Monday, 31 May 2010

more about English Weather

I have been such a bad blogger, nearly 2 weeks since an entry. I blame it on the weather. We had sun and temps reaching the 80's! I spent every minute I could outside, for "summer" only lasted a short while, it was so cold last night we had the heat on. As I type this morning, I can hear the wind rush by the house, feels like another cold day. Aside from the cold, I am enjoying spring in England. The days are amazingly long, the early light of dawn by 4:30 am and the last light of dusk not fading until nearly 10:00 pm. I have to keep this reward in mind as winter steals the light by 4 pm. We have enjoyed our long evenings as much as we can taking long walks, bike rides, playing bowls (lawn bowling). All activities easily accomplished with several layers on to keep us warm!!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


s'mores were so good, we had them again and took some pictures... so yummy. How can chocolate and gooey marshmallows be bad though?

The Sunday Roast

If Saturday was all American, then Sunday was all English! It all started with a Sunday Roast, which I will admit, is one of the best meals of the week. We had lamb with roast potatoes, veg, with home-made Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Now for my American friends pudding has several meanings and a Yorkshire pudding is nothing like the snack we pack in our lunches! It is a pop-over. You basically mix the ingredients (eggs, flour, milk) and put into muffin tins coated with HOT oil. Cook at very high temperatures and hopefully the batter rises and puffs up. I used a mini muffin tin and a true Yorkshire pudding tin. I have to say, my American mini muffin tin produced a nice Yorkshire pudding, where the Yorkshire pudding tin fell flat! It was a bit more like a savory pancake than a pop over. The lesson, keep things hot when it comes to "yorkie puds"!!
After our dinner, we watched the 20-20 cricket world cup final. England beat Australia wit 3 overs to spare. I actually understood and enjoyed the game (match). It took me a while to figure out, but I think I would be interested in watching more cricket, at least the 20-20 variety. There are 3 types of competitions; test matches can go on for days... and end in a tie, kinda boring; local competitions, I am guessing similar to minor league sports, and just really depends on the teams playing as to whether or not you get any decent action; finally the 20-20 matches puts 2 teams against each other for 20 overs (a set of 6 balls or pitches) by each team. This game can finish in a few hours and does not end in a tie as frequently as the other matches.
Now that we had rested after our great big meal, it was time to work off a few of those calories, and we did so with a bicycle ride. It had been at least 10 years since I road a bike so we took it easy at first and just did a little lap around the village. I became more confident with each pedal pushed and we ended up doing about a 3 mile ride in the end. Not much for all you big cyclists out there but it was a good start. We rode the path adjacent to one of the fields then on the road and up the hill back to the village. It was definitely a work out for some of those leg muscles I forgot I had! All in all, a fabulous weekend full of both American and English traditions!!

Monday, 17 May 2010

An American Classic - English Style

It has been a great week, races on Wednesday for my birthday. Thursday we ran errands and met up with some old friends. Saturday, a couple of friends came over and they got the bicycles in working order and we grilled out. Hamburgers and hot dogs (and mini kabobs) with grilled vegetable pasta salad and corn on the cob. yummy. Felt like home (until we had to put the patio heater on in May to keep warm while on the back deck)! After our meal, we started a fire in the fireplace and went for a walk. The house was cozy and warm when we got back and perfect for my All-American dessert... S'mores! Since Hershey's chocolate is hard to come by, and other bars tend to be too thick for the marshmallows to melt we improvised with an English classic to replace the graham crackers and chocolate bar, chocolate covered digestives. These are a cookie (biscuit) of sorts that many English dip into their tea. I not being a tea drinker have come up with the best use for them. Sandwich around roasted marshmallows!! The thin layer of chocolate melted between the two cookies. An excellent blend of two classics! For my American friends who are interested, I know many stores carry them in the international foods department.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

English Weather

As you might expect, going from Florida to England is a big shock to the system. By May I am used to having a nice tan, have been to the beach at least a few times, and clothing is bathing suits and cover ups. Evening wear is a pair of jeans or a skirt and a tank top... Not in England We had frost last night!! It is mid-May and there was frost on the windshield (windscreen) when we woke up this morning. Now even in Florida we have frost on the windshield, but it is an occurrence worthy of photos since it only happens a couple of times a year if that in most areas. Thank goodness we have a vacation (holiday) scheduled in Florida the end of June! At least I know I will have some good old fashioned heat and humidity!!!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Lunch in Edinburgh

