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July 16, 2007

Traditional Music

About a week and a half ago, England tried to redeem itself and it was somewhat successful. It started on a Thursday night at the Rod and Line pub in Landrake, west of our cottage compound. The whole ed tech faculty and Jean Pierre (JP) who is an international teacher from France but who assists the program director, went out this pub because JP thought it to be great. Their main dishes were crab or prawns – we all chose crab and 3 huge woks full of crab showed up at our table. We all dug in with all 10 fingers each.
Perhaps better than they hearty sea-bed meal was the entertainment. The owner seemed to be already drunk when we arrived around 6pm. Later on, a group of traditional musicians came in and set up camp right next to our large table. There were men and women, mostly later on in their years, some appeared to be siblings, all were drinking a pint or well drink. They were making sweet music and I was cursing myself that I did not have my digital voice recorder with me!!! Brandon also did not bring his camera but Leigh had brought hers (we all have generally the same camera) so shots were taken.
The evening ended way earlier than I wanted it to. I almost wanted to drive right back after our carpool ended at our cottages but alas, work the next day overshadowed my intent on experiencing the English experience. So I went to bed to get my 6 hours’ sleep. Did I mention that this program is absolutely draining the life out of me?

July 2, 2007

Ridiculous, lazy food in UK

Want a slice of lemon or lime in your drink? Want some ice in your drink. For a mere 2.50 pounds ($5), you can buy 10 slices of lemon or lime that are individually frozen in water. What a deal, right?

June 27, 2007

Grocery Store Visit

We have been working hard and not sleeping enough by far. Today, we arrived "home" to our cottages around 4:40 and I was planning on going to the grocery to get a few things, but then, typically, as I was ready to go, I saw it was raining. I decided, instead to lay down for a bit, and then go. The next thing I knew it was 6:40. I really needed the sleep.

I drove off to the store mainly to pick up laundry soap, toilet paper, and body lotion. It seems we are in a self-catering place that gives you one roll of toilet paper but then you are on your own for the rest of the time you are here. Same with soap. They also don't clean our cottages but give us fresh linens once a week and we have to make our own beds up. I can assure you that there will not be any mopping or vacuuming on my part most likely. Personally, I think they should come in and clean once a week - at least somewhat like a hotel. I guess not. You can call me a demanding American. I admit it when I'm in a hotel-type place, I like someone else cleaning. Lord knows I've done enough cleaning in the last 2 months of my house.

I need to take some pictures of the grocery store and the things you can by there. Today my most expensive "impulse buy" was a jar of Scottish Heather Honey for 3.99 (pounds) = $8. I have a thing for honey. I also saw several types of coulis like blackberry coulis and raspberry coulis and a belgian chocolate sauce and toffee sauce in these convenient bags for only around $4. I also saw lots of crumpets!

The sweet I bought was a favorite from when I lived in Scotland, and there it was called Millionaire shortbread. Here it is called caramel shortbread and it is 3 layers, from bottom to top, shortbread, layer of caramel, layer of chocolate. It is devine.

When I looked at the laundry soap, the packaging had a distinction between non-biological and biological laundry soap. I have no idea what that means but chose the non-biological type. My guess was that it meant unscented. I asked the check-out clerk what it meant and she said, "I don't know, I don't do the washing at my house. " Note that this was not a young teen-ager. What a lucky woman!

The other interesting difference at the store is that the check-out clerks SIT as they check you out. It seems like a rather good idea to me.

Tonight I made roasted vegetables (potato, carrot, green beans, and yellow pepper in olive oil and balsamic vinegar) with sauteed chicken breast. I bought olive oil and balsamic vinegar as my staples for everything (salad dressing etc.). The last few nights I had been eating tortellini or other pasta with sauce and a spinach salad.

They give us about $115/ day per diem. If we went out for all meals, it would be rather tight. With self-catering, we could possibly pocket some of that. Though, we also have to pay for the things like toilet paper etc., cell phone top-up cards, washing etc. Plus, my per diem will pay for dog sitting and gifts for my friends who are dog sitting, as it should.

June 23, 2007

Digestives

You might wonder what are digestives? You get them in a grocery store. They are edible. From the sound of it, you might think it was Metamucil of some kind but no, really they are just straight-out cookies that are often eaten with tea (of course). At the store today, I bought 2 packages of digestives – a Cadbury-brand chocolate covered digestive and a store-brand Ginger Nut Biscuits. Oh, sometimes they call them biscuits.

Speaking of the store, my friend David said to get ready for “sticker shock.? I spent 59 pounds Stirling. (That’s about $120). Looking at my receipt, I don’t think it was all that bad. The most expensive item I bought was 4.45 pounds – and that was Ferrari Organic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Next for 4.42 pounds was West Country Farmhouse Cheddar – full bodied mature. So, those are about $9 each. You can easily find $9 cheese in the U.S. – I surely hope the cheddar is spectacular. This is after all, England. Kind of expensive was the sliced chicken breast (5 slices) for 2.19 – that’s about $4.50. Luckily, they were 2 for 1 so that’s why I got them. A really nice wholegrain bread was a mere .69 pounds. I usually pay over $3.00 for good bread like that. My splurge (calorie-wise) was my absolute favorite – Milka chocolate for .69. I always thought it was a Swiss chocolate but it appears to be made in Germany.

Hot Chocolate

One of the great things about the UK is their fondness for tea and hot chocolate, two of my favorite beverages. I do not drink coffee and therefore often have hot chocolate as a replacement. On the local flight from London to Plymouth, as we sat on the tarmac for an hour they came by offering us beverages, including hot chocolate. I was so happy and I even had another one when they came by in flight for more beverages.

Scallops at dinner

When I finally arrived in Plymouth a mere 3 hours delayed due to stormy weather, I showered, brushed my teeth and headed out to eat some food. I found a nice restaurant called Seafood and Pasta on the water/dock areas in Plymouth. I ordered scallops, one of my favorite foods. When it came, it was the strangest scallops I have ever seen. It had the white round part but had a strange orangish shrimp shaped extrusion on each one. Before I left, I asked my waiter if these were a special kind of scallop. He asked if we had scallops in America? I said, yes but had never seen this kind. As a cook, I was interested. But I think he thought I was critiquing the UK’s scallops. In any case, I think this is a good question for Lynn Rosetta Kasper (MPR).