England Food (Part 2)

I’m on a roll thinking about English food, so here’s part 2.

Here’s the table in our dorm kitchen. On the table are all the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

which were cooked in this oven. Yes. This is an oven. And a stove top. Note the size of this, it’s about the size of a microwave. In addition to the tiny, tiny size, if the oven was on, both burners didn’t work. Only one burner worked. Dinner parties…not an option.

Now on to eating instead of cooking:

Fish and chips in a hotel room in Scotland. I bought a bottle of ketchup at the store on my way home from the chippy. Now I want some healthy fried fish 🙂

I love British yogurt. This is “Luxury Yogurt.” The flavor is “Spanish Oranges.” Why don’t we have more orange yogurt?

Water, grapes, and chicken & bacon salad. A Boots lunch special. Sandwich, drink, and a side for £3 or so. Sweet deal.

OMG. Chocolate pudding. YUM! “Layers of chocolate chip muffin, chocolate sauce, chocolate custard and chocolate mousse decorated with milk chocolate curls.”

Jacket potato with sour cream and bacon (and a side of salad).

Flapjack. If you’ve never had one, you should make some. They are pretty awesome. Here’s a fantastic recipe. (Here’s the associated article about the flapjacks.)

Full crazy tea. Egg and cress sandwiches, hot cross buns, scones, clotted cream, jam, grapes, milk, juice, and cocoa. Oh. And a millionaire’s bar for good measure.

A crazy, crazy burger. This is the Kiwiburger from Gourmet Burger Kitchen. “Beetroot, egg, pineapple, cheese, salad, mayo and relish. We will make a voluntary donation on your behalf of 25p which will go to help save the Kiwi in Whakatane**”

Pineapple and yogurt. Yogurt that has peaches on the side. I love this yogurt. It tastes like England. It’s one of the first things I buy when I get into London. Probably another flapjack in that paper bag.

Also, diets are sad.

English Travels & Food (seriously abridged)

Ah! England & food. A perpetual joke to many. While many have negative things to say about English food, I didn’t find it bad. I like a culture that embraces nutella and clotted cream. Seriously, how can you not love that! And they sure know how to make a roast, still…

even Vikings need a coke

and fries every now and again. Thank goodness for Mickey D’s!

I however, didn’t eat at McDonalds. I don’t think I even ate there once. I remember eating at Burger King, Pizza Hut, and KFC (total let down as they don’t have biscuits 🙁 ) but not McDonalds. I mostly fed myself while I was studying at York and even when I travel I occasionally buy food and fix it myself (more pictures to come if requested). But this is the fridge in my dorm. I think that it was supposed to hold the food of about 6-8 people. The giant jar of red sauce is mine (spaghetti sauce which I would have added ground beef, onions, and garlic paste to) as is the small thing of milk on the door. The Utterly Butterly is not mine, sadly. Oh! And there is also yogurt (above the utterly butterly) on the door that is mine, most likely. I ate a lot of spaghetti as well as egg salad sandwiches that year. And a surprising amount of honey mustard chicken. My breakfast every morning was 3 slices of white bread (untoasted as we didn’t have a toaster) with nutella on them, a banana, a yogurt, and a glass of juice or milk. (Ha! I say juice, but that meant dishes. I was not above drinking form the container.) And yet, despite this, I do miss it occasionally. But on the other hand, I’m totally psyched about the braised short ribs and the best mashed potatoes in the world that I’m making tomorrow night. That would not have been possible in this kitchen…or fridge.

Common Commentators

A new comic strip by myself and Simon K. Click (and then click again) to enlarge.

Comic Strip
For more soccer/football fun, check out Simon’s blog post on the England v. Germany game: Tragicomic Opera


This is what happens when you miscalculate the public transportation options (none?) and how long it will take you to bike (2.5 hours) and decide to ride a bike from Leeds to Harewood to a King’s Singers concert because you promised you’d sell cds (and not steal £750).

