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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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Lincolnshire Life

Way back in March (yes, I know….I’m horrible at posting!) Tim and I went to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life

The Museum of Lincolnshire Life is FREE and is absolutely fantastic. Lincs Life has exhibits showing the county’s culture and people from 1750 to present day, with a large exhibition of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment, where I found an interesting US connection.

Those of us who grew up in the US and studied US history have all heard about the “shot heard round the world” – The first shot that signified the start of the American Revolution (or if you’re in the UK, you call it the “American War of Independence“). As it turns out, the first shot was fired at a Lincolnshire man!

They also have a tank called Flirt. Flirt was the first tank (a Mark IV) built for World War I, and she just happened to be built in Lincolnshire. The museum also houses a Ruston engine, and other assorted bits of transportation related to Lincolnshire.

They even have a section of mock store-fronts and a section to play “dress up” with clothing from the different eras.

A friend of mine who used to work for Lincs Life told me they occasionally rotate the displays, and that they have loads more items to exhibit than they have room for, which means I’ll be sure to visit again! I loved learning a little bit more about the county I moved to. Paired with some of the other museums, attractions, and community events I’ve attended, I’m starting to feel like I fit in here.

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Lincolnshire Plum Bread

[If a Lincolnshire publication would like to reprint this, just contact me!]

Lincolnshire is famous for several kinds of food. There is Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese – a sharp, biting cheese, Lincolnshire Sausage – a sausage seasoned with herbs, and another famous Lincolnshire food item is Lincolnshire Plum Bread.

No one seems to know exactly when people started making Plum Bread, other than that it is “centuries old”. Several local bakeries that have been in business since the early 20th century claim Plum Bread as one of their first specialities, so we do know that Plum Bread has been around for at least over 100 years, possibly even 200 or 300.

We also know that “plum” doesn’t refer to plum fruits or even to prunes (dried plums). “Plum” simply is a reference to dried fruit, such as calling a Christmas Pudding a “Plum Pudding”. The word “Plum” for dried fruit originated during the Middle Ages, when dried fruit was used to help preserve meat. This type of preservation continued and the recipe was modified into what we now call a Plum Pudding or a Christmas Pudding.

The use of the word “bread” to describe this food item is a bit of a misnomer as well. You wouldn’t want to use this for sandwiches. Lincolnshire Plum Bread is traditionally served at breakfast time or tea time. In medieval England, the words “bread” and “cake” were used interchangeably, and they still are today. Take for example, banana bread. Banana bread is surely more closely related to being cake, yet we call it a bread. Banana bread did not formally enter kitchens until the 1930s in America, though there is speculation that it may have been invented in the late nineteenth century by American housewives. Either way, it’s still a long way away from medieval England when either word could be used.

If Lincolnshire Plum Bread is not a bread and does not actually have plums, what is it? Lincolnshire Plum Bread is a sweet, almost cake-like cinnamon-flavoured bread with dried fruit in it – sultanas, currants, and fruit peel – that has been soaked in cold tea to help the dried fruit “plump” up.

There are several bakeries in Lincolnshire that claim to be “the original”, but perhaps the most famous brand is Myers. in 1977 a loaf was given to the queen at her silver jubilee and Myers Lincolnshire Plum Bread is served on British Airways in their first class cabin. Other brands also exist and the loaves retail for about £2.50. You can purchase Lincolnshire Plum Bread throughout Lincolnshire in small bakeries and at the co-op.

If you’re outside of Lincolnshire, hope is not lost. There are many recipes floating around on the internet for Lincolnshire Plum Bread, and I will include my own recipe, modified for a bread machine, below.

Lincolnshire Plum Bread

First, you will need some cool strong tea. The easiest way to do this is to take a glass measuring cup, put 2 tea bags in it, and fill it halfway with water from the kettle. Then, forget about it for about 5 minutes and let it get nice and dark. Remove the tea bags and add cold water to cool it down quickly.

Add about 300-400g dried fruit (sold in grocery stores as “dried mixed fruit” or use a combination of dried currants, sultanas, raisins, and peel) and let it sit until the fruit is nice and plump.

Meanwhile, get out your bread machine and add to it:

100g butter (melted)
120ml warm milk
2 eggs
450g bread flour
100g sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Follow the instructions on your bread machine for what order you should add ingredients. Mine calls for all the liquid to go in first, which includes the eggs. I also save time by microwaving the butter and milk together – an extra bonus is it keeps the butter from exploding all over the microwave.

