Archive for the ‘April 2010’ Category

Gym in Edinburgh

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Today was the first time I went to the gym here! I used my flatmate’s (Josie’s) gym card to get in. Otherwise it would cost 3 pounds each day or 60 pounds per semester. I decided not to get a pass for the semester in the beginning of the year because I will be walking around the city a lot. I have been walking around a lot, but I just wanted to go to the gym and use the weights too. At Mary Washington, the gym is free and all the exercise classes are free. I think it costs money here because the tuition is way cheaper. People who live in Scotland do not have to pay for tuition for colleges in Scotland.

The gym was really new and really nice. I would say that it is nicer than the gym at Mary Washington. I wish I could take exercise classes, but I would have to pay for them and I would have had to start in the beginning of the semester. I will definitely go back to this gym.

To microwave or not to microwave. That is the question.

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

The other day, I was discussing with my flatmates about how many things I microwave compared to everyone else in the flat. Here is a list of things I put in the microwave at home…

  • Water (to boil, for tea and instant coffee)
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Sausage
  • Potato (Baked Potato)
  • Bacon

I am sure there are more things…but these are the things that my flatmates are totally weirded out by. In the beginning of the semester to make tea I put a mug with water in the microwave. Everytime I did that there was at least someone shockingly asking, “You put water in the microwave?!?” They look at it like it is the weirdest thing ever. Everyone uses a kettle here. I think every house has one. We do not have one at home, so I always heat up the water in the microwave. Now I use a kettle because it is definitely faster than the microwave. I think we should get a kettle at home. Now it will be weird to go back home and not have a kettle!

My flatmates were also suprised that I put bacon in the microwave to cook it. However, the bacon here is pretty different to the bacon in the United States. The bacon here is not crispy. I am used to American bacon, so that is what I prefer. People here use the grill a lot to cook bacon. We do not have a grill at home, but it is right below the stove, but above the oven. I cannot explain it…but I have never used it here because I don’t see the need for it.  I remember a few years ago our microwave broke and we could not get one for one week (I can’t remember why) and it was the hardest week ever! We boiled water on the stove and had to heat leftovers in the oven. I am sure most of my flatmates would be fine if the microwave broke, but I would definitely have a hard time.


Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Last Thursday, Lindsay and I took a 4 day trip to London! It was great! We got on the train, and right when we got on I got a text message from Alistair (one of my flatmates). He said that all of the airports were closed in the UK because there was a volcano in Iceland and there was a huge ash cloud over the entire UK. It was not safe for planes to fly. Here is an article about that. Lindsay and I were seriously considering taking a plane to London…luckily we decided to take the train. After 4 hours and 45 minutes, we arrived in London. This was our first time in London so we planed to do everything.

We took the underground (tube) from King’s Cross to Victoria Station. It only took about 5 minutes to walk to our hotel. The hotel was an old row house and the location was perfect. After we checked in, we walked about 10 or 15 minutes to Wesminster Abbey. Unfortunately it closed about five minutes before we arrived. So we decided to take a cruise on the Thames River instead. This cost about 7 pounds compared to the bus tour which cost like 25 pounds! The cruise was perfect. We saw the Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, London Bridge, Tower of London, and Tower Bridge. The tour guides on the boat were not professional tour guides, but they were pretty funny. We passed by the Tate Modern (which is a Modern Art museum). The tour guide said that he went there a few year ago and left his wallet inside the Museum. When he came back a few hours later to get it, he found it on the floor and about 20 people standing around it taking pictures. This was because it was a modern art museum and they thought the wallet on the floor was part of the exhibit. (I thought that was funny).

Tower Bridge

After the cruise, we walked to 10 Downing Street where the Prime Minister lives. We went to the gate, as close as we could. We could definitely get closer than the White House. Then we saw that Trafalgar Square was about 10 minutes away, so we decided to go there. We planed to go there on another day, but we decided to do that then because it was so close. On the way, I saw a building that I recognized. I remember that I saw it on my flashcards when studying for my Art History text last year. It was the Banqueting Hall by Inigo Jones! (Those who have taken that class know which building I am talking about). We got to Trafalgar Square and there were so many people there. There was a huge fountain with statues of lions next to it. The National Gallery of Art was there, but we did not go inside. After that, we walked about ten minutes to Buckingham Palace. We saw a few guards, but they were not the guards with the fuzzy hats. Both of us were craving Italian food. So on the way back to our hotel we saw an Italian flag and it turned out to be a perfect Italian restaurant. We walked into a small restaurant with pictures of famous people on the wall that ate here before. I ate exactly what I wanted: Pasta with seafood…perfect. After a long day of traveling and walking we headed back to our hotel.

