Incy wincy spider – in Danish – YouTube here
  7. Ten in the bed and the little one said – roll over – sung whilst training her to… roll over
  8. Boogie Woogie Washerwoman – slowly for sleep, quickly for play! Can’t find an ‘official’ version of this song but here’s a random singing it on YouTube.
  9. “Walking on sunshine” – re-worded so she’s “Walking on Daddy.” A favourite game!

Lullabies – generally we just play her an album for this – this one – and it helps Emily with her bedtime routine  alongside a wind-up ticking alarm clock and a sheep much like this one (thanks to Luke & Em). Amanda sings a calming set of vowel sounds to help her sleep when she’s upset.

What are your songs to sing to baby??

Random flow of consciousness

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been using Evernote to remind myself of topics I want to blog about – and this has made the process of sitting down to actually write something relatively effortless. Captured links serve as aide-memoires, accompanied by a line or two on what the thought was I wanted to capture, explore, investigate.

It’s fantastic for the discipline of blogging, but I haven’t yet applied a filter by topic, and haven’t worked out a way to sort my blog post ideas thematically – so apologies if you’re getting a fairly random flow of consciousness. I’m by nature interested in everything, so posts will continue to vary from communications consultancy to technology and software, to soup and cooking, to film and TV, to babies and fatherhood  (ooh, also golf, running, etc. etc.)

So hope you’re enjoying the ride. I’m loving blogging at the moment and hoping that friends will continue to engage, here on the blog and via FB, as I continue to spout out random thoughts, insights and random views on this, that and everything.

Datukship for Grandpa

The Malaysian equivalent of  knighthood is “Datuk” – which is also the  Malay word for ‘progenitor’ or ‘ancestor’ according to Google Translate. In common parlance, my Dad received his Datukship five months ago when Emily was born. Technically my Mum too, although I’m not sure if Datukship is only for the men or not, but certainly they are both ‘progenitors’ of Emily!

Was amused when Aunty Maria pointed it out. Expect my folks will get the joke made to them a fair few more times in the weeks and months ahead!

Update: My Dad has not been ‘awarded’ a Datukship. He became a Datuk when Emily was born – i.e. he became a grandpa. Apparently this wasn’t clear!!

Eight years of division6

I’ve spent just over eight years writing this blog, which made its transition to WordPress in March 2003 (it had previously lived on motime (now defunct) and Blogger in its pre-Google days).

That translates to nearly 1000 posts, over 500 comments, tens of thousands of visitors and a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction for me. Whilst these stats pale in comparison with the vast majority of genuinely popular blogs out there, my inconsistent, polymath tendencies make this a difficult blog to pin down and want to follow.

So here’s to you, my friends and Internet followers, for making it an interesting ride, and here’s to future blogging.

And here’s to the fans of Outcasts for making this month the most popular month on my blog in 8 years!

Cynical much?

Went to the Malaysian Islamic Art Museum today for some touristy action on discovering its high ranking on Tripadvisor – the no1 tourist destination in the state, apparently. It was pretty impressive, actually – a massive, light, air-conditioned, airy space, some impressive exhibits and apparently the best bathrooms Amanda has ever been in. It had about 30 visitors across its thousands of square feet of exhibits, mostly foreign visitors.

Am I being massively cynical to think that if the subject of the museum had been something non-Islamic, in this country it would likely smell, be overheated, understaffed, and totally unimpressive? Or should I just be pleased that at least we have a good (if relatively pricey at RM12 for entry, RM5 for a bottle of water) cultural destination?

Planning on checking out the aquarium in KLCC tomorrow, hopefully that’ll be fun too.

The Science Centre, which we visited yesterday, wasn’t bad but nowhere nearly as polished as the art gallery (although admittedly far more child-oriented… I guess it’d be comparing the circus to the opera house…)

Baby Emily enjoyed both enormously, of course, being in her buggy for both experiences, getting hands on with plasma exhibits in the science museums and just giggling with glee as she whizzed through the art gallery.