Set your bread machine to a 1KG loaf (2lbs), medium crust, and use the sweet setting (on my machine, this is setting 4).

Start your bread machine.

Follow your machine’s instructions for adding fruit. Most machines will beep when they want you to add fruit, so wait for the beep, drain off the tea, and pour in the fruit. You might need to keep an eye on it for a few minutes and use a spatula to make sure all the fruit gets mixed in.

Let the bread cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before turning out. I find it’s easier to cut the bread if I let it cool completely, but by all means serve it warm!

Traditionally, Lincolnshire Plum Bread is served with butter and cheese. Give it a try, you might like it!

This bread has the seal of approval from several Lincolnshire born & raised men and women! :D

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Camping in Our Garden

A few weeks ago, Tim and I went camping in our garden. One of his co-workers alerted him to a great deal at Halford’sa 4-man tent, 4 sleeping bags, 2 air mattresses, & 2 lanterns for £90 online marked down from over £200. We also tacked on to the purchase a cooking kit which has a burner, 4 pots/pans, 4 plastic containers, utensils, and a carrying case for £25, and then we picked up a kettle at Tesco for £6. We thought we ought to try to put together the tent – a) to make sure we knew how it went together before we book a pitch somewhere, b) to make sure there aren’t any defects with the tent or gear, and c) because it’s been on the warm side and last week I told Tim I wanted to sleep outside.

It was….

-Chilly. We unzipped two of the sleeping bags and used one as a pad for the air mattress and the other as a cover. But unzipped it isn’t quite big enough to cover both of us if we aren’t cuddled up, so I wound up covering myself with the spare blanket I grabbed last night (my Penn State stadium blanket) But it was also…

-Hot. Tim and I always are warm at night because both of us are human furnaces. It was difficult trying to sleep in it because if our bodies were touching, I felt sticky from the combined body sweat. But then when we weren’t touching/cuddled up, it was chilly!

-Small. The mattress, despite claims of being a double, is smaller than our bed upstairs. I wound up moving practically off the mattress close to the “bedroom” wall in order to try to put some space between us, and Tim rolled (in his sleep) towards the other wall. Another word to use might be…

-Cozy. Even though we have a huge 4-man tent, the side “bedrooms” are only large enough to hold the air mattress. It was nice when Tim and I were cuddling before bed, but once I zipped shut the door to the “bedroom”, it felt really small.

-Hard. The air mattress lost air overnight, but I think that’s fairly typical when using an air mattress. I’m wondering if we should get a bedroll/mat type thing for underneath it, since my back started to get cold from feeling it seep through the mattress. I think Tim has one already, but it might just be for a single mattress. Alternatively, since we have 4 sleeping bags, we could always line the floor with a sleeping bag, then put the mattress on top or even just get a tarp to add a layer between the mattress and groundsheet. I’ll talk it over with Tim and see what he thinks. (also, how did I manage to sleep on an air mattress at Mom’s for years*?)

-Noisy. Lots of wind that kept waking me up. I know at least twice I woke Tim up, too. Actually, I’m awake now at 5:30AM because I needed the loo around 4 and figured I might as well stay in here until I’m tired enough to go back to sleep.

Fortunately, the tent is a “two bedroom” tent. Our plans are/were to use the second “bedroom” to store gear, but I might suggest we take along the second mattress and set it up for moments like this. If I’m going to be awake well before Tim, I’ll need somewhere to go/something to do. I could keep a book in there and just move my pillows and a blanket if I couldn’t sleep, that way I wouldn’t disturb Tim trying to read until I felt tired again.

We still need to get a folding table (for dining/food prep), and some kind of cooler and then we might have everything we need to go camping. Our first big trip is scheduled for this September, when we’ll be camping in Germany & Austria! I’m really excited. Originally, we were going to take the train the whole way and stay in B&Bs and things, but even with adding in the cost of petrol, camping will save us money. The average campsite cost is €6/night, and with making our own food, we’ll even have money leftover for a few nights out at nice restaurants or for some souvenirs!

I practised cooking with the gas stove, and while I completely trashed the pan (fortunately, I was able to clean it!), I still managed to cook breakfast 2 mornings – the first morning I did scrambled eggs and sausage, and the second bacon & fried eggs. Tim even bought a device for making toast on the stove that works pretty well!

The tent we purchased IS kind of big for just two people, but the hope is that this will be a long-term investment even after we have kids. If we can keep the tent in good condition, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be able to use it in the years to come.

