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Bonfire Night!

Bonfire Night was a few weeks back, and it also happens to be our wedding anniversary. We decided that every year we are able to (it’s always subject to Tim’s work schedule), we will attend a local bonfire to celebrate. We had several options – some were on Bonfire Night (the 5th), others on Saturday or Sunday. We picked the Lincolnshire Show Grounds because it was only about 3 miles down the road from where we live.

We had a great time. It was cold if you weren’t near the bonfire though, and we had to queue for food for about a half hour! The food stands were the same ones at the Sausage Festival the week before, including the Hog Roast stand, so Tim got to have Hog Roast again. We didn’t get anything to drink and once we had our food, made our way towards the bonfire. The fireworks were pretty, and lasted around 25 minutes. Most of the crowd started to leave once the fireworks were done, so we were able to get closer to the fence around the bonfire. We were nice and toasty warm, but thirsty, so we wandered off in search of some Hot Chocolate. After trying two stands that were out, we found one that still had some hot chocolate and I decided that next year, I’m bringing along a flask of it! £3 for two small styrofoam cups of instant hot chocolate is a rip off!

Since the parking lot had started to empty, we decided to head back to the car…which we couldn’t find. After about 15 minutes, we finally found it surrounded by cars trying to leave – everyone had decided to make their own lane.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I9rRAQqp84

Can’t wait til next year!

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Lincolnshire Sausage Festival

A few weeks back, Tim and I attended the Lincolnshire Sausage Festival, held on the castle grounds, sponsored by Tastes of Lincolnshire. I get a lot of comments from my friends living in other parts of the UK about how jealous they are that we have all these food festivals and they don’t, but well….that’s what Lincolnshire exports! We’ve got loads of farmland and lots of farm animals, so having lots of festivals makes sense.

Anyway. We didn’t really know what to expect at the Sausage Festival, other than some sausages, and we were really surprised at the number of stands, including our friends at Lymn Bank Farm and many of the other stalls I usually see on market day. In addition, there were many food stalls selling all sorts of local fare – sausage (naturally), Lincolnshire beef burgers, Lincolnshire lamb burgers, locally made candy and beverages…if it got made in Lincolnshire, I’m sure there was a stand for it!

We had a great time. There also was a cooking demonstration set up, where I met a fellow American volunteering. She has been in Lincoln for 5 years and tells me there are more of us around. And even funnier? This month’s Good Taste features Whoopie Pies, a PA Dutch treat! How ironic!

We tried several sausages and Tim wanted to try the Hog Roast – they had an entire pig on a spit. Tim said it was good, but I think he liked the Guinness sausage more.

I’m hoping we can make it to the Christmas Food and Drink Show at the end of the month.

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Armed Forces Day

This past Saturday, Lincoln Castle held their annual Armed Forces Day and my chorus, Lincoln Sounds, performed. Armed Forces Day offers free admission to the castle and grounds. Everything is open at the castle, so it’s a great day out for anyone who hasn’t yet experienced the castle. On the lawn, each branch of the armed forces, as well as their youth programs, organizations for retired service men & women, widow/widower organizations, and support charities set up booths with information, demonstrations, and exhibits.

The youth organizations all appeared in uniform and participated in a group march from the castle to the cathedral and back, including one of the military bands.

The whole concept of an Armed Forces day was “foreign” to me. As far as I know, we’ve never done anything like this anywhere in the US, and Armed Forces Day is a country-wide event in the UK. I’ve seen various booths set up for each branch of the US military at fairs and expos, but usually they were only there for recruitment. It blew me away to see all the crowds there. An email my chorus received told us they had over 8,000 people come through the gates! That’s absolutely amazing. All money raised at the event went to Help for Heroes, an organization for wounded soldiers (of all branches of the military).

Check out the Armed Forces Day website to see when an event is in your area!

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Swimming, Swimming…

Swimming, Swimming,
In a swimming pool.
When days are hot, when days are cold,
In a swimming pool.
Breast stroke, side stroke, fancy diving too,
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could go swimming with you?

