Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Historic Event

A few days ago I kept seeing these signs pop up around town:

I couldn't believe the torch was coming our way and was very excited about it.  I have always been a huge fan of the Olympics (summer or winter, it doesn't matter to me) and this was a big deal for me.  I still remember the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and all the records that Michael Phelps broke and am as anxious as everyone else to see if he can do it again.  I actually cry at the opening ceremonies from excitement and then cry at the closing ceremonies because I'm so sad it's over.  Yeah, yeah, drama...

So the day finally arrived!  Thankfully, my husband got back from work on time and we made our way down to the street that was on the torch's path.  Luckily for us it was, literally, right in front of our apartment building.  And what a moment!  Although it went by quite quickly, it was still a moving moment to see this torch that had been lit in Olympia, Greece and had made its way to England and all throughout the country.  I am proud to say that I was part of that moment.

Afterwards, we went for a beer at the Watergate.  This really laid back pub that is less than five minutes from the apartment and right at the entrance to the racecourse.  It made for great people watching.

As happy as I am that I was able to witness this historic event, I'm very happy to be able to share it with all of you.

I wish you all good health and a wonderful week!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

One Week Down, Many More To Go

It's official, I've been in Chester for one week.  I've done some exploring, am slowly learning the history of this lovely town, gone through a very stressful situation (more on that later), and have learned the following things:

1.  When crossing the street, LOOK RIGHT!  We, as Americans, are trained to look left first and then right.  Well, everything here is backwards and old habits die hard.  When I get to the corner I tell myself, "Look right.  Look left.  Look right again."  So far, so good. 

2.  There is a wonderful show on British TV called "Come Dine With Me".  The premise is that four strangers are brought together to have dinner at each other's homes.  Over the course of four days, each person holds their own dinner party while the other three judge the food from 1 to 10.  Whoever gets the most points wins 1000 pounds (roughly $1500).  We definitely need an American version of this show.

3.  It doesn't get dark here until after 10pm.  I'm not used to so much sunlight in one day but it is quite nice.

4.  People here eat late; usually 9pm or later.  I, for one, enjoy the late dinner but when my husband has to go to work at five or six in the morning we don't always get to partake in that tradition.

5.  The people here love American music.  Case in point: my husband and I were at a bar last night that had a DJ and next thing you know, everyone in the bar is singing along to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing"!  I didn't know Journey was so popular here. 

6.  A cooktop, or stovetop, is called a hob.

7.  I cannot make heads or tails of cricket. 

8.  The bartenders take the art of making cocktails very seriously.  They mix the ingredients in a shaker and then taste it and adjust accordingly.  This reminds me of chefs that taste their food before serving it to make sure it is properly seasoned.   

9.  And last but definitely not least but probably the grossest, eating the worm at the bottom of a bottle of tequila is so last year.  The popular thing now is (drumroll please) Scorpion Vodka.  Yuck.

That's it my friends.  In order to get rid of the bad taste the scorpion might have left in your mouth, here is a picture of the Eastgate Clock of Chester:

This clock stands on the site of the original entrance to the city and is the most photographed clock in England, after Big Ben.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.  Enjoy your Sundays and, as always, good health to you all.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dining In

My husband and I had our first dinner in since we've both been here.  I was a bit hesitant, at first.  What do I make?  How do I make it in this tiny kitchen?  And most of all, how do I cook on an electric stove and a Celsius degree oven?

So, first things first.  Keep it simple!  We had gone grocery shopping a few days ago and had chicken in the freezer, along with onions and garlic.  I decided to just get some basics and headed to small, local grocery store.  I loaded up on potatoes, green beans, and some cheese to nibble on beforehand.  And of course I couldn't resist the wine shop on the way home. 

Next came the issue of the oven.  I asked my husband to figure out what the Celsius equivalent of 375 Farenheit was and off I went.  It's been years since I've cooked on an electric stove and now I know why I don't like it!!  I can't control the heat and it takes foreeeeever to heat.  Well, you gotta use, what you got.  So I figured it out and managed to sear the chicken, crisp up the potatoes and then throw the whole thing in the oven for 40 minutes.  In the meantime I sauteed some onions and garlic and once they were soft, I put in the green beans.  I poured in some water, covered it all, and let it steam. 