….now to find a place to store it! I’m hoping it will fit in the loft after we get the flooring laid in there, but for now I guess we’ll have to store it in one of the bedrooms, since the workshop and shed are a bit full of workshop/shed stuff!

There also is a video, but youtube is taking too long to upload it, so I will have to post it later, as I’ve had this window open for THREE weeks…..

*Long story short – when I moved to Michigan in 2006, I told Mom to sell my bedroom suite because it was a four-poster twin sized bed and I knew I wouldn’t want it in the future. I had an air mattress (with bedframe) to use in my house in MI. After I broke my foot and had to move back to PA, my old bed was gone, so I set up the air mattress. The plan was to eventually buy a new bed, but I just never had the money for it, so I lived on the air mattress until the bedframe finally broke and then I yanked the mattress off the sofabed and used that on the floor.

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Charity Shops

I volunteer once a week for Cancer Research UK in their charity shop on the high street in Lincoln (if anyone wants to visit, I’m there on a Thursday and we are located near the base of Steep Hill across from the Slug & Lettuce). My job is mostly downstairs in the shop – running the till, putting clothing and other items out on the racks/shelves, and general tidying up. Sometimes I also help W, the other volunteer with picking items for the window display, make price labels for B, our manager, and set up displays. I love volunteering and helping out…but the biggest benefit of working in a charity shop? Shopping in a charity shop.

Charity shops in the UK are different from shops in the US. In the US, the two big shops are Salvation Army and Goodwill. At SA you can get t-shirts for $0.50, jeans for $2, and even prom dresses for less than $10. You really have to comb through the racks of clothing to try your luck at finding something branded. I remember one time I found an Express skirt for $2, but most of the time it was combing through lots of discount chain brands and promotional items.

Charity shops in the UK are different. First of all, most big charities (Cancer Research UK, British Red Cross, British Heart Foundation, OxFam, etc.) have their own shops where they sell commercial goods for fundraising, branded items, and donated items. Some charities have multiple shops, such as the OxFam bookshop or the Heart Foundation furniture & appliance shop. Signs in the window at the British Heart Foundation shop advertise used televisions starting at £15 and other used appliances for under £100. I wish I had known of their existence when we had to buy a new washing machine in February!

Since I started volunteering in March, I think I’ve spent around £30 total in different charity shops (though most in the one I volunteer at!). But if I had purchased those same things on the high street? I bet I would have easily spent £300. I shop for high street branded items – I’ve scored per una (Marks & Spencers) blouses and tops for £3-£5, a dress from Evans for £7, a dress from Monsoon for £4, and assorted practically new books for £1-£3. And a quick glance at M&S shows a shirt similar to the one I purchased for £3 selling in their shop for £22, a new-with-tags shirt I paid £5 for selling at £25, and another new-with-tags shirt I paid £4 for selling at £19. And the dress from Evans would have set me back at least £25, and the Monsoon dress at least £55!

And I can’t forget about books. If I forget a book when I go into town, I usually stop in at the OxFam shop and pick out a book and spend £1-2, less than the cost of a magazine. I’ve even picked up the latest Phillipa Gregory book at the charity shop for £2. Buying books used is a great way to expand your collection if you don’t have much to spend. I also decided to purchase cookbooks at charity shops and used book shops instead of £25-30 at Waterstones.

So please, if you’re looking for some new clothing, consider checking in a charity shop first. Not only will you save some money, you’re money will go to a good cause. Or even better, donate some time to your local charity shop!

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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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Friday Night is Music Night

On Friday, Tim and I attended the second-to-last night of a drama and music festival being held in Lincoln. The Lincoln Sounds were participating in the competition and there also was a quartet made up of our members as well as many of the members also performing in the Lincoln Mix, a combined choir of the Sounds and Harmony Lincs. Harmony Lincs is the male barbershop group that inspired the ladies group to form.

We had a fantastic time. I wish I had been up on stage with the ladies, but being in the audience was just as good. Each group had to perform two songs in different styles. Unfortunately, we didn’t take home the top prize. The men’s chorus beat us by just one point! One point! How awful. But, we’ll get them next year because I’ll be singing ;).

After the festival, there was a party called Afterglow in the oldest building in Lincoln. Tim and I were invited along, and we got to mingle with the members of my group and Harmony Lincs…and I got to sing. Tim had actually never seen me sing before, and he said he could tell how happy it makes me. I am so excited to be a part of this group!

