Tuesday, December 29, 2015

26 June 2015: A morning in Lynn

26 June 2015, Fri:

Summer in Lynn meant that the skies are bright for a longer duration. When I woke up at 5 a.m., the skies were pretty bright already. The lovely host at the Oceanview Bed and Breakfast had thoughtfully laid out the breakfast table. When she learnt that I would be happy to have an early breakfast, breakfast was served.

The beauty of the beaches of Lynn on a summer morning makes staying near the beaches of Lynn a rejuvenating simple pleasure to look forward to every morning when I was there. Maybe the residents would have found the familiar seagulls too familiar. Yet to a visitor in me, I was learning to be aware of the songs and the voices of the seagulls. What were the seagulls communicating?

Oceanview Bed and Breakfast is located nearer the edge of Swampscott. The environment in some ways can shape our perspective. Away from the skyscrapers and the busy urban life, I was more attuned to the scent of the ocean-water and the sounds of the waves when I was in Lynn.

A Monument erected by the town of Swampscott
"in memory of the brave and heroic soldiers who died in defence of their country".

I was walking briskly along the beaches on the day of my first morning in Lynn. When I was back at the Oceanview Bed and Breakfast, I had the pleasure to know new friends. I felt thankful for the many opportunities to connect with new friends.

I had a taxi to catch to travel to the island of Nahant that morning. I had initially thought that I could take a public bus from Lynn to Nahant. However, I had realized that the best way to travel to Nahant was either on foot or by taxi.

I was informed that Toms Taxi is one of the best taxi providers in Lynn. The contact number is Tel: 781-598-6100.

The travelling time from Oceanview Bed and Breakfast to Nahant was probably about 10 minutes during non-peak hour. I had added a 20-minutes buffer time to allow for heavy traffic. Then I had aimed to reach slightly ahead of time. When I reached my destination in Nahant, I was way ahead of time!

Life seemed to have led me to visit Lynn and Nahant for a respite and a rejuvenating weekend. I am thankful to Life.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Teach a Life, for Life

One of my friends, Eileen Chai, has start up a Teach A Life, for Life project that aims to share life lessons learnt. A piece of original song will be composed based on the ideas shared in each of the life lessons featured in this project.

With a lot of encouragements and coaxing from Eileen, I had penned a post on her Teach A Life, for Life blog. The title of the post that I had written is Learning Opportunities Through Failures. If you are interested, check it out.

Friday, December 18, 2015

25 June 2015: A quick stopover at Salem

25 June 2015:

I had first heard about Salem from one of my friends who gave me tips when she learnt that I was visiting Massachusetts. Salem was, according to this friend of mine, famous for its witch trials.

On my way from Rockport to Swampscott, I decided I could have a stopover at Salem. Salem is a coastal city and it was the seagulls that drew me, not the stories of witches and witch crafts. Salem looked beautiful under the sunset skies. I would be happy to visit it again.

While I was in Salem, I came across a place that offered a ghost night tour. While I was keen to consider it, I did not eventually had the opportunity to attend the ghost night tour during my visit in June 2015. If you would like to check it out, please look for the Witch History Museum.

I was thankful for my decision to visit Rockport instead of Salem. I prefer Rockport a lot better. I guess I could go without witches and witch crafts? I was intrigued by a store in Salem that used a double bass as a decor for its display window. Would you be intrigued by it as well?

I had an awkward experience in Salem. I was looking for the Ladies and it was challenging to find a public toilet. I suppose I had visited Salem too late in the day? Nevertheless, I appreciated a quick and interesting stopover at Salem. No witch had I met!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

25 June 2015: Fresh seafood dinner from Roy Moore Lobster Company

25 June 2015 (Thu):

During my visit to Rockport in June 2015, I had the pleasure to visit Roy Moore Lobster Company to get take-away dinner. I had wanted to make sure I would be ready for the 5.10 p.m. inbound train that will head to Swampscott. However, the relaxing dine-in area at Roy Moore Lobster Company where I was sitting at while waiting for my take-away dinner to be ready reminded me that there was a lot of Rockport that I needed more time to see.

