Apr 26, 2013

Manchester with Books

My plane arrived 30 minutes early in Manchester. I didn't know that was possible. So I peeked into an airport shop, scored 3 books for the price of 2 and now have 2 weeks to finish them before I return my rental car (aka extra luggage space).

And this is how I make them portable, tearing into sections. Some may think it's sacrilege, I call it being prepared. You never know when the urge to pop into a cafe or onto a park bench to read for a while will hit.
Then I happened upon this gem: Magma Books.
When I told the cashier I wanted 7 others but was limited due to travel he whipped out a card and said "let us do the heavy lifting, shop on our website," which is: Magmabooks. Here's my beauty. It's big!
Last but not least I went to the John Ryland library. It may look like a place of worship and it is, for books. And I'm a believer.

Brings back memories of my French lit class.

Mirrors are available to view the ceiling without straining your neck. Brilliant.
The subject of a current exhibit is: Al Mutanabbi Street. If you don't know about it look it up and be prepared to get emotional, I did.

Apr 25, 2013

Looking for Mr Darcy in Lyme Park

I looked
And looked
And Looked
He was not in the pond
He was not in the lake, those white haired volunteers didn't fool me
He was not on yonder side of the wall
So I did the next best thing. I went to Rams Head, a pub in the neighboring village of Disley. There I had the most amazing Lamb-burger with yogurt mint sauce and a rich treacle tart with lemon curd while cozied up in my own little alcove just big enough for 2. He really did miss out.
Maybe Mr Darcy was hiding in the house. It was closed to the public today, but I'm now a card carrying member of the National Trust, which means I've paid for the right to stalk him, I mean visit as many national trust locations in England as I can, for one whole year.

Apr 21, 2013

Schenkstroop and Stubborn Spring Flowers

I love Dutch pancakes!
...and the amber molassesy sugar syrup drizzled on top, Schenkstroop. The pancakes are like a thicker version of a crepe. We picked up a mix and a bottle of Schenstroop at the market for our own little feast.
And for the table...this is what you can get for €5 in the Netherlands
And when in the Netherlands in April it's mandatory to visit the tulip fields, however, stubborn spring will not open it's sleepy eyes. So the fields of tulips are still blanketed in green rather than awake and costumed with the multicolor stripes you expect.
I find myself whispering "come on little flowers you can do it you're so close".
But thanks to the greenhouses at Kuekenhof and a few brave little buds we were able to see these...
My favorite: Salmon van Eijk

Apr 20, 2013

Duvet Day in Vreeland Netherlands

While in Como Italy I met an English woman, Scottish by birth. We chatted and enjoyed a refreshment while sitting at the Cafe of Villa Carlotta. Discussing the need for down time, even on vacation, those days where you just stay in bed and read a fluffy novel or watch the last 15 minutes of the BBC's North and South over and over again, she said, "we call those duvet days".

Here I am in the Netherlands about 30 minutes outside Amsterdam and I'm proclaiming today a Duvet Day! Just a glance at these photos from our houseboat and you'll understand why.

A look out the back door to the left
A look to the right
Another houseboat in the area
I planted myself right here today. Enjoying my new favorite cookie. It's buttery and soft on the outside with a mild almond paste on the inside.
And indulged in one of my favorite pass-times flipping through home decor magazines. I was giddy when I saw the stacks on the shelf in the living area.
So the views from the houseboat are from the back looking toward a bird sanctuary. The only sounds are of the water lapping against the house, wind blowing through the brush and trees, squabbling geese, ducks and storks, an occasional boat and neighborly chatter. But, if you're looking for a change in scenery just go out the front door and across the lane. Can't go wrong either way.
Happy Duvet Day!

Apr 19, 2013

Positively Perfect in Portovenere

First of all I got to take a boat. But not one of these.

And the port is charming.

Sitting at a boardwalk cafe you are just 20 yards from the water.

My airbnb.com host recommended I visit. He likes Portovenere better than Cinque Terre and within 30 minutes I completely agree.

Church of San Petro

Shopping in windy little streets.

My new favorite shop for a tasty apple and piece of bread to go with

Pesto from this shop (the one on the left with the tray of basil in the window). One taste and it was all over. I've never had pesto his good. Really! (I'm beginning to wonder if all of the flavors are just enhanced by the scenery or if everything really is that much better)

It's official: Portovenere is on my "I will return here someday" list.

Apr 18, 2013

The Hills are Alive...

Announcing the world premier of
Look forward to their new single inspired by the sights, sounds and tastes of the Rhine.
Including hilltop performances...
storming the castle and gnomes on phones.
Recorded live on location in St. Goar, Bacharach and Oberwessel Germany.

Apr 12, 2013

The Gelato Awards

Taking a tour of the gelato museum in Bologna at Carpigiani University I learned that sorbetto is Arab in origin and was used for medicinal purposes. Or as our tour guide said for "eating therapy"!

So let the eating therapy awards begin


Most Aesthetically Pleasing and The place I most dream of returning to 
FLAVORS: Amarena and something creamy and caramelly 
These girls have turned gelato serving into an art. Perfectly swirled. 


The Best 2 Gelato Day (yes, this happened more than once)
Flavors: Michaelangelo and grapefruit

Flavors: Almond and Kiwi
2 gelaterias, 2 friends (having a fabulous time with my new friend Rebeca, she's an exchange student from Canada studying at Bologna University).


Favorite Overall Flavor
Flavor: 2 Febbraio (chocolate hazelnut gelato with Nutella sauce and hazelnut sauce and cookie pieces)

Closeup of 2 Febbraio (see lower flavor)



Best View while Eating Gelato
WINNER: near Basilica di Santa Maria Novella in Firenze

Insert giant round of applause for all the gelato in Italy

My judging qualifications: much experience eating gelato and recent GELATO CLASS attendance. Which I probably should have failed because I put too much water in our Strawberry Sorbetto. 

By the way...pretty pans of gelato should look like this 

As opposed to this 

Team Fraugula left to right:Francois, Celine, me and Marcato our instructor.