Welcome to CLAK! I am Charlene and I own an online skincare boutique, www.efreshsingapore.com. I will love to share about my sweet family, skincare tips and reviews, my travelogue and everything that excites me.
Welcome to CLAK! I am Charlene and I own an online skincare boutique, www.efreshsingapore.com. I will love to share about my sweet family, skincare tips and reviews, my travelogue and everything that excites me.
We arrived in Rome on a Friday night. The flight from London to Rome took longer than usual due to high traffic coming into Rome. Rome unlike London is truly Summer! At 7pm, the sky was still bright.
We arranged for a hotel transport and it cost us €70. A normal taxi ride from FCO airport to downtown hotel will be around €48. We paid a little more as we were afraid of the safety initially.
We stayed a M Gallery La Griffe. The hotel was 5 min walk from Roma Termini station. It will be easy for us when we are heading to Florence. La Griffe is located along Via Nazionale. Walking distance to quite a few famous monuments. Travelling with Kel definitely got a higher chance of upgrade as he is always a gold member at most of the hotel groups. La Griffe upgraded us to a Junior Suite. We were excited till we saw the room. Hahaha, it was a duplex. Luckily there were not much shopping in London so we could still manage to bring our luggages up to the loft.
We then asked the hotel for some nice restaurant nearby. They recommended Ristorante Rinaldi al Quirinale located 5 streets down the road. It wasnt cheap but we enjoyed the meal. I had Calamari, Linguine Vongole and Kel had his Ravioli. The wine recommended was also pretty good. We then realized they have reasonable collection of wines. They even have the only gold wine in Rome (not sure if it was Rome or entire Italy). We spen9t €100+ for our dinner (We realized it was consider pricey as our meals later on are all very decent priced). The restaurant requested if we can write a review from them on tripadvisor as most of Italy’s retaurant are super into reviews by tripadvisor. Honestly, I have not sit down to write them a review yet.
I booked the Vatican City tour through Viator. Time for the touristy stuffs. It is officially Vatican City State, is a walled enclave within the city of Rome. With a population of 842 in an area of approimately 44 hectares, it is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area and population.
Within Vatican City are St Peter’s Basillica, Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum. I will highly recommend anyone who plans to go to Vatican City to go through this tour with Viator. Things to note are, please make sure your dress code is appropriate as they will require you to cover up your shoulder and not exposing any parts above the knees. Skipping the long line is good enough to justify why this tour is a must. Our guide, Francesca also did an excellent job to go through everything with us. You can really tell that she loves her job. Francesca brought us through the special entrance where we skipped the queue. Inside Vatican, she explained everything in details. We saw other tour guide just going through the motion of bringing the guests around while Francesca delightfully went through the history of the place. We spent a good 20min outside Sistine Chapel where Francesca told us the story behind and I understand the history and Michelangelo better after her session.
Francesca also brought us to Raphael’s Rooms and after the Sistine Chapel, where we were not allowed to talk and no photographs allowed.
We were led to the amazing St Peter’s Basillica. I cant describe the “awe” feeling I had when I stepped in. Whether you are Catholic or not, it is very hard to disagree that St Peter’s Basillica is an amazing piece of architecture. It is very very detailed in every corner, the ceilings, the walls, the floors. It was built by Michelangelo and is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. We wanted to climb the Dome, after Kel heard it is going to be a 491 steps exercise, he smartly suggested going to another attraction. Hahaha. I have read that there are certain parts that it is so narrow that they could not build a railing and have to use rope. I also agreed I might have to skip as I have very bad Acrophobia.
We planned to go spanish step next. Taking the hop on & off bus will be ideal as the bus will bring you to most of the must see places.
Once you leave Vatican City, you will see many guys selling the ticket for the Hop on & off buses. You can either get it there or go further up where the bus stops are. There were 4 companies doing the routes. The most popular ones were the Gray Line (Pink buses) and the CitySightseeing (Red Bus). There were 2 more companies but I will advise against them. The Pink and red buses run tills 11pm. So you have more time to do your sight seeing. We took the City Roma but at 7pm, they had a break till 9pm. We got no choice but to wait and do our night sightseeing.