Quite Interesting

First things first, I hope you all had an excellent day lounging around eating lots of food. Or, if you aren’t in the US, I hope you had an excellent day doing whatever you did.

Secondly, if you don’t know about the BBC program Quite Interesting, you should. Hosted by none other than Stephen Fry, the show is one part interesting facts, one part random facts, one part random made up facts, and five parts hilarity.Add to the mix some of Britain (and occasionally America’s) top comedians, some very smart people, and the wit that is that of Stephen Fry and you have yourselves an amusing show. Alan Davies, perhaps most well known as Jonathan Creek, is the only panelist to appear in every episode and is the numbskull of the bunch. The show is best described by watching, so here’s a clip.
Enjoyed that? Check out more clips on YouTube. The first episode of season G came out tonight in the UK, so I was thinking about that, especially as I talked to an American friend about her current life in the UK and her US shopping list (rolls – crescent and normal, biscuits, hershey’s, popcorn, and Mexican food). In addition the folks over on twitter at qikipedia posted a teaser for tonight’s episode, which I showed to my parents and Ben. Then they wanted to see more, so we watched Season A, episode 1 where they talk about Adams, Andrews, and Anteaters.
In some ways QI is like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, but without the need to be time sensitive or (for the most part) culturally relevant. They are also much more crass than they could EVER be on US tv or radio. Unfortunately the DVDs are only sold as region two (western Europe) so you can either watch on YouTube or obtain episodes less than legally. I would LOVE to purchase the DVDs, and have contemplated buying another DVD player for my desktop just to buy and watch British shows…but I haven’t done that yet. Anyways, if you’re looking for smart and funny entertainment, you might want to check it out.
Hope you enjoy the rest of your break if you have one. Otherwise. I hope you have a most enjoyable Friday.

Misc Musings

I was going to write a lengthy post about my struggles with headaches, but I spent yesterday afternoon with friends who have a five day old daughter and something about being around a child that young makes me not want to talk about my problems. Hopefully I’ll have a photo soon of me with little Sophia.

So instead, I’ll give you a post written a week ago about a cycling trip from April.

I’m trying to post more regularly on my blog, which I’ve been neglecting lately. I want to return to the original theme of this blog, which was travel. Hearing a Welshman speak this morning, I was reminiscing back to my trip in June 2007 (chronicled in the archives here), when I went to Wales and went part way up Snowdonia. That got me thinking about other adventurish travel I’ve done lately and so I’m writing now about a bike trip I went on in May 2008.

Hikers on Snowdon

I was in England for a week for the King’s Singers 40th anniversary concerts and I’d flown over with frequent flyer miles. I spent several days in London, then went up to Cambridge. I had a few extra days and I decided that I wanted to visit Oxford. Knowing, however, that I’m not a huge fan of anything “touristy,” I wanted to do something more off beat. The year before, I’d rented a bicycle at the Youth Hostel in York and spent an hour winding up and back part of the National Cycling Route. Somehow, when I lived in York I only rode my bike on the roads and sidewalks. To Sainsbury’s and back. To the train station. On miscellaneous errands. The discovery of the National cycling paths was amazing to me. So between that and reading in my guidebook about the Cotswolds, I decided to go on a cycling trip (one day) around the Cotswolds.

Cycling Path north of York

I started off in Moreton-in-Marsh. Why? you ask. I’m sure this sounds ridiculous, but one of the composers we frequently sing here at Plymouth is Ian Kellam. At the end of each of his compositions is the location the piece was composed in. His hometown is Moreton-in-Marsh, so I felt I had to start there.

My guidebook (Let’s Go Britain & Ireland 2004) was slightly out of date, but I was hoping that the cycle rental they mentioned was still in business. The shop was a toy shop on the high street (main street, to you Yanks ;)). I had to wait my turn, but I was the only renter at the time. They spent a long time with me helping me plan my route and drawing it on a laminated map with dry erase markers. (See route here: GMap Pedometer)Then I went to the back and they fitted me with a bike. They loaded the basket with a raincoat, a bike pump, and bungee corded the map on top.

