Autumn 秋

This photo was taken during a homestay weekend I spent with a Japanese family.

They lived in the countryside and, as a get-to-know-you activity, we went on a walk and ended up in the local Shinto shrine.

It was a lovely afternoon – clear sky, crisp autumn air, friendly people. Thank you, the Harada Family, for being so kind to me.


Notes: Today’s #PhotographFriday was taken using a Canon EOS Kiss X7 camera on the 12th of November, 2016 at a Shinto shrine in Yakage, Okayama.

Dover Castle, Kent

I was minding my own business, binge-watching a bunch of crime produral dramas from like, a decade ago, when my OneDrive account reminded me of my time working in Dover, Kent two years ago. Which reminded of my trip to the local castle about two years before that. Which somehow made me homesick all of a sudden.

I miss living in the UK.

Specifically, I miss having easy access to historical sites and not having to worry about language-based miscommunication all the time. While I try not to get too hung up over yearning for “home” because I chose a semi-nomadic lifestyle and I have no regrets…

Home is where your phone automatically connects to the WiFi.

-me, butchering an Internet adage

…however, thinking about a proper cottage pie or a Sunday roast is like getting sucker punched when you’re just trying to binge-watch TV shows in peace.

According to my OneDrive account, I took some lovely pictures of Dover Castle while I was assigned some work in the city back in 2018. Dover College, a further education institution where I tutored some mature students in preparation for the Maths GCSEs, had a perfect view of Dover Castle from the third floor upwards.

black and white picture of Dover castle
the song Misty Mountains from The Hobbit suddenly begins to play

I love a good castle silhouette.

I’m a sucker for a good outline.

I also have a guilty pleasure for black and white pictures, and the picture above hits the trifecta. No wonder homesickness blindsided me like that yellow school bus from Mean Girls.

Aside from working in Dover and having that fantastic view every afternoon, I’ve also visited the Castle proper on a day trip back in 2016. Day trips are very easy to do, considering how tiny a country England was!

LiberaTarts Recalls Another Castle

Dover Castle was built in the 11th century and it, apparently, is one of the largest castles in England. I certainly believe that fact, given how long it took me to reach the castle by foot. As some of you readers might know, I can’t drive nor do I wish to learn how to in the near enough future, which meant that travelling to Dover from home involved an early morning train, a quick brunch at a local restaurant to quell any hunger pains, followed by a sweaty treck up a very steep hill to reach that damned castle.

The hour or so effort it took me to climb to the top was well worth the (metaphoric) blood, sweat, and tears. The fact that The Climb by Miley Cyrus was playing on repeat in my head helped, too. Purely for motivational purposes, of course.

The view from the castle grounds was simple breathtaking. I wish I had the wherewithal to bring my DSLR because the pictures I took using my phone simply did not do the view justice.

Anyway, the activities and self-guided tours inside the castle were very interactive. Perfect for family and school trips, if I’m being honest. There was plenty of medieval and WWII history to be learned, and it’s not wonder that Dover Castle really was a strategic stronghold for England, given its close proximity to the coast and to mainland Europe.

The author holding up a medieval shield.

It looks like a medieval knighthood was not in the cards for me. There goes that daydream.

Visitors to the castle also had access to the roof – a fun experience, for sure, but I didn’t spend too much time there given how I have a fear of heights. I took a few quick snapshots and then hightailed it outta there.

view of the inner castle from the roof of the main keep
from inside the castle walls
LiberaTarts standing in front of Dover Castle
Look at the castle’s intimidating angles. (Sorry, I’m shy!)

By the end of the day trip, I was worn out from the hike up that large hill and the subsequent trek back down to the town centre. The day was not a waste, though, as I had plenty of fun and enjoyed the blindingly bright summer sunshine.

Man, I miss summer.


Tell me: What’s your favourite season? Have you ever been to Dover Castle? Would you want to visit, if you could? Let’s talk in the comments below!

Flowers 花

I visited a local park during the Chinese Spring Festival holidays.

It wasn’t until the end of my ambling exploration that I stumbled upon a bed of poppies.

DSLR in hand, I took the opportunity to practice with the manual focus settings.


Notes: Today’s #PhotographFriday was taken using a Canon EOS Kiss X7 camera on the 23rd of January, 2020 at Wangjianglou Park (望江楼公园) in Chengdu, Sichuan.

3-2-1 Countdown: Classroom “Cheats” I’d Stake My Life On

The 3-2-1 Countdown series is a collection of posts, reflecting on the dual influences of my Philippine heritage and my British citizenship. It’s not meant to be too serious as politicking is not my strong suit, but instrospection sure is!

