Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Birmingham and my endless struggle for food...

I got the internship with Birmingham Museum and Gallery-I start next Monday. I really like this gallery and the staff. They are re-doing their Pre-Raphaelite exhibition and I will be able to help, which is exciting. They have a large Burne-Jones collection and quite a few Millais, Rossetti, Holman, and Wallis. I also really like Birmingham-I walked around a bit today after leaving the gallery and it reminds more of a US city, but with a European flair. However, it isn't so much of a flair that it annoys me. I think I could actually live there and not complain so much about the way British do things, or in my opinion, how they're doing it all wrong. The only problem is the commute-four hours round-trip. However, I figure this is why I'm here-to work in a museum that focuses in my area of art, so I'm going to try and think positive about the commute-at least I don't have to drive there-what a disaster that would be!

I also started my other two classes today. They went well and I think they are going to be very useful in the future. The instructors also seem quite friendly and the course of study is exactly what I'm looking for.

Then there is the endless food situation-I tried the Bisquick I bought from ASDA. I followed a recipe from Bettycrocker.com for drop biscuits-they didn't turn out very well, but they have potential. The recipe called for stick butter, which I haven't been able to find here, so I had to use butter out of the tub and you were supposed to "cut" it and roll it around in the Bisquick mix. Anyway, the lumps of butter didn't work as well, so some of the biscuits had too much of a butter flavor. Normally, butter flavor isn't too bad, but their butter tastes a bit funny. At least I know I can find Bisquick, so I will work on improving the recipe. I can also had pineapple and popcorn to my diet. I think my next goal will be to make banana nut bread from scratch-for those of you who cook on a regular basis-this may not seem like a challenge, but for me it will be a great accomplishment if I pull it off. I had a dream about Carriage's bread the other night-I was so happy I had bread to make toast, but alas, it was just a dream.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Made it to Walmart! (actually ASDA)

My goal for this afternoon was to make it to ASDA shopping center in Pudsey. This is the largest ASDA in the area and is equivalent to our large supercenters. I mapped it out on Mapquest from my house, but there were about 6 round-abouts, so I mapped it out from Josh's, which was much easier. I actually didn't get lost-I thought I did, so I stopped for directions, but I was going the right direction. It opened at 11am and I left about 10:40 and made it by 11:10. It probably doesn't take 30 minutes to get there, but ironically, I drive slow.

As for my treasures, I found Bisquick!! I don't know if it's going to made biscuits like back home. It has pancakes on the cover, but it says mulitpurpose mix, so I'm going to look up the biscuit receipe on the internet-it just lists pancakes and scones on the box. I stocked up on chicken-found some stuff similar to what I find at Dillons. I also found Quaker caramel rice cakes-I only bought 3 little bags, but they're really good, so I will have to stock up next time. I also bought poker chips!! It's a really nice set, but I have no idea how I"m going to get them home. They're really heavy, but I'll figure it out.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Busy Week

My mom and aunt left on Tuesday and made it back to the States safely. I'm very envious of them for being able to eat real food. My diet consists of a chicken breast (either grilled or roasted) and grapes-oh, and I had some Ritz crackers the other day. Yep-only one meal a day. It's not by choice-I know it isn't healthy, but I don't know what to do. I have walked down each aisle of every major grocery store in England and cannot find food that I will eat. I've been trying to branch out of my box-try new things and it isn't working. Actually, in the month I've been here-I can only think of about a weeks worth of good food where I was actually full-everything else I eat is just to "make do." I am very happy that I finally learned how to grill in my stove. I've decided from now on, I will have an entirely electric kitchen-no other options. Some say you can control the heat better with a gas stove, but they haven't met me. I ruined scrambled eggs last night-that's hard to do-my kitchen still smells like burnt egg. My sweet little roommate rarely uses the stove, so he isn't much help. His diet consists of frozen foods-he warms of pizza or some type of pasta and that's about it.

I miss bread!!! I've tried about 5 different kinds of sliced bread-trying to find something edible to make toast out of. So far, I haven't been successful. And where are biscuits??!! There's no bisquick or anything close. I love bread and the only bread I've been eating is pita, which isn't bad, but I'm tired of it. I will never take Pillsbury for granted again. Fortunately, I'm not wasting away (yet).

I went to Birmingham today to the Birmingham Museum and Gallery. I want to switch my internship from the National Gallery (London) to Birmingham. Birmingham has a great Pre-Raphaelite collection and I really like the way the gallery is set up. It isn't as massive as the National Gallery, so I think I will be able to do more hands-on work and with my painters. They also have numerous lectures over the next few months all pertaining to the Pre-Raphaelites. The only problem is the commute-taking the shortest route by train-it is still about two hours each way. I have two classes on Tuesday and one class on Thursday, so I plan to intern on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday for about 5 to 7 hours each day. Fortunately, I only have two papers for this program since I already completed my thesis. However, they're still pretty large papers-one is about 20 pages, the other is about 15. I've already started both of them-I'll try and get a head start-they're not due until the end of April/beginning of May. I'm also going to look into volunteering at the art gallery in Leeds-maybe I can do that a few hours a week also.

