Archive for January, 2007

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Day Eleven: Part One

January 30, 2007

Drew and I were up and out the door early to spend the day exploring Manchester. Our first stop was the Central Library, which I’d heard good things about. It’s one of the largest municipal libraries in Europe, and it has separate music, theatre and literature libraries. We made our way through each floor, and tried not to disturb all the studying students. I probably could have spent much more time there going through everything, but our time was limited as we had to get back to Sara and Mark’s by 6 p.m. to have dinner at Mark’s grandparent’s house.

From the library, we headed to an information center for maps. While there, Drew found a Manchester Music Map, which contained a detailed walk to various places made famous by such bands and artists such as Morrissey (of course), Oasis, The Happy Mondays, James, New Order, etc. Since we had other plans (and Drew was already being a good sport about going to Morrissey and doing other music-geek related things that yours truly just had to do while in the U.K.), we didn’t do the walk. I still have the map though.

Sigh.

I’m such a brat, aren’t I? But I digress…

From the information center, we made our way to the Manchester Museum, which is part of The University of Manchester:

We went specifically to see their wonderful collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. We didn’t see the rest of the museum due to our lack of time, but the exhibit was fascinating (especially the mummies) and it was nice to warm up for an hour. Back to the pavement once again, this time in search of lunch.

I think I’ve left out Drew’s insatiable demand for curry during our trip (the word “curry” being used quite generically, I know). You see, we love Indian food. Unfortunately good Indian food isn’t available on every corner here like it is in the U.K., so Drew decided that he would eat as much Indian food as possible during our journey. Looking back on the trip, I think we averaged eating curry at least three times a week. And being back home, we are now sad and going through extreme withdrawal, though we are going to try to make our own Indian concoction tomorrow for the first time. And again I am getting way off track…

Back to lunch. We stopped at Monsoons, which was a hole in the wall:

Super-cheap and delicious. We split a large chicken tikka kebab, with chips and cheese. I discovered that kebabs were completely different in the U.K. than they are here. Here, when I think kebab, I visualize either meat or meat and veggies on a skewer. Normal, right? Well, our kebabs consisted of shaved meat, that is served on flatbread with salad and sauce. Salad meaning lettuce, tomato and onion. Anyway, it was sooooo good. However, our best curry experience occurred in Edinburgh. I’ll get to Scotland one of these days, I swear.

After lunch, we went in search of where the legendary Hacienda once operated (see, I still ended making a music pilgrimmage of some sorts). We got a bit lost, but we finally found it. It closed in 1997, and has since been turned into an apartment complex, nothing terribly exciting, but I just had to go there(I bet you’re all feeling sorry for Drew now since we walked a few miles in the cold, just to see an apartment complex). From there, we made our way to the Cornerhouse, to check out their art gallery.

As it grew dark, there was one more music geek thing I wanted to do: go to the Salford Lad’s Club and get a photo in front of it, like the Smiths from their famous album cover:

We took the tram from St. Peter’s Square to Salford, but once there, we walked in the wrong direction. I was wearing the wrong shoes for the day, and at this point, I could feel the blisters forming on my feet. It was cold, and we were both getting cranky. We did walk along Salford Quays though, which was pretty alongside the canal. The pedestrian bridge was lovely, so we walked over it, before heading back to the catch the tram:

Back in the city, we hit up a pub called the Bull’s Head for a quick pint before heading back to Sara and Mark’s. A few other photos from the day:

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Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!

January 26, 2007

 Wonderful news!

Felicity Hope was born this morning at 2:14 a.m., and weighs 9lb., 4oz.  Both she and Sara are doing well, and according to Mark, she’s perfect.  Drew is so happy to be an uncle!

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Day Ten

January 21, 2007

Moving right along (the day before we all toured Staircase House, then Drew, Collin and I checked out the Stockport Air Raid Shelters)….

For Sara’s birthday last September, she and Mark went on a canal boat lunch trip. They loved it so much that they planned a day for us, plus Mark’s grandparents (they were such a blast – I really enjoyed all the times we spent with them during our trip) and their friends Jean, Rachel and Andy.

It was a great afternoon on the Judith Mary:

We were on the boat over two hours, had a delicious lunch, and spent our time chatting with everyone and taking in the views of the beautiful countryside around us.

Here’s Mark’s grandparents:

And our table (Jean, Mark, Sara, Drew, me):

For lunch, we all started with French bread and pickled red cabbage. Then we had a choice of either hot pot (like a beef stew – it was wonderful and reminded me of my mom’s which is a big favorite of mine) or bangers and mash. For dessert, we had apple pie with fresh cream.

This is the best photo I took from the boat of the countryside:

Such a beautiful area! Lots of people were on walks along the canal, and we got plenty of waves from children out walking with their parents. On the way back home, Mark stopped his car on the side of the road so I could get a few more photos of the area at dusk.

Can you see the sheep in the first photo? During this trip I saw what seemed like millions of sheep! They were everywhere.

P.S. For those of you who were also reading Drew’s blog, he hasn’t updated in ages because the day after we got back to the States, his back went out. Almost two weeks (and many visits to the chiropractor) later, he is still recovering. He has a hard time sitting for more than five minutes at a time, so he hasn’t been able to work at his computer. Poor guy feels bad, as he had good intentions with his blog. I will continue to plug away at mine when I can and I hope that everyone is still enjoying this!