To go to Spanish Steps, you will drop at stop 1 and take a 5 to 10 min walk to the top of the steps. There is nothing much to do other than it is a flight of steps for you to take your picture. We took our selfies and moved on to all the shops.
Spanish steps is where all the luxury brands are. I headed for Hermes. My mission for my Lindy. 🙂 We asked the 1st sales person if there is a Lindy. Obviously the answer we got was “NO”. I suspected something as before he replied, he looked to an older guy for confirmation before replying. Kel then bought a few ties and got me a Black and Gold Clic. While paying, we saw 2 Asians walking in and asked for another bag. Again the sales person looked to that older guy. After leaving the boutique, I told Kel I suspected they are selecting who they want to sell the bags to and related the 2 inicidents to him. He told me to wait for him and he went back into the boutique. He came out and told me that they do have 1 Lindy 34 in Prune. It was reserved and if by 6pm the customer does not pick up, they will let us have the bag. I was estatic. Kel asked me to think carefully as it was not the size that I wanted and we might have to carry it all the way along our holiday. We then went to a 2nd Hermes store, there we saw another Lindy 34 in Flamingo. The sales person suggested other bags as that Lindy was a display and they are not allowed to sell Display. (The Lindy in the 1st store was also a Display but the Manager agreed to let us have it) We went back to the 1st Hermes store at 6pm. The manager honoured his words and brought the Lindy for me. I then made the gravest mistake, I told him “NO” after trying as I find size 34 too oversized for me. Obviously after that, I never get to meet another store who is willing to sell me the display. Moral of the story, take the bag even if it is not really your colour or size cause you will not know when is the next time you can get it.
We took a stroll to the Trevi Fountain and were to disappointed to know that it is under some restoration process. We still threw coins in with our wishes and took some photos.
We headed back to the CityRoma bus stop and realized that it was the last bus for the day. They will start the night sightseeing tour at 9pm. We had more than 2 hours thus we decided to go back to our hotel for a rest. M Gallery has one of the nicest rooftop view. We stayed for the beautiful sunset.
Night sightseeing are nothing to rave about. I personally prefer Rome during the day.
We dropped at Piazza Navona and went for our dinner at Da Francesco (Piazza del Fico, 29, 00186 Rome, Italy ). I highly recommend this small restaurant as their pizza and pasta were one of the best we had during the entire Italy trip. The food were reasonably priced. The pizza and pasta were below €15. This is definitely must try.
Another touristy day, I booked the Colosseum tour. It is no joke doing any tour under a scorching hot sun. The weather in Rome during mid Aug is sunny, around 34 degree Celsius and not humid like Singapore. The feeling is like piercing sun on your skin. We spent 4 hours on this tour under hot sun. You can actually do this tour on your own. With a guide you probably find out more about the history but nowadays you can google anything so it is individual preference. The one fact that I remembered clearly about the tour was that Colosseum was built in 8 years! It was such a great architecture and to be completed in 8 years was amazing. We are talking about 73 A.D where there wasn’t much technology then. (St Peter’s Basilica took 120 years to complete)
We went on to the Roman Forum after the Colosseum. Maybe was due to the extreme weather, I could not really pay attention to our guide. I was constantly looking for a shadier place.
We went to a nearby place for lunch. La Taverna Dei Quaranta (Add: Via Claudia 24. 12.30pm – 3.30pm, 7.30pm- midnight)Decent and reasonably priced. Not our best Italian food but you know eateries near famous monuments are usually not that great. For those who wants a decent lunch place near Colosseum, this will be the place to go to.
After lunch, we took a cab to Pantheon. According to Tripadvisor, Pantheon is the no. 1 place to visit in Rome. Pantheon has the biggest dome in the world. (St Peter’s Basilica has the 2nd biggest dome). It is free entry to all. Do observe the dress code as it is a basilica. No exposing of shoulders and knees.
Pantheon is near to Piazza Navona where you can find all the street stalls selling handmade jewellery and art pieces. There are a lot of nice restaurant around the square where you can sit down and people watch. We spent a long time having our beer and ice cream at one of the shop with very strong WiFi.
