Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall scenes

Leeds Cathedral

On the walk to school/city centre, just where Burley Road starts to become more residential

Early morning shot--we've started to have frost on the rooftops

There's a pot of gold in the Morrison's parking lot!

Not much has happened since my last post. I've spent a lot of time reading & drinking coffee because I've got an essay due soon. Whenever I get tired of reading about populist movements, I watch a little TV. BBC stopped posting "2 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps" reruns online, so I've started watching more literary adaptations. BBC has the 10-part series "Lark Rise to Candleford" and there's a new 16-part Andrew Davies version of Dickens' "Little Dorrit." Andrew Davies always makes such high quality films. I mean, it's no "2 Pints," but you know, not every show can attain that level of sophistication...

Yesterday I had my first radio experience, which was surprisingly fun. I was nervous at first, but after a little while you just feel like you're chatting with friends--they all just happen to have headphones on and big microphones in front of them. This was a bit of a test run for election night. I'm really looking forward to it--nine hours of tracking the results and hanging out with people in the studio who are as into this event as I am.

During the last election, I was watching the results come in on CNN alone in my room at Vanderbilt. I stayed up late, waiting on Ohio, and when they called it for Bush, I cried. My first election will probably always be one of the biggest letdowns of my life. So, I suppose what I want to say here is that I'm going to be nice to McCain/Palin supporters if Obama wins. I won't rub it in their faces, as fun as that would be after what happened to me in 2004 (namely, the drunk frat boy peeing on my Kerry/Edwards window sign...ewww)

Saturday I'm going to the Lake District, so I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to post then. Nicole and I are going with school through this "Give it a Go" program the University runs--the tickets are 16 pounds, which isn't bad at all. The only downside is that we leave Leeds at 8:30am, but that's alright--as long as I have coffee, I can make myself be a morning person.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brontë Country

Graveyard at the Parsonage

Brontë Village--touristy, but cute

I was so tempted to yell "Heathcliffe!!!"

Seriously??? The weather was ridiculous...

Pathway between the Parsonage and Penistone Hill

Farmland around the Parsonage--note the classic stone fencing

Parsonage on the right with Church in the background and school on the left

Plaque at the school saying Charlotte taught there

The Parsonage and graveyard

Penistone Hill and the moors--all that low brown vegetation is heather

Other than that telephone pole, this is so what the moors looked like in Emily Brontë's time

Views from the village looking towards Keighley

Another shot of the graveyard, Parsonage and school

Just behind the Parsonage, at the gate leading towards the farmland

Now that my money’s all sorted out, I finally was able to go to Haworth.

The bus stop to Keighley (where you connect for Haworth) is literally around the corner—even closer than walking to the grocery store. I set off around 11, thinking it would be a quick ride over, because Haworth’s only 18 miles away according to Google maps. The ride to Keighley took about an hour. It was all back roads and small villages—no freeways like the bus between Bath and Reading I took last year. Even though it was long, it was pretty cool to see all the little towns with their own little pubs and takeaways. The ride between Keighley and Haworth was about half an hour, and even more rural if that’s possible. I caught my first glimpse of the moors on the ride there—bleak and rough but breathtaking. There’s a steam engine you can take between Keighley and Haworth for 12 pounds round trip, which isn’t too bad considering you get to ride on authentic old Pullman cars.

In Haworth I got off the bus at the train station and walked up the path to the “Brontë village”—an adorable touristy climb on a narrow cobblestone street (which cars actually use, despite all the pedestrians). At the top is the church, graveyard, parsonage and a school. Beyond the parsonage is just farmland and a trail leading even further uphill to Penistone Hill. The parsonage was very cool—just a self-guided tour, but that’s alright with me. I prefer that to some of the lame tour guides I’ve had in the past (although a tour guide with a Yorkshire accent would’ve been fun). No photography allowed, but I bought lots of postcards (which is probably why they don’t allow photos…). They have lots of actual belongings—manuscripts, clothing, locks of hair, etc. My favorites were Charlotte’s writing desk and a dress of Emily’s. For the most part, they had the actual furniture throughout the house—the actual kitchen table where they said Emily made bread every week, the actual desk in Rev. Brontë’s study, etc. They had an exhibit at the end talking about the myths regarding the Brontës—that they were crazy or anti-social or had a cruel father. It turns out that Charlotte actually started a lot of that talk when she criticized her father to her biographer Elizabeth Gaskell, and emphasized Emily’s shyness and love of her pets to the extent that it made people think Emily preferred animals to people and was crazy/anti-social. Of course, her poetry’s a little crazy, too.

I had to check out Penistone Hill because of the literary reference and it completely lived up to my expectations. The weather was just as bad as it sounds in Wuthering Heights—really windy with rain that was just being pelted at your face in little pinpricks. I turned back when I saw the trail would go on another mile to Brontë Falls, ‘cause I didn’t want to die of TB like they all did.

I had a late lunch at The Fleece, a pub just down the street. It’s old and classic and they serve a really good local ale, Timothy Taylor’s. After all that walking in the cold wind and rain, I was craving some heavy pub grub. I finally understand English cuisine. It’s not about lack of ingredients or creativity—it’s all down to the climate. When it’s cold, nothing hits the spot like some gravy-laden meat and veg. I had steak and ale pie (made with that Timothy Taylor ale), which was much better than I’d ever had before. The steak and ale were in a shallow dish and the puff pastry was just set on top, and my chips and veg weren’t soaked with gravy (unlike at O’Neill’s, which I love, but really?)

