Sunday, August 30, 2009

August Bank Holiday weekend surprise

My surprise!

Richard & me on Ilkley Moor

View down from the edge of the cliff--yikes!


The heather here's much more vivid than it was over in Haworth

That's Ilkley in the distance

More heather

We were pretty much the only hikers there without dogs...

I knew Richard had planned something for the Bank Holiday weekend, because he kept checking with me and reminding me about keeping Saturday evening free. It was driving me crazy--I love spontaneous surprises that you know nothing about, but knowing you're getting a surprise is so frustrating! Saturday morning he finally told me--he'd booked a B&B in Ilkley. We went out for tea, then dinner at an Italian place, then drinks at an ale & wine bar (he'd gotten recommendations from a co-worker who lives in the area). When we were having drinks, he gave me my other surprise--he pulled a little box out of his suit jacket and it was copies of his house keys, with a little key-chain he'd made with a picture of us on each side. When I opened it he said "it's your home now, sweetie" and I almost cried--he's so romantic!
In the morning, after a 'Full English' breakfast, complete with crunchy fried bread and baked beans, we went for a hike on Ilkley Moor. Stopped for tea at Golden Acre on the way home, and now I'm getting back to finishing up my dissertation--just had to post these first!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fountains Abbey

Abbey ruins

Pheasants take over the Abbey ruins after the tourists leave...

View from little look-out point up the hill


12th Century outhouse

Another folly

More of the Abbey

The Cellarium--it feels about 10 degrees cooler in there (didn't notice last time, b/c it was freezing everywhere...)

On Saturday we went out to Fountains Abbey--much better weather this time! We had lunch at the cafe and walked around the Abbey and the gardens. Went up the hill to some of the follies I hadn't seen before--amazing views!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The American Healthcare debate: My two pence

These ladies in Lewisham point to the American system in their defense of the NHS...
while right-wing Americans point to the NHS in their defense of the American system! Crazy, isn't it?

It's been interesting watching the healthcare debate from afar. I can't believe some of the ridiculous things the opposition is saying, calling national healthcare a socialist or communist--or even Nazi--policy. Some on the right have more reasonable arguments, like pointing out the flaws of the NHS (waitlists being the main one), but even these are ill-informed.

I love the NHS. Yes, there are waitlists for non-urgent operations, but if you don't want to wait, you can just go to a private hospital. Private hospitals do exist--PM Margaret Thatcher faced a lot of criticism for using them! The American right doesn't seem to understand that the NHS and choice are not mutually exclusive.

I've heard so many nightmare medical insurance stories over the years from friends and family. I've seen my uninsured best friend face huge bills after an emergency surgery. I've seen people who were covered face unaffordable bills, too. I've been uninsured myself and gone years between check-ups (and even when I'm insured, I don't want to pay $20 to get a check-up, just to be told that I'm well...).

The only story I'll tell here is this: At the end of my appointment at Leeds Student Medical Practice, I was handed a green prescription slip. I took it to the pharmacy counter at Boots, waited about 10 minutes, and the pharmacist handed me my packet. Without paying even a co-pay, I was able to walk out the door with my prescription. I wanted to smack the other customers on the back and say "Can you believe this? They just GAVE them to me! For free!!!" But they didn't share my shock and joy--this is just the way it is for them, and has been since 1948.

Obviously, it's not free--we do pay the VAT, and it's around 15%. But the highest sales tax in the US is currently 11.5%, and they don't get free healthcare.

The fundamental thing in the healthcare debate is whether or not you think medicine should be for profit. Should somebody make money off of another person's illness? Apparently right-wingers do...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Me on the Ironbridge

Sign on the Toll house at the end of the bridge

Ironbridge power station--a coal-fired power station, and supposedly the 2nd-worst polluting power station in Britain (according to wikipedia, haha)

Sorry for not taking many pictures this weekend down in Shropshire...Polesworth and Market Drayton weren't exactly touristy. When I did try taking some shots in Ironbridge, my camera's batteries were dying, so I only took a few. Anyway, had a great time in Shropshire--nice seeing a different part of England, and Richard's family was lovely.
Only 2 weeks until my dissertation's due--pray for me!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Crunch time

It's mid-August, and the dissertation's due in just 20 days. I'm really trying to push myself this week to get it finished--getting up early, staying up late, living at Starbucks and Caffe Nero, etc. Richard's been very understanding and encouraging, and trying not to distract me too much. Tonight, though, I got the sweetest distraction ever.

This evening, when he was shopping at Morrison's down the hill, he texted me about plans for lunch tomorrow. A little while later I got a text saying there was "something downstairs" for me, so I threw on shoes and went down to the lobby. He'd left a bouquet of daisies by the door--so sweet!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to Haworth

The heather's finally in bloom!!!

Tourist high season in Bronte-land

On Saturday we went to Haworth--lovely little country drive out there, and it takes about 1/2 the time to drive it vs. taking the bus. Went to The Fleece for a pub lunch and had a very "traditional" (i.e. heavy) meal: filled giant Yorkshire pudding. It was a huge Yorkshire pudding with sausages and fries and then the whole thing was covered in gravy. Didn't take a picture of it (that's just too touristy) but here's a picture I found that was somewhat similar...only it has peas and ours didn't have anything resembling a vegetable.

Actually tasted good, once you get past the appearance...After lunch, we walked up to the Parsonage and Penistone Hill. We had great weather--first time I've seen Haworth in the sunshine! It was still windy up on the moor, though, so we didn't stay up there too long.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


National Rail Museum

York Minster

Abbey ruins in a park

Richard brought me flowers for our date night last Friday