We then WALKed back to our hotel. I was surprised Kel was agreeable as it was quite a distant. My lovely hubby really bent backwards to accommodate me. 🙂
London has always been Kel’s favourite. Probably due to the fact that he studied there and had a lot of memories in London. I love London too, the liveliness, the musicals, good foods and safety.
My sweet mister treated me to a business class ticket on this holiday. We took a midnight flight and I think the timing of this flight was superb. Our flight departed at 1am and arrived 6am in London. We slept after supper was served. We did not feel tired when we landed and can cheong immediately.
Unfortunately I packed Summer for London but London as usual is always chilly. So my plan for my first stop was a nice brunch and then shopped for some outerwear.
We took the underground from Airport to Gloucester (Picadilly Line) as our hotel, Crowne Plaza London Kensington was located right next to Gloucester station. We headed to South Kensington’s Muriel Kitchen for Brunch. I have to say I love their Latte.
After a heavy meal, we walked around Kensington to find my outerwear. Honestly I felt really silly as we only planned 3 nights in London and I know Italy is going to be hot. Of course I was also calculating the difference between pounds and euros. We ended up in Sloane Square as our dinner at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is there. I grabbed a cardigan and prayed it will be sufficient to take me through this holiday.
The dinner was fantastic and you can read about the experience here.
Hahahaha, Kel and I are perfect holiday mates. Our interests and style of travelling. We loveeeeee shopping and we both agreed that we are each other best shopping companion. Our Day 2 was to Bicester Village! We bought a lot of stuffs 2 years ago and we will like to see what good deals they can offer this time round. We booked a coach to Bicester through Evan Evans Tour. It cost 28 for a return trip. They provide a courtesy pick up service at a no of hotels in Central London, there was one at Radisson Vanderbilt (2 min walk from our hotel) to Victoria Coach Station. From Victoria you will change to the Bicester’s coach. It takes around 1 hr 30min to reach Bicester from Victoria station. You will be handed a return slip for you to board the coach at 5pm.
We got a 10% coupon for all shops except Prada. I keep reminding Kel that we will be going to Italy after this so please buy sensibly. End of the day, I only got myself a McQueen Scarf while Kel bought a lot. 🙁 Bicester got a tax refund office so you can take back your tax refund immediately. This is only possible if you will leave EU within 21 days with the goods you are claiming. You will need to leave them a credit card details in case you do not send back the stamped tax form. They will charge your card then if they do not receive your forms within 90 days.
For more information on list of brands and information about Bicester Village, please go to their website for more information.
I planned a dinner at Hawksmor but we were very tired so we cancelled the dinner plan and ate at the lobby instead. The hotel’s dinner was disappointing. 1st bad meal in this holiday.
We cancelled the breakfast arrangement at NOPI because both of us wanted to have Asian food. We headed for Four Seasons but after reading a lot of reviews that their standard has dropped over the years, we tried their neighbour Gold Mine. As the restaurant only opens at 11am, we at coffee at a nearby joint.
At Gold Mine, we were very satisfied with our choice. I had Wanton Mee and Kel had the roast meat rice. We ordered a roast duck to share. Of course we could not finish, the portion served was really huge.
With such heavy lunch, we definitely need to walk and digest. We took the tube to Picadilly Circle and walked around. we had coffee and brownies at Fernadez & Wells.
Kel suggested Covent Garden and we walked there after our coffee. Convent garden was lively as usual with all the street performers.
We had an early dinner at Burger and Lobster. No fussy menu, only 3 items. Lobster, Lobster burger or Lobster Roll. With all the reviews, We had high expectation for this place. End of the day, we thought the lobster was only mediocre, I mean we are from Singapore where seafood are all fairly good. Maybe we were too picky or still full from the roast duck.
Miss Saigon!!! I love musical so I booked the tickets while we were in Singapore. We got very good seats, 6th row from stage. A bit disappointed as the female lead was not the usual lead. Her voice was a bit too sweet, I prefer powerful vocal. Overall we enjoyed the musical.
Our last night in London so we took a slow walked after the musical to the train station and enjoyed beautiful night view of London. We promised to be back.