Monday, 22 January 2007


We went to Liverpool yesterday. My mom and aunt are big Beatle's fans. Of course, it rained and was very cold. Whenever, my aunt gets close to large bodies of water, it rains. It also sleeted on us and started snowing in Manchester. It's rare to see sleet and snow in England. Unfortunately, we did not see much. We went to the Tate Liverpool, which isn't one of my favorites.

My mom and aunt leave tomorrow. I don't know how well that is going to go over with me. My roommate also leaves for Switzerland tomorrow, so I will be by myself for the first time since I got here. I'm frustrated with myself because I've wanted to live in England for years and this Master's program is really good, but it's taking all I have not to buy a plane ticket back to the States. Classes start on Thursday and I'm sure I'll feel better. I'm going to look into doing my internship at Birmingham Museum and Gallery and begin my 150 hours earlier than planned. My courses end in May.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Driving in city centre

I survived driving in city centre this evening. We wanted to go to a movie and didn't want to take the bus or a cab. I figured I bought the car for this reason and I'm going to have to drive there sometime. I know how to get most places from the rail station, so once I found it, I knew how to get to the movie theatre. I did pretty well-missed one turn, but I figured it out pretty quick. Parking was much easier than I thought it would be-the movie theatre has their own parking garage. I went down a road with no exit on the way back, but got turned around and found the motorway. Fortunately, my house isn't too far from the M621 and that is a major motorway. There are lots of signs to get there, which is a relief! I still get honked at on the round-abouts. I need to ask my roommate about driving etiquette. I don't know all of the rules and, so far, I'm making up my own, which often get me honked at.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Week in London

We spent this week in London. It rained most of the week, which isn't uncommon for England, however, it was also very windy. Being from Kansas, the wind isnt a big deal, but here it brings cities to a halt. The trains were down, people were out of electricity, and apparently about 11 people were killed, but I'm not exactly sure how but wind related. These people wouldn't survive in Kansas' weather-a little wind brings them to a stop and causes havoc.

While in London, we went to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Tate Britain and Modern, National Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Parliament, and just walked around. We also went South to Canterbury and Dover.

We're staying in Leeds Saturday and heading to Liverpool on Sunday.

Classes start next Thursday, which is very exciting. I hope I like them, I think I will.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Back home

Paris was fun, but it's good to be home. It was a tiring trip-on the go all the time. I loved seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night-it's gorgeous. My favorite part (other than shopping) was the Louvre-I"m such an art geek. The Champs Elysses was also fun-lots of shopping. They have a huge Sephora-went a little crazy in there-worth every penny though.

The flight back to Leeds was interesting-it's only about an hour flight. There were wind advisories around Leeds, so we had to circle above for a bit. The pilot kept reassuring us that he had enough fuel for us to circle around for an hour-ignorance may be bliss. Anyway, we finally we got the go ahead to land and it was very bumpy-most of the cabin clapped when we finally touched ground.

I'm getting a little more confident driving. I made it to the grocery store (about 3 miles) and back with no mishaps- it was even dark outside and raining a bit. It's a small accomplishment, but practice makes perfect.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007


We are currently in Paris. It has been easier to get around than I thought it would be-the Metro (or subway), is pretty easy to navigate. We went to Notre Dame, La Fayette Galleries, and the Eiffel Tower today. We went to the Eiffel Tower at night, so we were able to see it lit up-it was very pretty.

We plan to go to the Louvre tomorrow and Saint Sulpice. I think Saint Sulpice became a bit more famous after the Da Vinci Code became so popular.

We're going to Champs Elysses and Sacre Coeur on Thursday and heading back Leeds on Friday. So far, I'm enjoying Paris and everyone (for the most part) has been friendly. We had one rude guy who worked for the Metro. We bought day passes that should have worked all day on the Metro, but mom's only worked once and mine only worked twice. We wanted new ones that worked and he was very rude and would not help. I asked the other worker to please speak to a supervisor and that helped- they gave us new ones.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

I have a British Car!

So, I finally bought and picked up my British car. I picked it up in Scunthorpe, which is about an hour from Leeds, so I had to drive it back with the steering wheel on the right and driving on the opposite side of the road. It is a Nissan Micra-not the most stylish car, but it fits in fine in the UK. It is a cherry red, nice inside-cd player, clean. I made it back to Leeds with few problems-missed my exit, but I was able to turn around easily. However, drove down towards the grocery store and was trying to find Pizza Hut-that was a mess. The street signs are usually on the sides of buildings or on a small sign-hard to catch when you are concentrating on staying on the correct side of the road. Then, there's round-abouts-lots of stress-I can't tell where the lanes are and I didn't know my exit. I did not find Pizza Hut, but I will eventually explore around while driving. Another problem is the left side curb, I keep hitting it. My perception is thrown off driving on the right side of the car-I really need to watch that or I'm going to end up with a flat tyre (that's British spelling of "tire").