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Day Eight – Boxing Day

January 18, 2007

I’m slowly catching up! The past few days have been hectic as I am in a frenzy in regards to grad school. I found out that the program I want to get into begins in May and everything needs to be turned in by Feb. 14! Time to write some killer essays…but back to England.

Boxing Day was another nice, relaxing day with family. We had no major plans, so again, Drew and I were able to sleep in a bit and take things easy. Collin came over in the morning, and by afternoon it was time for all of us to stretch our legs and get some fresh air.

Mark and Sara took us to Bramall Hall, where we strolled the grounds and took photos. There were lots of other families out and about, many with their dogs who enjoyed playing fetch and splashing in the water there. Mark grabbed us all some sticks and we played Poohsticks. If my memory serves me right, he won and I was last! Here are some photos of our outing:

Mark’s brother Paul and his fiancee Sarah (a.k.a. Paul’s Sarah, while “our” Sara is referred to as Mark’s Sara) came over to exchange gifts and visit as they couldn’t make it over on Christmas. They brought Drew and I more wonderful Thornton’s chocolates! So good. What I wouldn’t give for one of their cappucino chocolates right now…

Later Sara put our Christmas leftovers to good use with coronation turkey for good sandwiches. Mmm…curry.

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Christmas

January 13, 2007

Funny, Christmas seems so long ago already as I have done so much since then. Here’s the recap.

Christmas morning Collin, Mark, Sara, Drew and I all had breakfast together: sweet breads and such with coffee and tea. We all slept in a bit that morning, and had a really relaxed day. Family began to drop by 11:30: Mark’s grandparents, his mother and step-father, and the neighbors Andy, Vicki and Thomas. Basically, everyone came over to exchange gifts and chat, but nobody stayed long as all of our visitors were going from house to house, visiting others. In between guests, Mark worked hard to prepare our Christmas feast:

By two our guests were gone, so we began our own gift exchange. There were stockings for everyone, including Emily, Mark and Sara’s cat:

I felt incredibly spoiled by all I received, as Mark and Sara had already paid for the majority of my airfare to be in the U.K., and Collin helped to pay for our long train trips. Drew and I got some great gifts for our home, in addition to yummy chocolates and such. However, my favorite gift was a blue john necklace – gorgeous! It’s also unique as the stone is native to nearby Castleton.

We all had fun oohing and ahhing over everyone’s loot, and breathing a sigh of relief when Sara’s jewely box (the name makes it sound like something petite – but this is more like a chest) was opened and it was all in one piece. Mark bought the gift by a craftsman in the U.S., who would only ship it in the States. So it was sent to Sara’s grandmother, and from there, Drew’s aunt and uncle delivered it to us after Thanksgiving. Since we heard it was a jewelry box, we thought we would be able to transport it over, along with the rest of our Christmas gifts. But it was much too large for us to haul around. We had a hard enough time dragging our bags through the London Underground and our trains. This would have been a nightmare. I in turn dropped the gift off to Collin before our trip, who under orders from Mark, put it in some luggage with only a layer of thick bubble wrap over it – it could barely fit in the bag with the one layer. I thought it would be crushed on the way over to the U.K., but it arrived with only a few scratches on top, and Sara was thrilled with her gift:

We ate dinner around five, and we all stuffed ourselves silly. We had homemade bread, turkey and stuffing, with little sausages wrapped in bacon, potatoes, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, parsnips and many other yummy things I can’t remember at the moment. I just remember that we were all so full that we waited about two hours for dessert. Mark did a wonderful job. Before dinner, I had my first Christmas cracker experience. Afterwards, we put on our crowns, told the awful jokes that were inside and examined our “prizes”. I got a tiny radio with headphones, and Drew got a compass. Good fun!

We dessert, we had the traditional Christmas pudding. Mark doused it with brandy and lit it on fire, before we ate it. A fudge yule log was also provided for those picky eaters who hate the Christmas pudding (ahem…Drew). ‘Twas a good Christmas, indeed…

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We’re Home!

January 11, 2007

Drew and I finally arrived home last night at 10 p.m. after 18 hours of nonstop travel by two trains, the London Underground, two planes and a ride from Dad.  We had a good time, but after leaving wonderful Edinburgh on Sunday afternoon I was ready to go home.  It will be nice to settle into some semblance of normalcy again, even though I’ll soon begin job hunting and applying for grad school again.  But stay tuned as I plan on blogging about the rest of our journeys…as soon as I catch up on my sleep!

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Bear With Me

January 4, 2007

Hi everyone! Just a quick note. Drew and I are in Edinburgh now, and we’ll be headed back to Mark and Sara’s on Sunday. We leave early Tuesday morning for a grueling day of travel back to the states (two hours by train to London, an almost 9 hour flight to Detroit, two hour layover, flight to Cleveland, then an hour ride home – yuk!). Since we’re busy having a blast in Edinburgh, I don’t think there will be much updating to this blog until after our return. Just wanted to give you all a heads up.

Today we climbed up the Scott Monument, then hiked up Arthur’s Seat. Afterward, we had haggis, tatties and neeps at the Sheep Heid pub. I love this city! Will finish up when I can…