Roll on convention!

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An Abbey in Ruins…Right in Our Backyard!

Today’s post is brought to you courtesy of Tim and I wanting to avoid the traffic back-up caused by an accident near Lincoln.

Tim and I went to Tesco a few Fridays ago to pick up some chicken wings, as I had promised my Father-in-Law that I would make him some buffalo wings. On our way into town we noticed there were huge back-ups going the other way. Not wanting to get caught in the traffic, Tim decided to take the long way out of town through some smaller villages and towns. It was a route I had never been on before with some beautiful scenery and winding country roads.

At one point he said to me, “if we turn here, we can see the abbey ruins”. Of course, I had to ask about them! Our short detour took all of about 20-30 minutes, and most of that time was actually walking from the side of the road over to the ruins, as there really isn’t much there to look at. It used to be an abbey called Barlings Abbey.

Barlings Abbey was founded in 1154. in 1537, the abbey was closed by King Henry VIII (when he was closing lots of abbeys, priories, and churches) and all of the valuables were taken away, including the roof! By 1726, only the tower and a few bits here and there remained. The tower fell in 1757 and you can see that some of the stone was used in the nearby farmhouse and farm buildings. Today, all that remains is a bricked up arch, part of the tower base, and lots of rubble. No formal excavating has ever been done on the site, and the remaining wall will probably eventually fall down as well, as it doesn’t have any support nor really a way to support it.

I still get a small thrill touching stones from the 12th century. I can’t help it. It thrills me to the bone to touch pieces of history. I really should have become a historian!

Barlings Abbey is located seven miles east of Lincoln. The site is in private ownership with public access through the farmland (provided you stick to the designated public footpaths) and is free. We actually were only two or three miles away from Tim’s grandad’s house in Langworth, which is only about four miles away from our house!

For more information, see: http://www.lincsheritage.org/community_heritage/guides_information/witham_abbeys/site.php?key=barlings_abbey

Selected photos. More can be seen on facebook:

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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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NHS After Hours

I have had the misfortune to require a doctor after office hours twice this week. In the US, if I needed my doctor after office hours I would have to call into the answering service, leave a message, have my doctor (or the doctor on call) paged by the answering service, then wait for a phone call back from a nurse or secretary to tell me what to do (usually wait until the following day or head to the ER as those were the only options). Here in the UK, you call your regular GP number and if it’s after hours it will connect you automatically to the after hours operators. They will take down your information (I needed to provide my NHS number and tell them a bit about my problem plus give a phone number I could be reached at) and you’ll get a call back from a nurse a few minutes later. That nurse will ask you more questions (obviously, their first goal is to try to diagnose you over the phone and to make sure it’s not a true emergency). In my case, it was determined that I did not have a life-threatening emergency requiring A&E (Accidents & Emergencies, AKA the Emergency Room in the US), but that I did need to see an after hours doctor. Fortunately, we live only about 6 miles away from the county hospital that provides this service.

The after hours GP at the county hospital is located right next to A&E. For being after hours, it was surprisingly fairly empty both nights. The first night, there was one person waiting to be seen and 2 waiting for test results. The second night had a few more people, but it still barely made a dent in the waiting room seating areas!

The first night I went in, I saw a GP. He was able to access my NHS files to see what I was being seen for by my GP and what prescriptions I was on. After giving me an exam, he decided I needed to be put on more antibiotics and a heftier pain killer than regular paracetamol (closest US match: Tylenol/Acetaminophen ), so he wrote up a prescription and the nurse directed us to an “all night” pharmacy.

The pharmacy turned out to be the local Boots store we visit on occasion. They have a walk-up window instead of you actually going into the store so it was a little chilly while waiting!

But we were soon home and only spent £14.40 (the visit to the after hours was, of course, free and included in my NHS care).

The following day when I called, they did their best to reassure me and calm me down (I was having a problem related to the previous night), but in the end it was determined that I needed to see the Nurse Practitioner at the after hours just to be on the safe side. My visit with the nurse took 10 minutes or so, but it was enough to assure me that I was okay, and enough to assure the nurse that I wasn’t in any danger.

This is just one more reason in a long list of reasons why I really like the NHS and wish a similar system existed in the US.

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One Month!

