Saturday, November 24, 2007

Moggerhanger Park Ride

Wednesday, Cory and I rode through Comberton, Toft, Gransden, Gamblingay (video), Blunham arriving at the Moggerhanger Tea House in little over an hour.

Moggerhanger House Tea - a specialty tea blended for Moggerhanger from Chinese Yannan with vanilla, apple and pecan scones with jam and butter, and tea cakes.

Cory had traditional English tea and tea cakes.

Please forgive my amateur video shooting as I had the camera mounted on my handlebars and it must not have been tight enough so it bounced a lot. Once the helmet mount expansion kit is released by GoPro, I hope my video shooting will be better. You may notice that I tried to get all sides of my "views" by swinging my bike back and forth and riding from side to side. Quite dizzying and dangerous. I luckily did not crash into Cory, cars or off the road.





video

King's College Chapel


Five kings, four master masons and loads of craftsmen took over a century to build King's College Chapel.

Since you must buy the King's College Chapel guidebook for the history of the chapel, I may have to post more details later as I have succumbed to the winter doldrums and work has zapped my energy to sit in front of a computer at home. It is really December 18th and not November whatever when I initially saved this post in draft. Sorry! I really couldn't sit in front of the computer at home anyways since Brad is busy working on his rating playing Bridge online. Yup, that is Brad's off-season; sitting in front of a computer yelling at it when his 80 year partner from Australia plays the wrong card.

So, King's College Chapel - the snipet.

Three different periods of construction occurred because of interruptions due to the War of the Roses (1455-1485).

The stained glass windows are massive with intricate details. The north, south and east sides of the Chapel tell the stories of the old testament (upper windows) and the new testament (lower windows). The woodwork and carved stones are just magnificent, too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chips and Pints

The kids have French class on Monday nights at a community center in Cambridge. Alyssa was still not feeling well so Nathan would go alone.

Dale took Nathan and with a little begging, I rode along. We had to make a stop along the way home for bread so we detoured to The Boathouse for a pint and chips. I think the chips will do me in by the end of my vacation. They are much like "French" fries. Any nationality of fries; British fries. I rarely eat French fries like this at home.

Dale had his usual Stella or the posh saying is now "Artois", I had a draught of XXXB; Bateman's Triple XB. A bitter pale ale with 4.8% alcohol. I am not much for bitter ale but when it is a fresh draught, they have been mighty tasty.

Tuesday, Cory and I had a pint of my favorite for lunch, a draught Hoegaarden. The Punter seem a bit more posh of a pub as they did not have any fish and chips on the blackboard menu. We each ordered butternut squash soup and split an order of bacon and brie baguette with chips. As usual, my eyes were bigger than my belly so I ordered a side of chips. The meal at the Punter was very lovely. Our soup arrived strewn with drippings of olive oil. The bacon was thick and the baguette warm, flaky and crispy. We hung out at the cozy pub warm and dry as commuters rode and drove in the rain. I saw one woman riding that wore a lovely white wool coat without any road grime up her back. The mud guards (fenders) do wonders keeping the riders clean and dry.

Adventures having kids

Dale drove Alyssa and Holly to the Corn Exchange and we followed an hour later with Holly's family. As we drove in the car park, Cory received a call from the head mistress that Alyssa was sick.

We collected Alyssa's things and Dale fetched the car in the drizzly rain and that was that. No children's concert at the Corn Exchange.

Monday, we walked Nathan to school and attended to Alyssa at home for the day. We did venture north to Lakenheath for some American Thanksgiving grocery shopping. Cory and Dale will be treating their British friends to a traditional American feast.

Since the weather has been cold, wet and damp, we have not ridden the bikes yet. Oddly enough, a friend of Cory's invited us to join her for a spinning class at the local gym; Comberton Leisure.

The local gym is owned by Comberton College (high school). They do have memberships and a specific weight room with a few cardio equipment. It seems very similar to a YMCA. We dragged our 1990's spin bikes out of the closet into a gymnasium. It was as if the bikes had down tube shifters on them! The instructor, Joe, checked in with us to make sure we knew what we were doing. I made the mistake of telling him that I taught spin for many years. I became a target in the class. He did not overtly point out that I was not working hard enough and not following his instructions. It was those traditional spins moves that we never do on a road bike, that got me into trouble. Who sprints with the upper body upright?! And without moving the hips?! When Joe shouted; sprint as fast as you can! He also shouted in our direction; "keep those bodies upright." as Cory and I had our heads down and arses back sprinting. We had a great workout so we did not go pubbing after class.

Alyssa survived her virus and went to school on Tuesday. Cory and I met a bunch of mums at Comberton Leisure for a power walking class. What fun. :-) My damn hips and ankles are stiff today. It reminded me of my second cross race. I got dropped so fast by all the mums (about 12 of them) and I even started in the second row. "Wiggle those hips and swig those arms!" yelled Hannah. She was in a car following us. At one point on a country road, she had to pass us as we were too slow. Eventually my partner, Denise, and I ended up jogging. We power walked 5K to Toft and back in an hour. Now I was ready to tour Cambridge again.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cambridge

After seeing the sun rise from my bedroom window, I fell back asleep so we missed out on a ride as the rain did not fall until 4:30 this evening. I did not actually see the sun but I did experience blue and pink skies with a smattering of clouds as the wind whipped through the tops of trees.

