Thursday, 21 February 2008


I have returned from a flying two night visit to Lisbon with Matt, our flat-mate. The city is built on two big hills and a valley between--my legs are in pain from the constant hill climbing over the last three days. The buildings are from another age--there are very few modern ones. People seem to live mostly in blocks and there are no gardens (yards) in the city. The buildings are rendered and painted a pastel colour or they are tiled--how amazing that a whole building could be covered in tile the same way some Canadian houses have siding.

The city is ornate in many ways. The pavements around our hotel and downtown were made of mosaic stones. The patterns changed every block.

We used various methods of public transportation to help with the big hills. (I would not want to try to cycle in that city!) We took a funicular railway to get up to the eating and drinking areas on Tuesday night and on Wednesday we took an iron lift, built in 1901! From the top of the hill the views over the city were brilliant.

On top of the hill we went to visit an old Carmelite convent, now in ruins. It houses Portugal's oldest museum.

We walked back down to the main part of town and saw this arch leading from one of the old streets.

A little further on we saw this old church. Our guide book said to look for the "exuberant carving", which was exactly what we saw!

On the other end of the carving spectrum is this building a few doors up the street. It's covered in very strange pyramids; we were unable to ascertain why.

Next we started climbing up hills on the other side of the city. We visited the cathedral.

And, finally, on the tallest hill in the whole city, we arrived at the castle. Some of it dates from the eleventh century. It's been well looked after lately. I realy enjoyed climbing on the walls and looking off to the city's roofs below.

Matt was a bit braver than me and climbed to the topmost edge of some towers.

Both of us were exhausted after our extensive walking tour. We collapsed into a very quirky bar restaurant nearby for sangria and tapas.

Our hotel was on a main boulevard where there was a fantastic art installation--big sculptures of the numbers zero to nine, spread out along the length of the street. We obviously had to take photos of ourselves with all the numbers and use these pictures in future educational endeavours.

Update (added Saturday, 23 February)
Sonya commented that I should print all the numbers photos and ask you, dear readers, what to do with them. Brilliant idea! So, please tell me your creative thoughts about what to do with my numbers photos.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I am so excited--my holiday has finally come together. I am going with Matt for two nights in Portugal. Woohoo! We fly to Lisbon this afternoon and arrive back on Thursday evening. I'm heading out this morning to see if I can get a book about Lisbon. My aim in going there was to pick somewhere I could afford and that would be a bit warmer than here. (Although, after checking the weather, it looks warmer but also rainy. Humph.)

Sunday, 17 February 2008

recipes to try

While surfing today I saw a few nice sounding recipes that I think I will try. It's soup season--nice warming soups brighten up winter nights. How about this zucchini garlic soup? I am always on the lookout for ways to cook courgettes/zucchini since it is my new favourite vegetable ever. And look at this roasted garlic soup with parmesan cheese. Who could believe a recipe that starts out with, "take 26 garlic cloves" and the second step is "add 18 more garlic cloves"?! Here's a recipe for a goat's cheese tart, which is the kind of thing I love to order at restaurants. Learning to make it would be brilliant. I would serve it with a crispy rocket salad. Another delicious sounding main dish is the lemon fish with basil cream sauce. And finally, Ant is in love with rice and requests it at every meal, and so I am thinking of trying rice pudding for dessert at some point. Here's a really tasty sounding lemon rice pudding.

So that's my food for thought for the evening (ha ha!). What new things would you like to try out? These are just dreams, mind. I am not always as ambitious away from the internet and in my kitchen! I'll let you know if I get around to making any of them. (Would anyone care to come over on the night I make the garlic soup? If not, we will be very stinky on our own!)

happy Valentine's day

Ant and I are celebrating this weekend. I received this lovely bouquet, along with a gorgeous pair of red shoes and some delectable body butters. I got him a new T-shirt and long sleeved shirt, a new book and chocolates. We are planning to do out to eat tonight; I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

veg and the environment

Today in my surfing I was reading this very interesting page about what sort of "green" pledge you might consider making. Some of the ideas are not new, but there are some really interesting tips. And I linked to a project about growing your own vegetables. I wrote them a message asking about joining the scheme (pictured below), in which they provide a growing box and seeds to grow salad greens in your front garden. And I would love to join Able and Cole's organic veg box scheme. At the moment it's the cost that makes me hold off, but maybe it's not really that much more expensive. One day I will research it properly. (I have now switched to organic milk, apples, potatoes, and peanut butter when shopping at Sainsburys.)

Saturday, 9 February 2008

hair attempt

I have recently acquired some hot rollers and I attempted to use them today. Surely they are foolproof? I wanted to get some loose, bouncy, wavy curls. What do you think? I think this looks a lot like my normal hair!

marking sucks

I fed my marking to the sharks yesterday. Who needs it?

Friday, 8 February 2008

i'm not hiding...

...just tired. It's cold season and fighting illness off takes more energy than I thought. Half term is coming up soon and I despair of geting sick before then or during the break (it's my holiday!*). I am taking ColdFx (thanks, Mum) and cutting out excess activities. Off to bed I go, hoping for a nice Saturday lie-in. Take care of yourselves, everyone.

*I hope that I can go away over the break and I've been saving for a few months to do so. Maybe Portugal for a couple of nights? So excited that I might be able to pull it off!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

new kitchen item

In a very exciting event, Matt and Ant and I have inherited a small George Foreman grill. Woo hoo! I used it for the first time today, grilling some marinated chicken breasts to serve to some friends from church. I marinated them with half soy sauce and half maple syrup with added garlic and ginger. Wonderful! I am looking forward to learning about how to use it properly.