The dine-in area.

One of the gentlemen at Roy Moore Lobster Company also reminded me to slow down to savour the beauty in life. So when my orders of a lobster roll and a cup of Clam Clowder was ready, I decided to spend a bit more time at Rockport to enjoy my dinner and scenic Rockport.

The service at Roy Moore Lobster Company was friendly and I felt the folks there treated everyone who visited the restaurant like a part of their community. When I asked for their address, I was given a fridge magnet that looked like a name card. When I expressed curiosity about the lobsters, one of the gentlemen from Roy Moore Lobster Company gladly shared with me a quick introduction to the life-cycle of a lobster. He gladly took one of the lobsters to allow me to take a photograph as a keepsake.

Thoughtful service and delicious fresh seafood count! I will recommend visitors to Rockport to enjoy a meal from Roy Moore Lobster Company.

Roy Moore Lobster Company
39 Bearskin Neck
MA 01966

Sunday, December 13, 2015

25 June 2015: A visit to Rockport

Bearskin Neck

25 Jun 2015 (Thu):

One of my friends recommended me to visit Rockport when she learnt that I will be travelling to Lynn. Both Lynn and Rockport are serviced by the Commuter Rail so it will be fairly easy to travel to Rockport.

Rockport is a picturesque place. It was once a shipping center for locally cut granite. In the 1920s, Rockport was discovered by artists and it remains an art colony today. This place offers magnificent views of the Atlantic from the breakwater at the end of the Bearskin Neck, a narrow peninsula that juts out beyond the harbour.

Getting to Rockport from Swampscott:
To get there from the Oceanview Bed and Breakfast, I learnt that it was easier to walk to Swampscott Commuter Rail station. The Commuter Rail was affectionately referred to by the locals as the 'purple line'. The walk to Swapscott station from Oceanview Bed and Breakfast took about 10 to 15 minutes.

I had initially wanted to take a bus to the Swampscott station. On the way to check out the bus-stop, I came across a lovely resident who had planted roses. She took very good care of her roses. Her intention was so that the people who were waiting at the bus-stop can enjoy the roses. Small actions like this can touch the hearts of many.

At the Swampscott station, I met a lady who very graciously and kindly shared with me how to buy tickets on the 'purple line'. I could get monthly ticket or I can pay cash from the ticket-master on board the train. I am thankful for kind people like this lady who have helped me to navigate my way about and shared a glimpse of their world with me.

At the Rockport Commuter Station.

At Rockport
When I was at Rockport, I could not see anything much from the railway station. I learnt that one of the best ways to get to know a new place well is to ask and be engaged in conversations with the locals. With the suggestions from the locals, I found my way to what seemed to be the marketplace of Rockport.

Main Street, up ahead.
Interesting works of art. 77 Main Street.

There are many independent art stores in Rockport and it is a lovely place to visit. The air there is very fresh. My experience is that Rockport has a friendly community. Although I had intended to leave Rockport by 5.10 p.m., I had stayed behind for a longer while to savour the beauty of this lovely place. Special thanks to the gentleman at Roy Moore Lobster Company who had reminded me to slow down and savour the beauty in life. More about the Roy Moore Lobster Company in a separate post.

Roy Moore Lobster Co.

There is a nice place for ice-cream at Rockport, which I vaguely recall was at 42 Main Street. The ice-cream from Gifford's famous ice cream was not too sweet and had a texture that was satisfying to savour. I read that Gifford's famous ice cream has won accolades such as the World's Best Chocolate four times over at least.

