Friday, 23 November 2007

Thanksgiving, England-style

So, as many of you might have guessed, they don't do Thanksgiving here. But I wasn't about to let that stop me. Thus I took it upon myself to organize a feast for 14 people (both Americans and English). My english flat mates were very excited to experience this brand new holiday and were even happier to discover that it would allow them to put up Christmas decorations and sing carols even earlier than usual. And so, at the early hour of 9am yesterday morning I dragged myself out of bed and began the rather daunting task of cleaning and decorating our kitchen.

Finding a turkey proved harder than expected. My first thought, though not a very serious one, was to catch and kill the giant goose pictured below. I was then informed that one can get expelled from the school if any of the birds are killed. You can kill a person, go to prison, and come back to the University, but kill a bird, and your just out of luck. We then contemplated going to a farm down the road that had a sign saying we could kill our own turkey. None of us had the stomach for it though. Linsey, who had previously lived in Belgium, told us of their first Thanksgiving there in which they finallly found a turkey being sold by the local laundry place. In the end, we just baught a few turkey breasts from the store and called it a day.



Justin carving the turkey bits.



The spread, and the best cranberry sauce I've ever had (sorry mom).



Our numerous kinds of stuffing, thanks to Marks & Spencers (as Laura said, if she'd cooked them, we all would have died).



The gang in our "giving thanks" circle.



Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Kate

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Edinburgh

This past weekend myself, my friends Justin and Faye from Lancaster, and my freind Brittany who has been studying in London, all met up in Edinburgh, Scotland. I never thought I would say this, but I think I've found a city I like even more than London. Some of this partiality had to do with the wonderful hostel we stayed in. The picture of the beach below was taken just yards from ou hostel. The hostel itself was in an old manor house and was cleaner than my freshmen dorm at UPS. And, at £7 a night, I couldn't have asked for more.



Edinburgh afforded all sorts of great adventures. I quickly learned that, for whatever reason, the Scottish are much more friendly than the English. It's not that the Enlgish are unfriendly, but the Scottish were just very eager to talk and share stories. It was lovely. We were pretty near freezing the whole time we were there, so some tartan scarves had to be purchased and warm woolen hats as well. The city was just beginning to be decked out for Christmas, which made everything all that much more magical. Below are some pictures of our adventures.

Prince Street park. We had a good amount of happy frolicking in said park.



Tartan mill. Wanted to buy everything but could only afford a scarf.



A £6,000 (that's upwards of $12,000) bottle of scotch. Can't even imagine why anyone would buy it, but I was impressed all the same. We had a great time sampling somewhat cheaper scotch. I'm not really a fan but, when in Scotland!



I got quite a kick out of the contrast here. Modern bus in front of this wonderful Gothic tower. Good stuff.



Justin and I spotting our first deep fried Mars bar. It's apparently a big thing here, but I couldn't be bothered to try one. Also, note the brand new wool tartan scarves we're both sporting.



Architecture. I absolutely loved the buildings in Edinburgh. And the Chrsitmas "wrapping" made it all the more special.



I'm not sure why Brittany and I decided it would be a good idea to climb this rock in high heeled boots... but climb it we did. There was a lovely little monument at the top. Worth every bruise.



The food on this trip was highly entertaining. I finallly found good mexican food... in an Italian restaurant. Go figure. We ate most of our meals at a pub called The Tron which served £3 full English breakfasts and a burger and beer for £3.50. We did branch out and have tapas one night. Brittany and I ordered a creme brulee which, sadly (thus the picture) turned out to be flan. We were very unhappy, as we both have a mild obsession with creme brulee. Sigh.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

And so it begins

Let me preface this by saying that, scientifically speaking, I know nothing about weather patterns. That aside, I think winter is upon us here in Lancaster.We are very close to the ocean and on the highest ground around so somehow, and I'm not sure how, this means we get total crap for weather. Up until now things have been okay. A few showers here and there, but nothing major. A few days ago, however, all hell broke loose. Well, perhaps "froze over" is a better hell reference.

As I sit here in my cozy little room, listening to Christmas carols (I know I know... it's too early) with a spice candle burning, the world outside looks down right scary. Earlier, as I crossed the lawn with my hamper full of laundry, the whole thing was blown clear out of my arms across the lawn. We are experiencing gale force winds here. It scares the crap out of me. Not only are they strong, but they are cold as cold can be. My combination of sweaters, vests, and wool coats isn't even enough. And it's only November! I can't wait 'til we add rain and sleet to the fray. Should be good fun trudging 20 minutes to class in that!

On another winter related note, it now gets dark here at 4:30pm. My poor internal clock is not happy. Some of my lectures don't even start until 5, by which point my body thinks it's time to be eating a bowl of soup and going to bed. All this, however, is much better then any kind of hot weather, and I have to keep telling myself that. I don't like sunshine that much so really, this isn't that bad. Just bloody cold!

In an effort to offset the effects of winter weather I made a mexican feast for my friends last night. An easy enough task in America, but finding the ingradients here proved a bit more difficult. They have tortillas, but they're not really tortillas. I think it's actually pita bread that they label as tortillas and then mark the price up on. So I used corn chips instead. I was able to make tortilla soup and even some fresh guacamole. Boy was that guac good! I bought the spiciest salsa they had which, to my Californian taste buds tasted more like tomato paste than anything. The Brits, however, thought it was almost too spicy to eat. Go figure. All in all though, with the wine supplied by our resident Spaniard, the adequate mexican food, and the good company, we managed to forget about the hurricane raging outside. The moral of the story then, is that guacamole fixes everything!