Saturday, April 30, 2011

When There Is 'Notting' To Do

Earlier this month, Rachel came down to visit me, all the way from Nottingham. And I believe we had a great time! I did, since it gave me something to do. Here are some snapshots of what we did during that three days.

We had dinner (Shepherd's Pie and Mushroom Soup) back at my flat on the first day while watching 'Lie to Me'.
Dinner while watching 'Lie To Me'
We cooked noodles on the second day, and topped it off with the delicious banana crumble we made!
Banana Crumble and Ice Cream!
As for travelling about, it's not much of a surprise. We went to Elm Hill and had a traditional English lunch at Britons Arms House, walked around the little gift shops. Then to Tombland, the Cathedral and the bookshops.
Elm Hill

Britons Arm
Also, we managed to go to the Castle, the Market, Forum, City Council...several of the many confusing little churches... we pretty much covered most of the landmarks.
Patch of Greeness near the Norwich Cathedral
I'd always thought Norwich is a small city, the same thing I was told when I first arrived. But Chiah (and in fact, more than one person) commented on how huge the city is. That, perhaps, would mean there an incentive for them to come back!
Now you see it..
I also brought her to the river behind the village, and took lovely 'contemplative' photos. The one below is pretty, isn't it? With the sunlight trickling from the cracks of the horizon?
Looking out into the Sunlight

Thank you, Chiah, for coming to visit me! I'm pretty sure she'll be coming back *coughs* because I showed her the bookshops. Anyway, we'll be meeting up after the exams for a trip up North! Can't wait!!

La fete (no, it does not mean 'the feet' but 'the festival', irrelevant but amusing pun)
 PS. Spring ends today. That's pretty quick considering how long Winter was this year (started in November and sort of lasted till March, which didn't have snowfalls but was extremely cold). Sigh. I don't want Spring to go!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken or Egg?

Over the past few days I've had this question embedded in my head. Why...WHY does the Easter Rabbit get all the credit and not an Easter Chicken? I mean, eggs come from chickens, don't they? Is there some sort of bunny conspiracy? I always knew that innocent looking creature has a dark side. Quite like the essay I remember writing about a sinister bunny luring Alice to Wonderland.

So which came first then? The chicken or the egg? Or might I say, the chicken or the rabbit?
Moving back to the point, it should be obvious that this is an Easter Day post. Back in Malaysia, it's not as big a celebration but it is here. So Adiba, Sara and I had our own Easter Day Celebration.
Happy Easter!
The mint chocolate egg was a gift from my cousin, which vaguely reminds me of the egg in the fourth book of the Hogwarts series, and I made the little centrepiece above. I thought the words 'The Egg' on that hairdressing discount voucher seemed amusingly appropriate for the occasion.

Our Easter Dinner
They came over to my place and we had a lovely dinner, mostly because of the chicken curry (I'll tell you how I got it later) along with the vegetables, egg and soup.
Chicken Curry
Just look at it. It tasted as good as it looked too, after so long of craving spicy food. And some home-cooked food, for that matter. Besides, holidays are meant to be celebrated no matter where you are.
Rice, Egg and Beverage
On top of that, I had an Easter egg, as I had mentioned. I tried my hands at making icing, which wasn't perfect but it tasted quite delicious. With some household innovation (ie a freezer bag) we made a pipe bag and had some fun with our dessert. Playing with food is always fun.
Piping out the icing
It ended up with an icing flower, a bee, our initials, a turtle and a door where a chunk had chipped off.

Sara, Adibah and Rachael :)
And right inside the chocolate egg there lies....another box of chocolate! Surprise! While we were not able to finish the whole egg, I think it's safe to say that it was a sugar-infused evening.
Shape of a bunny!
And now to thank my family (my parents, especially) who bought these packets of spices from home and to May Ling who brought them over for me. It got me excited and provoked an immediate response to eat. Miss you all! 
My beloved stash!
So here is my Easter account. Also, to leave nothing unanswered, I did some searching on the web and realised that the Easter bunny is actually a March hare, which is a symbol of fertility during spring (for all the biological reasons) while the egg is a symbol of renewal or rebirth. Putting them both together created this immortalised mascot of the season. Hence we solve our 'chicken and egg' question.