We’ve hit a heat wave in the UK this past week (or two, actually!) and I’ve been spending time away from the computer and outside in the garden….until it got even too hot to do that.

Yesterday, we were melting. I had just finished making dinner, and standing in front of the hot stove/oven had overheated me. I went outside (where it was cooler!) and watered the garden before coming back in and Tim suggested we head on over to the Yarborough Leisure Centre to have a swim. Entry costs £2.90/adult for casual swim, which gives you about an hour and half of swim time.

It was….interesting. Nothing like what I expected, and nothing like what I’m used to in the US. In the US, I’ve always had community pools at my disposal (either in my development or within a short walk) and your fee for using it was always included in your annual fees. At the pools where I grew up, you would walk in, flash your pool pass, and then head into the gender segregated changing rooms/toilets. At this one? We all got herded into one single changing “pavilion” (I believe that was the word used) which had coin-operated lockers (£1) and individual changing stalls (with locks). Men, women, and children all together in the same room with plenty of attendants on hand. If you needed to change, you were expected to use one of the changing rooms, and the only shower facility was the group shower area (so no way to really wash with shampoo/body wash, etc. unless you went into the gym’s segregated changing facilities). To say that I was shocked was an understatement. The attendants didn’t even say anything when Tim and I went into the same changing cubicle post-swim.

After you changed into your swimming costume (US: swimsuit/bathing suit) you went through the showers (required before swimming) and handed your ticket to a lifeguard. He then handed you a colour-coded wrist band (though mine was large enough to go on my ankle) based on what time you entered. Along one side of the lifeguard station was a strip of bright lights. When your time was up, a buzzer sounded and a coloured light lit up based on your wrist band colour.

Despite the crowds of people waiting to get in and milling around the changing room, the pool itself wasn’t too crowded. I imagine the colour-coded wrist bands help. Tim and I swam a bit, and did “water aerobics” until our colour lit up. Then, it was out of the pool, back into street clothes, and home with just enough time for Tim to get ready for the overnight shift.

We’re hoping to swim again soon. Our plan is to eventually feel comfortable enough to attend lane swimming instead of open swim so we can get in more exercise, but it’s been a while since both of us swam, so we’re taking it slow!

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Consider Yourself One of Us

Tuesday night I went to see a local performance of Oliver! at the Lincoln Theatre Royal with my friend H while my husband and her son went to a steam-up. Interesting to note, I also saw Oliver! on the West End being performed at the Theatre Royal. Just a funny coincidence. The theatre in Lincoln is small….I honestly think my high school auditorium had more seating in it, but it made for an intimate evening. We were back in row L, but had a clear view of (most of) the stage. We couldn’t see the bits that were far stage left, but that was only a few dancers in the full adult company numbers (“Who Will Buy?” and “Oom-Pah-Pah”). Overall, I enjoyed the show. The young boy playing Oliver was adorable. I was worried when he forgot the words to his first big number (“Where is Love?”), but it turns out those were just first-number jitters, as he was word-perfect for the rest of his songs and lines.

My only real pet peeve about the whole performance was some of the actors relying on imitating actors from the most recent West End production, most notably the characters of Fagin and Nancy. I would have loved to have heard the actress playing Nancy singing with her own voice, not trying to imitate Jodie Prenger, but I understand as a singer how hard it is not to mimic someone else’s voice when you’re singing “their” songs!

But we had a great time. Everytime I go to a local performance it makes me want to get involved in local theatre. Perhaps sometime I will!

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To Market, to Market

Several times a month there is an outdoor farmer’s market in Lincoln. Tim and I managed to go once last year while I was visiting, but many of the stalls had already closed for the day, so this time we made sure we got in by noon. There were about nine stalls. I don’t know if this is a normal amount or not, but I suppose I’ll find out as it gets warmer out. I did notice the windmill stall (sold bread & organic flour) was missing, so hopefully they will be there on a different day.

