Sunday, June 18, 2006

activities both excellent and diverse

Again, it's been a while...

Much has happened since our last two "Spring has sprung" posts. Lewis has been "officially recommended" for his MPhil degree, for instance (that means he got it). Exams went very well (distinction level!), and even better -- they're over! Likewise, Laurie's big envelope-addressing project is completed. They came out beautifully and have been receiving rave reviews from their recipients. Now what will Lewis and Laurie do with all their free time???

One day after handing in exams, L&L met up with Artie (aka Dad Lawyer) for a road trip up to Knaresborough in Yorkshire. Here are some of the things they saw along the way:

First stop: Grantham in Lincolnshire. Artie takes a rest in the central market at Grantham, a town apparently famous for being where Isaac Newton went to grammar school. He was also born in nearby Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth (Isaac, not Artie).

Artie and Laurie in front of the pub we ate at in Beverly. They're admiring the architecture of the burger joint across the street, which resembles the pub in the photograph. We spent the first night of the trip in Beverly, which appeared to be a small, quiet town when we arrived shortly before dinner time. We left the city centre to have dinner at a pub, and when we returned the whole city was crawling with highschool- and college-aged party people. At this point we somewhat regretted our choice of accommodation at an inn / bar, and continued to regret until a bit after two in the morning. Lovely city, nevertheless. It has city gates dating from the 14th century:

Then on to Castle Howard (large architecturally-significant buildings, peacocks, huge and immaculate gardens, visiting Finnish men's choir) and thence to Helmsley, which has an excellent castle ruins:

The ruins are set up so you can run all over them wherever ye may please. This picture is taken from the old bread oven, looking out at the big tower.

Yorkshire is absurdly beautiful. This is the castle at Helmsley again.

We nearly stayed the second night in Helmsley, but when we got to the city centre it had been inundated by a very large number of bikers. American-style noisy choppers, too, not the European scooter things we see around Cambridge. Right on. Still, perhaps not the quietest place to catch up on sleep. Thus we moved on to Kirkbymoorside for the night.

Here's Lewis and Laurie by a very large and pointy tomb someone erected for themselves near Castle Howard.

After our day of castles, we had a day of abbeys. This is a phenomenon that Laurie and Lewis were unaware of until we visited them. Vast decaying Cistercian monasteries, unused (except for raw materials or tourism) since they were dismantled by Henry VIII in the 16th century. They are absolutely gorgeous.

Here's looking through the main door of the old cathedral at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon. That must have been a very impressive window at the end there in its day, though it's hard to imagine it could be more beautiful than it is now. There is something very majestic and peaceful about a cathedral reduced to bare stone and full of bird's nests and flora.

An old aspersorium overgrown with flowers, also at Fountains Abbey.

Laurie and Artie learn about the Abbey at Rievaulx.

Lewis climbs around like a mountain goat on the Abbey at Rievaulx.

And here is Knaresborough, Artie's main stop on the trip. It's a small town with a very high picturesqueness-per-square-inch. Unclear why that should be measured in inches. It's very precise, apparently.

Then Artie started his booooooring meetings in Knaresborough, so Laurie and Lewis took off for a day wandering around York. Here Laurie is standing in the Shambles, which is a famous medieval meat market (in the literal sense). There is no longer any meat being sold there, only tea and assorted tourist fodder. We had the tea.

York has two large rivers, and this is the larger of the two -- the River Ouse. York also has a fairly high geese-per-square-nanometer rating. Laurie and Lewis had an excellent Indian meal in a restaurant just outside the left margin of this picture.

This is Ignignot the robot door.

After a few days in Knaresborough it was time for Artie to head back to the States (albeit slower than expected), and Lewis and Laurie headed off into the northern reaches of England. We took a big train loop up through the Peaks District to Carlisle, and then along Hadrian's Wall to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Then down through York and over to Scarborough on the North Sea, where we spent the next three nights. Scarborough is a lovely old Victorian coastal resort town, now morphed into a more proletarian collection of seaside amusements. It also has a large castle ruins on a hill, from which the above picture is taken.

And here's the beach on which we witnessed an excellent drunken football match of people in various stages of undress but all sporting England flags. The World Cup started while we were staying in Scarborough, arousing much patriotic fervor amongst the populous. There is an unbelievable amount of England shwag on the market right now, including inflatable chairs and poofy wigs. England hasn't actually been playing stunningly, but this doesn't seem to bother the fans. We will say no more, for fear of upsetting all you hardcore America soccer fans over there.

So now we're back in Cambridge. Today we made sure we could fit all our stuff in the suitcases (barely!) and rested up for our impending travels around the south of England. Any suggestions welcome! The only major event which has happened in Cambridge since our return is the RCEAL end-of-the-year party, at which there was much eating, socializing and music-making, in no particular order. Below is a picture of a rare Dudelsacbut concert -- Bettina on dudelsack and Lewis on trombone, surrounded by their fans (2). The male fan is possibly from Belgium.

So all is well with your friendly Camtales duo. Wish us well with our various travels, and soon we will be returning to the States! Pictures of southern England to come...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spring! (a belated but exciting post)

The blossoms are blossoming, the weather is warming, and the moorhens are getting feisty. Yes, Spring has come to Cambridge! Our days are even getting long! Here are some exciting pictures:

Remember King's walk?

It's covered in flowers!

And all the colors seem brighter.

Here is an inexplicable gap between fences. Lewis walked all the way down it...

...only to find that it terminated in an impassable mass of bramble...

...and a fantastic view!

There has also been much in the way of fauna making appearances lately...

Gus the cat belongs to the Master of Selwyn College, apparently, but he likes to spend time at Elmside. He's taken to jumping in to Jim and Natasha's window at 2 in the morning.

Here is one of the squirrels that hangs out around Elmside. Note the characteristic red face -- this is a genetic remnant of the red squirrels that used to be all over England until American grey squirrels chased them out!

This one is our personal favo(u)rite -- we call her green woodpecker friend. Jim got this fantastic picture of her in mid-nervous-glance.

And last but certainly not least:

Don't worry -- she's not ours! But our friends Yong and Su are now the proud parents of a healthy baby girl. Welcome to the world, Phoebe!

Spring has been treating Laurie and Lewis very well. We've been walking around without big jackets on and enjoying the fragrent scent of flowers everywhere. Well to be honest, Lewis has been rather busy lately. He's working on a large project on Eipo, a language spoken in the remote central highlands of New Guinea. He's putting together a paper about how Eipo uses intonation to indicate givenness. It's going to be almost as exciting as his new Harris tweed hat: better with a coat perhaps...

Meanwhile, Laurie is perfecting her calligraphy skillz. Think happy thoughts for her wrist as she tackles the wedding invitations! (It's the right wrist. Thanks.) Laurie got a nice new sweater in Scotland. It is warm as well as fuzzy. Laurie is also continuing to perfect her culinary skills, having lately manifested themselves in the form of a delicious ginger-lemon cake. Yowza.

Cambridge is lovely, but Lewis and Laurie are also looking forward to coming back to the States soon! It'll be great to see everyone and to have this big party thing everyone seems to be on about... Life is good.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Spring is in the (very cold) air!

The days are getting longer here in Cambridge, and the first signs of Spring are starting to poke through the soil. Though clearly we're not done with winter, as a few snow flurries bore witness to yesterday, it's certainly on the decline!

Today we took a long walk through the fields behind Clare Hall and found Spring bursting out all over the place. I hope you enjoy our photos are much as we enjoyed our perambulation.

Our sky was a magnificent blue today...

Here's a cute house which seems to actually be the club house for some college's sports field!

A beautiful pond behind Robinson College's sports grounds. We scared some birds away before we could get them in the picture, unfortunately.

A pretty (and tiny) blue flower growing on the edge of our path. Not sure what they are, but there sure were lots of them!

One thing that continually impresses us about England is how many kinds of sky they have. And on days like today, it seems to stretch on forever!

The track we followed through the field behind the Rugby field on our home stretch.

A small stream or irrigation ditch we crossed. There were some deer tracks not far from here! Laurie also lost to Lewis playing Pooh Sticks here. Better luck next time!

Some tiny purple flowers growing outside the main entrance to our College.

Snow Drops underneath a tree across the lawn from our house. These were the first flowers to come up and have been opening ever wider each day!

Finally, the Irises growing in the garden behind our house. They're much smaller than any we've ever seen before, but they are still beautiful!

Hopefully all these blooming flowers and the budding trees are an indication of full-blown Spring soon to come. It's sure to be glorious when it arrives!

Many adventures in the coming weeks -- tomorrow is Whisky Tasting Night which Lewis will be attending (Laurie was scared away!), there's another Elmside party on Saturday, and the Lent Bumps are on (some silly Cantabrigian boat competition). Laurie's parents are coming in 11 days, and there's an end of term RCEAL party which will be sure to entertain! We promise to be better about updating the blog. We mean it this time. Really!

The "Whoops, did we forget to post last month?" post

It's been a while since last post, but it has been a busy couple of months! Lewis started school again and has been much busy keeping up with papers, readings, and even his first presentation. It looks to be a very intense last three weeks of class, but amazingly when March 16th rolls around, that will be the end of it! It's so strange to think that the days of Cambridge class are nearly over (which means the rest of our times here is exams, exams, exams..)!

Yet in the midst of all this work, we managed to do a few things, some of which we will now provide photographic evidence of.

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

A few friends from Lewis's program took us to London with them to celebrate Chinese New Year. It was a ton of fun, if perhaps more crowded than imaginable. Dragons snapped up lettuce over doorways. Parades happened simultaneously. And perhaps most importantly, delicious Chinese food was had!

Chinese New Year in Trafalger Square. Look at all these folks!

Another view of the mob at Trafalger Square

The packed streets of London's Chinatown while everyone is trying to find a Chinese restaurant with less than a two hour wait...

We love rugby!

Despite living next door to the rugby field all year, we had yet to attend a game. So we made a point of going over there one afternoon to see what all the yelling and screaming was about. And we were impressed! For a mere pound each we had the joys of watching a game we didn't understand, and listening to cheering, booing, silly English rugby fans. They also served delicious chicken sandwiches at half-time for a decent price as well. All in all, a very enjoyable day watching a very amusing game! We hope to attend another match or two before the season ends in the middle of March.

Rugby seems to involve some kicking...

some pushing...

and some running.

Perhaps next game we'll understand a little more of the rules of the game. Or not.

Foundation Feast

No pictures here, sorry kids. But we did attend the Clare Hall 40th Anniversary Foundation Feast, which was a riot. A bunch of folks from Elmside booked a table together so we were a large, noisy, difficult-to-serve table (we had three vegetarians.. very confusing to the wait staff). But we all had a marvelous time together, aided in some part by the aforementioned Elmsiders managing to comandeer twice our table's allotment of Port. Good times!

International Food Festival

We lamely also forgot to take pictures of this event! Lots of people throughout the college got together and made dishes from their native lands for all us other, more lazy, folk to eat. It was another fabulous night in Cambridge as we got to try all sorts of interesting concoctions and hang out with some of our favorite people. We even got a cook book from the event, safe in the knowledge that the whole night's proceeds were going to Action Against Hunger UK. Charity and good food -- what more could you ask for?

We've Gone Organic!

Not so much an event as a lifestyle change. But during one fateful and random Google search for "vegetables" we came across a local company (River Nene Organic Vegetables) which grows organic vegetables and delivers them right to your door! It's a cute idea - they only offer different sizes of boxes, so you order appropriately and what you get is what you get! We've eaten all sorts of things that we (or perhaps just Laurie) usually wouldn't eat. Right now since the UK isn't in its growing season a lot of the vegetables and all the fruits are imported, but they make sure they're from organic places and are never shipped in cold storage. This should start to change however as they start harvesting the first crops here soon. We've become thoroughly addicted to this scheme and hope to find something similar where ever we end up back in the US. Green is good!

That's all for now, but another update is soon to follow. This time with more flowers and less people shoving into each other!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wonderful Wint'ry Days...

Let's begin where we left off. On the second of December there was a raucous, music-filled linguistics fiesta grande at RCEAL (the Research Centre for Eating and Applied Liveliness). Much in the way of caroling, jamming, and squawking like hens. And needless to say the mulled wine and the mince pies both flowed like water. The pies were especially bizarre in this respect. Please see below for rare pictures of linguists carrying on in a moderately outrageous manner.

Fig. 1: The gathering of the herd

Fig. 2: The linguists are clearly enjoying themselves

Fig. 3: The Laurie raises her cup in ritual greeting

Fig. 4: Linguists indulging in alternate forms of phonic expression

Fig. 5: Jam en Español

After recovering from this enjoyable extravaganza, Lewis began work on his largest linguistics project to date: collecting as much information on Papuan languages as possible, and assembling it into some sort of readable form. In spite of going a bit crazy in the course of this project (see below), Lewis is happy with his first large project at Cambridge. He just submitted it for assessment two days ago. Wish him luck!

Fig. 6: Lewis demonstrates why you need to wish him luck

At some point in the middle of this project, some delightful distractions occurred. It began to look a lot like Christmas...

And then there was the Christmas Feast...

(I think we managed to use all of these glasses...)

(Laurie & Forrest de la West Virginia)

(Lewis inflicted with the paper-crown disease of '05)

And Christmas day occurred...

And simultanesouly a herd of additional Lawyers migrated through the region...

(seen here with Richard Wagner, with outrageous hat)

And in addition to the exploration of London...

(seen here with Admiral Nelson on a stick)

New Year's was celebrated with abandon:

And here we are in ought six. Laurie has submitted grad school applications and Lewis has started Lent Term ("class"). Plans for the wedding are well underway, with the plans for food progressing nicely. But now it's time to sign off, so that Laurie and Lewis' attentions can be devoted to the apple juice and cheese they just purchased.

Happy new year, everyone!