Thursday, December 31, 2009

England! Day 8

Happy New Year Everyone! (In about 20 minutes here.) And happy birthday Mom! I hope you all are having a lovely time.

We had a lovely day today! Eddy and I went to Tesco's with Karen in the morning so that we could stock up on Jaffa Cakes and Yorkshire Tea before we went home. After lunch we drove to Rochester to visit the castle and cathedral. Sadly, Rochester Castle was closed due to safety concerns - it was dark and rainy and they didn't want us to fall down the staris - but the cathedral was really lovely. No good pictures though; I don't like taking pictures with the flash in churches, and it was quite dark so they've come out all blurry.

Curry for dinner and then games until midnight! We had a blind chocolate tasting, which was fun, but now I'm feeling a bit ill. Champagne soon!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

England! Day 7

Not too much going on today. We were planning on going to a castle, but the weather was so dreadful that we stayed home and watched the new BBC Day of the Triffids remake and played games. I really liked this version, though it had a few big plot holes that are bothering me a little bit. It had Eddie Izzard as the main bad guy, which is a bit distracting because all I can think about is his "CAKE OR DEATH" sketch whenever I see him in serious films.

We went out to a lovely pub for dinner, which did a pretty dreadful garlic chili prawn stirfry, but had delightful lentil soup. I knew I should have stuck with the fish and chips! More games after dinner.

Tomorrow we're hoping to go out to a castle or something like that, but the weather may stay gray and gloomy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

England! Day 6

So. I did something silly today. Eddy, Alexis, Andrew and I all went to London today. I packed my camera, with extra batteries just in case, but as I got to the British Museum, I realized that I had left my camera card in Eddy's computer. Oh no! I was able to take about 13 pictures using the camera's internal memory, but I have no idea how to upload them onto the computer. Sadly, I have no pictures for you today.

Despite my silliness, we had a lovely day today! We took the high-speed train into London, which took about 40 minutes. It really didn't seem that fast to me, but it got us there and that's all that really matters. Eddy and I headed off first to the British Library, which was about a block from the train station. The British Library not only houses thousands of archival texts, but has a large museumish display of precious documents. My favorites were the medieval illuminated manuscripts; they had the Lindisfarne Gospel on display, which is just truly stunning. They also have the Cotton MS Vitellius A xv - which contains the oldest copy of Beowulf among other texts - and I really enjoyed seeing that. It was much smaller than I thought it would be, and quite tattered around the edges, but it was still really cool.

After we spent about 2 hours in the British Library, we trekked our way over to the British Museum! It was only about a mile away, and a lovely walk at that. We saw the early European exhibit - which displays the artifacts from the Sutton Hoo dig - as well as the Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Mexican, North American, Assyrian and a little bit of the Ancient Greek exhibits. Of course, I wish I had been able to take pictures of all of them. The British Museum is seriously overwhelming. Not only is it so enormous that you have no idea where to go first, there are immense numbers of people trying to see whatever it is that you want to see. The rooms with the Egyptian mummies were completely insane - you had to shove your way through just to get from one end of the room to the other. Actually looking at a display was another trial all together. We busted out our pointy elbows, though, and made our way through!

We had burgers at a nearby pub when the museum closed - they were out of fish, so no fish and chips! - and then made our way back to the train station. After we got back to Hawkinge, we finished our day with tea and were thoroughly trounced at Trivial Pursuit by Eddy's Nana. I don't think the game was fair though, because it was clearly prejudiced against Americans!

No plans for tomorrow, but we'll see what happens!

Monday, December 28, 2009

England! Day 5

Off to Dover today! During the last couple of years, the British Heritage Foundation has undergone a HUGE restoration of Dover Castle. From what I understand, it's one of the most intact castles in Britain. They've completely redecorated with reconstructions of what would have been in the castle during the reign of Henry II; there are great tapestries, wonderfully colorful furniture, swords, shields as well as the more common items such as cooking implements and a medieval toilet. It is pretty much the coolest thing ever to go through.

When you walk into certain rooms, a holographic image of a person comes up and starts talking about their life and what went on during their time and so on. Even greater than that, there are actors walking around the castle dressed up like Henry II and members of his court! When Eddy and I first got there, he was knighting very small adorable children, but he went on to interact with his son John and his ward Alice. It was all a bit silly, but great fun.

The castle itself would be impressive enough without all the decorations, but the decorations really bring out the culture of the place as it would have been during the 12th Century, instead of just presenting an interesting architectural specimen.

London tomorrow!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

England! Day 4

Back to Canterbury today! Eddy and I did the Canterbury Tales Experience, which had to be the most ridiculously fun thing yet. We were each given a headset to listen to and wandered around this series of connected room while the audio tour (narrated by Chaucer himself) told us the story of the pilgrimage and a few of the tales. Each room had life sized figures of the character and other figures from the tales; sometimes they moved, or panels would light up. It went through 5 of the more famous tales - The Knight's, The Miller's, The Wife of Bath's, The Nun's Priest's and the Pardoners Tales - in an abridged retelling. Dad will be happy to note that the Nun's Priest's Tale was the one with Chanticleer, so I thought of him the whole time.