I’ve officially lived in the UK for one month, as of….well, right now, since my plane landed at 530 in the morning on the 21st of January. I’m settling into married life and life in the UK, and things are starting to get sorted –

*I’ve been added to Tim’s bank accounts and have received my debit card
*I have my NHS number and card and have been in to see the GP several times
*I have an EHIC card, so I’m covered if Tim and I jaunt into the rest of the EU and I need a doctor
*I have my NI number, so I can open savings accounts and get a job (if we decide I should)
*I have a library card, which has proven to be quite useful
*We joined the co-op and started earning a small bit for dividends
*I’ve been contacted by a local choir and have been invited to attend rehearsal this week

….the only thing left is for me to sort out the Provisional License, I think. As that requires sending off my passport for a month, I wanted to make sure I got everything else taken care of first.

It’s been a wild and crazy month, but I do love it here. I love being with Tim and we’re slowly getting the house sorted (and re-decorated) and everything is falling into place. We’ve even got most of the reception here planned already!

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Trip Itinerary

We leave on Monday for our trip across the pond, so I thought I’d share our rough draft of plans with you –

Monday – Depart PHL
Tuesday (AM) Arrive DUB (with a layover in CDG). Check into hotel (Fleet Street Hotel), relax, Guinness Store House
Wednesday – Writer’s Museum, Trinity College
Thursday – Dublin Castle, Cathedral
Friday – Stena Ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, meet up with Tim. Welsh Highland Railway
Saturday – Lancaster in AM, Beamish in afternoon
Sunday – North Yorkshire Moores Railway & Howard Castle
Monday – York
Tuesday – Coastal drive (lighthouses), to Tim’s house
Wednesday – Lincoln
Thursday – London
Friday – open
Saturday – open
Sunday – open (but Tim’s day off, so possible stratford?)
Monday – Rail and Sail from Lincoln to Dublin via Hollyhead
Tuesday – depart DUB :(

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More Snow Vlogs!

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Lincoln Cathedral in Fog

A few weeks ago, Tim and I were invited over to his Aunt W’s house for dinner. W lives in Lincoln off of Steep Hill (and ironically, the day I walked Steep Hill I went to the newsstand across the street from her house!), so we parked over by the castle/cathedral. The fog was absolutely beautiful, so I took this video:

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I Climbed Steep Hill!

Last week Tim was doing training in town all week for a new system at his work, and since his days were a bit shorter (4-6 hours, depending on the day), I decided to tag along with him in the morning. The plans were for me to wander Lincoln on my own, maybe do a little shopping, and then when Tim was done, he’d call me to find out where I was and meet me so we could check the farmer’s market together.

Tim dropped me off around quarter of nine on his way to work. Shops weren’t open yet, so I started walking. I walked all the way up High Street and started thinking “hmm, this is getting kind of steep”, but I kept going until I saw a new street sign. I wasn’t on High Street anymore…I was on Steep Hill!

Steep Hill is a shopping section of town that goes between the High Street shopping area and the castle. Tim told me if I wanted to check out Steep Hill we could take a bus to the top and walk down, because he knows how much I dislike going uphill…and yet here I was at 9 in the morning walking up the hill.

I stopped at a tea house about halfway up for something to drink…I had neglected to pack along a water bottle for the day, not thinking I’d be far from the main drag of shops. Tea turned out to be just what I needed to get the rest of the way up the hill. The shops still weren’t open yet, so I walked all the way over to the archway that goes across the road. It’s the last remains of the Roman Wall that once walled off the city in the 1200s! It also happens to be the only part of a Roman wall that is part of a street for automobiles. All the other wall arches in the country go across pedestrian only walkways.

I had a poke around the tourist information center and then I headed back down the hill, taking a different route. This time, the shops on High Street were open, so I managed to get some Christmas shopping done.

I wound up going up into the Waterfront shopping centre to have my Lunch. There’s a mini food court, so plenty of tables. I parked myself in front of the window overlooking the canal, and I watched the people feed the swans and ducks..and pigeons. One man even had 4 or 5 pigeons perched on his arm!

I waited there for Tim to get off work and just read a book for about an hour or so. The farmer’s market turned out to be disappointing – only three stands actually showed up for it, but we did score some rolls and scones made with flour ground by a windmill, so that was exciting (and the man at the bakery stand also sold me the last 5 scones for less than one pound because it was the end of the day).

We headed home, and I started gearing up for our long weekend away the following day by doing some laundry.