'HEY, RACHAEL!' You say. 'Don't you know a 'chicken or egg problem' has no definite answers?' Well... research shows that the egg has a sort of membrane that can only be produced by a chicken so the bird must have come first. And probably evolved from another animal. Like a duck, maybe.

Now that's a thought.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dashing Days

Spring is in the country and this weekend will be the rabbit-hopping, chocolate-egg-hunting day. Rabbits are definitely plentiful although I've not been hunting for eggs. Anyway, this post is about my few days with Amy and Caroline! 
Chocolate Crispees and Marshmallows
We've had a lot of Chocolate Crispees in that short period of time. Amy and I watched 'Catch Me If You Can' and 'Tangled' on two separate 'movie nights' while indulging in our finger food/ dessert. Both are fantastic movies in their own ways (ie. I have soft spots for Di Caprio and Disney...Hey! What if there's a fusion of the two?!). That aside, I enjoyed our Disney-soundtracks moments!

She's got a dream! (He's got a dream!)
They've got a dream! (We've got a dream!)
So our differences ain't really that extreme!
We're one big team...!
Call us brutal, sick, sadistic
And grotesquely optimistic
'Cause way down deep inside
We've got a dream!
~'I've Got A Dream' from the Tangled soundtrack~

Surprised-Doggy spectre

While Caroline was around, we've been out by the river as well as unexplored roads that lead upstream. Crossing a bridge, we found ourselves close to an open field with ducks, geese, sheep and horses. Lately I've noticed their adorable offsprings flocking right behind the village too. The season is announcing itself for sure.

We've talked about paddling in the chilly stream one day. I only realised later that there are leeches in the deeper region of the river (which is not that deep actually; I don't think it would even reach my knee). Thankfully I learnt about it the easy way when a family came by and went in.
From left: Caroline, Amy and I

The River
While walking back from the University, Amy and I found a different-though-slightly-longer path back to our accommodation. It's actually quite a nice place for walks. That's next on my list.
So this is an account of my Spring-welcoming, Easter-arriving, Crispee-and-Marshmallow-Eating, Movie-Soundtrack-Singing, Upstream-Exploring days last week. Whoop~ would you be able to read the previous sentence in one breath?

Well, I just tried it and it's possible.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Norwich Cathedral

There are so many churches in Norwich, and this is no exaggeration. I've gotten lost many times thinking that the familiar looking architecture is a landmark of somewhere I know when in fact it is a different church.

And with each step I take I am walking further down unknown territory. Now that is me being dramatic. Not exaggeration.

Norwich Cathedral
My first visit to the Norwich Cathedral was with Amy. It's the oldest cathedral in Norwich, with a history of over 900 years and it is very well preserved. I overheard some students in a bus once (I can't help it) saying that they asked one of the tour guides about whether it is possible for the concrete structure to last throughout the centuries without getting as much as a dent. The tour guide told them that there are documents and leases to prove it. No exaggeration here.

Lovely arches
 It looked beautiful outside and the stonewalls were so majestic.

The inside
The second time I came to the Cathedral, Amy, Amanda and I went inside. I need not say much. Historical and sacred places normally come with aesthetic grandeur wherever it is you go. I like the stained glass pieces though.

To commemorate those lost in wars
The third time I came was with Chiah, and this time there was a tour guide who showed us around for a bit. And it does get a lot better having someone to tell the story behind the structure, such as why there is a symbol of an eagle and a seagull and the commemorative hall to those who perished in wars. They had a plate for Malaya, shortly before the Japanese invasion as I remember.