I made Eddy take my picture next to each of the Pilgrims who told tales.

KT with the Miller

It took us about half an hour to go through the whole experience and we headed off to the cathedral afterward. I was a bit shocked to find out that they charged you to go into the cathedral! I suppose it makes sense, considering the amount it takes to preserve and restore everything, it just seemed odd to pay to get into a church. It was well worth it though, as the inside of the cathedral was just stunning. There was one room down in the crypt that still had the original 12th century wall paintings, which was so cool. I couldn't take many good pictures though, because I didn't want to use the flash in case it damaged anything and the cathedral was quite dim. Oh well.

Off to Dover tomorrow! They've recently done a huge restoration of Dover Castle and it's all made up to look as it did during the reign of Henry II (so mid 12th Century, my favorite!) More tomorrow!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

England! Day 3

We didn't do too much today. It was mostly a game day; we had an epic 5 hour King Maker battle and we've just finished playing charades. I've somehow become a charades fan, despite dreading the prospect of playing when Eddy told me that it was a family tradition.

Tomorrow will be an exciting day however! We're off to Canterbury to get a proper look around the Cathedral and then we're going to visit the Canterbury Tales visitor attraction. I'll have to take pictures and bring them into my Chaucer class next quarter.

Friday, December 25, 2009

England! Day 2

Merry Christmas to All! I don't believe I've eaten so much food in my life as today! Apparently in England you have a big Christmas Lunch instead of Christmas dinner, so we polished off goose, potatoes, parsnips, chestnut stuff and all sorts of lovely things around 1ish and then waddled off to the living room to pass out. Here's my plate:

Just lovely!

It's about 8 now. We've just finished opening all of our presents and I think we're about to have round two at the goose!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

England! Day 1

We drove to Canterbury today, to do some last minute shopping and to walk around the town a bit. We didn't have too much time to spend there - we had to get back in time for dinner after all - but we walked around the big shopping district, saw Canterbury Cathedral (see above) and Canterbury Castle. The Cathedral was having their big Christmas caroling service today, so we weren't able to go in, but we're hoping to go back to see the inside. As we were walking around, we managed to catch a big procession that included the Archbishop!

He's looking rather fetching in that shade of yellow I think.

After we walked around Canterbury, we stopped for a cup of hot chocolate and then headed back to Hawkinge. We're now sitting around relaxing in the living room, reading and playing Wii, waiting on dinner. More adventures to come!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Figuring out some picture stuff, so ignore please! Or Sir Oatmeal will come for you!

ETA I figured it out, but this picture is too awesome to take down

Book Review - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is truly a lovely and charming book. Christopher, an autistic (though that word is never used in the book) 15 year old living in England discovers that his neighbor's dog has been killed with a garden fork. Inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Christopher decides to investigate the dog's death, against his fathers wishes. In doing so, Christopher discovers the truth of his family, and that his own independent capabilities. The book is interspersed with drawings, diagrams and Christopher's random musings about life, humanity, physics and math. Christopher's is a genuinely inspiring story.

View all my reviews >>


Tuesday was my great curry adventure! I've had Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries for over a year now, but had never made anything out of it. The book, though incredibility thorough and helpful, is a little daunting. For one, there are - as the title suggests - over 600 curries to choose from, which makes choosing just one curry to make somewhat difficult. Secondly, most recipes have long lists of ingredients that include spice blends and pastes that I would have to make myself. It always seemed like so much work, so I never managed to do anything with it until now.

In the end, all of my fears were unfounded. I picked Chana Paneer to make - paneer and chickpeas with tomatoes with a toasted fennel spice blend. We had all the spices I needed for the Balti Masala, and the toasting and grinding of them took no time at all. Even making the paneer was easy. Sure, it has to drain for 3-5 hours, but the parts that I was actually involved in only required me to stir and pour. Simple! Once I had prepared all of that, the actual curry making took about half an hour.

This curry was so wonderful! I'm trying to eat less meat, so the paneer and chickpeas were perfect - hearty, without being heavy. The only thing I would have changed would be the heat level. The recipe called for 1-2 thai or serrano peppers, but since I'm such a spice wimp, I ended up using only half of a jalapeno. That made the curry mildly spicy, but I could have handled a good bit more heat.

I'm making this again on Monday for Mom to take in to work. I hope they all enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

School's Out....

This quarter is officially over and I made another 4.0!! This will be my 5th 4.0 quarter in a row, out of 7 quarters. Woohoo! This was a tough quarter for me, so I'm really proud.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Finals Update

We've now come to the part of the quarter where I really feel like I'm going to die. Ha. This quarter has been especially tough because I'm taking 20 credits instead of the usual 15, but I'm powering through! I have FIVE WHOLE pages of my Pilgrimages paper written (6-8 needed) and Dr. K loved my prospectus for my Arthurian Romance paper. I need to outline my PoliSci in class essay, but that's not until next Thursday. Everything's going pretty smoothly, but I can't help freaking out every once in a while.

So! To relieve stress, I leave you with Flight of the Conchords!