All in all, I had a great time. I wouldn’t have wanted perfect weather—this was much more authentic.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Long-awaited flat pics & new clothes

Ok, Kelly--I finally took pics of the bathroom & kitchen for you, even though it made me feel kinda creepy...Going into the bathroom with a camera just doesn't look right...

"Electric shower," which sounds like an accident waiting to happen...It's actually just a way of retro-fitting the plumbing to add a shower. The top dial is for water pressure and the lower one is for temperature, and the on-off button is just below that.

Just a shot that shows how small the bathroom is...and the toilet is set pretty far from the wall, like those "grinder" ones we saw in Provence (except it doesn't have a grinder, sadly). I like the glass shelves above, though, and I love pedestal sinks.

I thought this was some kind of heater, but the appliance manual in the kitchen calls it a "warming towel rack." Basically, it's a metal tube that gets hot. When you take your towel off of it, it's slightly warmer but only on the 1/2 inch-wide strip that was touching the rack.

Kitchen--lots of cabinets, ok-sized fridge, tiny table nobody ever uses, and washer/dryer combo. It's got a nice view of Kirkstall Abbey out the window. And as you can see from this picture, my roommates have a thing for rubber gloves.

Another shot of the kitchen, showing the "electric hob" with grill and oven, as well as the rice cooker & toaster that appeared last week.

So, I finally got my pin # and student loan money this morning--yay! I was so tired of wearing the same things all the time, so I treated myself to a few new shirts at H&M. Trinny & Susannah (the hosts of What Not to Wear) had a special on the other day about people wearing too much black. Since about 3/4 of my wardrobe is black, I forced myself to avoid buying any more black today.

(It's navy blue, even though it looks black...)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Farmers Market

Leeds City Market--note the Christmas lights are already up, which is one of my favorite things about Britain. Since they don't have Thanksgiving, they don't have to wait for it to put up their decorations.

Christmas fruit?

Farmers' Market

Ostrich meat--tasty!

Adorable old people

So, if you look carefully at the white table on the right, you'll see a couple of brownish lumps on the end of the table. Those are dead rabbits...

Urban renewal in process...

This morning I took advantage of the Farmers' Market for some free entertainment. I was slightly disappointed--I'd expected something like the markets in Aix or Pike Place. It was much smaller than those, and didn't have a huge variety of stuff--lots of meat and baked goods. The indoor market's closed on Sundays, so after the Farmers' Market I went over to the main shopping center. I found another H&M, literally just a couple of blocks away from the one I found last week. I love Leeds...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Top night

Me with the birthday girl, Ximena

Wednesday night's party was great--got to know some of the girls from my course better and met some friends of friends. We started out at Viva Cuba, which was definitely more of a restaurant/bar rather than a Latin club, but at least they played Latin music (I love Juanes!). Most of the others went home fairly early, but I went on with Ximena and four guys to HiFi, a really cool underground club. It had a cover charge, but it was worth it--unlike Bath's Moles...ugh. After dancing for awhile, we went on to George's, a pub opposite St. George's cathedral. Its main attraction is that it's open late, and its main drawback is that they were doing Karaoke in Chinese. It's a far cry from my Karaoke nights in Mount Vernon this summer, but it was entertaining all the same. The important thing is that I had a good time and made it home safely with my wallet.

Class today was good--my prof seems really fun and interesting. Had pizza for dinner and was thrilled to find that Morrison's pizza is just as good as Sainsbury's. Called the bank again about my credit card and the guy was over-the-top friendly--I know they record calls for quality control purposes, but he was ridiculous. When he asked my name, he said it like "And who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?" First off, it's 'with whom' if you're going to be all formal like that, and secondly, it was hard to answer without laughing...All I found out was that my card was sent out Monday and it takes 3-4 days. When I pointed out to him that it had been 4 days, he just said "It should be coming any day now." So, despite all the politeness, the call really didn't help much...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It'll all work out...eventually

Note the Christmas-light-style martini glass on that lightpost: this is what I mean when I say that Leeds is lovably trashy.

My returned wallet--look how crumpled my driver's license and picture of Will are! Sad! The license was just about the only thing I really wanted back (no offense, Will) and now I still have to get another one when I go home...jeez.

Another random Leeds scene, showing the clash of old and new, pretty and ugly...and that person walking ahead of me is wearing the skinniest skinny jeans I've ever seen.

Yesterday the police called saying my wallet was in, so I went to the station and the property guy wasn't in. After class (which was really good and interesting), I went back and they said he wouldn't be in and he'd ring me tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'd spent the last of my money getting the bus to campus/downtown, because it was raining.
This morning, it was still raining but I walked to the station and picked up my wallet. Sadly, all the cash was gone, including the few US$ bills I had in there. Everything else was there, but it was all pretty much useless--my canceled debit/credit cards, my AAA card, my UW Husky Card. So I walked home and got soaked. For lunch, I used my oddly matched remaining groceries and made some weird tomato-garlic concoction to have over pasta. Kelly figured out the Western Union thing (cheers, Kelly!), so this evening I got enough money to tide me over. The replacement credit card didn't come today, so I called and they said to call back if it's not there by Friday, which is such crap.
On the bright side...
I'm going to Ximena's birthday fiesta at Viva Cuba tonight, so that'll be fun. Nothing like a mojito or two to forget your troubles.
Also, Max and I got the radio job and we're also doing election night coverage, so that'll be awesome!