The Toy Shop in Moreton-in-Marsh

They said that the shop closed at 5. But if I came back later, I should just come in the back and ring the bell. And the bike wasn’t fitted with lights, so if it got dark and I still wasn’t back, I could call them and they’d come pick me up. I could also call if I got lost or something broke.

One thing that hadn’t really occurred to me was that the Cotswolds is a hilly area. Very hilly. I started out and less than half a mile from the bike shop I realized that this was WAY out of my league. The hill was probably the smallest possible thing that could be classified as a hill. The lines on the topographical map were quite far apart, as opposed to many of the other hills on the map. But I made it to the first small village and as I kept biking down the road, past sheep and horses and gorgeous vistas, I realized that I was not going to die/pass out/fall off a cliff. I had decided that I could make it and gosh darn it, I would.

Batsford Church


Hiking with Sheep

The Cotswolds is (are?) full of small towns. Town might be too fancy a word. Village? Smattering of houses? I went through, probably, a dozen villages, of which only one had multiple shops.

Small village of Ebrington

With bike and gear in the metropolis of Chipping Campdon

One village had a fete happening and men were wondering down to the town centre in top hats and women in fancy dress and ribboned and flowered hats. Bells were pealing.

Heading to a fete in Draycott

I had to walk up several steep hills, but, as I coasted back into Moreton-in-Marsh, I was pleased. The shop was almost dismayed that I was back so early. They checked, double checked, and triple checked that I was really done. I was ready to be back on the train though. (Or, er… I would have been if I could understand train timetables.) I went to a small tea shop for tea and scones, bought some postcards, and then waited at the train station for about an hour until the train came to carry me back to Oxford. I was bruised and marked with grease stains on my legs and hands. They took a few days to come off, but were well documented in my self portraits.

This reminds me. I really should buy myself a bicycle soon. As in, before the snow starts falling…

Random Photos

I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to, but here are some new photos.

The above is from the Google Dance 2008. Taken on my mobile phone. I liked the blurry effect.

The above was taken in Oxford after my normal camera battery died. So I took this on the cell phone too.

Ben was out in CA last weekend, and inspired by my cousin, who’s a professional photographer, I thought I’d take blurry pictures of the Redwoods. It is not as easy as it looks 🙂

More blurry redwoods.

Last month, Mom and I volunteered for Doof-a-palooza, a big food festival for kids held at Google. This is one of my favorite Cafe’s, but all the furniture has been shrunken for the kids. They were making finger paintings with coffee.

The Saga of Norwich

As with many of my travel stories, this is best described as a saga. So…for those of you blissfully unaware of my travel disasters, I have had several, many of them involving travelling to King’s Singers Concerts.

Disasters I have known:
1) Bicycling to the concert in Harrogate, Yorkshire (chain off bike, getting lost, about to twist ankle, out of shape, etc)
2) Road trip to the concert in Milwaukee, WI (car accident, snow storm, bus cancellations, laptop dissapearance, plane ride)
3) Conference trip to Salt Lake City, UT (hotel didn’t exist)
4) Not quite as high up as the others, but my recent Stansted to Wales trip (8 hours, 6 trains, running across platforms, wandering up hills)

So, on Saturday morning, I headed out from York. The plan was to meet up with Adam in Ely and then go on to Norwich, where I’d booked a concert ticket and a hotel room. Now, being the brilliant person I am, I forgot to look up the concert details in York. So, at Adam’s, I looked up where my hotel and the concert were. I forgot one vital detail: noting the time of the concert. I did stay longer than intended in Ely, but I was on the train around 4.15 or so, and we got into Norwich at 5.08. Still, in plenty of time to get ready before the concert. But, this is where I made my next huge mistake. I had looked at a map about 3 hours earlier and “knew” where I was headed. I did not stop to pick up a map. I did not go with my gut to get a cab. I decided to walk, mapless, to my hotel.

For those of you who are more visual, this is the route I should have taken: Route on Google

But I made a mistake early on. I took a left where I should have taken a right. Then I followed it. I knew I was on the ring road, hence I would arrive at my hotel shortly. It wouldn’t be more than 30 minutes, 45 max. At this point, I should also mention that my pack weighs about 17 kg and my feet were blistered. I should’ve taken a hint when the first lady I asked for directions told me that I should catch a bus. But I ignored her comment and kept walking. Finally I ran into some very helpful men who told me that I was still 20 minutes from the road that my hotel was on. This was at 6.05. Smartly, I called the hotel to figure out which direction I should turn on my road, preventing me from taking a long, long, detour. I got to the hotel at 6.30-still in plenty of time for my 7.30 concert. I thought it was a bit odd that doors opened at 6.25, but I ignored it. I had to take a shower and eat my three slices of apple and two strawberries. I took my time, and, headed out of the hotel around 6.55, hopped a bus, and got to the city centre around 7ish. At which point I got lost in a mall and finally stumbled into the Salvation Army Hall around 7.15…early. But alas, I was not early, for the concert had begun at 7.

I took off my jacket (for it had been pouring rain, so I was soaked) and at the end of the song, creapt into the back of the hall. The rest of the evening went much more smoothly, although, as typically happens, I didn’t eat…cause I really couldn’t be bothered. It was a fun evening and showed off an interesting collaboration between the K’S and the Salvation Army.

The next morning, I set off around 9 in order to DEFINITELY make it to the station by 10.45. I had a map this time as well, but a lovely couple from my hotel gave me a lift, saving me a long walk.

On this note, I think, I will head out. I might go down to the Science Museum (I hear you all screaming “geek,” but I am at a CS conference.) Then I’ll go back to my hotel – I forget what I need, other than a cd of pictures, but I will go back there, before returning to my current location, the Computer Science building at the University of Dundee, for our evening activities and more free internet.

For those of you curious about my future travels, I’m headed to Lanark and Glasgow tomorrow and then from Glasgow to London either overnight Wednesday or Thursday early. Thursday is London and on Friday I head home…hopefully in time to get the key to my new flat so that I can move in before I leave for SC on Wednesday. *Sigh* I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer…travel free and scorching hot. Well, not the hot bit…

Random Mini Post

Due to the inadequacies of American stores (i.e. NY and Company) and the outrageous cost of living in the UK, I only have one pair of jeans. They are sprouting holes. It is quite scary, when I sit on the train, contemplating how much longer they will stay together. I suppose that most of next week i can get by with dress pants and a skirt, but the holes are scary. Especially when that’s all I have to contemplate on my random cross-country train journeys.

Greetings from Selby

I’m in Selby at the moment. It’s a bit south of York and I’m staying with two Glee friends. I went with Clare to the Glee Concert last night and then we went to the Glash. It all made me feel quite old, really. The funny thing is that most of my MN friends are at least 3 years older than me, most of my KY friends are at least a few months older than me, and most of my Glee friends are younger (if only by a few months).
This will not be a deep post. I’m watching the British version of Jerry Springer at the moment. It’s much more sophisticated (i.e. no throwing things…people just walk off when they’re mad).
I am putting more pictures on flickr right now though. Tomorrow I’m heading down to Norwich for about 24 hours (or less) before heading up to the conference. Yesterday I went to Scarborough for 15 minutes. It was highly amusing, my friends I met up with for lunch thought that it was really funny. Then we played the computerized pub quiz for several hours. We really need those machines in the states. They are loads of fun.
I should probably go and get something done now though. There is no sword of Damacles here in Selby (i.e. I have more than 30 minutes on the computer) so perhaps I can finish up this presentation before heading into York for lunch.
More, hopefully, later…