In the afternoon, we walked around Cambridge enjoying a cloudy, windy day as I hopped in and out of stinky, red telephone booths exposing my touristy nature. I try to disguise the tourist in me but after a while, I cannot hold back and the camera comes out and there is no stopping me.

Later, we ate at The Eagle Pub. I had a pint of Abbot Ale and shared an order of fish and chips with Nathan. Cory and Dale order a Ploughman, the British version of a plate of salad with cheese or deli meat and each had a Stella Artois.

The pub is famous for the announcement of the discovery of DNA. Also, the back room ceiling is covered in RAF, American Air Force and World War II pilots' signatures.
We wandered to Fitzbillies and the family had to hold me back from ordering everything in the bakery. Chocolates, truffles, pastries, oh my. I had a chocolate rum truffle the size of a tennis ball, Cory had an almond meringue poofy-thing; Nathan ordered the same as me except it was without the rum and in the shape of a mouse; Dale - I do not remember as he ate it so fast he did not share it with us. I thin it was a pecan tart. Right.

Later, we will return to Cambridge to hear Alyssa and her friends sing in a gathering of local young singers sponsored by Chambridgeshire Music at the Corn Exchange.

Pictures will be posted on my return to the states.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Trains, Planes and Automobiles-in the UK for the Holiday

I had a horrible seat for my SEVEN + hour flight to London. Row 40 seat J. I would think I would know better with all the flying I have done this year. But No!

I managed to have a fairly pleasant guy from Denver sit next to me. Around 12:22 EST over St. John's, New Foundland, we hit horrible turbulence and I started doing that breathing thing that pregnant women do when they deliver. I held on tight to the arm rests and thought, all this energy is stupid but I could not stop. The plane dropped, I heard the engines cut back, cut in, the plane shook like a wet dog, then I heard a mother tell her child to get on the floor if it made her feel better. So that lasted chaos lasted for about 2 minutes. Okay maybe it was for one minute but we were barely two hours into the flight and we had the lilly pond to deal with for the rest of the flight.

I managed to sleep sporadically as the turbulence woke me every time but nothing as bad as the St. John's turbulence. The crew were pretty good about waking us every hour or so for food and drinks. I thought they said they would only wake us if they could not see that our "seat belt was securely fastened." Grrr.

When I arrived in London around 10 a.m., I had to manage to take the Tube and a train to Cambridge. I am visiting my best buddies, the Bemis's, and they had activities in the a.m. and to drive into London to pick me up would have been a whole day's affair. I am always up for an adventure so I had no worries about the trains. I did, however, worry about using the pay phone to call Cory as I did not know if I need coins. I decided not to get any pounds as I hope to be charging everything during my stay.

All in all, my adventures with the trains and phones worked out as I am not shy to ask anyone questions. Even after I had gone to the information desks with my questions, I would still ask another travel what to do, where to go, as I did not trust my listening skills. "Did he stay turn right?"

Cory picked me up after my 2 p.m. arrival in Cambridge in her riding kit. "Activities", right? I was okay with that of course. I sat in the front left passenger seat trying to dodge traffic. Jet lag had set in hours ago as I fell asleep for a bit on both train rides. I cannot wait to ride on the left side of the road to see how many people I take out if we happen to ride with any of Cory's club rides.


Friday, November 9, 2007

There's No Place Like Home


After dragging Brad out for a date night, I could not wait to get home to watch the Wizard of Oz from start to finish on our new HDTV.

So I sat in front of the tv multi-tasking. And I thought Las Vegas was excessive.

Another Date Night with a Date

I have been working the 6 a.m. shift this week supporting the help line with early registration so I was ready for a night out. I took advantage of an early rainy afternoon to check out a discount grocer in Quarryville, PA.

It was my first time to shop at BB's, "bents, bumps and bargain grocer". Most items may have bents or be slightly beyond the expired date. Since it is in the heart of Lancaster County, the store happens to be run by the Amish. The store closes at 4 p.m. due to the lack of major electricity. Thankfully I arrived at 3:30 so I had very little time to buy tons of ice cream in bulk.

The best purchase was 3 gallons of Turkey Hill "lite" Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for $6 and it doesn't expire until May, 2008. I think it will be gone before then. Everything else were silly purchases of marinades, pounds of animal crackers, baking chocolate and some good things like fruits and vegetables.

The Amish girl bagging groceries got all excited with my tub of ice cream. "Whoa, where'd you git that? I love ice cream. Oh, no, it's lite though. Still good, don't you know."

As Brad said, I came home like a tornado. I surprised him with his favorite - ice cream and the request for a date night - now! He about cried as he thought he would do great avoiding ice cream. (Last weekend he forced me to go to the store to buy "us" some ice cream even though I gave him a hard time that he "told" me not to buy any for him.)

