Archive for February, 2007

h1

Day Fourteen

February 25, 2007

All is quiet on New Year’s Day…all is quiet here, too. Has my tardiness driven you all away? I miss hearing from everyone, but I will continue on.

New Year’s Day at Mark and Sara’s was indeed quiet. It was raining yet again, no big surprise there. In London we had some sunshine here and there amongst the fog, but as soon as we headed north, the weather was crap almost everyday. This is England, right? Drew and I awoke to tea and bacon butties (I take mine with brown sauce….mmm). Since the next five days would be hectic (a day trip to Liverpool plus four days in Edinburgh), we relaxed and didn’t do too much.

However, in the evening we finally went to the Curry Mile in Rusholme, Manchester. Mark regaled me with tales of the Curry Mile when I saw him last in April, and when Drew and I were planning this trip we knew we would have to spend an evening there! What could be better for the curry obsessed than a stretch of over 70 Asian restaraunts and kebab houses, plus markets and sweet shops? Plus the most gaudy jewelry you could ever hope to see:

Ick! But never mind that. When we all got out of the car, the smell was incredible. Reminiscent of my first whiff of barbecue at Rendezvous in Memphis, but much more complex and wonderful. The neon signs were blazing in the dark, and there was so much to look at that we didn’t know which way to go first. So we set off aimlessly, letting our noses guide us.

Outside of most restaraunts were men beckoning us to eat at their establishments. If Drew and I were alone, we would have had no idea of which place to try out, but luckily Mark and Sara were seasoned veterans and knew of the best places to eat at. But first we stopped at a market so Drew could pick up spices and such so we could try our hand at making Indian concoctions at home. Mark followed Drew, who was running around like the proverbial kid in the candy store, while Sara and I sat back and laughed at his enthusiasm. He was so excited at what he found, and it was too cute. Since such spices and things aren’t as abundant here in Ohio, he decided to take advantage of all that was available in Rusholme.

Afterward, we hit up one of Mark and Sara’s favorite restaraunts in the area. Drew and I treated them to dinner, to offer a gesture of thanks for all the generosity they showed us throughout our trip. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the opportunity to spend three weeks in the U.K.! We all had a great time sampling everyone’s dishes, and ate like kings. We strolled around a bit more afterward to walk some of it off. Unfortunately we were too full to partake in the goods at the sweet shop:

A few more photos from the evening:

Advertisements
h1

Meet Cosmo!

February 20, 2007

On February 8th, Drew and I added a new member to our family. Cosmo Sullivan is a wonderful gift to us from the great folks over at the Humane Society of Greater Akron. He’s a year old or so, and looks to be part Rottweiler/Lab/Border Collie. All in all, he’s just a cute mutt:

We’re still mourning the loss of Nesta, but Cosmo has brought us so much joy already. He helps lessen the hurt a bit. Cosmo had some problems at first with his food, but he’s doing much better. He’s adjusting to us and the new house as well too, though the cats are probably cursing his arrival. He loves going on walks, playing with his toys, and meeting new friends at the Akron dog park. Cosmo also thought that the giant snowdrifts from last week’s storm were the coolest thing ever. A few photos from Valentine’s Day:


Funny, as it was my mother who warned us against looking at dogs so soon at the Humane Society and she’s the one who is most excited about spoiling her new “grandson”!

h1

Day Thirteen: New Year’s Eve

February 20, 2007

The previous evening was our last with Collin. The five of us gathered briefly at a local pub for a farewell pint after Drew and I returned from Macclesfield (I believe Sara toasted with a soda). Our morning was relaxed: Sara napped and Drew worked on uploading his photos and blogging.

Mark and I took off to look for a new pair of shoes for me, since I was having issues with my feet. I had only brought two pairs of shoes with me, and one of them gave me problems after a few hours of city walking. We didn’t have anything planned for the afternoon, so Mark volunteered to take me shopping. We ventured into numerous shops, but I could not find a thing. At the last shop we were at, I finally found something reasonably priced that felt and looked nice. However, in the box were two different sized shoes and no one in the store could find another U.K. women’s size eight of this particular shoe (I think I needed a left one). Such is my luck. Since it was New Year’s Eve, all the shops were closing early so I decided to throw in the towel. I had one more week to go in the U.K., and if I had to stick to the one pair of shoes that didn’t rip up my feet after hours of walking, then so be it. After admitting defeat, we decided to drown our sorrows at Caffè Nero. I had a caramel latte the size of my head, and Mark and I split a piece of cake and a bag of crisps (lunch of champions!).

Back at home, I decided to make some phone calls to Mom and Dad, to wish them a happy new year. I also called a few friends and left some messages. By the time I called Robin, I was in full caffiene-sugar overload. It was time for some real food before I rocketed through the roof and into space.

Sara made us coronation turkey again, so we had dinner before our guests arrived. The first over were two neighbors with their son Josh (I can’t remember their names for the life of me). Josh was decked out in his Spider-Man robe and pajamas, which he got for Christmas. Drew got brought out our glowsticks from Poundland, which were a big hit:

Of course we had to turn out the lights for the proper effect:

Mark and Sara’s closest neighbors, Vicki and Andy, were over a bit later with their son Thomas. It was a quiet, but fun evening. We watched the Brit New Year’s Eve shows, and I watched Paul Weller perform on one of them. I called my brother Shane a few minutes before midnight, so he could hear us ring in the new year. Mark and Sara called Drew and I the year before, and it was cool to hear them welcome the new year when it was only 7 p.m. back in the States. We had a champagne toast, then shortly called it a night. I fear that I am getting boring in my old age…

A few more photos:

h1

Day Twelve: Macclesfield

February 17, 2007

My next rockstar pilgrimage occured on December 30. We visited Macclesfield, home of the legendary Ian Curtis. The night before at Grandma and Grandpa’s, Drew and I spent some time talking to Paul’s Sarah about Macclesfield, since she works there and knows the town well. She said it was a great town to visit, lots of shops and such, plus it’s rather quaint and charming.