Banqueting Hall by Inigo Jones

Big Ben

The next day we woke up pretty early and headed to Wesminster Abbey. We were one of the first ones there and it was definitely good to beat the crowds. By the time we left, there were a lot of people. We took an audio tour of the Abbey. We saw where Mary Queen of Scots was burried and also where Queen Elizabeth (the first) was burried. After the tour, we took the tube to the British Museum. Here we saw the Elgin marbles and the Rosetta Stone. In the courtyard of the museum, they put this modern roof over it to enclose the space. I recognize this same roof from the National Portrait Gallery in DC! I remember when I went on a tour of the Portrait Gallery, they said that the roof was coppied from the British Museum. After the museum, we walked about  thirty minutes to our lunch place. This restaurant was recommended by Frommer’s and it said it was in the heart of the Financial District. When we walked in everyone was wearing suits or dressed up because they were coming from work. But it was a very good restauraunt. After that, we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral which was about a five minute walk. We walked into the Cathedral and I could not stop looking up at all of the details of gold mosaics and paintings. It was incredible. It was huge too! We walked 530 steps to the top to see an amazing veiw of London. Some of the stairways were very small and we even had to duck and some parts. Then towards the top we climbed these small, metal, spiral staircases. We finaly made it to the top section of the dome. I could see all of London from the top! If you are visiting London, I highly recommend climbing the 530 steps. It was totally worth it. After we managed to get ourselfs to ground level, we walked over the Millenium Bridge. This bridge is a modern bridge which was put there in 2000. In the sixth Harry Potter movie, this bridge is the one that twists and breaks. Then we walked about twenty minutes over to Covent Gardens. This is an area where there are great restaraunts, shopping, and there are always street preformers. We then arrived at the Lyceum Theater to see the Lion King!! It was amazing!! It was different than the other plays I have seen (Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia) because it was very visual and there were so many colorful costumes. For the Phantom of the Opera, I was listening to the orchestra the entire time. For the Lion King, it was interesting to see how the movie was interpreted to a play. After that, we took the tube back to our hotel.

St. Paul's Cathedral

View from St. Paul's

On the Millenium Bridge

We saw the Lion King!

The next day we went to Portobello Market in Notting Hill. This market was in the movie Notting Hill. I think this was one of my favorite things this whole trip. There were so many stands selling antiques, jewlery, and also food! It was the best. It is like the Eastern Market in Washington D.C. but ten times bigger! After the market, we walked to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. By that time our feet were killing us! We had walked so much the day before and that morning, that we decided to sit in the park for an hour and just take a break. The weather was beautiful so everyone was at the park too. There were a lot of people pattleboating in the river at the park. After our break, we had enough energy to walk to the famous department store: Harrods. It was pretty big. There was a whole section of teas, coffees, and chocolate. We had dumplings there for dinner. They were good! It was around 6:00 and we were pretty tired, so we just went back to the hotel and watched TV. It was nice to take a break.

Portobello Market

Kensington Gardens

2 Flowers

The next day was our last day. Our train back to Edinburgh was at 3:00 and we had to check out of the hotel at 11. Since we would have our luggage with us, we decided to have a relaxing day reading in St. James Park. As we were walking there, we walked by Buckingham Palace again. We saw crowds of people and realized that the changing of the guards ceremony was about to begin in five minutes! We did not even plan to see it! We heard a marching band coming down the street, and they were the Buckingham Palace guards! We are sure that we heard them play “All that Jazz.” After about thirty minutes, we walked over to St. James Park and just read for about an hour until we went to Kings Cross for our train. We were pretty early, so we went to Platform 9 3/4 to get onto the Hogwarts Express! After that, we headed back to Edinburgh. It was a great trip and I will definitely go back to London!

Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace

On my way to the Hogwarts Express!

More words used in the UK

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Here are a few more words and phrases that some people say here in the UK. Keep in mind that not everyone says these words, but these words are not usually used in the US. Since my flatmates are from different parts in the UK, they each say different sayings. But here they are…

Banter: Playful conversation

Cheeky:  it is a word used to describe someone who does something or says something sort of disrespectful and sometimes rude, but says it in a cunning way. Urban Dictionary

Munter: an ugly person. Urban Dictionary

Mingin: horrible/disgusting

Boost: Let’s go…”Let’s boost”

Steamin’/Blazin’/Wrecked/Fleein‘/Gassed/ Battered: drunk

Wee: little (used in Scotland)

