MEET MY FRIEND: TINA LOU

As Tina Turner would say, she’s SIMPLY THE BEST!

I met Tina on a night out in Hong Kong through my friend, Sophia, in 2017. As a fellow BBC (British Born Chinese) and an absolute foodie, there was no way that we weren’t going to be friends. I left Hong Kong to return to the UK at the end of 2017 and I’m so glad that Tina returned to do her PGCE in 2018.

Tina is one of the warmest and loveliest people that I’ve ever met and I’m so glad to have her here in London with me. She has the best restaurant recommendations, understands the importance of ‘getting that shot’, we have a little book club going and it’s great to have a fellow Hong Kong-lover to reminisce with. She approaches life with a positivity and enthusiasm that I absolutely love!

Basically, Tina is awesome.

Hi Tina, tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Tina, a dog-loving, tea-drinking, karaoke-loving primary school teacher from South London. 

It’s currently Week 7 of the UK lockdown, how are you doing and what are you doing to keep yourself occupied?

I’m pretty good considering all that’s going on in the world. I’ve been keeping occupied by teaching from home and every two weeks I go into school to look after children whose parents work in healthcare. It feels good that I’m doing my bit to support the NHS by looking after their children and it’s nice to get out of the house for a whole day every now and then.

I’m surviving life in lockdown by trying to think positive, listening to lots of music, finishing jigsaw puzzles, reading, cooking and binge-watching as many TV shows as possible. Going to pick up playing the piano again and I bought a ukulele so will try and learn that soon as well.

What are you most looking forward to doing when freedom is upon us again?

Just being in the great outdoors! I love going out to explore new places so it’s been hard being stuck indoors for this long. I’m longing to see my friends and to visit my baby niece, to go to a beach, eat at a food market, sit in the park, go on a hike etc.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I wanted to be so many things! Some are really random too. To name a few: an actress, a pop star (a Spice Girl to be precise), a costume designer for music videos (I remember designing stage costumes for each member of STEPS haha), a pet shop owner and writer. I have become none of these things.

What is your proudest achievement?

The most impulsive thing I did was to quit a job I hated in the TV industry, pack up my life and move to Hong Kong with no job prospects all within the space of a month. Looking back it was risky but it was the best thing I’ve ever done and I’m proud of myself that I had the courage to make that life-changing decision. I’m also very proud of becoming a qualified primary school teacher. It was hard but all the work paid off. I was meant to have my graduation ceremony this year but it’s been cancelled so that’s been disappointing.

What is your earliest memory?

Being in my old house and playing Lego and Nintendo 64 with my twin sister and cousins. We’re around 4, I think?

What’s the best gift you’ve been given?

I’m easily pleased and I’m honestly touched when I receive any gift, although the best gifts are the personal ones. When it’s obvious the person has really given some thought about what you like.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Before the lockdown, I would’ve said teaching and living in Hong Kong again. Now with the pandemic, I’ve realised just how precious our time is and how life should be lived to it’s fullest. I realised recently that I want to try teaching in a completely new country again. As much as I love Hong Kong and miss it, I want to experience the nervous excitement and energy of being in a completely different and foreign place again. Japan or S. Korea? Who knows!

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

I’ve always wanted to manipulate time, so to freeze time and rewind time (I would mostly use it to get more sleep in the mornings or undo any stupid things I say in class!)

If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?

I can think of a few things but nothing that would majorly change my life. Trying to live a life with no regrets.

If you were the ruler of your own country, what would be the first law you would introduce?

3 day weekends. Enough said.

pic

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

I jumped off a really high cliff into a deep water pool in Sai Kung once. It was terrifying but also very exhilarating. I would totally do it again.

Do you collect anything?

I will buy a postcard for myself from every country I go to, gig tickets of my favourite bands, special letters and cards sent from friends over the years and interesting beer mats. I used to be a hoarder so I collected everything, but now I’m trying to channel Marie Kondo and learn to let go of things I don’t need anymore.

Which celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a coffee?

This seems kinda random but I would love to meet Chris Evans.  Apart from the obvious (that’s he’s awesome as Captain America) I also loved him in Gifted and Snowpiercer, he loves dogs, reads extensively and has created a new site that helps breakdown all the political jargon of American politics, which I think is really interesting. So I would love to have a chat with him geeking out about books, films, dogs and politics.

