Saturday, November 29, 2008

Food & Style

Empire apples. Even though I'm from the apple capitol of Washington, I'd never had these before--they're amazing! Sweet, juicy, gorgeous!

My first experience w/ cooking lamb--I just rubbed in a mix of olive oil, salt, italian seasoning, diced red onion & diced garlic. Halfway through, I threw the carrots & potatoes in with the lamb to get them covered in the same seasonings (plus add that nice dripping flavor from the lamb). Turned out amazing!

Before the haircut & dye job

After haircut and dye job. I was getting tired of seeing a few white hairs coming in (I'm too young for this!!), so I picked up some "chocolate brown" hair color at Boots, trimmed off the split ends and colored my hair. First time I've ever done it by myself, but it turned out fine.

The new coat & scarf.
Just for the sake of comparison, here's me in high school:

It's amazing what a difference clothes, hair style and make-up can make. That, plus tons of walking, being away from Jack in the Box, and learning how to cook...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Santa's Grotto on Briggate in the city centre--it's been up for weeks

Rowhouses between my place and Kirkstall Road

Graveyard at St. Michael's

St. Michael's (Church of England) in Headingley

We got our feedback on our first essays & were assigned our dissertation supervisors this week, so that was good. I was really happy with my essay and expected a fabulous mark. The grading system here is so different, but luckily this time I knew how it works. When I was in Bath, the first essay I got back was a 60 and I cried, thinking it was a D. That's not how it works in England. A 50-59 is a pass, a 60-69 is a high pass, and a 70 and above is a distinction. I got a high pass, but not close to a 'distinction'. Still, it's only the first essay, and at least now I have a better idea of what the prof wants.
My dissertation supervisor seems like a nice guy--haven't talked with him yet, but I've seen him at the Wednesday night lectures and the intro session at start of term. He's American, which I thought was funny--I come all this way to study in England and I end up working with an American. His area of research is just what I need, though--international broadcasting, crisis reporting, etc.
Tomorrow's Thanksgiving, marking the second year in a row that I'll be missing out on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, egg nog, and cranberry sauce shaped like a can. Last year I had a turkey-cranberry pasty that was a pretty fair substitute. I haven't had a pasty since I've been back, but I should check that out tomorrow for lunch. I have class at 5, and we usually go to a pub afterwards, so it looks like I'll be drinking my Thanksgiving dinner (but at least I won't be alone). Unrelated to food, one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is the kick-off to the Christmas season: watching Macy's parade in my pajamas while drinking egg nog for breakfast, catching "Miracle on 34th Street" and "It's a Wonderful Life" just afterwards, and seeing toy ads all over television. Strangely enough, though, I don't really miss that here--we've been in Christmas mode since before Halloween.
Hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Alicia & me at the Christkindlmarkt

Huge version of a German candle carousel

St. Martin's church--it's in between the "bull ring" (shopping centre) and the markets

Tannenbaum in der Christkindlmarkt

Carousel in Victoria Square

Victoria Square

Industrial scene in Sheffield

Evidence that the EU is funding projects in England (just funny to me b/c of European Studies, re: Thatcher's classic 'give me my money back' claim that England pays too much into the EU and doesn't get enough out of it)

Another shot of Sheffield--'A City on the Move'!

The train station looks just like the one in Bath--didn't expect that from seeing "The Full Monty"

Crown Point shopping centre--my first time at a normal mall in Britain, where suburban mini-van drivers go to Mothercare, Asda Living, and the Marks & Spencers outlet (among other shops).

Bleak shot of consumerism--empty parking spots a sign of the global crisis

Victoria Quarter's Christmas tree

County Arcade hall of Victoria Quarter all done up for the holidays

Today I met up with Alicia down in Birmingham. First we checked out the Christkindlmarkt (big and very pretty, but mostly food and the same sort of stalls as Leeds's smaller one has) and had some rotwurst (smoked bratwurst) for lunch, which was really good. Then we wandered around town, window shopping everywhere--from the High-Street-posh House of Fraser to the crazy-garage-sale markets. We chatted over Starbucks' holiday drinks & ended the day with dinner at Pizza Express. It was so fun catching up with her, and I really liked exploring a new place together.
My train went through Sheffield, so I finally got a glimpse of the setting for one of my favorite movies, but I have to say, it was disappointingly nice. It was industrial, but also had some nice tall modern buildings. It didn't look at all like it did in 'The Full Monty.' On the train home, I mentioned this to my seatmate (who was from Sheffield) and she said, "Well, that was a long time ago." Yeah, 1997 was eleven years ago, but Bath still looks like it did in "Persuasion," filmed in 1995...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Liverpool, take 3

There are more pictures to come, but for now...

All the rooms at Hard Days Night Hotel have Beatles portraits, so we were excited to see which of the boys we'd get. I was hoping for Paul, but who did we get? This guy? We didn't have a clue who this was--it's their manager, Brian Epstein, as it turns out. Guess that's the difference between the luxury suites and the double twin standard rooms...

City centre Christmas lights. I love how Liverpool's 2 biggest tourist attractions, music and football, are used for holiday decorations.

Staircase in Hard Days Night Hotel. I was surrounded by the Beatles at all times and I loved every minute of it!

