Day 2.76

Tasting: salted caramel and banana
Feeling: exhausted and weak
Smelling: the familiar mustiness of my apartment
Seeing: a suburban and unfamiliar part of Cork
Hearing: the return of Irish accents

Since the nearby bakery had closed early for Mothers’ Day the previous night, I knew my only opportunity left to get a vegan, gluten-free freakshake was this morning. I got a banana+salted caramel one and it was delicious and kept me full and happy the whole morning. While packing up, I talked to some of my hostel mates and learned that they are from Brazil (I can’t easily tell the difference between Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese). They’re in a post-grad program in Dublin for learning English.

I left the hostel at a leisurely pace, taking the underground to Paddington and the Heathrow Express to the airport. Even at peak hours, it wasn’t too chaotic getting to my gate.

I wish I’d kept up with the Bus Eireann strike so I’d have known that it was carrying through Monday. I waited a few minutes before realizing that I needed to get a taxi, and spent more time that necessary looking for an ATM.

When I returned to my apartment I was feeling rather tired and weak in my gut, but I somehow managed to convince myself to go to fencing that night with the compromise that I would leave early in order to get enough sleep and study time for my test the following morning. Like it usually does, fencing did make me feel better.

So here’s my takeaways from my weekend in London:

  • Even though there are people from all over the world here, London isn’t as touristy as I expected it to be. Maybe this is because it’s such a big city, so there’s not just one space for all the tourist trap stuff to congregate, unlike le Grand Place in Brussels for example.
  • The food is everywhere and there’s some great stuff. Have I mentioned the street food yet? Because that stuff is dope.
  • There’s always some good theatre going on that I don’t know about until it’s too late.
  • Londoners’ verbal vulgarity is more sexual, while Irishmen’s (or maybe just Corkonians’) is more anger and “fuck.”
  • Overpoliteness is contagious.
  • I don’t have to look at every single thing I pass while in a museum in order to enjoy it, especially if admission is free.
  • You pay the difference between a hostel, and a private room in a hotel, with hours of sleep.
  • I like how Londoners dress. I felt very at-home there.
  • Just because I hate wasting food doesn’t mean I should eat my buddies’ leftover fried chicken.
  • Although this trip underwent some last-minute changes, it turned out to be some enjoyable alone time.

Day 2.75

Smelling: bacon smoking
Hearing: songs in Arabic
Feeling: warm, tired, wind up high in the Elephant ArtWorks
Seeing: a tired fry cook early in the morning, the grand interiors of British and Victoria & Albert Museums
Tasting: a slightly salty waffle

I didn’t expect to wake up at a reasonable hour due to my being up late, but my roommates getting up and out early took care of that. But on vacation that can be a good thing, since I’m trying to get breakfast out and about and I can’t necessarily expect restaurants to be open before 10. And since it was Sunday I had not only breakfast of an egg chapatti, but went to a tiny gluten-free patisserie for vegan waffles and cappuccino. Hey, they were both in the same storage container pop-up complex. I crouched over my laptop and notebook for a bit and tried to get some studying for my Celtic Languages exam. And I picked up some dumplings from the Mauritian place to eat on the go.

Around noon was when I actually headed out into the city and started to do things. I first went to the British Museum, which was enormous, and I didn’t really have a plan for things I wanted to do there. All I knew was that I wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, which I did! I wish I had more words to describe it besides “so cool,” but I’m kind of speechless about it. On my way there though I saw some other interesting things, like a mini temporary exhibition on vandalism and defamation in the Roman Empire. Apparently it was widely believed that certain name inscriptions would effect someone’s fate in the afterlife, so removing the name could ruin their afterlife! I also loved learning about how Jews would stamp over the coins with their own symbols, as we disagreed with the deification and idolatry of the emperors.

I took the Tube to South Kensington to the Victoria and Albert Museum. There was a cool exhibit on fashion there, and anywhere with a fashion exhibit is a place I want to be. I wandered around South Ken after for a bit, and picked up an amazing falafel with fried cauliflower, fried eggplant, and pickled cabbage. I ate it on the street like I have been eating a lot of things, because the street food here’s the best. No one really gives a damn about eating out in the open, which I love. I can’t explain what I like so much about street eating. It’s sure not all it’s cracked up to be, with the increased likelihood of spilling on oneself, likelihood of forgetting silverwear, etc. Maybe it’s just because I love eating everywhere.

 I got back to the hostel and talked to my mom for a bit, since it was Mothers’ Day in the UK. There wasn’t much open nearby for food but I did have some delicious saag aloo. As people entered they greeted whoever was behind the counter with a “salaam aleikum” and got a “wa aleikum salaam” in return. I wondered if I should have done the same, but the staff were very friendly and didn’t seem to mind. I fell asleep a little after midnight, so I guess that’s an improvement from last night.