Baby training academy

Emily is *so* close to rolling over. Amanda and I have taken to giving her a bit of extra training – more tummy time and some assisted rolls. It’s a matter of days, we think!

One of the many highlights of recent days has been seeing her start to be even more responsive and interactive during activities like this. She smiles during tummy time, gazing around the room to see the smiling relatives looking on adoringly. She even lifts her head up so she can get a good chomp on Sophie the Teething Giraffe (a favourite toy).

The other recent fantastic experience is seeing her react to her buggy – in the UK she wasn’t quite big enough to sit in the buggy chassis for her Silver Cross Surf pram, but the relatively cheap and cheerful Hauck three wheeler we’ve acquired over here (something like this) is better suited to her current size – and she sits in it literally trembling with excitement as she zooms around shopping malls, leaning forward (she’s in a permanent state of crunch) to grab the bar and lift herself up for an even better view. She giggles joyously when we play with her in it.

Huge fun. Being a dad is *awesome*.

Giggles with Emily

gigglesMy daughter’s adorable. She’s not easy to make laugh, though, and therefore it was with a real sense of achievement that I not only managed to eke out a full 2 minutes of giggles out of her with the help of Ambrose the Hippo (now renamed Peeka), playing peekaboo off the edge of her buggy – but also captured it on video!

If you’re a Facebook friend you can view the vid on my wall. If you’re not, you get this pic. She’s even more beautiful when she laughs!

Pride in Emily’s achievements

As a new Dad you’re inevitably painstakingly, tediously proud of your kid’s achievements. I’m no exception to this and every smile, laugh, kick, foot in mouth, increased bit of motor control, chat and near-roll has been a point of pride, joy and tedious anecdotes.

However, Emily’s coping with the 20 hour journey from our home in Hampshire to my parents’ home in Malaysia was absolutely remarkable. Whilst slightly anxious on the flight, she more or less maintained her regular routine, was only briefly upset by the air pressure changes, and persistently charmed every stewardess, immigration officer and fellow passenger she chanced across. It was the single best flying experience I’ve had (and thanks a bit to KLM for that, they were absolutely super), in spite of having a new baby, although it was a bit hair-raising at the start when we didn’t know how she’d react. Amanda kept her ‘drugged’ with a feed on the first ascent/descent from London to Amsterdam.

Safely arrived in KL, she’s gradually getting used to being somewhere… else, the climate, and soon-to-be-arriving torrent of family. Her Dad is coping less well, having been up from 1-7am. Argh.

Speech training with the King

Amanda and I loved the King’s Speech – a wonderfully executed film. Despite my predisposition for disliking Colin Firth (mainly because every girl I know thinks he’s amazing, including my good lady wife), he’s really very good in it and Geoffrey Rush is pretty spectacular.

Watching the film did bring back memories of doing speech exercises when we were young with my Dad. Mr David Snr had a number of speech training lessons has a 20-something in London and wanted to relay them to us – so we would grow up confident, capable of projecting and never have to deal with confidence issues as adults.

We did some of the things in the clip below, in addition to reading Lincoln’s speeches whilst walking on a treadmill, doing lots of “lalalalalas”, dancing around the living room and singing (badly) to Boney M tracks. We’d whisper and try to project to the back of the room whilst reading speeches, we’d bounce and shout and sing. We didn’t thank him much for it at the time, although it was impossible not to enjoy the Boney M part of it…

At school, I took more of my Dad’s advice – confronting the fear of public speaking by joining the debating society and putting myself into every public speaking context I could find for myself. No more speech exercises required – and today I take and enjoy every opportunity I have for presenting… and possibly rather too many opportunities to make speeches at friends’ birthdays and the like.

Having appreciated the benefits of my Dad’s training and got the perspective of what it brought me as an adult, I’m wondering how Emily will react if and when we expose her to the same sorts of things when she’s little older. Will she, like we did, look slightly incredulously on at Daddy wondering what this is all about?

Probably, but hopefully she’ll have the fun we did too.