Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy St Andrew's Day!

Today is St Andrew's Day - the patron saint of Scotland. To celebrate, I bought myself a wee St Andrew's Day cake:
It snowed a little bit more today (!) These are some of the pictures I took around the main gate, and by the main university buildings:
I don't think you can tell, but it was snowing.
Main gates and buildings from up by the library

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving at Church

The missionary couple, Elder & Sister Nield (from Idaho I believe) put on a huge spread for all of the YSA (most of which were NOT from America, actually!) and we had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, yams w/ marshmallows, rolls, and more!
The lovely table settings
I took this picture for Heather, yet another connection to the 44 Scotland Street books!


I was dismayed, on arriving in the UK, to find that they don't sell applesauce. Not as Americans know it, at least. Their "apple sauce" is a sauce like cranberry sauce, or mint sauce - more like a jelly, not the mushed apples I know and love.

So I looked up a recipe and it looked pretty easy, so I gave it a try. As one of my Gaelic teachers from the university says, it was "dead easy".  I don't have an apple corer and I didn't even need one! If you boil them enough, when you mash them, the skin and the core are easy to pick out. So! The reason I wanted to make applesauce is because I have a favourite Christmas-time drink called "Lambswool". Historically it is a hearty Medieval drink (alcoholic of course) which was spiced and warmed up and into which small apples (or crabapples) were boiled. When they burst, the apple flesh inside looked like wool.

Here it is an a jar. I love these jars - this is what Nutella comes in and when the Nutella is gone (which happens amazingly quickly!) the glass can be used for a cup or a jar.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent, advent, the candles burn...

Well, unfortunately I can't burn candles in my flat, but of course, I have to celebrate advent before Christmas. So, inspired by those old felt scripture boards they used to teach us from in primary I made myself a felt advent wreath.
First one, then two, then three, then four, then stands the Christ-child at the door.

All hail to the days that merit more praise than all the rest of the year

Well, I was very surprised, when I left the flat for work this morning, that it had snowed again in the night! Imagine my continued surprise, while at work, to look out the window and see the snow falling again, in big, beautiful snowflakes. WET snow too! It was still coming down on my walk home, and I was completely covered, my glasses included, so I couldn't see very well.

When I walked to church, I brought my umbrella, and that was a great help!
Snowing on Great Western Road, on the way to church
A glimpse into the Botanic Gardens
Looking up Southpark Ave. towards the university

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The 1st Snow in Glasgow!

Last night I was having a devilishly hard time getting to sleep, so when I got a text at midnight (!) it wasn't a vexation, as it didn't wake me up, sadly...Anyway, this text was informing me that it was SNOWING!!!! So I hopped out of bed and ran to my window and peeked out. It was quite windy outside, and this is what I saw:
I apologise for the fuzziness of the picture - and the water on the window, but it does give an idea of the late night beauty of the snow. This is how it looked in the morning (er, much later in the morning, I mean!):
This is the view out my window
After work in the morning, I met up with Rachel in the city centre and we shopped around at St Enoch square market where they had lots of fun little booths. We also made a trip to the Glasgow Cathedral, for although Rachel lives a hop, skip and a jump from the cathedral, she has never been there! We then wandered around the city some more, and walked by George Square, which is quite transformed! Not only is there ice-skating, there is a carousel and other rides as well! Some time soon I will have to taste the pleasures of the Christmasy George Square! We then had some lovely hot chocolate and sweets in a charming cafe (which again made me think of the 44 Scotland Street books - as it was a cafe you had to walk downstairs to!) and that ended our nice day out.
The snow on Great Western Road (crossing the Kelvin River)
Buskers playing some very lovely Christmas music - but they must have been very cold! The highest it got today was around 26 degrees (F) which is -3 (c)
Glasgow Cathedral in the late afternoon
George Square, Christmas style

One of the lions, bedecked with snow, George Square

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Abroad

Today has been a fabulous Thanksgiving. I was afraid that I wouldn't feel very festive today, being outside America, but it has been very festive indeed! To begin with, I had a Thanksgiving card yesterday from mother, and today I had:
a card from Heather, Michael and Katie
a package from Heather
a package from Nick!
I opened all these delights with quite a lot of glee. In Heather's package were Thanksgiving crackers!

And this evening, Winnie and I had a little Thanksgiving celebration together - I made Mexican Casserole, and she bought grapes and a lovely cranberry-rasperry juice and we opened our crackers and had a jolly time. There were three crackers from Heather, and I gave the third to Asuman, my other flat-mate, though I don't think she'd encountered crackers before.
Here are the pictures of our feast:
The Mexican casserole. It DID have turkey meat, so that's not too far off....?
Thanksgiving crackers with the usual hat, game and joke. But these had confetti as well!
Here is a glimpse of our kitchen (Heather keeps asking for a picture of it, and I keep forgetting to take one!
Winnie with her hat! Another (wee) glimpse of the kitchen

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Sea Change

Last night I had my conversation with Donald. Near the end of our session, he said to me,
"I see a sea change has come over you."
I was so enchanted with the sound of that phrase ringing in my ears, I hardly heard him ask me if I was familiar with that phrase. I told him I was not. He went on to quote it (Shakespeare, no less!):
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made; 
Those are pearls that were his eyes: 
Nothing of him that doth fade 
But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange. 
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell.

