Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reducing Back to Zero

I hate doing this. I had been so conscious of money living in London throwing away the opened food in my fridge felt physically exhausting and like I was breaking my own rules. I had to much stuff to get it all packed. To many souvenirs that I had picked up along the way. I sold what I could around the flay on ebay, and gave away or donated everything else.
For the actual flight out I felt like I needed to be a good example to the end and wanted to make sure to leave my flat clean. I under estimated how long it would take me to walk to the tube station with all the heavy luggage and ended up being in a hurry and I got to the airport 2 minutes late to check in my luggage. All the gate attendants wanted to do was leave so I was cut no slack. I ended up needing to pay £100 extra. (The lady on the phone started at £600) With a little embarrassment I got the key back for my flat and slept there one more night.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

High Tea

It looks like the last activity I got to be a part of was a high tea. Now high tea is different than afternoon tea. The way the British tradition goes is afternoon tea is a mid-afternoon snack around 3-4. served with biscuits or cucumber sandwiches. Basically the stereotype of what people think tea time should be. High tea replaces dinner. This means there are meat pies (one was pork with a gelatin brown sauce, the other was pork and apricot. Both were tasty.), quiche, meats and cheeses, breads with all the relish and pickled onions, and vegetables. It's things like this that I will miss about London. It makes no sense, everyone knows that and does it though because it's been done for so long that way. But that's what I love about it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Going Away Party

Well there was no way out of it. My supervisor had basically did bait and switch with my funding wanting to get me to work for free. Instead I decided to head back to the US. I seemed like a sad time to leave so I made sure it was two people's birthdays too. It ended up being a much more mellow party as compared to others. People showed up, played some games, everyone had fun. The music was at a lower volume and everyone just talked and played games instead of danced. It made for a very mellow send off.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Inside of Parliment

One of the things on T.'s list of things to see was inside the parliament building . (As in the one with Big Ben in the bell tower.) So what's it like inside? Well the only place I could take pictures was the oldest part (from the 1300's) it was also the plainest part, and only big part of the building. The newer part is mostly hallways which is surprising from the look from the outside. The rooms inside are actually quite small. Another thing that really caught my attention was the smell. It had old smell to it. But old dignified smell. It wasn't old building smell though. It was like an old dignified cologne smell. I could only guess there was a guy that was paid to mix a special blend of herbs to create a cologne smell special to the parliament building then spay it around every day. When I brought this up with a British friend he told me that the old way of getting the yellow in tweed was to dye it with urine. The damp air of the Thames right next to the parliament building would bring out the smell of urine. So it is very possible my theory is right that they pay a guy to handle building smell every day. There are weirder (to me) traditions they follow in there.
Oh yeah, and a lot of British tradition happens there and I was in awe at all the history. I just don't know how to write that down without sounding boring. But one thing was obvious: it is a mish-mash of whatever traditions stuck over the hundreds of years. I can only imagine US traditions will be just as opaque in another 700 years.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Teaching Easter

So how to explain all of the Easter traditions to someone that has never celebrated them before. You really realize how silly they all are when seeing them from the outside:
We had to have an easter egg hunt. Now all the european students went home for easter break so that left the wardens and mostly Chinese students. (There were a couple South American students). Explaining they are supposed to hunt around with the head warden's little kids for Cadbury eggs hidden by a rabbit (We had to stay in story because of the little kids) I think most of the Chinese students got the gist of what was really going on even with a little language barrier.
Then I had big hollow chocolate eggs for T. and I on the couch. I had to explain in the US chocolate rabbits are left. The whole idea of a rabbit leaving you a rabbit to eat seems demented.
One really fun thing to do was to go to Harrods and Fortnum & Mason to see the totally over the top chocolate eggs. It was like the Christmas display windows in NYC only these ones were for sale. Two foot tall £150 chocolate egg with fancy writing. Who in their right mind has spoiled enough children to think they need to buy that to have a good relationship with their kids? I can only guess it is for suck up rich middle management to buy insecure bosses. Fun to look at though.

Sunday, April 01, 2012


Mount Snowdon is the tallest mountain in the UK outside of Scotland. When I saw this trip mentioned by one of the residents I couldn't help but propose for me to be in charge of the planning. As the planning got closer I realized this was the perfect place to propose to T.
I ended up filling up a van, planning all the meals, and buying the food. We had a 7 hour drive to a mountain cabin owned by the university. I thought it was going to be a house, but no it was a mountain cabin with a fireplace to keep us warm and funky old mattresses in a 300 year old rock hut with a cement floor. It really added to the whole feeling for the rest of the trip. But the first night it wasn't that inviting since everyone was just so tired we all collapsed as quick as possible.
After a breakfast of french toast soufflé (one of my signature easy large group dishes. I did get help from M and C. It's not like I was slaving away alone.) we headed up the mountain. Half way up it was so foggy no one could see 50 feet. I pulled T off the trail a little ways and gave her the ring. We finished the hike to the top just in time for the group photo, but our half the group took the wrong way down and took a lot longer to get back to the cabin.
The second day we visited the town of Caernarfon. (Yes, Welsh names are hard for me to spell) The castle there was a nice easy walk and really went well as part of the little seaside sleepy town. Everyone was happy to just lazily walk around instead of another day of hiking, T and I included.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cooking What I Crave

There was a lot of stuff I was craving that I could not get in London. Every time I ran into this situation I am so glad that I was not scared of cooking things myself. Everything on this list is funnily something that I have never made before. So the list goes:

  • Peanut butter cookies: this is funny since I never had a craving for them or even really liked them when living in the US.
  • Avocado pizza: I've always made this on English muffins but I made it with this time with hand thrown dough. I think I was craving the dough more than anything.
  • Enchiladas: This I actually made before but I couldn't resist since my friend brought back tortillas from their US visit.
  • Fish tacos: It's weird I've never made this before as restaurants make it with the shredded cabbage and such. But I had this craving since I had the corn tortillas from my friend I felt I needed to savor.
  • Horchata: made for the Mexican party.
  • Hand-made tortillas: made for the Mexican party.
  • Chicken noodle soup: craving the home-made thick noodles.
  • Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies: My sister sent me Oreos and I didn't know what to do with them.
  • Gingerbread men: Christmas craving.
  • Cheddar biscuits: Famous from the restaurant Red Lobster. I had this craving for Christmas too.
  • Cornbread: I bought corn meal for the first Thanksgiving I was here but didn't get around to making it until my second Thanksgiving.
  • Pumpkin pie: Thanksgiving craving with a home-made crust too.
  • Persimmon pudding: I've made this before but I couldn't resist making this since I had access to persimmons.
  • Biscuits and Gravy: Every time hearing about British biscuits I got the craving for American biscuits.
  • Macaroni and Cheese: I thought this was not an American food so I found it funny when I could only find this at the American grocery store. I didn't feel like paying £4 for what would cost less than a dollar in the US.