Sunday, 25 November 2012

Good Friends, Good Food

I'm back.  I took last week off as we didn't have a "blogworthy" weekend.  We took it easy, ran some errands and chauffeured the kids around.   We did see our first movie in some time:  Skyfall.  We enjoyed it.  It was neat to watch a James Bond movie in England.  We also enjoyed the scenery shots of London and Scotland of places that we have been.

No tourist activities again this week but we have had some good times.

On Saturday, we went to one of the better (best?) restaurants in Derby:  Darley's.  We shared the evening with our good friends Andrea and Derek (see photo above).  What a fantastic night.  The food and service were great and the evening flew by.   I had the pheasant with cranberry stuffing (fancy lad Thanksgiving meal, if you will).  Andrea had a nice steak and Kuk and Derek enjoyed the sea bass.  The starters and desserts were fantastic too.  The flavors were complex and well balanced.  Highly recommended.

On Sunday, we had a delayed Thanksgiving celebration of sorts.  Thanksgiving here, as you might expect, is quite underwhelming as it is of course, not a holiday here.  Quite a few folks at work asked if I was going to take the day off.  Why bother?  It's not the same with everyone else not having the day off (and family across the ocean).  I'll save those vacation days for better weather anyway.

Fortunately, my buddy Jay organized a rebel (ex-pat) dinner at another favorite of ours, the Bull's Head in Repton.  There were close to 30 of us including kids and spouses.  We were there for 4.5 hours and had a good time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  The food was good as was the service.  Well done, Jay!

Continuing of the food theme, I've been getting tired of the same-old meals every night so I bought a new cookbook and tried it out.  It's a Jamie Oliver book -- he's pretty big here.  The book is "15 Minute Meals".

My first 15 minute meal took 60 minutes.  :-)  Hopefully I can get my times down.  It helps to have someone come over and cut everything up for you, I imagine.  At any rate, it turned out well even if the photo above is a little, uh, brown.  The meal was "Beef Kofta Curry".  Very tasty.  The kids even liked it too.

My second meal was quite different:  smoked haddock frittata (eggs).  It was good though a little unusual to have on a regular basis.  This one was shorter, maybe 30-45 minutes.

I did have the fancy side salad to go with it as well (watercress, apples, walnuts, chives, Emmental cheese w/ olive oil).  So far, so good.  I'll have to try some more recipes and let you know.

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  We are on to the Christmas stretch now.  Have a good week everyone.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Nicole goes to Gibraltar

 Hi Everyone.  Special Bonus blog post this week.  Prior to our London adventures, Nicole's school Netball team took a trip to Gibraltar and she's done a guest post below.

Netball is a form a basketball that is popular for girls in the UK and the rest of the Crown. 

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean.  From what I gather, it's a lot more British than Spanish but just happens to be located in a sunny climate near Spain.

And now on to Nicole . . .

(Photo taken by Mr. Connell)

As a part of the netball team, 8 people from my year, 8 from the year above, and 3 sixth formers (11th and 12th grade in the U.S.) got to go to Gibraltar.  It’s a British Colony in the most southern part of Spain.  We went to play netball but also got to do a lot of fun things too.


Gibraltar is known for the Gibraltar Rock, and is also home to many Barbary Apes.  We got to take a tour  around Gibraltar and up to the top of the Rock.

Another thing Gibraltar is known for is its airport.  Its runway crosses one of the main streets, so everytime a plane lands, they have to close the road until the runway is clear.  It is also known as the most dangerous airport in Europe, but not because of the runway.  It’s dangerous because of strong crosswinds affecting Gibraltar because of the Rock.  We, fortunately, flew into Malaga and bussed over.


Another view from on the top of the Rock.  This is Victoria Stadium where we played our two netball matches.

When we came back from the tour we were very excited to find some monkeys very close up on the balcony of our hotel room.  We were told not to leave anything on the balcony because the monkeys would take anything they could get their hands on.

 Another monkey picture

(Taken by Mr. Connell)

We played our first match outside against a team called Blue Fusion.  We had been told that they were very aggressive and took their sport very seriously.  But most of us were pleasantly surprised that most of the girls were really nice.  Our first match we lost 5-11 but it  was still a lot of fun.  I'm not in this particular photo but I did play in this match. 

The next day we got to go on a dolphin trip.  We saw a ton of common dolphins (also called hourglass dolphins).  They got really close to the boat and from the front,  we could see them swimming under the boat too.

Another dolphin jumping out of the water

(Taken by Mr. Connell)

That night we had another match against a different team.  This game we beat them, winning 22-6!

(Taken by Mr. Connell)

So overall it was a really fun trip and I was really glad I got to go.  We all became really close and had a lot of fun.