What I appreciated about Rockport was that the shops and the houses were mostly decorated with beautiful flowers. These flowers brought delight to a traveller in me. In addition, the scenic views and the seemingly simplicity of life at Rockport drew me to love this place. Special thanks to one of my friends, Emz, for the recommendations to visit Rockport. This is a place that is worthwhile to visit for anyone who is interested in checking out some of the interesting independent art stores in Massachusetts while enjoying a refreshing view of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Read: Glasser's Counseling with Choice Theory

Image source: www.amazon.com

Title: Counseling with Choice Theory: The New Reality Therapy
Author: William Glasser
Publisher: Harper (2000)

This book illustrates how Dr William Glasser puts his therapeutic theories into practice. This book comes handy for anyone who is interested to learn how Choice Theory, Reality Therapy could be applied.

I had read this book intermittently over the past one year, and reread selected chapters of the book. I find it helps to read this book concurrently with one of William Glasser's books, Take Charge of Your Life.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brené Brown's Rising Strong

Image source: Image source: Amazon.com

Title: Rising Strong
Author: Brené Brown
Publisher: Penguin Random House, UK (2015)

This is the second book by Brené Brown that I have read. I realized that it was relatively easier to get a copy of her books in Singapore. Perhaps this had to do with the TED Talk Phenomenon that she had been known for?

Brené Brown has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She is now using the work to explore a concept that she calls wholeheartedness.

While I often still struggled to fully appreciate the essence behind her ideas in the book, Brené Brown is skillful in weaving her real-life personal experiences and accounts into the book to illustrate concepts from her study with stories that clearly demonstrates her ideas.

I am wondering if it would help to reread the book again. Then again, I shall possibly be happy with the many quotes that she had placed at the beginning of each of the chapters.

This book is about getting back. The quote that starts on the cover page of my edition of the book goes "If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall." This is such a liberating quote!

Rise strong, the brave ones!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Read: Scott Rao's The Professional Barista's Handbook

Image credit: http://www.scottrao.com

Title: The Professional Barista's Handbook: An Expert's Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee and Tea
Author: Scott Rao
Copyright by Scott Rao
ISBN: 978-1-4675-0371-6

Scott Rao is a world-renowned writer, consultant and trainer with over 20 years of experience in the coffee industry.

Scott Rao will be conducting two coffee-related workshops in Singapore this November. I was recommended to hear from Scott Rao on his ideas in preparing espresso, coffee, and tea. I managed to get myself a copy of one of Scott Rao's books, The Professional Barista's Handbook.

Scott Rao's writing is clear and systematic. He discussed key issues in preparing espresso and coffee in a clear and systematic fashion. In this book, there is even a chapter on brewing tea. His style of writing is very engagin, and it was quite a page-turner to read about his views on preparing espresso, coffee, and tea. Some of the issues discussed were a bit too technical for me and I foresee I would have to re-read those sections to better appreciate the technicalities involved.

I am happy with this handbook. Scott Rao has in many ways distilled the essence of brewing great coffee and attempted to summarize the essential ideas into this book. The author also gave insight on how to produce more consistent results in preparing quality espresso drinks and brews. I would say that so far, this is the most authoritative and comprehensive guides I have read to date on coffee preparation, especially preparing espresso. The book that is worth reading and I will be even more keen to meet this brilliant mind in person. Special thanks to Scott Rao for writing the book.

For more information on this book, please refer to: http://www.scottrao.com

Thursday, November 12, 2015

25 June 2015: The journey to Lynn and Oceanview Bed and Breakfast

Oceanview Bed and Breakfast.

25 June 2015, Thu:

Oceanview Bed and Breakfast was my destination to head for when I get to Lynn, a city in Essex County, Massachusetts.

I have a couple of people to thank for providing me with leads to find my way from HI Boston to Oceanview Bed and Breakfast. Thanks to them, I found out that when travelling in Massachusetts area, one of the best ways to figure out how to get around Massachusetts was to refer to the website of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to obtain the relevant information: http://www.mbta.com

To get to my destination in Lynn, the following are the directions I had taken:
1) Take the subway to one of the stops along the Blue Line.
2) Take the Blue Line towards Wonderland. Alight at Wonderland.
3) Take bus service 442 towards Marblehead via Central Square and Humphrey. The journey would take about 21 minutes.
4) Alight at Stop ID: 15795, at Ocean Street at New Ocean Street.
5) Walk about 1 minute to reach 11 Ocean Street, Oceanview Bed and Breakfast.

