Visiting Salisbury and Winchester

Salisbury Cathedral

Prior to our move abroad, I picked up Edward Rutherford’s epic novel Sarum and somehow managed to reach the end. This book provides a sweeping history of England by tracing various families from neolithic times to the 20th century. The majority of the 1,000 pages are set in present day Salisbury, Continue reading “Visiting Salisbury and Winchester”

Visiting Salisbury and Winchester

Hiking in the Peak District

FullSizeRenderIn 1665, more than 250 people died from the plague in a tiny village called Eyam. To prevent the horrible disease from spreading to nearby towns, Eyam quarantined itself. Some sources say the plague reduced the village’s population by 50%. Others say only 23% survived. These days, you can tour a museum dedicated to the plague, its victims, and heroes. Or you can take advantage of their free car park and go hiking. Like us.

Our hike started in a 14th century churchyard, led past a soccer field, across a road, and into the forest (above). We emerged onto someone’s alpaca and sheep farm and climbed over a few ancient stone walls. Note the convenient steps built into the walls (below). The English seem to be very comfortable sharing their land with walkers/hikers. Everyone courteously closes gates to keep livestock from wandering, dogs stay on leads (leashes) around other animals, and litter is nonexistent.

DSC_0293DSC_0277DSC_0264Oh Penny. She tries so hard. But sometimes we just have to carry her so we can pick up the pace. So many good smells! She is very curious about sheep recently and quite adept at sniffing them out and trying to run at them. DSC_0241

Checking out another sheep.

The view from the top was stunning as mist and fog rolled across the hills. It was amazing to see the colors of the landscape change as the sun moved in and out of the clouds. One minute everything was grey and green, and the next instant all the brown tones glowed orange, yellow, and gold.DSC_0296We stopped at a brewery in Chesterfield on the way home and then grabbed take out fish n chips. Each fish package was as large as one of my thighs. Ridiculous.

One fish per thigh. Literally. This is me sitting in the car with a fish on each leg.

More pictures of the hike are on Flickr!

Hiking in the Peak District

Autumn, cooking, & tid bits

Thanks to my weather app, I’ve taken to comparing Birmingham’s forecast with that of my peeps’ hoods: Michigan, Chicago, Milwaukee, LA, NYC. I really should take LA off this circuit since it makes me want to do something desperate. Like buy a plane ticket. Many of you have asked about our Autumn weather, and so far, Birmingham is pretty on par with Milwaukee and generally not that different from the Midwest. Except nothing dries here and household mold is normal, not a serious health concern. Did you know mold will grow on your window panes? Curious, I know. My 7th grade science fair project on this very topic would have been unbeatable if I lived here. Nobody freak out, though: I bought some highly toxic chemical spray (since I can’t find normal cleaning products like ammonia or vinegar) and waged war. ANYWAY.

The rainy season hasn’t hit us yet so I’ve been spending as much time outside as I can. I discovered that one of the city’s canals runs through our neighborhood with a great path for running and biking. It also flows through the University of Birmingham so I explored part of the campus with Penny.

We visited Sutton Park again and picked the season’s last blackberries and some wild apples. (Berries molded immediately. Wahh) Most flowers are still going strong, but my giant chrysanthemums died. Too wet, I think. (Note to self: don’t mention dead mums to Brits. Too confusing.) We have little paths and hilly walks behind our house, which is where we take Penny, and as long as the sun is shining I can deal with the mold and damp. 

Community rose garden in our neighborhood

giant pine
We still have a bag of cooking apples from Joe and Sarah and I’m running out of apple ideas. My pathetic excuse for a freezer is packed with applesauce and apple butter and if I take one more appley bite of something sweet I might lose it. So I turned my attention to Autumn’s other brilliant dessert contribution: pumpkin. Armed with this great idea, I walked up to the high street markets, visited three stores, and each time I asked for canned pumpkin they looked at me like I was an alien. The Trader Joe’s seasonal display would blow some minds over here. Seriously. So I bought a pumpkin and made my own purée. Go me. Then I thought it would be a good idea to double the recipe for a pumpkin pecan lava dessert thing. Which is really smart since there are only two people in my house and I have no friends or colleagues. I’ve been eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Other updates:

  • We have everything booked for our week-long Christmas holiday in Italy! We’ll split our time between Rome and Florence. Still looking for a good place to leave Penny. Oh! Speaking of Penny…
  • We recently discovered she has an alter ego: Kenneth. Kenneth suffers from separation anxiety, will jump up and go crazy when he hears his name, and lick you on the lips before you know what’s happening.  He’s also extremely fascinated by sheep. Transfixed. We tend to usher Kenneth out to the yard when he pays us a visit. Or laugh and say his name over and over. Poor Kenneth.
  • Thanksgiving plans in the Lake District and Edinburgh are in the works. Still deciding if we’re going to tackle the turkey tradition. Turkey is a Christmas food over here, so we’ll need to pre-order one if we want it as early as November. I’m not entirely sure we can fit a turkey in our oven. Everything here is miniature.

Up next on the blog: hiking in the Peak District.

More pictures will be up on Flickr today and I’ll post again this week about the trip!

Autumn, cooking, & tid bits