Thursday, 29 May 2008

afternoon tea

Ant and I treated ourselves to afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel in Mayfair today. Apparently it is the oldest hotel in London, it played host to Alexander Graham Bell's first phone call in Great Britain, Agatha Christie while she was writing At Bertram's Hotel, and numerous other famous and royal guests. Afternoon tea is held in a very relaxed dining room with all-you-can-eat finger sandwiches, scones, and cakes. There is an extensive tea menu, from which we each sampled two pots of tea.

Scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam are a wonderful British invention. Sometimes Air Canada serves them on the way out of London and that is one of the only times I eat them. But these scones were so much more delicious, fresh, and airy than those airplane biscuits.

Relaxing in my easy chair and chatting with Ant was so refreshing. We were in no hurry, and the price tag meant we felt like getting our money's worth. So we stayed for two hours, enjoying the good service, delicious food, and leisurely company.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

first fruits

Well, today was an exciting day on which the fruits, er, vegetables, of my labour were tasted. I took the first snips of mixed salad leaves from the box I planted for our lamb burgers tonight. I have used Sonya's lamb burger recipe three times recently since she shared it with me. I was looking for a way to get into lamb, since it is so popular here and I have little experience with it.

Minted Lamb Burgers

0.5 kg lamb mince
1/2 cup crumbled (low fat) feta cheese
sliced green onions
2 tablespoons dried mint
1 teaspoon cumin or other spices (eg. garam malasa)
1 egg

Shape into six or eight burgers. Serve with mixed salad leaves, crumbled feta, and red onion marinated in balsamic vinegar. Yum, yum.

St Albans

Yesterday I went on a day trip to St Albans, just north of London. Sadly all the pictures I took have disappeared from my phone and I am very sad. You will have to imagine it all instead!

St Albans has a huge cathedral. I enjoyed its beautiful floor tiles, which have raised, embossed patterns. I loved the massive rose window (see the Cathedral's photo page for a nice shot) and the ornate carvings around the lower window casings. I visited the shrine of St Alban--he was a Roman who harboured a fugitive priest, and converted under his influence. Then when executioners came knocking for the priest Alban said that he was the priest and the priest escaped. Alban was the first British martyr. Walking around the cathedral I used a guide called a prayer trail, which was really interesting, if a little pluralist for me.

I had lunch sitting on the grass of the park behind the cathedral. I am still reading The Idiot and am now on page 400 (of 660). I have a bit of a cold so I had quite a long rest and then ambled over the park to the Roman museum. St Albans was built on the site of an important Roman town called Verulamium. The museum was excellent and the history fascinating. I traipsed over to the ruins of a Roman theatre, the only one in Britain.

I saw a bench at the theatre dedicated to someone that had the epithet, "A person who also lives in the past lives doubly" (or something thereabouts). This reminded me of what we have been talking about at our house group, that looking at life from an eternal perspective changes everything. "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal." CS Lewis said.

St Albans was an excellent day out. It is so close to London (just half an hour from St Pancras). If I would have had more energy I would have also climbed the clock tower.

Sunday, 25 May 2008


My uncle Walt was visiting this last day and a half--how nice to see him! He is one of my mother's brothers and I don't get to see many of my Mum's family very frequently. He arrived yesterday morning and after a brief nap we headed into London for a walking tour of the south bank, passing the Tate Modern and walking over the Millennium footbridge. From the footbridge there are stunning views of the city with St Paul's Cathedral straight ahead. We had our lunch sitting on the steps of the cathedral--it was a lovely day, sunny and warm. We watched with interest as a newly-wed couple came over with their photographer (maybe we are in their photos?)! Other people around us were quite interested as well.

The church was holding a service and so we nipped in and had a seat, looking around at the ceilings, walls, mosaics, and carvings.

We walked along the Thames and chatted about my grandparents, whom I didn't know very well before they died. I learned more about how they met, what their dreams were and what they regretted. We also talked about Walt's and my dreams and about his upcoming trip to Congo to do an educational mission.

In other news, the recent nice weather means my salad is actually growing well! I am so excited that I have not failed (yet) with my garden adventures. My box of salad is planted in three quarters. The bottom right section ist he most prolific at the moment--it's mixed salad leaves. Above that is spinach, and in the top left I am (trying) to grow rocket (or arugula to some).

And nearby I have this round pot of radishes. (Dad, should I thin them out a bit?)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008


I am trying to grow a few things this spring. When I signed up for the Food Up Front project, the form asked if I had any gardening experience. I answered, "I have killed a few houseplants." Here are the tomato seedlings I have on my windowsill. They are still very small but they are growing.

And I "planted" some cress seeds in a tray with some moist paper towel. The sprouts are growing, too, but they are still just specks in this photo.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

very nice weather

The lovely summery day today made my cycle into work for a revision session quite enjoyable. Afterwards Sarah came over for lunch and then we went out for her to practice with her new clip pedals. She went up and down the street for about twenty minutes and then we headed over to the park. It seems she is a much faster learner than me and she has all but mastered the shoes and pedals today. We plan on Monday (which is a bank holiday) to go for a longer ride to Kingston.

My salad leaf seeds that I planted a couple of weeks ago are now tiny sprouts. A few radish sprouts are also poking up through the soil of the pot.

Our friends Mot and Ness have begun their cycling adventure today, flying out to Sardinia tonight for a six month-ish sojourn around the Mediterranean. (You may have seen a picture of them ignoring me eating a giant mushroom recently.) I hope they have a great journey! Also, you have left a pair of your cycling glasses here and may need to get a new pair before I see you again.

Ant and Justin are out watching Iron Man at the cinema tonight so I have blitzed the flat (washing up, laundry, hoovering, tidying around, mopping floors, cleaning the bathroom). What is it about spring weather that makes us want to clean?