It took slightly more than an hour to reach Oceanview Bed and Breakfast from HI Boston.

The view from Wonderland subway station.

Along the way, I was treated to the lovely scenery at Wonderland and beyond. I hope the scenery were positive nudges to remind me that I was on the right track. Being prepared with the directions to get to the destination has helped feel assured that I would eventually reach the destination safely.

When I was at Ocean Street, I was greeted by a lovely view of the beach. Oceanview Bed and Breakfast greeted me too with its lovely Victorian style decor. It was one of the places for accommodation that was recommended to me when I asked for information on where I could stay when I wish to visit the neighbouring town of Nahant.

My stay at Oceanview Bed and Breakfast was pleasant. I felt I was at home when I was actually away from home. What has made Oceanview Bed and Breakfast stood out were the hospitality of the hosts and the lovely view of the ocean.

To make a reservation, it would help to give a call to enquire. I love the idea that it is within walking distance from the shoreline. Each day I was treated with fresh air and the view of the ocean. This would be a place I will be happy to stay when I visit the area again.

Near Oceanview Bed and Breakfast.

Continental breakfast at Bed and Breakfast.

Oceanview Bed and Breakfast.

Oceanview Bed and Breakfast
11 Ocean Street

Massachusetts 01902
Tel: (781) 581 3760

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

25 June 2015: Boston Pizza Kitchen

25 June 2015, Thu:

The time came for me to leave the Hostelling International Boston. Checking-out was a breeze. I could simply drop the access-card into the check-out box if I do not need special attention with checking-out.

My plan was to head for the place called Lynn after lunch. I thought it would be great idea for me to feed myself with lunch so I went to the Boston Pizza Kitchen that is within walking distance from the hostel.

The portion of the pizzas here are huge. I ordered a slice of Bostonian pizza which was topped with honey garlic glazed chicken breast cooked in soy sauce, crushed peppers, white vinegar, green onions, sesame seeds, mozzarella cheese and a touch of Romano (no sauce). It was my first time eating a Bostonian pizza! A taste of Boston that I recalled had a bit of pleasant acidity to it. It tasted good enough to make lunch a lovely treat.

After lunch, I was ready to head for the city of Lynn in Essex County, Massachusetts. Read more about Lynn here: http://www.cityoflynn.net/aboutlynn_history.shtml

Boston Kitchen Pizza
1 Stuart Street
Boston MA 02116 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

25 June 2015: A visit to Boston Public Library and beyond

Boston Public Library.

I had intended to travel to Lynn in Massachusetts before 10 a.m. yet there was a temptation urging me to visit the Boston Public Library. Therefore after breakfast, I headed for the Copley subway station. The Boston Public Library opens at 9 a.m. and I was arrived at the neighbourhood too early for its opening.

New Old South Church.

Opposite the Public Library is the Italian Gothic building of the New Old South Church.

Prudential Center. Back Bay, Boston.

As I was early and wanted to look for a public toilet, I decided to head for the Prudential Center. I did not know how to get there. I did not have the information that the Prudential Center was one of the tallest skyscrapers in the area so navigating my way took longer than expected. Admittedly, I did not like the feeling of being lost and uncertain. I had no GPS and no Google Map to assist me. I relied on directional space and a train that got me to the next station. Eventually, I found my way unexpected into the South Garden of Prudential Center. It was a tranquil space to visit. A timely experience to calm my nerves down. It took me a while to find a Ladies.

South Garden, Prudential Center.

After visiting the Prudential Center, I made a quick trip to the Church of Christian Science. This church has a dramatic basilica-like structure. A beautiful place to visit. There is a Mary Baker Eddy Library and Mapparium within the vicinity of the Church of Christian Science.

Church of Christian Science.

Eventually, I found my way back to the Boston Public Library. The murals there are impressive. In the centre of the building is a lovely court-yard that reminded me of an Italian-style court-yard. It was a lovely place for a nice retreat.