A little patio area in the hotel

I love the dark plum walls & the mod leather spinning armchair

The flatscreen TV offers Beatles music and Beatles movies on demand (as well as normal TV and new release movies, but why would you watch that here?)

Albert Dock

I feel so at home down by the docks, and I'm a bit worried about what that means...

Hard Days Night Hotel

Beatles Story museum pics:

Sgt. Peppers!

Abbey Road!

Maritime Museum pics:

"You're Eddie, Eddie Howard! We used to work together!"
"I never worked down the docks!"
"That's right, down the docks!"

The photo-op background was in black and white, so it was either this or leave myself in color and look like those greeting cards with little kids and roses...ugh

The tear-jerker at the end of the Beatles Story museum. They play "Imagine" and you see this, and even though this was my second time here, I still choked up...

Liverpool was great, once again. I don't know what it is, but I love that city more than any other place in the world. It's not just the Beatles sights or the guys with Scouse accents (although those are amazing), it's just something about the city. Every time I go back, I feel like I'm going home.
Friday night was pretty chill. We got in around 4, dropped off our bags at the hotel and walked around the city centre. After dinner at Bella Italia, we stopped to listen to Jonathan Walker, the busker I met last year on my first trip to Liverpool. He remembered me, which blew my mind. The guy must meet hundreds of people every weekend, and I only met him the one time. It was so crazy!
We went to a cozy old pub, the Beehive, for a pint. It was very sweet--all decorated for Christmas and most of the customers were older. After that, we went back to the hotel and relaxed and watched "Four Weddings and a Funeral" on BBC. I love that movie!
Saturday we hit the museums on Albert Dock: the Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum and the Beatles Story. Even though I'd been before, I still got a kick out of it. They'd also changed things a bit, probably because of Liverpool's 2008 Capitol of Culture event. We had an early dinner and rested before going out for the night.
Just around the corner from our hotel is Mathew Street, the home of the Cavern Club. It's also home to Beatles tourist shops and quite a few other clubs and pubs seeking the tourists. The Cavern Club was amazing--it's been restored, but it felt very authentic and cool. The DJs played a mix of music--some normal dance stuff you'd find in any place but also a few early Beatles songs that absolutely made my night. Dancing to "Twist and Shout" in the Cavern Club...*sigh* The staff and customers were all really friendly. And even though some cameras are flashing, it doesn't feel like the tourist destination it is. People are there to dance and have a good time, just like at other clubs that don't have historical significance.
After the Cavern Club, we looked around for a good club. I wanted to go to Garlands, but the cover charge was pretty high, and I wasn't sure if Nicole would like it. We checked out a few places, but nothing was any good. They either had empty dance floors, hen nights, or older people...I think these clubs rely on the Mathew Street address too much. So, in the end, we went to Garlands. We had an amazing time, met lots of great people and Nicole got some brilliant pics with drag queens. (You'd never guess she was a republican from Texas, haha)
Today we went on the Magical Mystery Tour, a two-hour long bus ride that hits all the Beatles sights in Liverpool's suburbs. First stop was George Harrison's house (and birthplace), which was a very small, two-bedroom rowhouse in what was a poorer neighborhood. Then we went on to Mendips, where John Lennon was raised by his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George. It's in a nicer area--still not fancy, but middle-class. Paul's house wasn't very far away, and that's where they did their practicing and songwriting as teenagers in the front room. John's aunt didn't approve of him going into music (said it was all well and good, but you'd never make a living out of it), but Paul's father was a jazz musician himself, so the McCartneys were fine with the boys working on their music there. We went to St. Peter's church, where John went to church. John and Paul met there in the hall via a mutual friend who took Paul to the Woolton village fete to hear John's band the Quarrymen play. So cool to see where this amazing duo first met! Also cool: seeing Rigby family graves in the cemetery!
We went down Penny Lane, and saw all the things from the song: the bank on the corner, the shelter in the middle of the roundabout, the barber shop. Also went by Strawberry Fields, which was a Salvation Army children's home. Both places were fairly close to their homes, just things they would've seen in day to day life. Ringo's childhood home wasn't too far off, either. Just down the street from his little rowhouse was the Empress pub, which apparently appears on the cover of his first solo album. No offense to Ringo, but I haven't seen/heard it...
Heading back to the city centre, we went by Paul & George's high school, which is right next to John's art college. The tour guide was really good, and it was well worth the price. My guidebook said this tour seemed 'packaged' but I didn't think so.
So, after 2 hours on a bus listening to Beatles songs, a night in a hotel that immersed me in Beatles paraphernalia, and another trip to the Beatles Story, am I sick of the Beatles? I don't think it's possible.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bits and bots

Huge crowds at the Leeds Lights Switch-On

Another shot of the crowd, with City Hall in the background

Liberty's, an American food stall

Crooked Cottage

And now for something completely different...

St. George's Field, a park/cemetery in the middle of campus...It's kinda strange. I cut through it when I'm going between the ICS dept. in Houldsworth and the Union or libraries.

A walkway in St. George's Field.

Pathway to my dept. building

Leeds City Market

Another shot of St. George's Field

My bus stop--there's a little screen that shows how long until the next bus comes and which line it is

Veterans Day

Mini Naan pizzas--one of my new staples