I’ve managed to misplace all the business cards, so apologies to the businesses if I skip links. I will be sure to post some links next time! (I also neglected to pull my camera out. Whoops!). There were three stalls devoted to meat, two to cheese, one for bread, one for fudge, one for jams/jellies, and one for organic veg. Oh, and there also was a stall selling ostrich burgers, so that actually makes ten stalls, not nine.

We were on a mission. Tim’s younger brother and his girlfriend were coming over for dinner this past Sunday, and a request had been put in for “giant Yorkshire puddings filled with bangers and mash”. We thought since market was on Friday, we’d scope it out and check out what options for fresh (and possibly bizzare/unique) sausage there was. I let Tim pick, since he and his brother (B) would be eating it. Brother’s girlfriend (M) and I decided we were going to have chicken, as bangers and mash just didn’t appeal to us. At the pork stall, Tim found some apple sausage as well as ale sausage. Reports are both were good…..I could smell the apples in the apple sausage while I was cooking them!

My second mission was to speak directly to the people at Woodlands Farm about their organic fruit and vegetable delivery service. I saw on their website that would deliver to our village on Tuesdays, and I wanted more information and needed to ask them about what to do in relation to my food allergies. The man we spoke with was really helpful and he had examples of the sizes of the boxes with him as well, so you could figure out what size box you wanted. We’re getting our first box today, along with a dozen organic free-range eggs. If we like it, we’ll be putting in a standing order.

Of course, we had to buy from the two cheese stalls. Our first stop was the Lymn Bank Farm stall. They had loads of tasty cheeses and offered you toothpicks to taste. If we had stayed any longer at their stand, we’d have eaten all their samples! We settled on three – Apple Smoked, Cranberries, and Double Barrel. We intend on working our way through the rest of their cheeses at some point. What we’ve had so far was super tasty! The other cheese stall was the stall for Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, a regional speciality. They also made several varieties and let us sample each before deciding on their Barrel Poacher (a strong, sharp cheese). According to their website, they even sell in the US (at Zingerman’s of all places and a few places in Philadelphia, too) and you can mail-order it. I highly recommend it!

Just around the corner from the organic vegetable stall was a jam and jelly stall. Unfortunately, I can’t remember their name other than it had the word sin or sinful in their name. I’ll get a link next time. We chatted a bit with the two ladies who ran the stall, and it turns out the one was married to an American and she knew exactly which jar I was headed to (pickles!). We also picked up a cranberry and orange marmalade, and something called Banofee Jam. Ah, they’re called Saints and Sinners. Helps if you check the labels of the jars you bought!

The last stall we gave our business to was a stall selling Lincolnshire Plum Bread, another regional favourite. I hope I’ve got the link right, as I’ve thrown out the paper from the loaf! The bread is quite tasty, but it’s more of a dessert or snack bread than something I’d want to eat a sandwich off of.

Oh, no, I lie. We also stopped at the ostrich burger stall. Tim tried it last time and thought it was tasty, so that became Lunch. We also discovered they sell kangaroo meat, so we might have to try it out.

After the market, we happened to be walking past the Corn Exchange market and I suggested checking out the meat stand in there. Turns out, it was a great idea, as they were selling 3 packs of bacon for £5. It’s turned out that each pack has had 12 slices, so that’s a lot of bacon for very little money!

If you’re ever in Lincoln, be sure to check out the farmer’s market:

Lincoln Farmers’ Market 1
Where: City Square [This is the area right outside of Wilkinson's as you walk along the river]
When: 1st Friday of every month, 9am–4pm

Lincoln Farmers’ Market 2
Where: High Street [Usually the stands are set up in the open space near Barclays Bank]
When: 2nd Wednesday of every month, 9am–4pm

Lincoln Farmers’ Market 3
Where: Castle Hill [I haven't been here yet, but I imagine it is in the area between the castle and cathedral]
When: 3rd Saturday of every month, 9am–4pm

[information taken from the Times Online]

Here’s a picture of our haul:
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Frostbite 2008 – Seven Layers of Clothing

Tim’s 16mm Garden Railway  group holds an annual get together on the Sunday after Christmas, and I was invited to tag along…after being warned that this was an outdoor event and I’d want lots of layers!