One of the murals in the Boston Public Library.

The court-yard in the centre of the Boston Public Library. A lovely place for a retreat.

So this post summed up my brief visit to Back Bay of Boston. I learnt that I did not enjoy feeling lost, yet I could survive the ordeals of not exactly knowing where every step that I was taking could lead me to. Thanks to the angels who were watching out for me? Life wants the best for me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

24 June 2015: My final night in Boston for the month of June 2015

A feeling of loss caught up on me on 24 June 2014. It was my final night in Boston, at least for the month of June 2015. My feet were tired from extensive travelling yet my heart wanted to explore as much of Boston as I could.

I did not share that before deciding to have dinner at the Union Oyster House, I was at a total loss of directions searching for the James Hook Lobster restaurant. I had wanted to sample its lobster roll only to realized that James Hook Lobster restaurant was closed for the day. After which, I decided to head for Union Oyster House yet I did not quite want to refer to the map too much. I ended up walking rather randomly near and along the Freedom Trail, feeling absolutely tired and directionless. Only when I found my way to Union Oyster House and sat down to order dinner, I felt a sense of relief that finally my feet could rest.

My learning points: When travelling alone, it helps a lot to take good care of myself and be extra kind to myself. If I take good care of myself, even if I only caught a few interesting sights, the positive memories will last for a longer time.

Perhaps I was doing too much to manage a sense of loss that had to do with bidding goodbye to Boston, after dinner at Union Oyster House, I roamed almost randomly and cluelessly up to North End, walked along Hanover Street, witnessed many people queuing at Mike's Pastry and wondered what I have missed. Maybe all I needed was rest?

Mike's Pastry in the evening.

On my way back to the hostel, I met a gentleman called John who was asking for a donation. After acceding to the request, I asked for directions to South Station and when he told me the way, my gut-feeling was that it was such a longer way back to the hostel. I would have been better off taking a train from North Station. In the end, I walked most of the way back to the hostel. The experience was a reminder to trust my own judgement more when it comes to navigating my way about. Even though I was a mere new visitor to Boston, my instincts had proven to be serving me quite well.

I wondered what my heart was urging me to do?

An evening without a clear sense of direction yet I saw some beautiful sights along the way. I learnt I do not like the feeling of navigating in uncertainty when I am physically tired. Yet with faith, I managed to see some interesting sights, kept myself safe and got to know Boston better. Maybe even if the journey felt challenging, the outcome could be better than expected?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

24 June 2015: Dinner at the Union Oyster House

The Union Oyster House which was established in 1826 is possibly a national historic landmark. In Boston, my impression is that it was necessary to eat seafood because Boston has a rich supply of seafood. Many reviews have indicate that the Union Oyster House is one of the best seafood restaurants in Boston. It has a Oyster Bar that looked interesting.

Ye Old Seafood Platter.

This restaurant attracts a lot of tourists. It serves both seafood and steaks. It claims the title of Boston's oldest brick house. The building is built in Georgian architecture and is a rare example of this kind of architectural style in the city of Boston. This restaurant dates from at least 1660 when it was owned by Boston's first town crier, William Courser. I liked the idea of visiting a historic landmark and enjoy good food in it. This is a restaurant whereby I was more fascinated with its history and then the delicious food complimented its interesting story through time. For this restaurant to survive the test of time, the food is pretty good!

A charm of the wooden floors and ceilings

I ordered a Ye Old Seafood Platter which was essentially everything fried. The seafood was fresh especially the clams. When it came to calamari, I would prefer the calamari from The Daily Catch at the North End. It was nevertheless a great pleasure to be enjoying seafood in possibly America's oldest restaurant in continuous service on the Freedom Trail!

I was told that an inexpensive way to enjoy a meal at the Union Oyster House is to visit it during lunch hours in the afternoon and order a cup of Oyster House Clam Chowder. I suppose the finest experiences in life can be made affordable.

Union Oyster House
41 Union Street
Tel: 617-222-2750