I was born and raised in the Philippines, moved to the UK and became a British citizen, before moving back and forth between the two countries like a yo-yo.

Source: Habits of a British-Filipino

Kindergarten, middle school, high school, Sixth Form… you name it, I’ve most likely have tried it. Such is the result of having to move around a lot growing up. It’s not necessarily a bad thing (I crave variety in life because I get bored easy), nor is it a good thing. But let’s focus on the good!

Here are some classroom ‘cheats’ that I feel are national secrets. “How so?” you may ask, and I’ll tell you! It’s because whenever I performed these tricks at school, my friends and classmates would look at me and be like, “Dude, what are you doing.”

mentally, my mind is booking it out of that situation

My response, usually, was to clam up and just get on with my work. I was a studious child. Some would even say nerd or swot like it was a bad thing.

Anyway, here are some tips and tricks I picked up as I moved between various educational institutions. Full disclaimer, though: I’m not claiming that these tricks originated from these countries, just that I was currently living in these places and it seemed to be general knowledge when I learned them.

Makes sense? Okay, let’s go!

3 Tricks I Learned in the Philippines

How many days there are in a given month

Clench both your hands into fists, as if you’re about to throw punches or making the ASL sign for the letters ‘a’ or ‘s’. Notice the valleys and peaks of your knuckles and wonder, “What on earth is the author talking about?”

Let me explain.

I’ll never forget how many days there are in any given month.

Say that January is 1, February is 2 and so on, the numbers in blue are the months with 31 days and the numbers in red are the months with 30 days – except for February, of course, which has 28 (or 29 if a leap year). Check your knuckles yourself and see that I’m right!

It’s not as simple as saying to yourself that each month alternating between 30 and 31 days – which would have been totally easier, I’m sure – but them pesky Roman emperors Julius and Augustus ruined the pattern* and was like, “Let’s commemorate our greatness by adding ourselves to the calendar!” and thus, the months of July and August (months 7 and 8, respectively, coded in blue) became a part of our lives.

Quick multiplication for numbers six up to nine

Did you hate memorising your times tables as a kid? Yeah, me too.

My relationship with math is like a love/hate relationship. I love how it’s the same (pretty much) in whichever country you learn it in; I hate how difficult it gets once you reach a certain level. I may have peaked during algebra class, way back when I was still in mandatory education, and kind of fell hardwhen we started learning statistice.

Regardless, this little hand trick regarding the six to nine (technically ten, but who needs tricks learning how to count in ten?!) times tables earned me a few curious looks when I transferred to a UK school. I still stuck by it like my fingertips are glued together!

Each finger corresponds to a number, e.g. pinky finger = 6, middle finger = 8. Say you’re working out 7×8, like in the picture above. Put your fingers together and these fingers will create a boundary: the fingers below including the boundary line indicate the number of tens in the product you’re searching for, i.e. for this instance, it’s five fingers which equal to five tens… 50. Next, you need to multiply the fingers above the boundary line together.

“Wait, more multiplication?! Say it ain’t so!” you may say.

Don’t make this weird, I’m just trying to make maths easier. Or more difficult. It depends on the person.

Okay, so the next step is this: there are three fingers on the left hand and two fingers on the right. This means that you have to multiply 3 by 2, which is 6. Add this to the 50 from before, and you get 56. What’s 7×8=? The answer is 56.

Knowing if a number is a multiple of nine

The nine times table was the easiest table to learn after the 1s, 10s, and 2s. Why? Because the product (the answer) always, when the digits are added together, make up the number nine.

1 x 9 = 9

2 x 9 = 18 [1+8=9]

3 x 9 = 27 [2+7=9]

…and so on. Easy enough to remember when checking answers!

2 Tips I Picked Up in the UK

Working out the nine times table

Jumping from those maths tricks above, there’s one that I learned in the UK that was shown to me as a kid but I never really decided to bother with because at that point, I had memorised the necessary numbers and would frantically check the digits in the products to see if they added up to nine. Regardless, I still get a chuckle from this trick whenever the kids I tutored for my part-time job back at university were working on their maths homework.

This trick is pretty self-explanatory. Working out 9×7=? Count, from the left, to your seventh finger and hold it down. The number of fingers to the left is the tens, the fingers on the right are the units. The answer is 63.

(6 + 3 = 9, just FYI.)