Drew and I left around 9 a.m. to walk to the train station. Mark and Sarah live a ten minute walk away from the station, which was wonderful because they didn’t have to drive us around when we embarked on our numerous day trips. Before our train left, we stopped for some coffee at the little shop at the station. The same girl was always working the register when we made our pre-train pitstops, and everyday you could tell she was wondering where we crazy Americans were running off to next. For some reason, I decided to poke around at the magazine selection that particular morning, and I came across the latest issue of Mojo, which just happened to have Ian on the cover. It was a sign, right? I had to buy it.

Macclesfield was a short train ride, only 15 minutes away. When we got off the train, we wandered accross the the street and up the steep cobbled street into the center of town. A beautiful old church was to our right, which we decided to invesigate. The churchyard was covered in old tombstones, and some people were outside doing rubbings of them:

From the church, we had no idea where to go next. We followed another cobbled street that was lined with shops, and did some browsing. Since we didn’t have a map of town, we were hoping to find a petrol station (also known as a garage – the Brits are good at confusing us Yanks!) so we could either get a map or some directions toward the cemetary. Thankfully it didn’t take long to find a petrol station, and the woman working there seemed a bit puzzled as to why we were looking for the cemetary, but she was pleasant enough and very helpful. As we left, it began to rain (surprise, surprise) so we huddled under our umbrellas during our 20 minute walk to Macclesfield Cemetary.

I had seen some photos of Ian’s grave online, along with some directions towards where it is in the cemetary. I generally have a poor sense of direction, but we found it quite quickly, even though it’s a tiny stone:

The cemetary was large, so I’m glad we found it so fast! It would have been a long day in the cold and rain if I wouldn’t have checked online before our trip. After paying our respects, we explored more of the cemetary, which was really beautiful:

Drew and I stayed for about an hour before we headed back to the center of town. From there we explored more of the shops, and bought more Thornton’s chocolates. Then we discovered the Brit version of the dollar store – Poundland!

Can you tell that it’s the little details that make us happy? We had to go in and explore, though the place was packed. Drew picked up a few bags of glowsticks for some jollies on New Years Eve. While browsing I came across this calendar of Sharon Osbourne:

As you can see, it was half-price at 50p. Who in the world wants a Sharon Osbourne calendar anyway? Maybe they should try giving them away…

When we left Poundland, it was getting dark. It was still raining, we were cold, and we decided to find some food. We hit up a local pub first, but they didn’t sell food. They directed us to The Queen’s Hotel, which was down the road. Once there, we ordered some pints and looked at the menu. Since it was a more respectable establishment, I was admonished by the bartender to take off my hat. A local came up to us for a chat, turns out he’d spent a number of years living in the States. Naturally, he wondered what would bring us to Macclesfield and I sheepishly mentioned my Ian Curtis pilgrimmage. We talked for a bit longer, then we finally settled in for our meal (Drew: chicken tikka masala, Me: fish, chips and mushy peas – boring aren’t I? but it’s good stuff).

On the way out of town we stopped at Tesco’s so we could pickup some odds and ends (chapstick, antacids, Boddingtons for Drew for our New Year’s Eve gathering). We hopped another train, then headed back to Sara and Mark’s. A few more snaps from the day. At the train station:

Self-portrait on the way back:

h1

Day Eleven: Part Two

February 6, 2007

Following the day trip to Manchester, we all headed over to Mark’s grandparents’ house where we had a post-Christmas feast along with Mark’s brother Paul and “his Sarah”. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this yet, but I love Mark’s grandparents. Such fun and interesting people. According to Sara, Grandma loves entertaining and always goes all out for such events. Apparently, her big thing is to pick up the best cuts of meat she possibly can from the butcher, then not allow anyone to eat until they’ve guessed how much she paid for the meat! She’s a riot that way, though she didn’t do that for us…

The meal was wonderful though, and it’s fair to say that we all ate like pigs. We had lamb with Grandma’s mint jelly, ham, turkey with her cranberry sauce, pork pie, stuffing, potatoes, salad, etc. We had Christmas pudding and cream afterward, and she put a silver sixpence into it, of which she only has five left. She made me dish out my dessert first and the coin came out with my first scoop. Perhaps it’s a sign of good luck for this year? Grandma was so excited that I found it that she grabbed me and kissed me on the forehead. Now that I am home I am still trying to figure out what I will do with this unique souvenir from our trip. We finished up dessert with mince pies, marmalade tarts and an assortment of cheese, then our clan gathered for some photos.

We had another go with the Christmas crackers afterward, and we put on our crowns and exchanged more terrible jokes. Then Grandma came out with a bag of little gifts, which we all took turns opening. Drew and I were tired from having walked miles across Manchester, but it was such a good night with the family. They’re all such nice people and I miss them already.