Day 2.74

Tasting: Mauritian sea bream bao
Hearing: an odd variety of songs in the Dublin Castle
Smelling: deep fryer, raw cheese being melted
Seeing: Anywhen (an exhibit in the Tate Modern), the thatched roof of the Globe
Feeling: sleepy, sore eyes, dehydrated, sunshine

First order of the day was to get to Kappacasein to eat their famous toasted cheese sandwich for brunch, but I discovered so much more at the market. After devouring the strong, buttery sandwich I went off to a smoothie stand to get a green smoothie for veggie balance but more importantly, a water because I felt as dry as the desert and couldn’t fill up my bottle in the hostel bathroom.

After some wandering around the market and wishing I could eat everything, I made my way towards Shakespeare’s Globe to go on a tour. The sort of things the guide talked about on the tour weren’t really anything I didn’t know, but I was thrilled to be inside. Of course I’d have liked to see a show but all tickets were sold out. I did, however, get to see the cast of The Taming of the Shrew do their dance call and that was exciting! While the Globe does try to stick to Victorian traditions, they do modern play adaptations for schools, and the Taming show was set in a Mafia-wedding kind of situation. There was a portrait of John Gotti as part of the set and any time a character would gesture to it, the Godfather theme would play. But the kids seeing the show are probably too young to know it.

I went to the Tate next, where I had coffee and lunch before taking a leisurely look at the free exhibits. The huge one in the Turbine Room was a slanted carpeted floor where one could look up at various lights and shadows. There was some very cool political as well as performative and semi-performative art.

IMG_2521.JPGI was tired and not sure what I was gonna be doing that night, so I went back to the hostel to write and study. Corrina messaged me that she and her friends were going to the Dublin Castle (the bar, not the actual Dublin Castle) in Camden town that night, and that was a great time. I asked the two Londoners where I sounded like I was from judging by my accent because I’m always curious to know if it’s just Americans who are confused about my nationality. They said “sorta Irish until you said “eyah-ccent.”

There was some difficulty getting back to my place since not all tubes run 24 hours– why is it so hard to get a cab or something late at night?! But Corrina’s boyfriend’s friend Jack was very helpful in making sure I got back alright. I think I fell asleep around 5am.

Day 2.73

Feeling: tired, sore lower back, sun on my face
Smelling: lemon-ginger water
Seeing: pink sunrise out my window, a street food market, twinkle lights along the Thames
Hearing: the music they play on Aer Lingus flights, the incredible Twelfth Night at the National Theatre
Tasting: the last of my veggie tart

My flight was midday and from Cork, so I wouldn’t have to trek several hours up to Dublin. Still, I woke up at 6 just to be sure I wouldn’t be rushing. A taxi from my place to Cork airport would have been around 15-20 euro, but I thought why not take a walk to the bus station and save money while getting some light exercise? Except it completely slipped my mind that there was a nationwide bus strike. Thankfully a friendly elder American man was looking to split a cab to the airport. I think his name was George, from around Seattle, and he’d been in Cork (and Ireland) just two days. He was looking to rent a car at the airport and check out Kinsale, and get somewhere to live for the next few months. He didn’t have enough euros to split the cab 50/50, which was fine with me, but he very kindly gave me some of his dollar bills. All the best, George.

The flight went fine, and I got to my hostel alright– train to Paddington, then tube to Elephant and Castle. After lying on my back for an hour (isn’t it weird how tired sitting in transit can make you?) I got back onto the tube to take me to Waterloo hours ahead of curtain. I didn’t work out exactly how to get from the station to the theatre but that was somewhat intentional; I wanted to wander a bit. And I’m so glad I got to wander, because my path took me through a market of food stalls of all kinds: New Orleans, Sicilian, duck burgers and fat chips, Korean BBQ burritos, Ethiopian, poutine, chocolate-covered fruit, Pad Thai, craft beer. I opted for vegetarian dosas and a green juice, and they were so delicious.

I was so happy. I wanted to keep getting more and never leave, but alas I am a mere mortal with a limited wallet and appetite. So I got up and wandered across the bridge and back, then along the bank. I sat on a bench and read a bit on my Nook while there was still a little daylight.