L is for my left hand side

I wouldn’t want to presume that learning one’s Left from one’s Right is simple – the left is the left and the right is the right, right? – but apparently some people, especially young kids, find it difficult to differentiate. I suppose things like the changeability of direction depending on perspective is too much for the young’uns to spare too much brain power over. And so things like “L is for my left hand side” came into fruition, I guess!

L is for my left hand side, okay?!

1 Thing I Learned From Somewhere Else

A is for America. E is for England.

on how to spell the colour ‘grey’/’gray’

English is my strongest language. I can make basic, everyday conversation in Tagalog, can seemingly understand the dialect spoken in my hometown like it’s in my soul but only if I’m in that town, and I have a passable understanding of Japanese because I studied it at university. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to spell the colour grey until I gave up and Googled it way later in my life that I should have.

I’m talking late teens, here.

As tough and seemingly lawless the English language can be, there’s no wonder that there are many so-called rules and mnemonics that help with spelling that are taught to kids in elementary school. Most of them have been debunked – cough*I-before-E-except-after-C*cough – but I stick by the quote above like fly on flypaper. It hasn’t steered me wrong, yet.


Over to you guys: Do you have any classroom tips or tricks that you swore by – or still swear by, even now into adulthood? Assuming your a grown-up. Students are welcome to comment, too! (This is why you can never assume things on the Internet!)

Introducing the International Blogger Friends Directory

I’m essentially a newbie to this whole WordPress blogging rigmarole, and I figured this would be a good way to branch out of my little corner of the Internet. Like a foal toddling on its legs and learning how to walk, I stumbled upon Gurezu‘s International Blogger Friends Directory and thought… why the hell not!

The International Blogger Friends Directory works like this: you aim to have (at least) one blogger friend from each country around the world, and the purpose is to do blog collaborations and even postcard exchanges if possible.

It’s a mighty challenge in and of itself, to be sure, given how there’s over a hundred countries in the world at least – I’m not doing a Google search to check! Also, as I’m blogging from China, my understanding of its postal system is theoretical at best… the likelihood of me wandering into a post office with my limited Chinese (你好 and 谢谢, if anyone is wondering), is on the low side of probability.

Nevertheless, I would love to curate an International Blogger Friends Directory and so… here I am! I invite you, my dear readers, to join me in this incredible quest.

LiberaTarts: International Blogger Friends Directory (IBFD)

I’ll add more rows as people decide to join, otherwise here is my directory so far:

#CountryFriend’s NameBlog LinkSocial Media
1PhilippinesMary GracegurezuIG: @gurezu
2PhilippinesPrecious JasminjasminpreciousIG: @preciousxxwalker
3Cayman IslandsChoianywherewithchoi?
(this is a work in progress!)

Here are some ideas to help demonstrate what the IBFD entails:

  • follow each other’s blogs
  • follow each other’s social media
  • blog collaborations
    • book / tv show / movie reviews → recommend something to me and I’ll recommend something back, and we’ll both type up a review post about That Thing
    • be a guest blogger for any chosen topic → guest blogging is a fun way to advertise your blog on a different platform, and it also sounds fun!
  • be penpals
    • send each other postcards or letters, depending on what you’re comfortable with

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, leave a comment below! Let’s have some fun~

Roaring 20s: Let’s Get This Bread

I self-identify as a millennial. I, therefore, speak in memes from time to time.

And by ‘time to time’, I do mean most of the time. But as with life and how it soldiers on, I’m aware enough to realise that my meme knowledge is aging, and no longer can I see a new Internet fad and automatically understand what it means. I’m not too sad about it, seeing as I have other prirorities now other that being ‘cool with the kids’, but it’s still a little upsetting when my thoughts occasionally stray towards it.

Anyway! Yesterday, I re-posted a list consisting of 25 Things a twentysomething should do before, well, they hit thirty. I’m in my mid-twenties and am in no rush to reach my third decade of living, nor am I dragging my feet for the good ol’ days. I actually love my life right now. The only problem, however, is that I have no clear goals to speak of (aside from, you know, eventually getting promoted at work or something like that). And so, The List was born!

  1. Do something scary.
  2. Learn to cook.
  3. Travel alone.
  4. Ride a plane.
  5. Party all night.

…and so on. I won’t list them all out again; you can read them here if you wish to take a look.

Aside from being a millennial, I’m also a Sagittarius so yeah I can’t stay in one place for too long. Which is why! I can cross off some things from that mighty list above.

LiberaTarts Likes to Travel

It’s Day 1 of this not-quite-a-challenge and already I am itching to tick off a few points from that list. Continue below if you want to read about it.

