Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Adventure Begins...Kidlington

10 - 12 March, 2010

So, we are about to head off on our big European adventure, but before we depart British shores, we were staying in Kidlington (just beyond Oxford) for a couple of days. Sha has been working here since early Jan, and I have come up for the last couple of days before we start our travel by heading off to Iceland.

Sha has been staying at Lavender Cottage - a lovely bed and breakfast (who do an absolutely fantastic cooked brekkie) - combined with a beautiful room and tranquil atmosphere. It's the sort of place that you might see in an issue of Home and Garden. Sha would like it known that she resisted the temptation of a cooked breakfast the whole six weeks she stayed here, but she did indulge on her final day. If anyone ever happens to be in Kidlington and is looking for a place to stay, I thoroughly recommend it.

We were a 20 minute bus ride from Oxford, and were a five minute walk from the local St. Mary the Virgin church and its accompanying graveyard. I'm not generally a morbid person, but I love wondering through a graveyard, soaking up the history and seeing what sort of innings people get. Am often surprised at how old people can make, despite not having the modern advances in technology.

While I was in Oxford, I had a gawk at Christ Church College (Lewis Carroll studied here):

and popped in on a rather unique cafe. The cafe had writing all over the walls, with one bit urging "Check out or don't" - so, I just had to have a look. Weird. Especially when you click on the 'stories' tab. In the cafe there was also this:

and some of the other writing included "Organic lines - reminiscent of 90's car designs" with an arrow pointing to the windows and "Secret Nescafe Pipe" next to a random pipe in the cafe. Something about the quirkiness of the cafe really appealed to me. Hmmm, after further research, I think it was Puccino's which is a chain franchise. I think. Actually, there are a number of British food franchises which are pretty good, especially when compared to the American monoliths of Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC and Burger King. I have been very impressed with Pizza Express which puts Pizza Hut to shame. But I digress.

While visiting Christ Church College and a cafe may not sound like much (it wan't), I also visited a few bookstores trying to find something substantial I could sink my teeth into. No luck, but I still had the Dexter omnibus to keep me sated (the bestest Christmas pressie - thanks Sha!)

I also paid a visit to the St. Mary the Virgin church and graveyard, which was just up the road from Lavender Cottage. Below are a few of the more interesting shots.

St. Mary the Virgin church

Some older graves

Statue of girl with flowers

Many, many more tombstones

I went for a wander further down past the graveyard to find somewhere to sit and have some lunch, when the heavens opened up and I got hailed from upon high. This British winter really does seem to be hanging around!

After a few days in Kidlington, it was time to catch the bus from Oxford to Heathrow, disembark at the wrong terminal and then try and get to Iceland. Easy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Euro Travel

Okay, so I lied about the next post being about dinosaur bones. I will play catch up with the more interesting events of last year some time. Honest!

Anyway, I thought I would give a little outline of what we are doing at the moment. We are currently in Luton (amazing place that it is) and very shortly leave for Prague. We have been in Dunoon (Scotland) and then Glasgow and prior to that Iceland.

After Prague, we spend time in Belgium, then Dubrovnik, Greece, Spain, France and finally Italy before heading back to London for a week. We then make the journey back to NZ via the US, where we are thinking about spending a few days. Very much a whirlwind trip, but we will be able to see a fair bit of Europe which has so far eluded us.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dirty brie

17 Feb 2010

After two posts about food, I thought I would add a further one to complete the hat trick (thanks for the idea Peter).

Mmmm, a dirty Cornwallian St Endellion brie I purchased a few weeks ago. Delicious!
So runny and gooey, it was the sort of brie that threatened to slide off the kitchen bench onto the floor. Said fromage had to be devoured pretty quickly to ensure that it didn't!

Next up: Some dinosaur bones

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Visit to Harrods

21st March 2009

Went to Harrods for a look around and were duly impressed. Can't really describe it - just go with a well loaded credit card. Or gold. Actually, they do have a gold exchange there as well.

You can find some good food deals in the food halls at reduced prices. We purchased some cheap poultry - a couple of poussin. Yes, we are evil carnivores, but doesn't it look delicious? It looks like a normal chicken, only smaller...and therefore tastier. Or something like that.

Oh, and below is a photo we took of the memorial to Diana and Dodi. I don't think photos of this memorial were allowed, but that didn't stop us (or the other hundred odd tourists doing the same thing).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Steak and Guinness Pie

19 March 2009

Now, I'm not much of a cook, but I do enjoy cooking, especially making up things from scratch which inevitably end up a little bit, uh, crispy. But sometimes I surprise myself.

Here is a Steak and Guinness Pie I made, using a recipe I found somewhere (perhaps the local free tube paper) and influenced from St Patrick's Day which had been a few days earlier. We had tried to find somewhere to get a free Guinness with one of the vouchers that were being handed out everywhere, but it was only certain pubs, and they were absolutely packed. Not a bad idea though - vouchers for free beer! :-) St Patrick's Day really is a godsend of free publicity for Guinness!


A slightly more attractive angle

Notice that I have cunningly written my name on the top, to allow for ease of identification if stolen. Who ate all the pies they cried?

It tasted okay, but I've had better (and worse!)