The production was really fantastic. I got a great view from where I sat (and got under-18 tickets, shh). Here’s a list of things I liked:

  • Scottish, vaguely goth Antonio who wore a bleach-spotted black kilt that was more of a skirt than an actual kilt but he’s Scottish so I’m making assumptions. Also he kissed Sebastian on the mouth.
  • Orsino kissing Cesario on the mouth before he knows Cesario is Viola. He says (speaking of Olivia), “give her this jewel.” And then he kisses her and leaves. And Viola freaks out gleefully.
  • The Elephant was a queer club.
  • Malvolio was Malvolia, and she did a burlesque performance for Olivia. My G-d, Malvolia was incredible; I think she was supposed to be the star of the production. And Olivia was performed beautifully and had great chemistry with Malvolia. The bit where she had to explain the letter to Malvolia was absolutely heartbreaking.
  • There was so much water that I got scared for the integrity of that iconic rotating stage: a garden fountain and a hot tub.
  • Orsino and Cesario practice boxing sparring together.
  • Feste didn’t play an instrument but she was a wonderful singer.
  • Andrew is a great clown with a hilarious and impressive physicality.
  • The music was ace in general. There were two pits, which were actually more like perches than pits, on either side of the stage, but occasionally the musicians would actually be on stage. I wish I could get a cast recording.

Things that didn’t quite jive with me:

  • I’m all for vague anachronism but I’m not sure what to make of the ruff-wearing ladies in waiting alongside the midcentury garb of the rest of the cast.
  • Malvolia took too many unproductive pauses.
  • In the Elephant, there was a drag show, but the performer was singing Hamlet’s “to be” monologue which was just kinda random?
  • At the end, Malvolia takes off her black bobbed wig to reveal blonde hair and ascends the stairs to rain falling from the ceiling. The rain was cool because it goes with Feste’s song but what is happening with Malvolio? Maybe I’m overthinking it.

I was dog-tired at the end but made it back alright and fell asleep around midnight. At 3am, and seemingly continuously until 8, my roommates came in and set themselves up very loudly. I’m not really sure what happened.

Day 2.72

Smelling: fresh-cut grass
Hearing: Ratatat (my serious study tunes)
Seeing: fluorescent lights being way too bright
Feeling: too caffeinated, sore dominant hand, and umbrella tapping on my head
Tasting: a banana with peanut butter

I decided to use the morning to study for my Celtic languages in-class assessment, which lead to me drinking way too much coffee at once. I think it was productive enough, but sometimes I forget when to use moderation.

I made it through lectures then went back to back and to take a nap. The nap, and fencing later that night, made me feel a whole lot better by the time I went to bed. I did épée drills but fenced foil on the piste, which was a lot more fun than I expected.

Day 2.71

Smelling: very dark coffee
Hearing: a very upbeat and kind of cheesy pop playlist, wind and rain outside
Feeling: tired, sore hand, flakniess of an almond croissant
Seeing: setting sun making cool shapes on the wall
Tasting: very sweet ice cream

It was a long day. After breakfast, I went to Hassett’s to work on an internship application because I’d just gotten turned down by my top choice the previous day. I’m happy that I got that out of the way, though. I had an almond croissant which was probably way more food than I desired at the moment but I hadn’t had an almond croissant since coming to Ireland, and if you lived abroad in Europe and didn’t even eat an almond croissant than what are you doing? It was snowing and cold and miserable when I woke up, too, so it felt like I had the café and the streets to myself.

I’m pretty proud of how things went that day, to be honest. Even though I didn’t want to go to any lectures, I did, and even though I didn’t want to study or draw afterwards, I did. I even treated myself to an obscene amount of ice cream (because apparently I’m really going for thrombosis today) and finished Dirk Gently’s and felt fine and went to bed at a reasonable hour. I really do need to form some sort of plan for my London trip and at least buy one theatre ticket.

Day 2.70

Day 2.69 has been skipped because nothing much happened, definitely not because I’m trying to avoid all the 69 jokes.

Seeing: cloudy grey drizzling sky
Smelling: eggs frying
Hearing: AM
Tasting: dark chocolate
Feeling: a surprisingly high amount of energy

I made sure to have a big breakfast since I would have a long and busy day ahead of me, and frankly I’m tired of of getting hungry by mid-morning. Indeed it carried me through my two Celtic Languages lectures and I started getting a little nervous about being ready for the in-class exam, but a little time in the library made me feel better.

I cleaned my room and to my amazement, I wasn’t too exhausted to go to History. As soon as I got back from it though, I was planning on chilling out and maybe doing some studying for the rest of the night. Instead, I saw that there was a speaker event about food entrepreneurship and there would be free donuts, so I asked Evan to come along and it was actually a very interesting and good time.

Then, I thought I could chill out, right? But instead Lillie was stuck on campus with nothing to do before she began work at 11, so I went over to the library and we made reservations for an apartment in Edinburgh. And then she wanted me to come with her to the Fish Wife for her pre-work dinner, and even though I wasn’t really hungry I couldn’t refuse.