I particularly liked it when he talked about the painting, where, in a time when all religious paintings where being destroyed, that particular one survived because it was discovered to have been disguised as a table top, with the images facing downwards.

The outside
There is a Herb Garden outside, with a nice botanical layout.
Herb Garden

Herb Garden

There's also a private school nearby as well, and occasionally in the afternoon you can see students in elegant school uniforms strolling out with the ring of a bell.
Back of the Cathedral

And at the back of the Cathedral, a large tree which I deem photo-worthy. Although later Amy told me it wasn't that unusual as there are trees like this everywhere. It still was a lovely spot anyway.
I just had to have a photo, by hook or crook. Now maybe that's exaggeration.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sweet Serenity.

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I found my favourite streets in Norwich. Possibly my favourite streets in the country. Maybe even of all time! It feels unusually calm and happy after walking down them, with sights of quaint and quirky shops selling quaint and quirky items. Beautiful is the word.

Elm Hill
Elm Hill is Norwich's most medieval street, preserved from medieval times. So close it is to the past that some scenes in the movie 'Stardust' had been filmed here. Beneath my feet is nothing but pure cobblestone, uneven but authentic. The buildings, as you can see, are all of the middle ages. Along the road there are shops selling local crafts, teddy bears, adorable trinkets, games, second hand books and so on.
Elm Hill
There is a tea house and restaurant at the edge of Elm Hill, which offers traditional English dishes with a menu that changes its chalky inscriptions every day. The food there is delicious and, at the risk of sounding bold, you can ask anyone who has eaten there and they'd say the same thing.
Britons Arms
Then on the other end of the road is Tombland, another wonderful part of the city centre that houses another beautiful bookshop, only here it not only sells second hand books but also antique books. Think first editions or special editions. Basically anyone who enjoys books, especially the classics, will find themselves fully immersed in the moment. You'd oo and aaa at the collections and you'd just want to lie there and take in the aroma.
Tombland Bookstore
I imagine having them in my personal library at home someday, catching the sunlight with their golden engravings, glistening in pride. Someday, with all those lovely editions. Someday.

The joy of it all
On a rather random note, I believe books enjoy whispering to one another and they entice us to whisper back. As I said, very random unless you get the idea.

What I'd really want to see on my bookshelves in the future one day
A blessed companion is a book - a book that, fitly chosen, is a lifelong friend ... a book that, at a touch, pours its heart into our own. 
~Douglas Jerrold

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Oopsie Daisy

All the courseworks are done with and Easter Break is in Norwich! Everything seemed to shine a lot more after that. It is brighter, warmer and there are beautiful daisies and daffodils sprouting out from the emerald carpet. Spring... is beautiful.

We had a picnic last Friday out on the field, before Ben had to leave.


Out in the Village

Sausages and Patties
It was initially supposed to be an open barbeque, but in the end we just cooked them indoor and brought them out. We'll save the first for another day.



Also, I haven't experienced Summer yet, but Spring feels incredible. Everything reviving from the roots to the shoots. The big blue sky with the warmth of the sun.
Village blocks
I went exploring on my own for a while, walking to the back of the village. I'd only just realised that there's a beautiful river so close to us, and there were people laying on the grassy clearing there as well. But the one that really caught my attention was the scene below.
Village River
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? It involves a book. Now that is just too obvious, ain't it?

Back in Malaysia I would simply avoid the sun at all costs. Of course, back in Malaysia the severity of the temperature can fry you, so air conditioning reigns supreme. Here, after going through an excessively long Winter (it was a long long Winter), the sun simply is a refreshing change. I probably won't feel the same when I go back but I shall complain then.
Steps leading to a church
More roads meant for Nature hikes of sorts.
Beautiful paths
Caroline taught me to make daisy chains. Daisies don't really grow back home so it wasn't something I'd consider part of childhood. It would have been nice, though.
Daisy chain
That aside, Easter Break is here, and I have much unwinding to do. Till the next post!