#3 Travel Alone

Solo-travel was something I embraced during my year abroad in Japan. Around late spring to late summer of 2017, you could find me dragging my little cabin-sized wheeled suitcase from ドン・キホーテ (a discount chain store) around the Kansai, Chugoku, and Kyushu regions.

I learnt so much about myself as a person, travelling alone. I’ve learnt that I much preferred having one hundred percent control over the itinerary, and that asking strangers to take pictures of you isn’t that frightening at all! Always go for the family tourists or the ones who look like retirees.

#4 Ride A Plane

Clearly I’ve no patience (or the stomach) for long-distance sea travel. I flew on a plane to get to the countries I’ve been to!

gif of the view from a plane
travelling over Belfast

#9 Change The Script

Take an extended vacation to a new town (or country!) where you don’t know anybody.

Source

I can’t say it was entirely my idea, but moving to England at the age of six with my family kind of counts as “changing the script”… right? I sure as hell didn’t know anyone; making friends as a shy, brown-skinned introvert was difficult enough without all the drama that was happening in my family. Suffice to say, stability was not A Thing during my childhood and early teens.

#15 Go Overseas

I’ve semi-permanently moved to China. I live, work, and spend all of my free time in Chengdu, where I’m based. Despite the chance to travel during the Spring Festival / Lunar New Year holidays, I decided to stay in Sichuan so that I can fully immerse myself in this new chapter of my life. So, have I been overseas? As a British-Filipino, the answer is an absolute hells yeah.


Over to you: What can you check off from the list? Tell me in the comments below!

Roaring 20s: Things To Do When You’re A Twentysomething

I understand that we’re in the middle of February, but… HAPPY 2020, my dear readers! It’s not only a new year but a new decade, too. Definitely worth a little party popper if you’re lucky enough to have some to hand.

Living in China, I am fortunate enough to celebrate the new year twice: once on the 1st of January, and a second time during the Chinese Spring Festival twenty-five days later on the 25th of January. The party atmosphere has long-since died down, however, not because I’m perpetually late in documenting it but because of the novel coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan province.

I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on that, though, so let’s move on!

I don’t want to get into specifics, nevertheless I think it’s worth noting that I am smack-dab in the middle of my twenties. And to play into that whole ‘searching for a purpose’ stereotype, I am – quite frankly, searching for a purpose. Aside from maintaining my general wellbeing, going to work, and socialising (online, mostly) with my friends and family, I don’t really have any plans in life.

What to do? What to do?

LiberaTarts Reads a LifeHack: Things to Do in Your Twenties

Like with most things, I turned to Google for help and searched “things to do when you’re in your mid-twenties”. It’s a clunky search term, but Google does what Google does best and it spat out several interesting pages. Leaving behind the generic advice to avoid drama and invest into a 401K (whatever that is, I’m not American), I found this lovely list on LifeHack that I must, must, must dip into.

25 Things You Must Do In Your Twenties

  1. Do something scary.
  2. Learn to cook.
  3. Travel alone.
  4. Ride a plane.
  5. Party all night.
  6. Take a risk.
  7. Enlighten yourself.
  8. Play a sport.
  9. Change the script.
  10. Reunite with an old friend.
  11. Drop the “I’m busy” farce.
  12. Pay off your debt.
  13. Get to know your family.
  14. Re-read the classics.
  15. Go overseas.
  16. Volunteer for a cause.
  17. Cut the clutter.
  18. Fall in love.
  19. Write a letter.
  20. See your favorite band live.
  21. Sleep under the stars.
  22. Perform for a crowd.
  23. Take a road trip with your best friend or partner.
  24. Start a garden.
  25. Find your passion.

(Source: Daniel Wallen)

Okay, number twenty-five is very wishy-washy and already I am scoffing at the idea. But I will stick to this list (at least for the next few months, haha!) and let’s see how I get on. Given the tone of the list, I can tell it comes from a very traditional American experience – assuming you can drive or know someone who can do so for a road trip, or not having had the chance to leave the country you where you were born, etc. As the daughter of an OFW, I literally moved continents at the young age of six and have not stopped since.

Also, some of these things on the list are not very SMART worthy. What is SMART, you may ask? It’s an acronym to help answer competency-based questions during interviews: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based. It’s also an acronym that I use to create lessons plans – yay for ESL teaching! Anyway, goals listed above like “learn to cook” and “cut the clutter” are all quite vague, but I suppose figuring out how to be specific would be part of the process.

OF COURSE I’m in no way obligated to complete this list. I do have some autonomy, after all, despite needing lists and other forms of productivity tools to somehow move my life along. Come join my quest into checking off this entire list… or not. Up to you!