It’s been a long day, but it’s been alright. I’m ready for it to end, though.

Sweet Review #22: Ben & Jerry’s Topped Salted Caramel Brownie

After the revelation of an ice cream that was Strawberry Swirled, my next two B&J flavors were far less fruity, equally as pastry-y (just pastry?), and much more caramel-y. Man, that opening sentence was a shame for someone who is usually decent at finding the adjectival forms of words. Moving on! My choices were between caramel cookie dough and salted caramel brownie. Thinking that brownies would be the better choice this time of the month, I opted for the latter.

IMG_2452
that’s the spoonable topping. i think what they mean by “spoonable” is that you’re going to fall in love with it and wish you could spoon it in bed, until you realize that it melts all over your sheets and you’re left with another one getting away.

If you read my previous B&J review, you know that the Strawberry Swirled was rather slow to defrost and the topping never fully achieved the “spoonability” advertised on the carton. This one has neither of those problems. The topping is practically melting upon removal from the fridge, and while giving it some time to temper certainly helps scooping, it’s not very necessary. I hypothesize that this is due to two factors:

  1. Water content, because the Salted Caramel Brownie has less water than the Strawberry, which makes it icier. A problem I always have at home when I try to make fruit ice cream is that the berries just have so much water.
  2. Sugar content. The Salted Caramel is probably more sugary; it certainly tastes like it. Once ice cream (or any solution) becomes supersaturated with sugar, it won’t freeze completely.

The fact that this is a pale vanilla ice cream means that you can easily see the #chunks and #swirls in the ice cream. There’s plenty of the signature brownie chunks and caramel oozing throughout the carton, as well as a few of the chocolatey chunks that are on top.

IMG_2453

An odd things about the topping is that it tastes distinctly like Nutella, yet it isn’t advertised with any mention of hazelnut except for in the ingredients list. That’s hardly a complaint, though.

My only two real complaints with this are about two very simple flavors: sweet and salty. I didn’t get much of the salted flavor, and the whole thing is just too sweet. Eating this ice cream isn’t like eating an actual salted caramel brownie with cream, and if the vanilla ice cream were just a little less sweet it might be closer to that. Otherwise, I don’t end up tasting that much brownie or chocolate.

Still, the fact that it’s quicker to defrost optimizes its “eat right out of the carton-ability” which is the whole point of buying a topped ice cream. I promise I’m usually better at adjectives. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t promise that.

Day 2.68

Seeing: the sun reflect off the turquoise water
Tasting: poached egg and vegetables
Smelling: really good Badger & Dodo coffee, the ocean
Feeling: sea spray, sea glass in my hand
Hearing: the train creaking

Today was a day of good timing. As soon as I woke up (almost 8 a.m.), Lillie texted me because she had only just gotten off work. So I got up, showered, and as soon as I was out Lillie was at the gate. So I let her nap in my bed while I wrote and drew, and I guess it was a good way to get me out of bed. We were supposed to go to Cobh with a friend that day, so it made the journey more efficient too.

We met our friend in city centre and caught the noon train, then went straight into the Yellow Door Café for brunch. Even if my sense of smell was somewhat dulled, I could appreciate the coffee like always. We visited the cathedral briefly, then had a walk up and down the water. Gill actually wore her swimsuit under her clothes and went for a swim while Lillie and I watched over her and her stuff. Lillie even found several large pieces of sea glass for me! She said Ireland is the best for sea glass because “they all go gattin’ on the beach.”

After arriving back at mine, I did some grocery shopping so I could make myself a halfway proper dinner. And now I’m lying in bed hoping I can get some studying and drawing done before I sleep.

Day 2.67

Tasting: brownie dipped in decaf coffee
Feeling: very tired, stretching muscles, sore knees
Seeing: my notes, green lights on campus, new Pokémon
Smelling: Nutella (on a canvas)
Hearing: The Age of the Understatement

Much of my morning was spent writing for my friend’s new website, A Lifetime of Chicken Rolls, a new student restaurant and food review site for Cork. I did most of this while lying on my front on a yoga mat in my kitchen, which is a welcome change from sitting at a desk.

Very few people were at training later that day, but I knew I wanted to go despite how tired and sore I was. Since there was only one other épéeist there I decided to do some foil that day, which was actually pretty fun. I got a bit on an abrasion on my leg from foil, ironically.

On my way back I made the mistake of trying to walk through campus in hope of shortening my route, but instead got stuck in there for a bit because most of the gates were locked. At least I caught some new Pokémon on Go.

After dinner, I thought I would do some more drawing that day but ended up watching more Dirk Gently’s and passing out. I really need to stop using screens so much before bed, but I really wanted to finish an entire episode in one sitting for once.