Sunday, 30 August 2009

I turn 68...and Chinese!

Chinese appetizers…check!

Last week I took a class at the American Association on cooking Chinese hors devours.

This class should have been called fryin’ with oil.

We fired spring rolls. We fried won tons. We fried pie tees.

We used a full 5 liters of peanut oil!!!!

Afterward, wanting to give are hearts a rest, the Baker and I stayed behind and learned how to play…MAJONG!

The ladies said I was a natural!

Monday, 24 August 2009

A Wales of a Time

After our amazing trip to Norway, Mr. Happy & I touched down in Stansted and immediately set off for Wales!

I’ve never been to Wales before, but I’d always wanted to go. My first name is Welsh and means “protector of the sea”. Last year, when Mr. Happy and I tied the knot, two of my oldest friends gave us an adventure gift certificate as a wedding gift. The adventure turned out to be a coasteering trip in Wales! Unfortunately, Mr. Happy and I left the UK soon after the wedding so we were only just now getting the chance to use the great gift.

Mr. Happy’s parents joined us on our road trip.

The countryside in Wales was beautiful.

Especially if you like sheep.

MIL doesn’t. She stayed in the car and phoned for help.

We reached the idyllic Welsh town of St. David’s mid-morning. Actually it’s not a town. It’s a city. The smallest city in the UK.In the UK, an area is considered a “city” if it has a cathedral. St. David’s has a cathedral.

It’s located on the coast – obviously, if you want to go coasteering. Coasteering is an activity where you follow the coastline and jump off rocks and do a bit of hiking.

It sounded fun.

It sounded safe.

Boy was I wrong.

Oh my f*ing Lord!

Coasteering turned out to be a terrifying combination of technical mountain climbing, frightening cliff diving, and swimming for your life in dark, rough waters.

I can’t even imagine how someone came up with the idea for the activity let alone thought it was a good idea to market it to the public.

Everyone in our group was tired, shaking, and bleeding by the midway point. The rocks we climbed where covered in razor sharp coral that cut our vulnerable bodies to ribbons! We dove from heights of 9 meters that sent shock waves up our spines and left us gasping for breath. The waves knocked us into sharp rocks, pummeling our bodies and our souls.

Not only do I now believe my childhood friends hate me. But they also want me to die.

Tired, swollen, and carrying less blood in our bodies than three hours earlier, Mr. Happy and I returned to base camp. Alive.

This was a truly a once in a lifetime experience. We will never, ever do it again. Never.

(Note: To my ex-childhood friends. Please disregard the thank you note I mailed you last summer.)

Mr. Happy and I collapsed in the back of his parents’ car and they drove us to Newport where we met up with the SIL and BIL to celebrate the SIL’s 30th.

We definitely have to improve our game when it comes to using the camera’s self timer.

Newport wasn’t as nice as St. David’s, but we tried to make the most of it. The next day we hit up the biggest nearby attraction.

The Big Pit.

It sounded fascinating. We had to wait in a line for almost an hour.

It was a coal museum and, as I waited, I poked fun at the exhibits.

Boy oh boy did I underestimate the Big Pit.

It was the BEST museum I’ve ever visited!

It was run by former miners and they take you down into the mine, through the shafts, into tiny, dark, claustrophobic corridors and give you quite the education.

Did you know horses worked in coal mines? They spent their entire life underground, in the dark, hauling coal.

This place, was really great. We weren’t allowed to bring any cameras or electrical devices down in case they caused an explosion, so you’ll have to go see it for yourself!

Now that we covered Wales top to bottom, literally, it’s time to head back to London!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Norway: Earth's Best Kept Secret

Yikes! I've been traveling and not had much time to post. I must update you on our fantastic post-wedding trip into the Norwegian outback!

No, that's not us. We are adventurous but not crazy! We opted for cars. Our group of six drove about five hours up toward Eid Fjord. It turns out there are no real highways in Norway. At some points our GPSs disagreed and at some points we drove on dirt paths, but at every point the scenery was amazing.
We stayed at a beautiful, old lodge positioned high on a mountain.

This was the view from our room.

Our multicultural, overzealous group consisted of The Indian, The American, The Russian, The Malaysian, The Kiwi, and The Brit. We couldn't wait to get into the great outdoors!
We stumbled into an adventure tour office and soon we were adventurers!

Our first day we went sea kayaking.

We spent hours paddling around and checking out the sites.

The next day we upped our intensity level and went white water rafting!
Our crew of three had fun, but we each wanted to be captain. So much for team work.

We ate our meals at the hotel. You might ask, "What does one eat in Norway?"

For breakfast.

For lunch.

And for dinner.

The salmon is one versatile fish.

The only negative thing about Norway is the prices. EVERYTHING is so EXPENSIVE. I've lived in London and New York and never seen such sticker shock. One day, in an attempt to save some moolah, we shopped at a grocery store and had a picnic.

We scouted out a scenic location.

Got settled.
And ate at the most beautiful site EVER.

All too soon, it was time to fly back to London. Mr. Happy and I had a long car ride to the airport. More time to check out the scenery!
To maintain the integrity of the natural beauty, homeowners plant grass on their roofs.

We made a quick stop for dinner and what did I order? No, not salmon. Reindeer!
Or, "You know, Santa's Rudolph." As the waiter explained. It was tasty. And reminiscent of elementary school. Sort of like a salisbury steak.
Who knew Norway was so beautiful?

They need to advertise!