The name doesn’t need much introduction. Chef Gordon Ramsay’s first restaurant. A 3 stars michellin flagship restaurant located at Royal Hospital Road led by Chef Claire Smyth and her team to provide elegant and unsurpassed modern French cuisine.
I made the reservation 4 months in advance and been looking forward to this day. It is definitely one of the highlights of the trip. We planned our day 1 around this dinner so that we have time to dress up for this dinner.
London is chilly even in Summer and the pathetic part about me is I brought nothing to cover up. I read up on TripAdvisor and everyone is complaining about the hot weather. Thus I never expect the temperature to be so low. We went shopping at Sloane Square for an outerwear for me to keep warm and we took a nice and slow walk to the restaurant.
We were the 2nd group of diners at RGR. The service staffs are very welcoming and warmth. It is a very small and private restaurant with only 14 tables. (Now I understand why the need to make reservation so early in advance). 14 tables but there are definitely more than 10 service staffs. It is almost like 1 service staff per table. The staff checked who made the reservation and handed me the menu with price indicated and Kel had the menu without. This is a nice gesture as your guest will not feel stressful when they are ordering. The Sommelier recommended a very nice German red wine and both of us chose the 7 course Menu Prestige. The restaurant surprised us with 3 very delicious appetizers.
Click here to view the RGR-Prestige-Menu
Our 1st dish is foie gra. I am not a fan of any sort of liver but for an experience I tasted and gave a thumb up for it. Kel on the hand preferred the foie gra at Maze.
Next up was the signature lobster ravioli. Maître D, Jean Claude Breton told us this has been on the menu since day 1. It is heavenly and Kel loves it. Kel is very picky about Ravioli and he gave a very high rating for this dish.
Jean Claude then served the monkfish. It came with a specially prepared broth that goes very well with the dish. The broth came in a small jug where Jean swirled and handed us the jug for us to appreciate the aroma of the broth before pouring it over the fish.
I especially adored my main course which is the lamb. I don’t know how they could made a lamb so tender that it melted in my mouth.
Next, I had a Mango, Jasmine and Passion fruit soup while Kel chose the cheese selections.
Pre dessert was served. It is a cucumber sorbet with crushed mint leaves. It was meant to neutralise our taste buds and prepare us for the dessert coming up next. The dessert was a lemon parfait with honeycomb. Kel thought it was too sweet but I love it. The sour and sweetness was carefully considered while preparing this dish. Jean Claude surprised us again with 3 more desserts when I called for the bill. Nice frozen chocolate, salted caramel chocolate and something that looks and taste like our osmanthus flower jelly.
The best surprise Jean Claude gave was the invitation to visit the kitchen! OMG, we could not believe in our luck. We saw Chef Claire Smyth in action. Chef Claire Smyth is the Chef Patron at RGR and she is the first female British chef to hold and retain a 3 star michellin rating. Not only that, Chef Claire also won Chef of the Year 2013 and scored a perfect 10/10 in the 2015 edition of Good Food Guide.
It was a perfect experience and a wonderful way to kick start our holiday. I do hope to come back again on our next trip to London.
Remember to make reservation in advance if you are planning to head down.
Nearest tube station: Sloane Square. Walk around 15min from Sloane Square station to restaurant.
0207 352 444168 Royal Hospital Road
Every mother will understand the pain of post natal hair loss. At around 4 months post partum, many mothers will be surprise to find themselves shedding more hair than usual. I always get the advise from fellow mummies and doctors that this nuisance will stop by 1 year post partum. (Helloooo… if I really shed for 1 year, I will become botak). My 1st pregnancy, I dropped excessively for around 2 months and my hair started growing back thereafter. Thus with my 2nd pregnancy, I thought things will be like my 1st.
To my horror, at 3 months post partum, my hair dropped till I literally have no more fringe!! I do not have a lot of hair to begin with. So can you imagine my thinning hair with no fringe.
I was depressed. Hair is very important, it can build or break your self confidence. We all understand that on a good hair day, we will feel like we are in some Music Video strutting with wind in our hair. Can you imagine yourself going out and everyone asking you about what is wrong with your hair and are you seeking treatment? I was desperate. I started googling on everything about hair loss. Google says eating food high in protein will help, it also states Vitamin B is an essential part of having healthy hair. Sourcing for all different shampoos for hair loss. I tried everything. Including spending $1500 on a laser helmet which claimed to tackle hair loss within 1st use. All to no avail. ( Lucky I sold the helmet to cut loss) Kelvin kept telling me it is ok, I can get a wig for the time being….. sob sob
Then I chanced upon a PHS sample shampoo in Kelvin’s gift pack from a Golf Tournament. I tried and that day my hair felt really clean. So again I googled and realised this has to be purchased from their salon. I headed down to the PHS outlet in Takashimaya level 5. The 400ml shampoo cost $79.90. The lady at the counter offered to do a scalp analysis for me to ensure that I am getting the right shampoo for my condition.
It was really depressing because when they scanned my scalp, the screen showed a lot of my scalp, very little hair. The consultant suggested I try the DSR treatment. Detox, Stabilize, Regrow in short. We all know treatments like this are really costly and I had already spent a lot on shampoos, gadgets and health foods but all to no avail. I am not very sure if I want to part with a few thousand dollars to try something new. They offered me to try 1 session at $88 to have a feel of the session. $88 for a SPA session at PHS is really worthwhile as their usual price without package is $348 per session.
I went down the next day and tried the Detox session at their Wheelock branch.
Honestly, the whole procedure felt very relaxing. The SPA area is tucked away from their usual salon area. There are only 6 seats in the SPA area. You get your own massage lounge chair with an iPad loaded with movies and dramas. The therapist will usually offer you a change of attire as the SPA session will consists of a 20min shoulder and neck massage. The change of attire is to prevent the massage oil from staining your clothes.
After offering you your choice of drink, the therapist will begin the 8 steps procedure. Be prepared to spend 2 and a half hours there if you are going for SPA session. The salon session will be shorter as it skips the massage portion.
I have been doing my treatments there weekly for coming to 4 months now. I am also using their range of Hair care. I am using their PRO shampoos and conditioner. I alternate between the Hair loss and Detox shampoo. I am also using their Tonics which my consultant said it is very important.
I recently also bought their hydrating hair ends care. I bought the Detangling Spray, Argan Oil and Hydrating Cream. Out of the trio, I am not too impress with the Detangling Spray. I don’t find it really useful and it has a very strong silicone smell. I do use the Argan Oil the most. You are supposed to use it on damp hair and the Hydrating Cream after you dried your hair. I tend to forget about the cream.
I will like to say, I do see my baby hair sprouting out now. Although still a long way to go before I can regain my previous glory but I am happy with the progress.
I will probably stay on with the treatment, maybe once a month in the future. Just as a maintenance. I pray and hope I will never have to go into that frantic state ever.
They are currently having a promotion, if you have friends or relatives who are their customers, you can quote their name when you go for the trial. They will get a free purifying treatment. If you do not, you can always quote my name. 😛 Charlene Sim.
PHS Hair Science is located at the following places:
Monday to Friday: 11am – 8.30pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 10.30am – 7pm
enquiry & booking hotline+65 6692 0662
Website : PHS Hair Science
This is probably one of the most stressful period every parent will experience. It is Lauren’s turn this year and we will be going in at phase 2B. We are hoping to get into Rosyth School and we know how competitive it will be, base on past years history. I have attached a history of Rosyth’s applicants based on years and phases.
|Year||Vacancy||Phase 1||Phase 2A||Phase 2A2||Phase 2B||Phase 2C||No of pupils living withing 1kn took part in Phase 2c Balloting||Remarks|
|2002||480||226||4||58||65||127||262||Balloting at Phase 2C|
|2003||440||224||9||54||66||88||221||BAlloting at Phase 2C|
|2004||420||190||9||44||48||129||191||Balloting at Phase 2C|
|2005||390||164||7||70||54||95||194||Balloting at Phase 2C|
|2006||390||234||11||62||42||41||181||Balloting at Phase 2B and 2C|
|2007||360||188||12||59||50||51||169||Balloting at Phase 2B and 2C|
|2008||360||156||14||74||56||58||153||Balloting at Phase 2C|
|2009||330||131||5||60||53||81||173||Balloting at Phase 2C|
|2011||300||168||13||70||25||24||108||Balloting at Phase 2B and 2C|
|2012||300||145||23||46||43||43||113||Balloting at Phase 2C and total applicants for Phase 2B=47|
|2013||300||144||27||67||31||31||120||Balloting at Phase 2B and 2C|
|2014||300||156||25||62||28||29||95||Balloting at Phase 2B and 2C|
Monitoring the seats left daily since 2nd July (Phase 1), counting my chance. There were 37 seats left for phase 2B in Rosyth. I had many sleepless nights. Kelvin told me to relax as we had done all we could. Easier said than done, I called MOE up to check on what other options I have if my Plan A fails. I decided that if we cannot get a seat at phase 2B for Rosyth, we will not try phase 2C as it is crazy. Not lucky at 2B, I guess will be even harder to be lucky at 2C. We will try Paya Lebar Methodist Girls for 2C if we fail to secure a seat at Rosyth.
If you are not aware who is eligible for each phase, I have attached a table below for your reference.
|Eligibility||Primary One Registration Phase||Remarks|
|For children who are Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents||Phase 1||For a child who has a sibling studying in the primary school of choice|
|For children who are Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents||Phase 2A(1)||(a) For a child whose parent is a former student of the primary school and who has joined the alumni association as a member not later than 30 June 2014. (b) For a child whose parent is a member of the School Advisory / Management Committee|
|For children who are Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents||Phase 2A(2)||(a) For a child whose parent or sibling has studied in the primary school of choice. (b) For a child whose parent is a staff member of the primary school of choice|
|For children who are Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents||Phase 2B||(a) For a child whose parent has joined the primary school as a parent volunteer not later than 1 July 2014 and has given at least 40 hours of voluntary service to the school by 30 June 2015. (b) For a child whose parent is a member endorsed by the church/clan directly connected with the primary school. (c) For a child whose parent is endorsed as an active community leader|
|For children who are Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents||Phase 2C||For all children who are eligible for Primary One in the following year and are not yet registered in a primary school|
|For children who are Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents||Phase 2C Supplementary||For a child who is not yet registered in a primary school after Phase 2C|
|For children who are not Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents||Phase 3||For a child who is neither a Singapore Citizen nor a Singapore Permanent Resident|
On the fateful day, 20th July, We sent Lauren to school as usual and set off to Roysth School. We reached at 9am and the security guards guided us to the Band Room. The walk to the Band Room gave us a little time to have a look at the school compound. Once we reached the Band Room, to our horror already 27 registered! We still have till 21st July 4.30pm. Oh dear.. Looks like we will have to ballot for a seat. 🙁 It was really embarrassing as at that moment, every parent who walked into the room, we gave each other that “oh… you are my competitor” look. We can all understand this because we all know with each additional applicant, the success percentage of our child securing a seat becomes lower. I do not want to be so selfish, all of us in this phase put in a lot of time and effort. I do hope everyone gets in. I prayed hard that there will only be 37 applicants. Kelvin was even joking that maybe we should place a “Fully Taken Up” sign at the gate of Rosyth. LOL.
The next 2 days was really torturing, I refreshed the MOE website so often that my phone signalled a “Data Limit reached” reminder. 1st day of registration, 33 applicants. I know it is hard to expect only 4 applicants only for the 2nd day, I told Kelvin to be prepared that we may need to ballot for this phase. To my surprise, the 2nd day result came back with only 6 applicants! A total of 39 applicants for 2 days. Lauren has a good chance!
I called Rosyth the next morning and was informed that Lauren secured a seat without the need to ballot!!! I screamed with joy and the teacher who informed me laughed it off. I immediately sat down and cried. It was tears of relief and joy.. My concerned colleague thought I did not manage to secure a seat. LOL. So drama..
I called Kelvin to share the good news. We are both very thankful as we know how lucky we were. That evening, we shared the news with Lauren. She was ecstatic. We told her Papa and Mummy tried our best to help her into Rosyth, it will be up to her now to help herself. Fighting Lauren!!! We believe in you.