And voila:

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the green beans but here is the chicken with potatoes and onions.  The chicken was cooked throughout and the skin was crispy.  Yum!  The green beans were a bit crunchy but all in all, the meal was great.  (In fact, I just walked away from my laptop to steal a few leftover potatoes.)

Here is a pic of the Celsius side of the oven:

And the second best part of all , the meal being the best part, was the cleaning up.  A small kitchen equals not so much cleaning.  I put dishes in the dishwasher, washed the pans, wiped down the countertop, and done! 

I'm looking forward to our next weekend excursion to the grocery store and new recipes for me to try out.  I'm thinking fish stew...

To all of you out there, I wish you good health and good eats!  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Apartment Bound

Today I accomplished one thing: I washed my hair.  I actually didn't leave the apartment until 6pm and spent the day inside.  I'm sure you are saying to yourselves, "What?  She did what?  But she's in England!  How dare she not go exploring!"  My excuse?  A combination of jet lag, stress, and moving anxiety.  My body has several responses to stress.  The main one usually involves stomach pain and many, many trips to the bathroom.  Sometimes I get highly annoyed and irritated at everyone and everything.  And the least severe of them, I sleep.  Turns out, I've been sleeping a lot since I've been here.  I haven't been able to put myself on anything that resembles a sleeping schedule but hopefully I can get it together in the next few days.  Then again, if sleep is the way it has to go, I'll take that over having to search for a bathroom when I'm out and about.

In the meantime, here are some pictures I took yesterday during my wanderings.

This is the River Dee which is a 70-mile long river in the United Kingdom.  The river is on the other side of our apartment building and has a lovely walkway alongside it with benches for resting.  I hope to spend time here being inspired.

This is The Water Tower of Chester which is conveniently located in a park close to the apartment.  The tower was constructed in the 1320s.  Its original use was to control shipping and taxes into the port of Chester and because the tower was in the actual river, ships could be moored around the base.

An old-fashioned British phone booth!!  Yes, although there are few and far between, they still exist.

And the most important picture of all: my new library card!!  Although I'll only be here for a few months, they were more than happy to issue me my own personal card.  Aaah...life is good!  And yes, this is a shameless plug for the Saturday Writers.

With this I wish you all a wonderful day and good health.  And in honor of being told that England invented drinking (with the Irish and Scottish perfecting it) I leave you with this quote from Phyllis Diller:

Good Heath - what my friends drink to, before they fall down.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Girl Abroad

Hello my fellow bloggers and followers!

First, and foremost, an apology for having disappeared for the past two months.  But now I'm back and with a whole new set of adventures before me.

Second, I am currently living in Chester, England.    It's about a four hour train ride north of London and right on the border with North Wales.  Why, you ask?  My husband has been temporarily relocated for work and I get to tag along and play tourist. 

Just a quick historical/geographical note about Chester:  Chester is a walled city and with the exception of 330 feet, the original walls, which were finished by the middle of the 12th century, still stand and you can walk the whole circumference which is roughly 2 miles.  Pretty cool, huh?  I've walked a tiny bit of it but it is definitely on my list of things to do.  Here's a pic:

This archway is part of the original structure but since I'm not terribly familiar with all of Chester history, I'm sure there has been some reconstruction in parts.  Just past the archway is the street that leads to town.

So, on to toilet paper related issues.  My husband and I have eaten out a few times and I have to say, the bathrooms are wonderful here!  Now, we haven't experienced the night life yet so I don't know how the bathrooms in a dance club will be.  Then again, dance club bathrooms in the States aren't that great so I'll just assume the same for here.  I have noticed that there are public bathrooms to be found in the city square but I have yet to experience those.

While I'm here I hope to begin a walking and writing routine, part of which will include blogging.  I am also determined to make headway in my novel.  And, all the while, discovering a new city rich with history and hopefully some weekend getaways to Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and surrounding cities.

If anyone out there has been to Chester please send your favorite places to visit.  If anyone has been to any part of the United Kingdom or Ireland, where should I go?  We're hoping to make it to Stonehenge and London but since we're not too sure about my husband's schedule, that is all we have planned so far.

With this I bid you good health.  More pictures to follow!