The whole trip, I heard about haggis.... He passed several restaurants to make sure haggis was on the menu. For those of you who do not know what haggis is, I found an excellent recipe on BBC website: It is the parts of a lamb that don't sell very well, the heart, lungs, and liver. Boil and put these through a meat grinder with some fat and a little meat and then put it all inside the stomach of this lamb and boil it again in the stock from the parts... I guess you have to give it to them for using as much of that little lamb as possible. Again the environmental side of me thinks this is a good idea... the rest of me.... not so excited. I did taste it, and in all honesty, it was not as bad as I expected. I can not say that I will be using the recipe from above any time soon though lol. Well, he had his haggis with neeps ( mashed swede or turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes) and his plate was enormous. Needless to say it was enough to feed an army. Normally portion sizes in the UK seem very reasonable to the US, rarely do you get left overs and not often are doggy bags considered. Many places do not even have a container to put the food in if you do not finish. My serving of sea bass and mashed potatoes was much more sensible, and I did not finish my "tatties" It was 3 o'clock or so by now and we were both very full, but we each had a dessert and it was all very good. We headed back to the car to check into the hotel so we could get ready for the evening. We had recommendations for a comedy club and it looked like a good evening out, but we needed to be there for 7:30 and we were walking once we got the car parked at the hotel. We had just enough time to talk to the families once we got checked in before we headed off to the club. The comedians were great, a little off color but very good. In all we had a great time even if I didn't get fed dinner (because someone ate a huge lunch and didn't think we needed to order food early!)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Edinburgh, Scotland

In all we had an absolutely lovely time in Edinburgh. This was not without a few moments of absolutely frustrating mayhem. Men, just remember, if your female partner tells you to call somewhere, call! When I booked our room early in the week, they advised calling in ahead to book parking. Well, we didn't call until driving around road blocks and traffic detours (diversions) for about an hour. Not only is traffic and parking in Edinburgh a nightmare" as we were told numerous times, but there was a 5k race and the road our hotel was on was closed as well as some crazy rugby tournament, and it was a holiday weekend. So we finally found a place in a multi-story car park (parking garage) to put the car so we could go to the castle and enjoy the day. This practically doubled our parking budget for this portion of the trip lol Fortunately the castle and a walk along the royal mile and and rose street were well worth the wait. We did some good window shopping and scoped some good prices on a few bits and bobs to bring back to the states. We found a place to have a nice lunch and I even tasted Haggus... and that is where I will leave you today!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Weekend in Scotland

Hello Everyone, we have been out of town for a few days and I am catching up to being home. Friday we had a wedding, then spent a long weekend in Scotland. The wedding was lovely, and I am getting to know more and more of my other half's friends. Hard to meet them all when you have lived 4000 miles apart for the bulk of your relationship lol. After the wedding we drove up to Loch of the Lowes. This place is listed as THE place to see ospreys in the UK. So we set off for a 4 hour drive to see some birds. Being from Florida, I was expecting a lot apparently. They had one osprey nest. The closest point was across the loch. If you were patient or lucky, you may see one of the birds coming in to change guard on egg duty, or the male would bring the female a fish from time to time. We only saw the osprey on the cctv cams back in the visitors center. According to the Scottish Wildlife Trust, you can watch the live cams from home on the computer, but I think you have to pay a "voluntary" fee. Every time I log in, osprey cams are stopped. :( After some disappointment, we headed south towards Edinburgh. We didn't want to go all the way into the city because rooms seemed hard to find online as it was a bank holiday weekend. We pulled up a map of Scotland and picked a city in close proximity on the water... and piked Kirkcaldy. We had a good walk along the coast and the walls of Ravenscraig's castle. The weather was much nicer than it was at the Loch of the Lowes. We walked as far as we could along the coast before coming into an industrial area, then up on the road into the town center for a very nice meal. We get so lucky when picking restaurants... we passed close to a dozen places and 4 Indian restaurants before picking one that we absolutely loved. (The only time we had bad luck with a restaurant was in China Town NYC... we were hungry and stopped at the first place we saw... packed and putting multiple parties at a table to get everyone in and out... and the food did not stand up to the crowd.. I think everyone was in our same predicament... hungry..., but I have digressed) After the meal, we walked back to our hotel. If we walked like this everyday, we would never have to worry about our weight! (over a mile just on the road straight back to the hotel, never mind the beach walking we had done earlier) The wedding party we were warned about at check in was in full swing when we returned to our room.. We were initially thinking how quiet it was, then the music started. The music as not bad, but the unattended children playing in the upstairs sitting room just outside our room however were bad. Maybe I should say cheeky and really quite naughty. They even tried to open our door at one point I think. Fortunately a parent did come and take them away (after 20 minutes of playing upstairs.) I was glad I did not have to go crash a wedding to get some sleep lol. Next stop, Edinburgh... it deserves a post to itself, so I will bring you Edinburgh tomorrow!