Sunrise over Lincoln


Steep Hill


Roman Archway

More Photos: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/lincoln/lincoln-2/

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Local Day Out: Lincoln Castle and Ellis Mill

Yesterday, Tim and I decided to stay local and headed into town. We had hoped to do several things, but as many of the tourist sites close at “dusk” and it started to rain pretty badly, so we cut our trip short and didn’t get to go to the Cathedral, but I did get plenty of photos of it!

We started the day at Lincoln Castle. Lincoln Castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. Lincoln Castle’s grounds also hosts one of the few surviving copies of the Magna Carta, as well as several prison buildings, and the Crown Court for the county, still in use!

We started our day by going into the display for the Magna Carta. I was absolutely awe-struck at seeing a piece of paper (well, vellum) that had been around since 1215 AND is the founding document for even our own (US) Constitution! The original is well-worn, and you can tell the ink on it is fading, so they provide for you a facsimile to read. The original is kept under very low light to help preserve it, and after we looked at it, I could tell why!

The next building we entered was the prison chapel. This was really creepy! In the chapel, the prisoners weren’t allowed to look at each other or talk to each other so they each had their own (uncomfortable) cubicle to sit in an had to wear a mask. The only person who could see anyone else was the Priest. They put dummies made up as prisoners into some of the cubicles so you could see what it would have looked like.

Around the corner was the gaol. We saw how each prisoner was kept in solitary confinement, down to having individual work rooms and how they received medical care. People were well-fed in gaol too, but some of the prisoners would make up ailments so they’d get fed better. Pregnant women would sometimes do things to get thrown into gaol because they would receive better care as a prisoner.

After the gaol, we decided to head up the castle wall and walk around the perimeter. We started by walking up almost to the top of the observatory tower before it got too windy and decided to stay on the castle wall. We walked the entire length visitors were permitted to walk on, and walked back down through Cobb’s Hall, a tower once used for public execution. You could see the steel hooks in the wall that the prisoners awaiting execution were chained up with!

It had started to rain while we were up on the wall, but it was still early in the afternoon. A few times when we were driving past Lincoln, I pointed out the windmill to Tim and asked him if we could go. I happened to see on the website that in the Fall/Winter they were only open on Sundays, so we headed over to Ellis Mill. Ellis Mill is a fully-functional windmill in Lincoln, the only one out of nine original mills to have survived. The mill was functioning until 1940, when the machinery was taken out to make equiptment for the war. A fire destroyed most of the mill in the mid-70s and then a restoration group came in and completely restored the mill. It’s been working again since 1981. For a very nominal fee (£1) we were able to go up inside the mill and watch it make flour. I love windmills and had even done a report on them when I was 12, so this was a very special trip for me.


For more photos:
http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/lincoln-castle-and-ellis-mill/

I also took a short (16 second) video of the mill moving:

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Where In The World Am I?



click for bigger

I have been staying a few miles outside of Lincoln, UK. I’ve been into town a few times – Tim and I have gone shopping twice, and I went in with Tim’s mum and sister last week. Yesterday, Tim and I went into town to shop, and to do some sightseeing. We wound up spending too much time shopping that we never did get to do the sightseeing, but we still had a good time wandering around the town.



Return of the cat photos: here’s Prudence, Tim’s cat.


The (now decommissioned) High Street signal box, one of Tim’s first jobs. He still works at signal boxes, but the one in Lincoln switched over to a computerized system and they no longer need to man the box.


The castle gate

More photos: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/lincoln/

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UK Road Trip Part I: Lincoln and Leicester

We started out in Tim’s hometown, Lincoln, to run a few errands and then we were off on the road to Leicester (pronounced ‘Lester’). Tim gave me the choice of going to see the castle or going to the science center. I picked the science center, so we headed over there only to find we were five minutes too late for the last admittance! :(. Next door was the Abby Pump House that had been turned into a museum, so we poked around in there for a bit and learned all about how bathing and toilets have changed over the centuries and saw a giant steam powered water pump. We wandered a little outside, and found a (yellow) TARDIS! They locked us in, so we had to go the long way around back to the car in the rain/wind that already had destroyed my umbrella earlier in the day.

We got back on the road, and checked a map for towns close to our next stop, and we had the choice of two. I picked Leamington Spa and Tim located a Travelodge on the map…..unfortunately, after about a half hour, we still hadn’t located it. Fortunately, I spotted a Best Western along the road, so we checked in there for the night and FINALLY found a pub for dinner, called the Copper Pot.

We turned in fairly early, in anticipation of an early start the following day.

Photos:



There was a TARDIS in Leicester!


Tim and me

More photos: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/leicester/

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