Overall, I think it went well. Insurance isn't as expensive as I thought it would be. I had been warned numerous times that insurance was high, but it is similiar in price to the States. I found a full-coverage policy that will cover myself and Josh (in case he wants to drive) and the deductable is only £200.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Picky American eaters do not belong in England

I really, really miss Pillsbury. It may be here, I just haven't found it at Marks & Spenser, Morrison's, or Sainsbury-my last hope will be ASDA (owned by Walmart). I haven't been there yet to look, it's a lot of work to get there by bus, so I will wait until I pick up the car. I can't find white eggs either-I don't know if that is a big deal. Other than for baking, I only like scrambled eggs and I don't eat them very often, but I'm used to white eggs and they did not have them at Morrison's. Morrison's, size wise, is similiar to Dillons or Walmart. They also don't have Miracle Whip and I don't like mayonaise. The only time I would use Miracle Whip is for a cheese sandwich, which I rarely eat, but I wouldn't mind having the option. The vanilla icecream is weird, not bad, but weird. It tastes and smells like canned vanilla frosting, but cold.

However, for positive notes, I found Sunny Delight California Style (the only kind I drink) orange juice. I was very happy about that. I also found marshmallows, which aren't as common here as back home. I first searched at the Morrison's by Josh's and they were out and they were also in the candy aisle. I found them at my Morrison's, but they're French marshmallows (I haven't tasted them yet). They look like ours, but they're white and pink and kind of expensive. I paid £1.59 for one bag, which is around $3.00. I plan to make Rice Krispie treats-they do have Rice Krispies also. I found Pringles, but they taste funny. I'll probably give those to Josh, he isn't as picky as I am. I have found a variety of pastries that most people would be delighted about: chocolate eclairs, custard filled donuts, creme pastries, and so on. However, I do not like any of those, so this is why England is going to be a great diet plan. However, they have the Cadbury creme eggs out all year round-we only have them at Easter. They may be my downfall, but I can only find them by Josh's, so I will steer clear of that store.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Found another car

I got another car-it is a Nissan (something). It is red and I think it will work well while living here. The sellers said that it is cheap to insure and does well on gas, which is a relief. It is around 88 pence per litre, so about $3.60 per gallon. I plan to pick it up Sunday in Lincolnshire Co, which is a little over an hour away. It will be good practice for me to drive back to Leeds. I think I can get into city centre from my house and I can probably get to Josh's from city centre and back. I don't know if I can get to Josh's from my house without going through city centre.

My mom and Aunt Melody are coming to visit-they should be here Friday. I am going to London to pick them up. I am very excited to have them visit. We leave for Paris on Monday for a few days, we're also going to spend some time in London, and do some travelling around the countryside-maybe go to York, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Dover. My mom has been to Europe, but my aunt has not-however, mom has not been to Leeds, so it will be fun showing them around where I live-let's hope I don't get us too lost. I know my way around city centre and Josh's (a little), but that's about it. We'll have fun regardless.

New Phone, Different Car

I got a new phone, I will e-mail the number today. We also set up the landline to broadband, so it's only 3 cents per minute for me to call the States, which is awesome. I like my mobile phone (that's what they call it-mobile, not cell). It's easy to work, has a camera, and it wasn't too expensive. It is a Virgin Mobile phone-do we have Virgin Mobile in the States?

I think I found a different car, I should know very soon. I really need a car. I can get to city centre from my house, to Josh's from city centre, and back to city centre from Josh's via bus, but I cannot get home. I always get on the wrong bus, even though it was the one I originally got on it doesn't go back to my house. The whole thing is very confusing to me-I'm not good at reading bus maps either. It should only take me 20 minutes to get home by bus, but 2 hours later (last night,) I still wasn't home. My roommate had to come pick me up at Blockbuster-pathetic huh?

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Lounge day

I hope everyone had a good New Years. Josh and I went to the Old Bridge Inn Pub-they sponsor his football (aka soccer) team. A few of teammates were there and some of their friends-everyone was very sweet and fun to hang out with. Quite the drinkers though-if my glass got below half empty-they would buy me another whether I wanted it or not. It's a sweet gesture, but I'm not much of a drinker. It was a fun New Years.

Today was a lazy day. The buses were not running, cabs are expensive on holidays, and most of the stores weren't open. We finally got to bed around 3:30am, so I slept in and just lounged around most of the day. I finally went outside around 3pm and that was just to walk to the convenient store a block away. I'll be more productive tomorrow.

Unfortunately, my car has fallen through. It had brake problems and the sellers did not know it. It was going to cost too much to fix, so I will be heading into Leeds tomorrow to check out some car places.

I got a phone Saturday, but it needs a different sim (?) card. I'm taking it back to the store, so it should be working tomorrow. I kind of have my number memorized-it has 11 digits. When I get it, I can e-mail the number. We're also working on our home phone, so once that's all figured out- it will cheaper for me to call States.