If I were to come round to your house for dinner, what would you cook for me?

I wish I had more opportunity to cook for people, I would love to host more dinner parties. I always ask what my guests like to eat and then customise my dishes for them. As I know you Sichuan food as much as I do, I would make my spicy Sichuan stir-fry for you. Then a tiramisu or chocolate cake for dessert.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?

Being Chinese and very adventurous with food I’ve tried so many weird things! I will honestly try most things once too (as a dog lover I will never eat dog though). I’ve tried fried silkworm pupae and crickets in Thailand, ostrich and kangaroo meat, duck tongue and offal of every variety you can imagine.

What would be your ‘death row meal’?

Probably steak with a side of lobster mac n cheese, fried chicken, chilli cheese fries and a massive slice of ice cream cake for dessert.

Do you live by any piece of advice or motto?

Always try to be the best version of yourself.

What is your biggest fear?

I blame watching Jaws and too many sea monster films from a young age, but being in open water where I can’t see what’s beneath me really scares me. My imagination goes wild and I imagine a whole host of monsters coming up to eat me. Crazy I know. It still doesn’t stop me from loving the ocean and swimming in it though!

What makes you angry?

People who put other people down to make themselves feel better, arrogance and people who lack empathy.

A genie gives you three wishes: what are they?

To win the lottery, be able to understand and speak all the languages in the world, and for me and my loved ones to live long and healthy lives.

What personality traits do you share with your relatives?

We’re all short-tempered and love to eat!

Do you ever wish you were raised differently?

Sometimes I wonder what my life would’ve been like had I been brought up in Asia. Being British-born-Chinese I sometimes feel like I don’t belong anywhere. BBCs sort of go in their own hybrid category where I feel we’re never fully accepted because we’re too westernised for Asian culture but too Asian for Westerners. So I would like to know what my life would be like if I didn’t have this identity crisis, haha. Saying that…I’m very patriotic about being British and love my Asian heritage so it isn’t all bad!

What’s the first thing you look for in a partner and/or friend?

Empathy, motivation, kindness, a sense of humour, a love for food, music and film. I actually find people who are very passionate about things very attractive and very likeable. I don’t really click with people with no interests or passions and I think that’s just because I’m a very enthusiastic person so I approach a lot of things very passionately and whole-heartedly. People with ‘meh’ attitudes to everything I think just dampen things for me.

What is your favourite memory of ours?

Aww so many! Our recent trip to Brighton, all our foodie adventures in HK and in London, our trips to the charity shops, our birthday celebrations. I especially enjoyed it when I modelled for your charity shop Shelter, that was so much fun! When we go on a holiday together in the future that will be up there too!

Favourites

Colour: I love and will wear all colours but orange. Never liked it for some reason.

Animal: Dogs, otters, giraffes

Season: Definitely Summer

TV series: Recently, I finished all 4 seasons of Money Heist in a week and LOVED it. Amazing show and fully recommend!

Film: To name a few… The Royal Tenenbaums, Chungking Express, My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Leon, The Breakfast Club, Amelie, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Aladdin (animation)

Book: To Kill a Mockingbird, all the HP books but Prisoner of Azkaban always stands out for me as Sirius is one of my favourite characters,  Notes on a Nervous Planet, Time Traveller’s Wife, Howl’s Moving Castle, Persuasion, The Great Gatsby

Country that you’ve visited: Recently I went to Vietnam for the first time and it was stunning. Amazing cheap food, friendly people and beautiful views. I would love to go back and see more of Vietnam.

Drink: A good strong cuppa or a G+T

Food: Anything spicy

Type of cuisine: Too many but I love Japanese, Korean, Thai, Lebanese and Mexican

Subject at school: Art

Restaurant in London (you always have the best recommendations): I love trying new restaurants but Padella is my recent fave. Every pasta dish I’ve had there has been amazing, and I would say it beats any pasta I’ve had in London.

Instagram accounts: I love reading @mattzhaig quotes, he is a great writer and his posts always make me feel better. @natgeo for amazing wildlife photography, @miguelbarclay for amazingly simple but tasty recipes, @kingkeneatss for drool-inducing food porn and @zeppelinmoon for cute and quirky illustrations that make me laugh.

If you’d like to find out more about Tina’s food and travel adventures, which I’d thoroughly recommend, give her a follow on Instagram

xxx

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