By the end of the day, I was wearing seven layers including two pairs of leg warmers, 2 pairs of pants, and a big blanket wrapped around my body….but it was loads of fun!  I posted the videos shortly after we got back, but I haven’t had a chance to share my photos other than on facebook.

We went with M, a young boy who got into garden railways after helping Tim work on his, and M’s mum, H.  It was a tight squeeze to get everyone plus trains into her car, but we managed!  The drive over to D’s house took about a half an hour, but we were still the first to arrive.  Tim actually had his train up and running and his was the first train to make a circuit (and also the last!).  D’s wife always cooks soup for Lunch, so we got to warm up for a little bit inside partway through the day. D told me if I felt cold, I could go inside, but I enjoyed watching all the trains, and I just added on a layer if I started to feel the chill.

Tim even let me “drive” his train towards the end of the day, after most people had packed up!  (Tim’s corrected me that he asked me if I wanted to earlier on in the day, but I passed the controls back as I was afraid of bumping other people’s trains.)

We had loads of fun, and I want to play with Tim’s railway in the yard ;)



Tim’s train, Dark Horse


This locomotive was hand-built by Rae Grive and won the 2007 model of the year trophy at the 16mm AGM Convention!

For more pictures: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/frostbite

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Frostbite Videos!

Today was Frostbite, the December get together for Tim’s 16mm Garden Railway group. Here’s a few videos I took of the trains (mostly Tim’s). A write-up and photos will be coming after I play catch up with my other posts!

Tim’s engine, Dark Horse steaming up:

Dark Horse:

Dark Horse pulls a long load:

Lady Jane:

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Manitoba Brain Injury Association

On Sunday, C IMed me in the morning and asked me if I had plans for the day. I didn’t have anything planned other than going grocery shopping, so I told her no. She asked me if I wanted to participate in the Umbrella Walk for the Manitoba Brain Injury Association, and I readily agreed.

The walk took place over at Vermillion Park in Dauphin, and the course was about two and a half miles by my pedometer. We were a small group, but all there for one purpose. Most of us had to put down our umbrellas because it was windy out, but we all walked the full course, and then enjoyed some food together and a door prize giveaway, where everyone was a winner!

We were provided with tote bags and water bottles by the Manitoba Nurses’s Association and given mustard yellow coloured wrist bands from the MBIA. My door prize was a T-shirt for the association – it’s going to be funny to wear it around Lancaster!

Taken straight off their website:

Every year, over 6,000 Canadians become permanently disabled by an acquired brain injury. The effects of a brain injury differ from person to person, but have an impact on everyone in that person’s life.

A brain injury can be a devastating diagnosis and because it is not a visible disability, those affected are often misunderstood and lack support.

The Manitoba Brain Injury Association helps individuals and families cope by offering support, education and advocacy. We also work to prevent brain injuries through public awareness initiatives and educational programming.

I realize we don’t all live in Manitoba, and why would you want to support a charity that’s not where you live? So I encourage everyone to do some reasearch, maybe even just using google, and find a similar organization local to you. Here is a list of brain injury associations across the United States, and here is a link to the Brain Injury Association of Canada. Perhaps you’ll find a way you can help someone.

Here’s some photos around Vermillion Park:



Changing leaves

And when I got home and emptied out my bag, Hobbes decided to get comfortable on my new shirt:

To see more photos from the park, check the gallery:
http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/index.php?album=winnipeg-manitoba-august-2008%2Fvermillion-park

I’ve also completely updated the cat photo album with all the photos I’ve taken while I’ve been here:
http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/winnipeg-manitoba-august-2008/quincy-hobbes-and-casper

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