Good shout: good idea

Brilliant: good

Mint: good

Crackin’: good

Dossing about/ dos: Bumming around/ to bum around

Pish: rubbish

Dodgy/iffy: sketchy

Lush (used in Northern England): used as “good” for things you eat and see

Cringe: bad…Urban Dictionary

Sound: an alright/good guy

On your tod: on your own…not with people

Chav/Ned: Someone who’s parents ignored them and now they drink too much, get pregnant, swear a lot, terrorize elderly people, scum, low life. Wears a track suit and starts fights

Pure: if you say it infront of a descriptive word like “pure brilliant” it means really brilliant

Whitey: to be sick after drunk

Cove: Man or guy (used in Lewis an island in Northern Scotland)

Are you wise?: Are you stupid (used in Lewis: an island in Northern Scotland)

Boke: about to get sick or making you feel sick

Stinkin’: ugly

Bumbag: Fanny pack

Scadge: I am going to go crazy or someone who is disgusting

Waffle/ Sprafin’/ Wittering : talking too much

Boot/bint: strict

Braw/that was braw: that was really good

A girl is braw: a girl is really pretty

Quid: pound (money)

Fiver: five pounds (money)

Dobber: idiot

Twat: stupid person

Howler: bad

Screamer: good…it is so good it was entertaining

Boot: Trunk of a car

Can’t be bothered/ Cannae be arsed: can’t be bothered…my flatmates say “I can’t be bothered” all the time!

Party in the UK (not USA)!

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Two of my flatmates (Alistair and Steph) were turning 19, so we had a birthday party for both of them. We decided to have a kids birthday party in the flat with baloons, games, and snacks. The theme was 1960s! Everyone had to dress up too! So, a few days before the party we made a list of snacks to buy for the party. When you host a party don’t you always have chips and salsa? Well not in the UK! I was shocked! I suggested that we should have chips and dip, maybe hummus and pita bread, or veggie dip, or crackers. Instead they went to the grocery store and came back with sausage, sausage rolls (little sausages covered in a pastry), sandwiches cut in triangles (cheese and cucumber sandwich and  ham sandwich), and sausage, cheese, and pinneaple on a toothpick. Then one of my flatmates handed me a smallish bag of tortilla chips and said, “Here Justine, these are for you.” I was basically the only one who ate them.  I am just shocked that the party food was so different because a lot of things are very similar to the US. So the day of the party came and some people helped decorate the flat while others helped prepare the food. There was a lot of food at the party. The plates of food were all put out onto the table. I saw a plate with just sausage cut into small peices. I asked, “Do you eat these with your hands?” Some people giggled. And then they said, “Yes!” Personally I prefered the food that I usually have a parties. The sausage rolls were ok, but not great. And it was very unusual to try sausage, cheese, and pinneaple together on a toothpick! I definitely enjoyed the desserts….yummm (not the burnt cookies..haha). After we ate some (or a lot) of food, we played musical chairs!

It was fun dressing up in 1960s clothes. I decided to be a hippie, so I bought a brown leather vest at a vintage clothes shop. The rest of the outfit I owned. Other people decided to go more flowery, not as hippie, and everyone looked great! I went to the music library to get a mix CD of the best hits of the 1960s. We listened to that most of the night until we turn on Lady Gaga (for Alistair). Afterwards we went to the pub right next to our flat. Here are some pictures…

Musical Chairs


Different words in the UK

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Here is a list of words that Americans use and people from the UK use…

American word vs. UK word

Bangs = Fringe

Pants = Trousers

Grilled Cheese Sandwich = Tostie

Sidewalk = Pavement

Studying = Revising

Movie = Film

Grocery Store = Supermarket or shops

Trash = Rubbish

Utensils = Cutlery

Laundry = Washing

Laundry Detergent = Washing Powder

Band-Aid = Plaster

Purse = Handbag

Wallet (women’s wallet) = Purse

Highway = Motorway

Soccer = Football

Sweatshirt = Hoodie

Sweatpants = Track suit bottoms/joggers/ trackies

Sweater = Jumper

Sneakers = Trainers

Dinner = Tea

New Town

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

The other day I decided to go over to “New Town.” This is actually not that new…it was built in the late 1700s and early 1800s. I just walk about 10 minutes from my flat and I am in New Town. Because my flat and University is in the Old Town, I have not explored the New Town a lot. So I walked to Charlotte Square. At Charlotte Square, there is the headquarters for the National Trust for Scotland, the National Archives, and a historic home called the Georgian House. It was nice that I had time to wander and visit all three places. The National Trust was located in a beautiful building and had an exhibit in one room. In the Archives, I could not see much because the stacks were closed, but there was an interesting exhibit. The Georgian house is recreated to look like it did in the 1700s. There was an introductory video and then a self guided tour. Just when I think I know a lot about Edinburgh, I always find something new and exciting.