Oddly enough, I recognised the phrase "rich and strange" (there was an early Hitchcock film by that name), but didn't know the rest of it. Of course, the lines are extraordinarily beautiful. After Donald read them to me he said that this is the phrase he always thinks of when he thinks of me: sea change. That I have had a transformation here in Scotland.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oh dear!

I see I haven't been as lively this month as I was in October. You must all forgive me. The end of classes is coming very soon, and I have been working on essays (in fact, I am taking time out from my Celtic essay to scribble these few words...)

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving (we are celebrating it here with the YSA on the Monday following Thanksgiving). That's the monday that my choir is going to be recorded by the BBC as well! I'm very excited about that.

So...I will see you soon, with (hopefully) more exciting posts!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Seafood Bisque

When I first visited North Carolina (particularly the town of Beaufort, near the sea) I was with my mother. We were taken out to lunch - I don't remember who took us to lunch, but I do remember what I ordered: Seafood bisque. It was the best soup I have ever eaten. When, in the years to come, it was my happy fortune to visit this area of North Carolina again with Heather, Michael, Dylan and Katie, we started a tradition of treating ourselves to Clawson's seafood bisque.

I suppose a sudden urge overtook me yesterday to try and approximate this wonderful dish. And tonight I tried it. I cooked up scallops and shrimp with some mushrooms and onions - in quite a lot of butter. Then I added cream, white wine, and a few tablespoons of canned diced tomatoes. For seasoning I used salt, pepper, garlic and a bit of coriander (the powdered stuff - not cilantro). Oh, yes. And some Parmesan cheese too.

Of course, any poor culinary attempts of mine could not compare to the splendour of Clawson's seafood bisque, but - if I do say so myself - my soup was quite nice.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

4th Stop: Cairnpapple Hill

I like the name of this site: Cairnpapple. This was an interesting place, though the choice of presentation is unfortunate. What I mean is, when it was excavated (sometime in the 1950's) it was realised that there were many phases to the place, it had been used over a large amount of time. It was a Neolithic henge monument, also used in the Bronze Age with burial cists, and possibly some burials from the early Medieval period. But when the site was prepared for the public, a large dome was built over the burials, and all the different phases are shown at once. It does create some confusion, and the dome mars the natural beauty of the place, as a black metal stairway sticks up out of the dome and looks quite ugly.
The area viewed from the top of the dome. For those of you who have read the 44 Scotland Street books, I feel sure that my professor (standing roughly in the middle of the group was wearing "Crushed Strawberry" trousers. They look almost red in this picture, but I myself am convinced they were crushed strawberry!
Inside the dome, by one of the burial cists
The mist was really crawling in here. It was quite cold.
On the way back down the hill

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Linlithgow Palace continued...

I felt that the last post was getting too lengthy, so I thought I'd split it up!

The old entrance

3rd Stop: Linlithgow Palace

Approaching the palace via the "new" entrance

This was probably my favorite, just because I have such a weakness for ruined castles. They are so delicious! We learned that there had been a royal residence there since the 12th century! It was mostly destroyed by fire in 1424, and was then rebuilt by James I who had recently returned from captivity and wanted to show off his power. Then it was refurbished in the 1470's by James III, for his queen Margaret of Denmark. The "new" main entrance and a very impressive fountain were built by James V.
James V's entrance
The Fountain

The Great Hall. There were 150 of us in there, and still there was plenty of room.

The light from the window gives this a ghosty effect!

2nd Stop: The Antonine Wall

Before my archaeology class, I had heard of Hadrian's wall, but not of it's northern relation the Antonine Wall. This was built by Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius who wanted to expand the empire further into Scotland, probably to gain military prestige. This was around 139 AD.
Unlike Hadrian's wall, this was a turf wall. Only the foundations were of stone.

These were defensive pits which were dug and in which sharpened stakes were concealed.

I am standing on the causeway that leads across the huge ditch dug by the Romans
Looking towards the fort, from the annexe

Second Archaeology Fieldtrip: Glasgow Cathedral!

I hadn't realised that the cathedral was on our list of sites to see in our second field trip. Not that I mind going back at all! The day was cool, rainy and misty, so the atmosphere was quite different from the sunny day I had two weeks ago.
The cover of the well was open today! Our teacher told us that when the church was expanded, the well was incorporated into the wall of the cathedral, but it was, perhaps, an earlier holy well of the area.
Aren't these figures interesting?

These are from the Pulpitum

Also, something I saw this time which I hadn't seen before, very near the cathedral, the oldest house in Glasgow: