Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Full English--Breakfast That Is

You haven't experienced a "real" breakfast, until you've enjoyed a Full English. Typically, nowadays, a weekend treat or the type of breakfast you might have on holiday, it's not a breakfast for the timid. A Full English would include several basics--eggs, of course--perhaps more often fried than scrambled, like the ones I enjoyed while on holiday in Lincoln. Grilled tomato and mushroom. I had a fried mushroom that day, but it often might be small button or field mushrooms.

Fried pork sausage and Back bacon. Back bacon is the most popular bacon you would eat in England, as opposed to streaky bacon from the pork belly like we buy in the States. Often referred to as Canadian bacon in the US, it consists of a slice that includes a piece of pork loin and a piece of pork belly combined into the same cut.

It would of course, be accompanied by baked beans, usually of the Heinz variety, and if you're "lucky" a slice of fried black pudding. I say that in jest, because I've never been brave enough to try it. Black pudding is a sausage made by cooking blood with a filler such as oatmeal and seasonings until it's thick enough to congeal when cooled. Quite a delicacy in England.

You might be offered a slice of fried  (are you seeing a trend here?) bread or more often than not, toast on the side which is served in a toast rack. That keeps it from soaking up all that bean juice!

And if you're staying in a fancy-schmancy hotel like we were, they might even offer you a croissant served with Marmite or marmalade. I'll be taking the marmalade, thank you very much.

Now considering all I had for breakfast in the US this morning was a fine delicacy here in the South that we call cheese grits, I'm wondering who's got the better plan!?!

What would be your breakfast of choice?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekend Getaway in Lincoln

Not with any connection at all to Abraham Lincoln, the town of Lincoln, England is nevertheless, quite steeped in history itself, and made a delightful week-end getaway for us. 
After detours to Burghley House and Stamford along the way from London, that threatened to keep us from our intended destination, we finally arrived in the lovely town of Lincoln by sunset, forcing us to save much of our touring for the next day.

We stayed at the Castle Hotel at the top of a street so appropriately named Steep Hill.

Full of medieval timbered buildings,

quaint shops,

and tea rooms, it was quite a hike up and down this ancient cobblestoned medieval lane that linked the modern center of the city with the Cathedral quarter at the top of a steep hill.

One of the most fascinating landmarks of the city is Lincoln Castle, a magnificent fortress

which was originally built by William the Conqueror towards the end of the 11th century.
166 Saxon houses were demolished to make room for the castle.

It has now been used as a court and prison for over 900 years. The Crown Court seen here was built in the early 1800's and is still a working court today.

The prison on the grounds, built in 1787, today houses one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta,

and recently served as the setting for the prison scenes in Downton Abbey, when Bates was imprisoned there. It was a replacement for York Prison which was mentioned in the story line.
When I watched the reunion of Bates and Anna again last night, the town of Lincoln served as the backdrop for their first meeting.

Walking along the fortress walls of the castle, you get a better perspective of the magnitude of the original fortress, and you can stand on the tower where the city's hangings took place or descend by a ladder into the dungeon where the prisoners awaited.

The grounds are quite peaceful today, but as recently as 1859, 20,000 people crammed into these lawns to watch the last public execution.

From the walls, you also have a stunning view of the city's most famous landmark, the Lincoln Cathedral.

Considered one of the finest Gothic buildings in all Europe, it doubled as Westminster Abbey in The Da Vinci Code. For 200 years it was the tallest building in the world, and today it is England's third largest place of worship.

We first entered at dusk as the choir was practicing for Sunday's services. The choir stalls built in the 1300's are magnificently carved

and the cathedral boasts some of the earliest flying buttresses.

The next morning found us back there for services where the light gently filtered in through the stained glass softening the ancient architecture.

And should you decide to make a visit someday, stop in at Brown's Restaurant and Pie Shop,  just a stone's throw from the cathedral, in this historic building for a dinner of pies

and puddings . Of course, in England a pudding can be most any dessert, 

and my choice that night was a sticky toffee pudding, a traditional favorite in Britain, and this one at Brown's ranks as one of the best I've had. 
A sweet finish to a delightful weekend!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chatsworth Extras

Say Cheese?

What's a good blog without a few family photos thrown in from time to time for good measure? Indulge me, please, it's been awhile. Late fall, my son and his family spent a day at the park where a friend accompanied them to shoot some photos.

Jordan gave Jackson some good tips about best angles and winning smiles.

They got some great family shots that will go down in time as family keepsakes.

The day started off in grand style,

and even though there were a few melt-downs along the way,

the kids had a great time


and posing for the camera.

And since half of our family is still living in London, I'll include a Christmas family photo (yes, no need for coats at Christmas time in Houston, folks) including my other son and his wife.

Their big news is that they'll be moving back to Houston this summer, after 3 years of adventures in London. Jordan and Jackson are over the moon at the thought of them being here full time to join in the fun.

Thankful every day for the joy we share....