I demanded that we go to happy hour at J.J. Jeffries (aka Lancaster Arts Hotel). From there we could go elsewhere for dinner if we chose not to stay there for dinner.

We had a fabulous beer from a local brewery; Fat Dog Oatmeal Stoudt. It started out great but had a bit of an after taste. My favorite stoudts are Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stoudt then Guinness. Although, Fat Dog wasn't too bad for a local beer.

We decided to wander to the restaurant next door for dinner. It has been hit or miss with the dinners at Rosa Rosa. The ambiance has always been enjoyable. They usually have live Jazz. Tonight was soft piano music. Cat Stevens, James Taylor and the Beatles were very pleasant for a fall evening after our loud and noisy happy hour. We slowed down for dinner, each other's company and ESPN at the tiled wrap around bar. We cleaned all our plates and headed home for our pjs and a movie.

Plates:
Fagottino di Caserta - thinly sliced eggplant wrapped around fresh mozzarella, with tomato sauce. Misto alla Brace - Salmon, Swordfish, scallops, our fresh lemon garlic and olive oil Pollo Siciliano - Chicken breasts breaded and lightly sauteed, finished with artichoke, mushroom and onions, flavored with marsala wine

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Spiced Banana Muffins with Cinnamon & Walnut Topping


While the guys moved to the basement to watch the game, I baked six, big arse muffins. They were so big, they overflowed in the oven. I forgot about the nuances of baking and I had to clean the oven halfway through. I knew I should not have filled the over-sized muffin tin to the top of the rims. I absent-mindedly thought they would "puff up". Even though they came out with flat tops, they still tasted awesome.

Spiced Banana Muffins with Cinnamon & Walnut Topping
1/2 cup of butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3/8 cup water

3 large bananas

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3/8 tsp nutmeg
3/8 tsp cloves

1 tbsp cinnamon sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I didn't have any so I used hazelnuts and pecans!)

Beat together first 4 ingredients until mixture is nicely blended. Stir in the bananas. Stir in the next 6 ingredients until blended. Fill muffin cups (any kind of muffin cups should be filled no higher than 3/4s full) or make in a 10" tube pan. Sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar and walnuts. Press the walnuts lightly into the batter. Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Lancaster Bicycle Club Ride

Saturday was a beautiful fall day in November. Karen and I rode a LBC ride in the morning. We choose a B ride so we would enjoy the scenery of Lancaster County instead of the wheel and arse in front of us.

As with most club rides, a group of riders push the pace one or two miles higher than the prescribed pace. A good number of riders should be riding the A group (16 mph and up) but do not for whatever reason (start location, "out of shape", timing-need to get errands done, etc). Most people ride the B rides and the group splinters from there.

We had a bit of a head/cross wind for our 34 mile ride to New Holland and back so it was great to have people to ride behind. Or so we thought. With about 30 riders showing up for the 10 a.m. ride, the ride leader ran out of cue sheets by the time we rolled in. The ride started two blocks from my house and at 10 a.m. compared to one of my favorite LBC rides, the Harvest Ride, a 54 mile ride that started at 8:30 a.m. and about a 10 minute ride away.

We hogged the roads for about three miles until the group did some self selecting. Eventually, about 18 riders were up the road with stragglers in between the tail end of the true "B pace" riders. Karen and I rode with a nice group of about 3 or 4 guys that varied as some of them dropped back to the ride leader. Before we knew it, we set the pace and averaged an "A pace" into the winds. I whined to Karen that we could have ridden the Harvest Ride but she reminded me that it would have been a smaller group with nowhere to hide, at an average of 18+ mph for three hours and I would not have been able to sleep in. As with my eating, my eyes are always bigger than my stomach, so I tend to take on more than I can handle. My girlfriends always know that if I say; "Hey, lets ride for four hours tomorrow, that usually means two 1/2 hours!

I love how riding in the wind wipes me out. It is such a great feeling. If I am not pressed for time, I love riding in the wind. Two hours were enough as it allowed me time to go food shopping with my homebody, Brad, at Costco buying last night's dinner.

Pork loin baby back ribs. Hmmm. We marinated them with barbeque and grilled them. I peeled and cut up sweet potatoes for sweet potato fries. Oh, I am getting hungry for the meal again. I toss the sweet potatoes in a big bowl with my homemade Cajun seasoning or even season salt would work. This time I used some seasoning that I bought from a home party for Tastefully Simple. I have been slurring my words lately (and that has been without alcohol) and I usually say, tastefully sinful. That's probably what it is since a lot of the products have partially hydrogenated oils and that is a no, no in our house. I am a sucker for the home parties my friends and family host. If I attend, I feel guilty not buying something. So I bought a seasonal seasoning (it's not on their website anymore), Si Si Cilantro, spicy dip mix and it is tasty (and without partially hydrogenated oils). Ingredients: jalapeno pepper, cilantro, salt, lime powder, onion and garlic.

We heated up fresh sweet corn we bought frozen from a local Amish woman. Then Brad whipped up some margaritas for his dad and I. We feasted around our new 20 inch flat screen tv and watch Eli's alma mater, Michigan State play well in the second half to turn around and lose.